The Top 5 Problems in Group Portraits (and How to Troubleshoot them!)

Check out my next post on "The Top 5 Problems in Group Portraits (and How to Troubleshoot them!)

1. Blinking
2. Looking elsewhere
3. Kids running around
4. Hair in the face
5. Personalities

1. Blinking

One person in a group portrait can ruin a perfect picture. Enough said! You could take a million shots of the same group and if one person blinks on one, and the next person blinks on the other, and so on, how are you gonna end up with a picture that's worth keeping?

Digital photography guru     has a technique. Unless an infant is involved where you can't control a situation, tell everybody to close their eyes and when you count to finally take the shot, everybody, yell "Open!"

The downside is that some of them may have that shocked look on their faces. :-)

2. Looking elsewhere

Almost similar to blinking, it's hard to command everybody to look at the camera at the same time especially when kids are involved. In a location where there are lots of distractions, one person's attention can get caught by a flying bird or a cellphone ringing at the wrong moment. This can mess up any good, if not the best picture of all. 

With luck, constantly trying to get a good, continuous shot of everybody looking when you call them is better than no good shot at all. 

3. Kids running around

It's almost impossible for kids to stay still. In fact, this is probably the most challenging part of creating great group portraits. Children make the most beautiful photos -- if you could run after them or find a way to get them to settle down and flash their innocent, happy look at you. 

When I photographed my daughter on her 5th birthday I did not find it difficult for her to get dressed and fancy up. However, I found it challenging to get her to look at me and there were a couple times she gave me mad stares and funny faces almost like saying, "Come on, Mommy let's play instead of take pictures!"

My trick was to get something to get them interested. I would bring blowing bubbles, a ball or something to keep them still or going to my direction. Most of the time this helps.

4. Hair in the face

You can't simply photoshop everything. Gorgeous pictures are usually edited. But when hair is all over the place, how does one deal with that?

Windy days have created chaotic portraits for myself and other people. However, I need the outdoor light so sometimes I don't have a choice but to shoot outside even when it's windy (it's bad in Texas, as all Texans know :-)) And you can't simply tie up a nicely set up hairdo. The only thing you can really do is keep shooting until you get the perfect photo without the hairs sticking out. And tell your subject to stop brushing the hair off the face, because their elbows sticking out do not help the composition either. 

5. Personalities

This part of the job as a photographer requires plenty of people skills. I know, it sucks for most who are shy. In fact, if you think you're shy, your subject is probably more reluctant to pose or smile or talk than you! 

The success of a group portrait relies on the mood of the whole setup. Two people who are happy just can't compensate for three who are in a sour situation. So lighten them up and let them know they don't even have to pose in the beginning, just be casual. Eventually they will get to the right flow. 

Also, there's that part where subjects get impatient. Unless you pay them to be models, then they do have the right to be impatient when you're the one getting paid and you're taking too long. So make sure everything is ready, camera has the right settings, equipment is up and running and you're not running around looking for a bathroom (which happened to me).

Marie Puddu does Digital Photography and Editing. Join the conversation or message her on Twitter or Instagram @Marie Puddu :-)

#shelby #photoshoot

One of the funny things about photography sessions is that you never know what to expect.

I arrived at Permian Park in Burk at about 10 minutes before 5 pm. Shelby and I both agreed it was a good idea (upon my suggestion) to do our photoshoot at least when the sun is a little lower so the ambiance is mellow. But it turned out to be quite cloudy and gray. 

The other funny thing, and you should always be professional and straight up about this, is that you need to take care of business so you're not uncomfortable during the entire session. So as soon as I got to the location I just had to go to the restroom because my bladder was about to burst. I drank coffee earlier.

I was able to scout the place and find a few nice spots on my way around the park and in search of a bathroom. I was not lucky to find one. Finally, Shelby and family arrived and we chatted a little bit at the gazebo. After a few pleasantries and signing documents, we went ahead.

Thankfully, she told me there was a restroom at a gas station a block away so I excused myself. The kids were already restless.

When I got back after about 10 minutes, we started at the bridge. It was a pretty park, with lots of trees and not very crowded. While I directed them a few poses and walks here and there, the kids stole the show. A line of trees that looked like an arch, a flat grassy area with a view of the lake. While I really wanted to show the fountain as part of the background, there were cars lined up and people walking here and there. So I just used my 50mm prime in order to create a nice crystalline bokeh.

I brought a small quilt for sitting in the grass. Then we had a few more solo shots of the children, a three year old boy and a one year old girl. 

Our last shots were taken at the back of the park by the amphitheater. We packed up at about 6:15 pm.

Overall, the photography session with Shelby's family was great. As soon as I checked the RAW photos when I got home via Canon DPP software, some issues came up.

Check out my next post on "The Top 5 Problems in Group Portraits (and How to Troubleshoot them!)

1. Blinking
2. Looking elsewhere
3. Kids running around
4. Hair in the face
5. Personalities

Hi, I'm Marie Puddu and I'm a Digital Photography Artist and Editor. I love to shoot landscapes, events and people. I also contribute to Adobe Stock. I own a Canon 70D and EOS T6. If you would like to discuss, please send me a message via Twitter or Instagram @MariePuddu.

Workout mode

Even shutterbugs need to get off their butt and run a couple miles. While it is especially sunny today, it's still a little bit cold. So a treadmill walk/run is in session. And so are B&W photo shoots in between!

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