Group Shots at Weddings and in General!


TPF Noob!
Aug 6, 2013
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Hi Guys!

I've been doing a lot of paid gigs recently involving group shots of 10 or more people.
I instruct everyone to smile and keeping looking at me and NOWHERE else, put my camera in Continuous shooting mode and will take about 12 or more shots of the same group.

My biggest challenge is that there's always a few people looking in other directions, including kids - Enough to ruin a picture.

How have you guys overcome this?? Any tips you can share?
Well you tell them to look and do the best you can or you can photoshop heads or eyes from one image to another but you posted in the beginner section and you are asking about pro work...
I know from experience that you can't always worry about kids. You could hold up a group for 20 minutes trying to get the kids perfect. Often that part of the photo must be sacrificed to stay on schedule. People expect children to be that way, so I've never heard of anyone being disappointed that 1-year-old Junior wasn't looking at the camera. If you can't even get them in the photo, you could always try to get them at cocktail hour or Photoshop them in later; neither is a great option.

I take command of the situation and say that all adults must look at the camera. Oftentimes the adults will look at the kids and laugh or try to control them. And sometimes they'll manage to wrangle a kid and get him to look at the camera for two seconds. I try to get that shot. I repeat in a firm, loud voice that all adults must look at the camera. This gets them to look and when they do I take several frames. The reason for taking several frames is to create duplicates for file safety and in case anyone blinks.

Without children, there should be no problems. Being in command of the situation is not optional. You have to walk the line between being obnoxious and in command. You never want to be rude or obnoxious. The rule of thumb is people listen to whoever is talking, and if you keep talking, they'll eventually place their obedience in you. Keep talking firmly but constructively. Get people on deck, show people how you want them arranged, and talk them through the photo. Crack jokes, use lines. A great example of this is Doug Gordon.

I don't recommend doing weddings without professional training.
I find the machine-gun routine rarely works since in the second or two it takes to shoot 8-10 frames, at least one person in the group has gone... "Squirrel!". My suggestion is shoot one or two images, pause, re-focus their attention by saying, "Okay everyone, <meaningless minor posing adjustment direction>, now, everyone please look this way." I usually have them looking at my shoulder, not sure why, but this seems to produce moderately better results. As well, especially if their are children, give them a target to focus on. I literally have a birdy for them to watch; a small, plush parakeet on a threee foot stick that I or an assistant can wave which works wonders. Having an assistant to 'spot' for you, again, especially for children is invaluable.
I find the machine-gun routine rarely works since in the second or two it takes to shoot 8-10 frames, at least one person in the group has gone... "Squirrel!".

What! What? I like the bird on a stick!
It comes down to people skills and being able to get their attention (mostly the kids) and at the same time, have the adults listen and pay attention to you.

As mentioned, the kids won't necessarily listen or look at you all the time, so the adults will look down at the kids to correct them. So while you are waiting for the kids to look (which they eventually will do), you end up having the parents looking down.

I tell the parents to (try) be looking at me at all times...then it's just a matter of getting the kids attention. There are all sorts of things you can try...but it usually helps if you can connect with them on something. Maybe let them look at the photos, after you've shot them...but they have to sit still and look at me, before they are allowed to come and look at the camera. Or candy...candy bribes are always good. :D
Just stage a large explosion or crash in the direction you want them to look. When they look up to see what's going on, you got your shot. :mrgreen:

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