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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
Now we are going to do a larger group shot, and when you have more people, you have more variables and more things to think about. Our basics remain the same, though. We are going to look at background, we're going to look at position, and we're going to look at lighting. I am going to start with position on this because on a large group shot it's the first thing that jumps out at you. You tell everyone, "Okay, everyone over there. We're going to take a group shot," and they kind of go over there and they sort of stand all stiff and awkward, and they're waiting for me to do something. So I am going to go over there and I am going to do something right now.
So we have Tom here on the edge, and I am going to move him in a little bit, because he is the tallest of the group and I don't want to have sort of the slant going up like this. I want to create a little composition. So I am going to move Tom in over here like this, and that changes the dynamic of the shot right there. And then the rest of you, I'd like you to tighten up a little bit. Tom, go ahead and move close, and we are going to have Veronica sort of be in front of him here. And it's okay to have a little bit of depth to the shot, especially when you have a very large group, you may need to; you don't want that frame to get too wide.
So I am going to take a look and see how we did here. And already we've improved the shot. We've tightened it up. You guys are already feeling more comfortable. I can tell, yes. Let me take a look at how this looks through the viewfinder here, in terms of position. Okay, I think we have solved problem one. Now I am going to start thinking about more technical things, and one of the things about thinking technically is that sometimes you will miss little nuances, such as stray hairs and things like that.
It's really helpful to have a helper, and I actually have one here. Ash has kindly volunteered to help us out. Now, Ash, what I want you to do is I want you to look for stray hairs, buttons, things like that. Keep an eye on people's eyes, in case they start to wander off. I want them looking into the camera. Derrick: Feel free to jump in at anytime, okay? Ash: Okay! Derrick: Okay. All right, great. So let's continue the shoot. Now, I am free to think about the technical stuff, and I am just going to take some shots here.
I am really paying attention to my lighting, making sure that everyone is evenly illuminated. Ash: Can I stop you right there? Derrick: Oh, actually yes. Yeah, yeah. Ash: Could I get you to take that pen out of your pocket sir? And do you mind just brushing your bangs back a little bit? Thank you so much. Derrick: Fabulous! This is exactly what I am talking about. I am so immersed in the lighting and composition stuff that like the oddest thing that I will completely miss, but you know what, I will see it in the after shots, and then I will be very upset with myself.
So having a helper catch those things now saves me a lot of headache, and the person that's in the shot is going to appreciate it too. So let me take another shot. Now that Ashley has caught that for me, there are movements there. Okay, well Derrick: that shot is no good. Ash: Don't forget to Ash: Look in the camera everybody. Derrick: That's right. Derrick: Right into the camera. You want them looking right into the lens of the camera. Excellent! Okay, I think we're moving along pretty well now. So I want to get into finer aspects of lighting here, and I know some--actually, my batteries are down a bit.
Would you mind grabbing some batteries for me? Ash: Sure! Derrick: Thanks! Helpers are good that way too. Derrick: Okay, so here we go. Now, I have a couple of different options with the lighting. A lot of people will use just the pop-up flash. Oh, thank you. A lot of people will use just the pop-up flash, and that doesn't produce really enough light for a large group shot, and plus it's pretty harsh light. So what I like to do is put a shoe mount flash on here and then have something to broaden the light a little bit.
Here we have a flash bender. It works very nice and it gives me nice coverage on the group shot. However, the more light the better--at least that's the way I feel about this. So I like to have a second light if possible, and I do have one here. I have it on the light stand. You don't have to get crazy and have all sorts of stands everywhere; really just another supplemental light will help you a lot. And this light also has a flash bender on it, and it's coming down a little bit more on the group.
I have it off to one side. Now, if one side starts to get a little hot, especially the side that the flash is on--and what I mean by hot, a little overexposed--you don't have to move the light all the way over. All you have to do is just angle the stand a little bit and point the light to the other side of the group. That will move the light a little bit, but yet there will still be enough spill on the hot side. It will cool it off a little bit. You still get a good exposure, but it won't be overexposed. So you could do this very quickly, and that's the key to when you're shooting group shots, because they don't want to be standing there for half an hour, and this is especially true if you're at a wedding or something.
So I have made a little lighting adjustment there. I am going to take this shot right here. Oh! We're in great shape now. So remember, if you want a great group shot, think about background, think about position, think about lighting. If you have a helper, that's great. That may save you some headache later on. Take lots of shots, because remember, just one person blinking ruins that frame. So make sure you take enough frames, so that you have a good one at the end, and I am sure you'll end up with something that you really like.
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