How to pose a large team photo creatively - softball

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by SquarePeg, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg Hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm not an aspiring professional but this seemed like the most appropriate forum.

    I'm taking a team photo next week for my daughter's softball team that I am helping coach. I have several challenges to overcome here and could use some help.

    1 - there are 16 girls on the team! height ranges from about 4'6" to 5'10" with most of the girls being around 5'3". Uniforms are black pants and red shirts with black lettering.

    2 - the photo will be taken at the field where there is absolutely no shade available. I'll be praying for an overcast day. The good news is that it's a very nice looking field with lots of opportunity for background separation and it will be at 8am so not too harsh if it's a clear and sunny day. Background can be the backstop which has a black chain link fence or the outfield which I can probably line up so that there are distant trees in the background.

    3 - I'd like to be in the photo, although I plan to take several of just the girls, there will be at least one with the 2 coaches so need to know how best to pose that too. For the girls I was thinking of doing a V like this: softball pros and cons?

    4 - I'd like the photo to be a little more creative than what we usually get from the company we use for our league photos in the spring where they always have half the team kneeling and the other half standing behind with the coaches flanking the back row and everyone squared to the camera - they look terrible and stiff and so completely boring. There are no stands to use, just the benches in the dugouts but those are fenced in. I can bring a stool or stepladder if needed.

    Any help, suggestions, warnings about what not to do, gear suggestions etc would be welcome. I'll be working with my Fuji XT2 and have only the 18-55, 60mm or 50-230 lenses to choose from. I have a tripod but don't have a remote shutter release for the XT2 yet. All I have for flash is the one that came with the camera - I haven't used it yet other than to test to make sure it's working so hopefully won't be needed.

    Note I'm not charging anyone for the photo and will simply send it out to the parents and girls via email. We don't usually hire anyone for team photos for our fall league since we have just 1 team at each level but since it might be the last time I coach with my daughter on the team I want to do it.

    TIA for any help!


     
  2. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    For the creative end ... how about lining them up at Fenway Park? I doubt if they'll let you on the field ... but maybe arrange them quickly out front before security boots you out. Hell ... forget about taking the team, Photoshop Fenway as your background.
     
  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Here's what's wrong with that example: The "V" is bass-awkward! The ends of the lineup are the farthest from the camera, and they appear to be the shortest ones on the team. Even if you wanted to do a "V", then at least consider your DOF when lining them up.

    Instead; make a "U" shape, with the tallest in the center/back of the group, and the shorter members on the ends which are closer. Take a tape measure along and lay out the line on the ground so that your DOF will cover them all at the same distance.

    By placing the shorter members closer to the camera, their height will not be exaggerated by the lens distortion.

    Actually, I very much prefer the "freeform" style of lining them up. Just start picking random members, and placing them in a loosely-organized group. You can usually figure on a 3 to 4-foot DOF at the minimum, and possibly deeper if the light and your settings will allow. That means you'll be stacking someone's arm/shoulder in front of someone else's, but just make sure their faces and player numbers are all unobstructed.

    As for making it special, ask some of the players to pose with gloves, bats, standing with folded arms, etc. Yes, some can kneel, but get them to loosen up a bit so they aren't mannequins.

    Place the taller players on the ends, toward the back, and fill in the gaps with the shorter members toward the middle of the group. This will not be easy, nor quick, so you might not want to do it.

    Just scratch out a "V/U" line in the dirt, (use your tape measure) and tell them to line up on the line. If you have considered your DOF and measured it out, everybody who is on or near the line should be in focus.

    If the day is sunny, you''ll need to use more light with speedlights.

    If you want to be in the shot, use your IR trigger, and set it to a 2-second delay. Count down the time loud enough so that everybody can hear, and take several shots to compensate for eye-blinks, stray eyes, open mouths, etc.

    Before you let them go, take a good look at your shots to hopefully find at least one fairly good one.
     
