Smile and say cheese

The group photo. The group photo for the retirement party, for the award ceremony, the accounting department, the company picnic. There are a thousands reason to take one and one thousand and one ways to mess it up. Take a great group photo and you make the cover of the company newsletter. Chances are really high if you are in charge of the company newsletter. The group photo can be difficult. It can be especially difficult if you are the one taking it. There are few things you can do to make it better.

  1. Look over the site. Find a nice place or at least a plain backdrop that isn’t back lit or shiny. No paneling, please. And a podium may not be the best spot.
  2. Think ahead, arrange the photo in your head. Who’s in the middle, shorter people in front.
  3. If you can, take the photo at the beginning of the event. That can’t always happen if there is an award involved, but if you can …
  4. If it’s a large group, are there stairs to arrange them on?
  5. A great way to take a photo of a large group of people is to photograph them from above. They arrange themselves in a circle or tight formation and look up and then they are photographed from above.
  6. No staircase? No place for you to shoot from above? Then try an assistant and a ladder. Ever see a photographer at a wedding shooting from a ladder? Do the same. (The assistant is to hold the ladder.)
  7. Be in charge. I don’t care if it’s the president of the company if she needs to turn to the left direct her to do so. Don’t lose control.
  8. Don’t feel the need to get full body shots, waist or even shoulders up works nicely.
  9. Inform your subjects you will be taking multiple photos and then do so. If you can, try at least two poses, if you can get three poses you’ve got a bunch of hams. Work it.
  10. This one may seem odd, but smile. If you are smiling chances are your subjects will too.

A couple of other things: use a tripod if you can, natural light is better than flash, and never shoot up at anyone. Shooting up makes everyone look terrible and they will not like you.

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