Have you ever had to photograph a group of people and felt completely lost? Group poses can feel overwhelming sometimes. You want to make them attractive, but instead, you often end up with groups that look all bunched together. Even worse, many times, you lose someone’s face or run out of space in your frame.
That’s why we put together this guide to group poses. We will cover everything you need to know about posing large numbers of people, as well as some insider tips and tricks to help you feel more confident. Lastly, we will show you examples of standing, sitting, and other popular group posing setups! So let’s get started!
Tips for Group Poses
These tips will help you when photographing large groups. Try to incorporate one or several of them into every group session. You can even try to combine ideas to make the best group photo possible!
Tip #1: Layer Your Group Pose
This pose is exactly what it sounds like. Next time you are the photographer for a large group of people, remember to try and layer the pose. For example, keep some of your subjects standing and others sitting. Oftentimes I like to have tall people stand in the back and then set up chairs in front of the group so that the shorter people can sit.
If you are working with children or younger people, you can even have a third row sitting in front of the people in chairs. By layering your groups, you will be able to clearly see everyone’s face in the photo.
Tip #2: Look for Everyone’s Face
When I’m working with different families and friends, I will always say, “if you can’t see me, then I can’t see you”. You can use the same phrase for your group poses. Tell the group; hey, there are so many of you, sometimes I can’t see everyone, so if you can see me, then you are in a good position.
It’s also helpful to bring an assistant for larger shoots who can keep an eye out for faces that are hidden behind others. This is only true for extremely large group poses. Lastly, take a shot and zoom into the photo to make sure you can see everyone.
Tip #3: Use Stairs
Whenever the group is small enough, try using some nearby stairs to pose them. Stairs automatically make your job easier when it comes to posing large groups. Simple put the tallest people on the higher steps and stagger short groups below until you have the desired pose setup.
An important aspect of this posing is that you use an aperture of f/8 or above to make sure everyone is in focus. This is because they will be shot from different distances.
Tip #4: Look for Interesting Backdrops
To make a photograph more interesting, the background plays a big part. This holds true when posing groups as well. A great backdrop will automatically make your subjects pop and look more interesting.
You can even play around with your cropping. Try making the background the main event and just having your group’s heads at the bottom of the image. There are many fun ways to play with backgrounds in your group poses.
Tip #5: Check your Lighting
When shooting groups, sometimes the lighting can prove difficult. If you are shooting outside, look for lighting that is even across the entire group. You don’t want harsh light on half the faces of the group. Instead, look for an area full of shade and check that it can fit the entire group.
If you are shooting indoors, this is more tricky. You will want to blast your flash on the ceiling to bounce back onto your group. Or you can consider placing your camera on a tripod and taking photos with a slower shutter speed and flash. Lastly, try finding a well evenly lit room to photograph large groups. Everyone should have even light on their faces to get the best results.
Tip #6: Be in Control
Don’t be afraid to take control when shooting group poses. When you are working with many people, sometimes people will talk over you or ignore you. It’s key to getting their attention. You should act quickly and professionally when taking photos of large groups. I often tell each person where to stand, and that keeps everyone’s attention. When I am ready to shoot the entire group, I tell everyone to look at me, and I count to three.
Tip #7: Take Multiple Photos
When shooting large groups, oftentimes, someone will blink. That is why I always take at least four shots of large groups. This will vary depending on how small or large the group is. If it’s a family of 4, I usually only take two shots. But if it’s five and up, I like to keep their attention longer and take more images of the same pose. This way, I know everyone will have their eyes open in at least one shot.
Tip #8: Have Fun
When you pose a family, group of friends, kids, or even pets, remember to let them have fun and pose themselves somewhat naturally. Photography should be fun at the end of the day, which is true for big groups.
I tell kids to run together towards the camera with mom and dad trailing behind. Everyone is in the shot like that, but it looks more natural. Have them jump around or look together while standing somewhere close to each other. Check out the great example in the photo above.
Tip #9: Hands in pockets or to the side
Whether you are shooting a group or a single person, people never know what to do with their hands. It’s even more critical when posing groups. You want everyone to have the same hand pose for a big shot. I tell people to just relax their hands and keep them to their sides as one example. If they are sitting, I tell them to rest their hands in their lap as another one. Use your imagination for what looks great.
Tip #10: Make it tight
You don’t want your height to vary too much for group posing. Instead, try to shoot your groups tight and close together. It looks best if you can have everyone an even distance apart, looking into the camera for business shots. Choose one person to be the center and have everyone turn slightly towards them to keep everyone in line and get better photography poses. Every photographer handles this differently, but you will find what way best for you.
Group Posing Examples
In this part of the article, we will show you some different examples of great group poses that work for all sizes of people. Whether you are shooting 4 or 20 people, use these examples to have better ideas about how to take photos of a group posing.
#1: Standard Pose
For the standard group pose, simply have everyone stand very closely together while facing the camera. You will shoot a few photos to make sure everyone’s eyes are open and include their full body in the frame.
#2: The Trio
For the Trio pose, imagine a triangle around the heads of your subjects. You will want one head at the top of the triangle and the other two acting as the base of your triangle. This type of photography shot is a great go-to photo for most groups.
I use jumping poses a lot for family shoots. This type of photography always gets a laugh out of the parents and the kids. For this shot, ask your group to jump together while holding hands and looking at the camera. This is an excellent shot for photographing young friends as well. Make sure each person is looking at the camera for the shot. It doesn’t matter the number of people; just get everyone looking at you.
Another one of my top ideas for photographing families and friends is having them all sit on the couch together. This keeps them all at an even height and closer together. For each photo, change the poses, some with the kids jumping on mom and dad’s back or giving hugs. Experiment with different ideas for the best pictures.
Another first shot I try with families and kids is piggyback. Kids love jumping on mom and dad’s back. They immediately feel the shoot is going to be more fun and get a feel for the rest of the session. That way, they get to play and like the photography session much more in the end.
#6: Walking Together
Another great idea for group poses is asking couples or families to hold hands and walk to you. Because of this action, they tend to stay together, which keeps them at the perfect distance apart. First, ask them to walk slowly towards the camera, then for the next shot, ask them to get moving and run to you. There is no one right way to get this pose.
Photography is all about candid moments. The same is true for group poses. When you shoot a group, try to have a candid photography moment happen at the same time. A great way to capture this type of photo is to have them do something. For example, pop a bottle of champagne for posing at a wedding or a bouquet toss with a group. Or kids skipping away from mom and dad. Each photo is a way to get a candid photography moment.
In conclusion, there is no one right way to get the perfect photo of a group. Whether you are photographing two, three, thirty, or even one hundred subjects, you will need a different group posing method. We hope you like some of the ideas in this article and can apply them to your next group poses. If you are looking for more help, consider taking our 365 Photography course, which teaches you all about photography in bite-size daily lessons.
The first thing to consider when photographing groups is how many people you are working with and then think about how you can make the shot creative and exciting while still capturing everyone’s face. If you need more ideas, check out 500 poses for photographing group portraits by Michelle Perkins or explore these books by the top portrait photographers. If we missed something in this article, please leave us a comment below. We love hearing from you!