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In this installment of the popular Photo Assignment series, professional photographer Derrick Story demonstrates the art of shooting timeless group shots. Derrick provides suggestions for appropriate lighting gear and shares advice for capturing subjects at their best, both indoors and out. After viewing the tutorials, join Derrick and the lynda.com community in the course's companion Flickr group—a venue for lynda.com members to submit their group shot samples for discussion and review.
Group Shots Photo Assignment Flickr Discussion Group
I have a couples shot up on the screen here, and we're going to look at both indoor lighting and outdoor lighting down here. We'll start with the indoor. Now, I shot this two different ways, one with a Lightsphere that's on a flash, and the flash is on the camera, and that is this shot right here. By the way, all of these shots will be on our Flickr public group, Group Shots Photo Assignment. So you can download them and look at them and play with them to your heart's content.
And we'll talk about that in the upcoming movie. So the Lightsphere is a softer light, and you can really see that when you compare it to the light that's on the stand. The light on the stand is coming from this side here. There's a little bit of fill light coming in this way. But you can see how the shadows are more pronounced. There's a little bit more definition in the shot when you use the directional light as compared to the softer light of the Lightsphere.
See how the shadows are far less pronounced. There is less texture. Lighting coming from the front. That's softened, is softened on the skin, and then lighting that comes from an angle produces more detail and more relief, more texture. So the main point here is that if you have the option, think about your subjects, think about how you like to render them, and then either use a softer funnel light or use a more directional sidelight.
If you use a directional sidelight, make sure you do that a little bit of fill, unless you really want harsh shadows over on the opposite side, on the weak side. Now, let's move outdoors. A lot of times people think when they are working outdoors they don't need any fill light at all. I disagree most of the time, and I'll show you why. This was late in the day. The light was soft, but I still used the fill light. We had a Lightsphere that was on a bracketed flash.
And the reason why I put the flash up on the bracket and had the Lightsphere is that we were close to the wall here, and I wanted to make sure that we didn't have that shadow outline I talked about when I was shooting the shots. You notice there is a shadow here, but it has moved down. See how it's down? You don't even think about it. Whereas if I had the flash directly on the camera, that shadow would be showing up here too, and that's very distracting. So we are able to move that shadow down by raising the flash up and getting it away from the lens.
Now, here's the difference. Take a look at this shot here. There is no flash on this shot, and look at the difference in the eyes. And I'll do the side-by-side comparison here. See, with no fill light the eye areas can become much darker. And then when you do have a fill light, it opens up and it puts a little twinkle in the eye too. Same for her, see how the little twinkle opens up the eye area compared to no fill flash.
Once you really start looking at it, I think it's quite a difference. Now, one other thing. Let's do another comparison here. I want to compare this shot to let's say this shot here. We have got something else I want to compare. And this is about position. Remember, we're talking about background. We talk about position, we talk about lighting, we talk about position right now and background together. See how her head is over in this part of the background here? Now, we have the railing start here, but it's sort of off to the side.
Now, either I changed position or they changed position and the railing in this shot is more down, almost down the center of her head. Now, it's not as bad as having a pole stick out of her head, because we have all this wrought-iron work here. So you don't think about it in quite the same way. But given a choice, I like it better when the head is off to the side a little bit. And along with your lighting, this position and background is something that you want to try to keep in the back of your mind while you're shooting and just get the best position aligned with the background as possible.
So keep these few things in mind while you're shooting your portraits, both indoors and out, and I think you'll really come away with better shots than you would have if you were just shooting without considering some of these elements.
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