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In this course, Pulitzer finalist Natalie Fobes shows how to capture engaging portrait shots of couples, families, and other groups using a variety of posing and composition techniques.
The course discusses how to plan for a portrait photo shoot and how to make stylistic decisions regarding props, clothing, and makeup. Next, the course reviews the essentials of posing women and men, starting with a single subject, moving on to a couple, and then working up to large groups. The course also demonstrates how to pose and compose a group portrait in ways that highlight the relationships between group members, whether they're family members or business colleagues. Lastly, to illustrate the time constraints photographers often face, Natalie works against the clock to shoot a group of people she's never met.
The course also covers various postprocessing techniques geared specifically for portraiture, such as working with wrinkles and skin textures.
So far we photographed individuals, couples, a small group, and today we'll be photographing a large group. The college asked me to photograph members of two different departments here at the school. I heard about it a couple of days ago so I came out here to do some scouting beforehand. I wanted to find the right location, a location that gave the message of academia. I wanted a location that was big enough for quite a few people and that would give me the opportunity to add depth in my photographs.
I also wanted to check out the lighting because sometimes fluorescent lights are not really great to work with. So by looking around and finding the perfect spot, I was able to plan the shoot. I was able to figure out where I'd put my lights, and also how to pose the people so I would get a compact group, but still have enough environs around them that you could really see that this was set at a college. Natalie Fobes: So Joe, come over here and go ahead and just kind of be like this, with your arm up and just kind of hold the other arm.
Joe: Like this? Natalie Fobes: Yeah. Joe: Okay. Natalie Fobes: And I'll adjust you -- do a little bit more finessing once I get everybody in position. Joe: Okay. Natalie Fobes: And Tatiana, I'm going to have you here kind of looking again, kind of straight in, but I want your body pointed this way a little bit. I got here early so that I could set up my lights, set up my camera and be ready for the group when they came in. With the group this large, you really want to have everything ready to go. You never know if they're going to be available for five minutes or 20 minutes. You want to make sure that you can get them in and out as efficiently as possible.
Natalie Fobes: And turn a little bit more this way. Female Speaker: That way? Natalie Fobes: Yeah, exactly! I may have you sit down but let we see what everybody else ends up looking like here. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're photographing so many people, but the way to get around that is if you think of them in subgroups. The most important people will be in the center of the photograph. So I usually bring them out for us and have them in position, and then I start posing other subgroups around them. I usually work in groups of three to four, and that way I can create movement in the photograph and I can put their faces in little triangles, so that it also increases the movement in the photograph.
Natalie Fobes: I may have you sitting right here. We'll see how that works. Okay, so I've got a nice three group here and let's see. Come on this way, it is show-time. Okay, so in this situation, I think I'll have -- you've got such a nice bright -- I think your shirt is so bright I think I'm going to put you behind the Sheena. Because the group shot was made up of two different departments, the clothing was a mix of casual and businesslike.
One thing I noticed as soon as they walked in, was that two of the guys had clothing on that was really, really vibrant in color. This is one of the first things I noticed when a group shows up. I scan the crowd looking for things like these vibrant colors or like clothes that might be a little wrinkled or inappropriate for the message of the photograph. This is a very quick survey of the people, and it just gives me an opportunity to think about where I'm going to put them and how I'm going to pose them.
Natalie Fobes: There may be some rearranging. Everybody having fun? Group: Yeah. Natalie Fobes: (laughs) Yeah, right. That was the right answer, by the way. Okay, so ma'am if you could tuck in just a little bit, there you go, perfect. I think I'm going to have this -- your group move over just a little bit because I've got this big wall right here. So why don't you slide around there and do that, and you're good on that, go ahead and sit down.
Why don't I turn it this way like so? There you go, and you're good just come on in, even close to your friends there. There you go. I think I'm going to put you down too. So I have you here. Go ahead and swing your legs around that way. You never ever want to have the eyes all lined up. You want to stagger those eyes and again, this will give you a little bit of motion through the photograph.
So I use a variety of techniques; one might be having someone sit on a stool, the other might be having someone leaned forward a little bit, or maybe work their quads a little bit, as I often tell them to do. But whatever you need to do, do it. Have their eyes on different levels and their heads on different levels. You know, that really helps create a more pleasing photograph. Natalie Fobes: You guys are looking great. Okay, here we go. I'm going to do a one, two, three, and so just go ahead and smile at the camera, whatever you want to do on the three.
You don't need to hold your smile because otherwise you'll get really tired. So, ready? One, two, three. Getting that first shot out of the bag is a big relief to everybody. What it means to the subjects is that the shoot is progressing. What it means to the photographer is that they're going to start relaxing. The more you photograph people the more relaxed they are. The more they realize that you're not going to just take one or two or three shots; the more relaxed they'll be and the more of the personalities of those people will show through.
Natalie Fobes: Okay, so I am losing you a little bit Sheena. So you need to lean out, and how about if you even lean on there, yeah. And sir, you can jump right in behind her. Oh, that's too far, this way, it will do. Photographers are directors and as a director, you've got to make sure everybody is engaging with you, you've got to make sure that you've got them on the same page as the one you're on. Sometimes with groups, people start talking amongst themselves and not really paying attention, maybe they're entertaining each other, making jokes, and things like that.
One way to get around that is to make sure that you look directly at people, that you talk in a voice loud enough, that when you're photographing, you let them know exactly how it's going and what you're thinking about, what your thought processes is. This will really keep them engaged with the group shot, and that way they won't really wander off in their minds thinking about who's calling them or what text message they just missed. Natalie Fobes: Everybody's looking good.
One, two, three. One, two, three. Sweet! Let me make sure I am getting everybody in the frame. I'll adjust a little bit, okay. One, two, three. When photographing a large group, it's important to take a lot of photographs. That way if someone blinks or if someone is making a funny face, you'll be sure to have enough great shots.
Natalie Fobes: All right. One, two, three. Good! One, two, three. Good, excellent. I'm going to come in a little bit closer. All right! Here we go. Oh, I kind of like this. It's a different kind of angle even though you're still in the same position. Okay, everybody, here we go. One, two, three. One, two, three.
So the main things to remember when you're photographing large groups is to get there early, take control of the situation right away, pose in subgroups, and have fun. If you're having fun, if you're relaxed, your subjects will be too, and that will be reflected in the great photograph.
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