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  • Cindy Ellis

Family Photo Tips--The Group Shot

Take Charge

  • You are the boss so take charge.

  • Put the important people in the center like the grandparents in family holiday photos.

  • Put taller people towards the back and shorter people on the sides or kneeling in the foreground.

  • Have the people raise their chins to prevent double chins.

  • Coordinate clothing color if possible.

  • Pick the time of day and location.

  • Often the shade can be better than the sun to eliminate shadows but can fool your camera meter.

  • Consider using fill flash outdoors.

Broad Depth of Field

  • Choose a larger number aperture like f11 to allow for more depth of field or more of photo to be in focus.

  • Do not make your group too deep to avoid depth of field or out of focus issues.

  • Focus 1/3 way into the group. Some camera have face recognition mode focus and some camera even have group shot specialty modes. If you are having problems getting your camera to focus where you wish consider changing to single point autofocus.

  • Watch the shutter speed. Do not let shutter speed drop below 1/250 second especially when you are not using a flash.

Look for distractions and Fix Clothing

  • Make sure necklaces and ties are straight.

  • Buttons buttoned.

  • Hair in place.

  • Look at all four corners of the frame for distractions.

  • Look at the hand placement. In family photos, hands on shoulders, or hands touching but watch out for hand in awkward places as well.

  • Make sure things like flowers are not growing out of people's heads!

Get everyone to look at the camera and smile

  • Good luck with this so take many shots.

  • Remember if they cannot see the camera, the camera cannot see them.

  • Take traditional posed shots as well as creative ones.

  • Silly shots can break the ice and possibly get the groups attention.

  • Give the little ones something to look towards like a bubble machine, or a teddy bear.

Fill the frame

  • Try and fill the frame with your group to a degree. Leaving a little room on the edges and top and bottom allows for different pictures sizes.

  • Don't do a lot of free cropping when editing your photo. Always keep the original uncropped image and crop for the photo size in mind. Remember a 8x10 and 5x7 photo do not have the same proportions.

Consider Auto ISO with manual setting for the more advanced user.

  • Set your camera to auto ISO.

  • Choose both the shutter speed and aperture. Choose 1/250 second or higher if you are not using the flash. Choose the aperture value based on the amount of depth of field your desire. Apertures of lower numbers will produce shallow depth of field or softer backgrounds. Apertures of higher numbers will produce broader depth of field or more of background in focus.

  • Choose single focus with single focus point area focus to allow you to control your point of focus. Focus 1/3 way into the group.

  • If the light is bright behind your subject or group consider changing to a spot meter. If you are using a flash the matrix meter will probably work fine.

  • If your photos appear off color (often when you are not using the flash) consider selecting the appropriate white balance setting or preset white balance.

Triangles. Laura Morita from the Canon Learning Center talks about thinking or framing in triangles. "If you're going for a traditional family pose, think about getting people's heads to form triangles. This allows the viewer's eyes to move throughout the photo in an easy and pleasing way. I'm only highlighting a couple of the triangles, but if you take a look, you can see that there are triangles in other places too. Using triangles in your posing really helps to create an engaging family photo!"

more tips from Laura Morita see below

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