Most common mistakes made during group photos

Something every photographer will do eventually is shoot a group photo. Whether you’re an amateur photographer shooting fun photos at a family reunion or you’re a professional photographer shooting team photos at a school, group photos are an extremely popular option.

If you have experience with this type of subject, you know that the group photo recording process isn’t as easy as having everyone move into the scene and just snapping the image. You need to line up the group properly to ensure everyone can be in focus and visible, while also ensuring everyone’s faces are exposed correctly. It’s easy to make a mistake in this type of image, such as the most common mistakes made during group photos listed here!

Exposure

Depending on the size of the group you’re photographing, you could end up with different types and intensities of lighting in various areas of the scene. If you’re shooting indoors, and the group consists of several rows of people, you may have some people who are closer to the light sources than others, for example. Try to arrange the photo so that everyone is equidistance away from the main light sources. Or if a few individual light bulbs from inside the room are causing problems, try turning those lights off and just using either continuous lights you have with your camera setup or flashes to light the room more evenly.

Focus

If the group photo consists of people at varying distances from the camera, such as rows of people sitting in bleachers or standing on risers, you could end up leaving some faces out of focus, which is a significant problem. Try shooting with the smallest aperture you can use (large f-stop number) to give you the largest depth of field (which is the segment of the photograph from front to back that is in focus). Unfortunately, using a small aperture allows less light to travel through the lens, which can make shooting a group photo indoors a challenge. However, if you move farther back from the group, you can shoot with a smaller f-stop number/larger aperture and still achieve a useable photo, such as f/4, by using infinity focus. Just be sure to use a camera with the largest image sensor you can find to make this technique work as well as possible. Additionally, be sure to set the focal point in the middle of the group (in terms of depth), rather than at the front or back, to ensure the entire group is focused accurately.

Too low

If you shoot a large group photo with people at different heights and distances (returning to the bleacher or riser example earlier), you will encounter problems if you shoot from ground level. Get on a ladder or other sturdy platform, making the upper middle portion of the group match your eye level.