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  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I like Designer's posing ideas; I think they're especially appropriate for a younger girl's group. Definitely include some of 'tools of the trade'. If they're wearing their caps, make sure they tip them back a bit on their head to avoid the shadow over the eyes. Since you don't have any light to speak of, and you're dealing with black, red and skin, my suggestion would be to face them INTO the sun (this all assumes a bright, sunny day; if it's overcast, your problems are over). The trick to making this work is to explain to them before-hand what you're going to do:

    Mark out your posing line(s) and get the girls arranged, then tell them to close their eyes and keep them closed. Explain to them that when you say <whatever> they're to open their eyes as wide as they can hold that for a second, and close them again. This should prevent the squints for the most part and asking them to force them open wide should get a more normal eye despite the natural reflex to squint. I had to do this with a real estate agent the other day because she wanted a very specific shot at a very specific time of day which meant she was facing into full, afternoon sun. I told her it wasn't going to be fun and it would take a few attempts, but in the end, it worked out reasonably well.

    Make sure you take a LOT of pictures and tell the girls NOT TO MOVE (other than opening their eyes) until you say so, to make facial transplants easier. As for getting you in, just throw the camera on a tripod, set the self-timer and join the ranks. Easy.
     
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  5. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg Hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Ok so V or U shape with taller girls in the middle/back and shortest on the ends/forward. Facing the sun if sunny. Should I use a double or single line with that many girls? For example Would 2 lines work with girls in front line of V on one knee and girls in back line stand so that I can get closer and there won't be faces too far away in the back. That way I can do 4 lines of 4... not sure if that will work and don't want to waste time and patience trying it. Maybe I'll have them do a mock line up after practice next week to see how it looks. As you can tell this is really not my area but want to see if I can do it.
     
  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Four lines of four sounds a bit klunky to me ('though it may work out perfectly fine, it just doesn't sound great)... how about two lines of six with the remaining four seated across the front?
     
  7. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If the taller girls are farther away from the camera. If not, then mix them up a bit. I was hoping you would visualize what I was trying to get across and avoid the "V" no matter which way. The main point is to avoid making the short girls look shorter by comparison to the taller girls. This can be done my making the shorter girls closer to the camera than the taller ones.

    The example you showed makes two "Vees", the first one in plan view, and the second one in elevation view with the middle of the lineup looking way taller because they are closer to the camera. I don't know why some photographers do that, but I think it is not ideal.

    If everybody is at the same distance from the camera (more or less) and still in focus, then it won't matter much how they line up. They will still all look "normal" height.
     
  8. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It finally dawned on me what you meant by "4 lines of 4". No, that would probably be too deep. I could see two lines; one kneeling in front of the line, and the others standing just behind it. In fact, ask the back row to lean forward slightly so their faces would be just about over the shoulders of the kneelers.

    The "line" is probably going to look more like a parentheses mark than a "U". Like this ) Ask the kids to scratch the line in the dirt while you're unpacking your camera and tripod. Have one hold the tape measure where your tripod is, and one takes the end out to wherever you think the line should be, and another can use a stick to make a scratch in the dirt. You can use a string instead of a tape measure.
     
  9. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg Hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    @Designer I really appreciate your help. Sorry if I'm not being clear.

    By 4 lines of 4 I was calling each leg of the V a line so would be 2 deep. I'm just spit balling... maybe have the catcher in her gear (except for the mask) in her squat in the center then 3-4 of the girls on each side of her slightly angled and each on one knee with glove resting on knee, gradually forming a very shallow V then the rest of the girls standing behind them with bats on shoulders in the same V formation- bodies facing slightly toward center of V. And not too stiffly lined up. Not sure if that makes sense? Shorter girls kneeling or taller or mix it up?
     
  10. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I think I would be somewhat flexible about how much gear they're wearing. A cap would shade their faces (that's the point of them, in'it?). If the catcher really wanted her gear on, I think I would suggest a single, or perhaps catcher & pitchers in a small group. The catcher's chest protector will hide her number, which I think is more important than the chest protector. I would pose the catcher alone with all her gear, including the helmet, but with the mask shoved up on top.

    As to who is kneeling and whatnot, I would use my best composition eye and draw a line through their faces to see if the line is smooth or jagged. I would try for a nice smooth curve if at all possible. This will mean shifting them around some, so I hope they won't object. Just watch the line of face height, and gently move each one as needed.
     
  11. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg Hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks! Numbers on back only so no worries about that.
     
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  12. OGsPhotography

    OGsPhotography No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I havent read the while thread sonplease excuse if this is redundant. I saw a lot of talk if Vs. In the last Creative Live class Inwatched the presenter use Ws to great effect. Just pose everyone individually starting at the center and go out from there, remember dof and be creative!
     
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