One of my main goals in taking my recent trip to Hawaii (other than spending as much time as possible with my ailing grandmother) was to get as many group shots of various family members as possible.
Obviously, taking group shots is a bit more challenging than taking a photo of a single subject. Timing is critical given that you are trying to coordinate and manage multiple individuals, along with lighting and background interference. Still, there are ways to capture frameworthy shots of your favorite people gathered together at the same place at the same time.
Here are some tips that have served me well over the years:
PAY ATTENTION. Since you will likely be shooting from a distance (depending on the size of your group) you want to pay particular attention to the subjects you place at the ends. Meaning those people positioned farthest to the right and the left in your viewfinder. Make sure you leave enough space in the picture, so that if cropping is required, the end people don’t have to lose body parts in the process.
LIGHTING. I can’t tell you how many times I have ruined wonderful group shots because I was outside of my camera’s flash range. If you know your flash works well at 10 feet then don’t attempt to capture a shot at 12 feet. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. If you need to be further away than your on-camera flash allows you might consider purchasing an external flash unit for your camera or increasing the ISO setting. Otherwise, you’ll have to simply scrap your spot and move to a brighter location. It might be a hassle, but it’s worth it in the end when you see a well lit photo in which your family members are not shrouded in darkness.
BACKGROUND. Take a few minutes to examine the background prior to snapping your shot. If there are distractions (poles, odd shaped plants, or tree limbs) switch your backdrop. Also, if you are shooting indoors make sure you avoid having mirrors in the background. Mirrors or other reflective surfaces in the background can ruin a perfectly good group shot. Unless you take the picture in such a way that the flash is not perpendicular to the surface all you end up with is a nice picture of your light source.