How to Take Seriously Dynamic Group Portraits

group portraitsAre you interesting in upping your photography game?

Whether you’re a novice or experienced photographer, it never hurts to learn more about your craft.

Group portraits and family portraits are fun, but they are far from simple. Fortunately, we found some of the best tried and true tips and tricks to improve your group portraits. Are you ready for some awesome tips?

Check out what we found!

How To Take Beautiful Dynamic Group Portraits – Tips And Tricks

These awesome tips will help you take the best group portraits ever.

Keep It Small

Less is more when it comes to group photography.

Think of it this way– you’re probably photographing a family, right? These shots are for capturing memories to be enjoyed years down the road.

Instead of having a huge portrait of many people packed into the shot, consider shooting two to three groups of three to five people.

Smaller groups not only look better on camera, but it is much easier to coordinate a smaller group of people.

Plan Your Shots

Whether you’re shooting a group or just a single subject, planning is key when it comes to professional photography.

Don’t be afraid to direct individuals within the group instead of just telling them to strike a pose.

Creativity is key when it comes to photography direction. Experiment with the group and take cues from the natural vibes the group has for the best shot possible.

Plan Ahead Of Your Shots

It’s important to plan when the photoshoot is happening, but a good pro photographer will plan ahead as well.

Take time to plan out the details of the photoshoot, which may include:

  • What’s the location like?
  • Who is going to be there?
  • How many people are going to be in the group as a whole?
  • What will the weather be like?
  • Will the day of the week, the time of day, and potential traffic hinder the shoot?
  • How can you plan ahead of these factors and make the shoot go smoothly?

A chaotic shoot can absolutely be prevented, so consider these factors!

Consider The Setting

When you first start learning about photography, one of the big basics you learn about is the setting.

Finding the proper setting for a shoot, especially a group portrait shoot, is key.

Consider the context of the photoshoot. Is it for a wedding? Is it a simple family memorial shoot?

Work with the group to figure out the best setting, and use your professional opinion to come to a compromise of where the shoot will take place.

If it’s the middle of December and you live in a dangerously snowy area, an outdoor shoot by a lake is a bad idea. Consider the setting, weather, and context of the shoot while in the initial planning stages.

Section The Body/Head Levels

Posing is another huge factor when it comes to group portraits.

Use height to your advantage to pack people into the shot in an aesthetically pleasing way.

If you’re shooting a simple shot of two parents with two young children, position the parents in the back with the children in the front.

If you’re dealing with a group of varying heights, organize the group in the most condensed yet relaxed way possible. Experiment with different individuals kneeling, standing, and sitting.

Don’t forget to have some kind of interaction happening, either. Group portraits should feel natural and positive. A hand on the shoulder or a couple of kids playfully leaning against each other’s shoulder is cute.

By compressing the amount of bodies in the shot this way, the eye can travel easily without darting around.

Avoid Covering Individuals Up

You’re coordinating several people for a group portrait, and that can be a major pain.

However, don’t forget to make sure everybody is visible within the shot, with at the very least their heads clear and visible.

Get Up Close And Personal

We don’t want to see any nose hairs, but we don’t want to have to squint to make out who is who within a group portrait.

The more clear you are with detail, the easier it is to see individual faces.

If you’re dealing with a pretty massive group of people, try to get them to move their heads in closer together. Body parts don’t have to be totally included in a shot, but missing heads or half-heads is a big no-no for a group portrait.

Utilize The Multiple Shot Feature

You’ve invested in a quality camera or you at least plan to, so don’t be afraid to use all the features your camera provides!

The multiple shot feature is likely something you learned about on your own or within a school setting when you first got into photography. This feature allows you to take multiple shots with a simple click or two.

This feature is helpful because it takes many shots within a few seconds while the group is posing. This way, you are able to take shots after the blinking eyes, sudden movements, and other photo faux pas inevitably happen during a group pose.

Be Personable And Friendly

Nobody likes a lame photographer. Even if the task of coordinating a group of people is stressful, remember that you’re a professional.

Having a good attitude, a smiling face, and an open attitude will make your group feel more at ease. You may even get better shots with you infectious engaging mood!

Use Those Visualization Skills

Fumbling with potential poses and quickly trying to find the right shot while a group is posing can be awkward and may result in way too much dead air and restless shuffling.

Visualize your shot before everyone in the group comes together to pose. This will make the process of shooting easier, quicker, and usually will result in a better shot.

Ask yourself what you think would look great. You are the professional, after all!

Be Bossy, But Don’t Be A Jerk

We get it, photography is a fairly singular activity. Typically, the photographer is free to be introverted and little interaction with the subject happens during regular shoots.

However, you’re dealing with people for a group portrait– usually a lot of people.

Make it clear that you’re the boss, the professional, and the photographer– ultimately you know what will come out well and make a fantastic group photo.

That being said, don’t be a jerk to your clients! You can assert your position as the creative camera-holder without getting snippy with your clients.

Impossible people will be impossible, but most people just want to get the photo shoot over with. Who likes standing still and posing for long periods of time anyway?

This is why the previous “be friendly” tip is so important. You can build rapport with your clients and make them comfortable during the shoot while still being in control of the shoot.

Study Up On Your Camera Functions

Don’t just memorize the multiple shot function on your camera. Take a day to go out to a park or other quiet visually pleasing location to experiment with the function on your camera.

Take a notebook with you. Write down all the functions of your camera, especially the ones that may prove useful during a group portrait. Memorize them and study them.

This way, you won’t be taking up precious time trying to figure out what button does what. Your camera is an extension of you as a photographer and as an artist– so get familiar with your medium!

Invest In A Mid-Ranged Lens

Getting familiar with various lenses and their functions is important for any type of photographer.

When it comes to shooting group portraits, you don’t want too extreme of a lens.

If all you have is a wide angle lens, it may be time to do some shopping. These lenses can distort group portraits and are not ideal for this type of setting.

A mid-ranged lens, specifically one between 50mm and 100mm is the best lens for group portraits. Lenses in this range capture reality well and provide the least amount of visual distortion.

If you’re unsure if the lens you have is a good fit, experiment! While you’re out experimenting with and testing your camera’s functions, test your lens capabilities too.

Use A Tripod

Tripods are very helpful for compositions.

They’re also great for handling a bulky camera and preventing unstable images that come out blurry.

When dealing with a big group of people, having a stable surface to hold your camera instead of hauling it around while directing the group is a very welcomed perk.


Lastly, remember that lighting is key for any photo shoot.

If you’re shooting outdoors, make sure you time your shoot for the best possible sunlight. Consider the weather conditions, too. Some people say the best time to take outdoor photos is before sunset, during the Golden Hour.

If you’re shooting indoors, brush up on the rules of exposure. Never use a full-on direct flash and try to invest in a flash diffuser or flash bounce card.

Start Snapping!

We hope this list of tips and tricks for group portraits will prove helpful for your photography journey.

Got a tip that we missed when it comes to group portraits? Let us know!

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