How to Shoot Group or Team Photos

How to Shoot Group or Team Photos

Group portraits can be lot of fun and make
you quite a bit of money if you know what you’re doing. So here’s some tips. Before the lesson begins, go to
and sign up for our free business coaching call. It’s gonna be a fabulous opportunity for you
to learn the daily routine for success. It’s free. I’ll wait. Go ahead. Sign up. I’m waiting. I’m good. We won’t start the lesson without you. [00:00:22]
[music] [00:00:34] Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens, we’re gonna talk
about how to do a corporate group portrait or a team photo. This is a formal portrait. This is people standing shoulder to shoulder,
looking at the camera, getting their group shot to show all the people who work at this
certain business. Now I do these for a company that I work for
up in Northern California. I love doing them. They’re a lot of fun. I’m gonna talk about how we set it up, how
we lit it, and just a few tips and things that people ought to bring. So let’s get started and see what we can do. Number one for me and for the company is shoot
these early in the morning. It’s just easier. Everyone comes into the business, they get
there slightly before they would normally start their workday, you’re gonna get your
photograph done, and then send them on their way. If you try to do these in the afternoon…and
I’ve tried that before…it’s just difficult. People don’t show up, they show up late, they’re
at other sites. It just doesn’t work very well. Number two, set up before they arrive. This kind of depends on the time of year and
the business you’re working with, but in this case, I’m gonna get there super-early, like
at 5 or 5:30. We’re gonna shoot at 7:00 because the sun
is just coming up then and I’ve got a little bit of ambient light. I don’t want them to ever stand around and
wait. I want the minute they arrive, that I start
getting them into their place and they’re always working to get ready and they feel
like this process is always moving down the tracks and it’s not stalled or waiting at
any time. One of the reasons I want this to happen so
quickly when they arrive is that I don’t want to take away from company billing time any
more than I have to. I want the company to feel like I respect
the fact that these people all need to go to work and I’m there to do my job, do it
quickly, and get them back on the job. Choose the background. The first thing I do when I arrive is I choose
my background. And this kind of goes with the next point
and that is get rid of the sun. I want to choose my background so that I’m
looking and I’ve got the sun either off to my right or left, right or left, in the background
and coming up towards me. I don’t want it over my shoulder because it’s
gonna start to light my people and cause problems for me. I don’t want it to come in hard from the side
because it’ll do the same thing. I want it on my far right or far left so it’s
kind of away from what I’m doing. It’s not gonna light them in the front. It’s gonna throw them into shadow and then
I can light them with my strobes. In choosing that background, so I’ve got to
consider that, I’ve got to make sure the sun is gonna be in the right place. I put trucks in there, they have their logos
on it. That gives me a nice background, little bit
of trees in the back behind that, and then the sun’s gonna come up on my left or on my
right and I’m ready to go. That’s kind of my standard formula for getting
the shot organized first thing in the morning in the dark and off we go. Side note on that. It’s always nice to look at the location the
day before and just see exactly what it’s gonna look like. Light changes at different times of the year
and you wanna see exactly what you’re gonna be in for. Looking at the light at the location a day
before is always a good idea. Not always possible, but a great idea. I normally use a Baja for this type of shoot
so I don’t have to worry about power. I can just put them up and turn them on and
off we go. But I had sent the Bajas with Andy to a second
unit shoot. He was shooting another group the same morning. So I’m gonna use the packet head system. I’ve got 2 heads, 1 800-watt second pack,
and I’m gonna plug those 2 heads into the same pack, which is gonna give me about 400
watt seconds for each head. So I’ve got my lights up, one on each side. Now I’m going to take a meter reading. But I know with these strobes on this pack
at full power, that’s 400 watt seconds each at about that distance, I’m gonna get roughly
about F8. That’s where I would start. So I usually just put on F8 and take a shot. That’s usually what I do. But I’m gonna say I take a meter reading because
that would be a really photographic intelligent thing to do. So I’m going to set my aperture at F8. I want the aperture on my camera to match
the output of the strobes. That’s what you always do. Match your aperture to the output of the strobes. That’s gonna be F8. I’ll now set the shutter at 1/80th of a second. It’s in the dark. I’m not gonna see any ambient light here whatsoever. So there’s my first exposure. So that background is really dark so I’m gonna
lengthen my shutter to 1/15th of a second and I’m gonna take another exposure. So I’m going to keep shortening the shutter
as the ambient gets brighter and brighter so I always have a correct exposure on my
people. Any time you’re shooting out on location,
that is always the challenge. Strobes on location equal having to control
strobes with the aperture and the ambient with the shutter. That sky looks a lot better now, but Kenneth
is just a little bright so I’m gonna change my aperture to F10. That’s gonna bring Kenneth into the right
exposure and I’m gonna have a nice background. It’s still a little dark in the background,
but I know my sun’s coming up. It’s just gonna get brighter and brighter,
so I’m gonna wait for a few minutes and just watch that start to happen, then I’m gonna
chase that sun with my shutter speed. The shutter doesn’t have the ability to change
the strobe light at all because it’s too slow. It’s like the two are doing their own thing. Strobes are lighting the people in the foreground
and the shutter’s aligned enough ambient to bring up the background and light them to
show some detail in the background. So the ambient light can become bright enough
that it starts to affect the light on people’s faces, but generally speaking, that’s gonna
take a long time to get that much ambient light, so you’re gonna be very safe using
the shutter to control your ambient in the background and your strobe power on the people
in the foreground. Those two together are gonna make a nice portrait. So here’s our final image of the group before
any retouching is done. It’s a little dark, but we’ll open it up in
Photoshop. Now let’s talk a little bit about posing. People need to be separated one from another. You know, I’ve done this a lot of different
ways, but my favorite thing to do, I simply do what everyone knows: tall people in the
back, shorter people in the front, and then I bring a ladder. If I get them lined up nicely so I have those
two or three rows and I get up on a ladder, I can slowly climb that ladder to where I
see the separation from each row and then I can start to do my pictures there. That’s one of the reasons I get my lights
up so high is because I want it up high enough to be able to light their faces, I’m gonna
come up on the ladder and look down at everyone, and they’re gonna look up at me and that gives
us a nice separation. The only thing to watch out for is make sure
your lights are not up too high, but high enough that you’re not throwing shadows off
from one person’s head onto the face of the person behind them. That’s a difficult thing to balance, so take
a look at that when you take your first picture. That’s something you’ve got to be very aware
of. Make sure they all come in the same uniform. Some companies have three or four different
uniforms, long sleeve, short sleeve, blue shirt, white shirt. Just make sure everyone comes in the same
uniform that’s put on a call sheet so they can post that in the break room or wherever
they’re gonna be at so they can see exactly what they’re supposed to wear when they’re
supposed to be there. It’s always a good idea to ask management
to bring a few extra uniforms so they can match the look you’re gonna have that day,
so if someone shows up in the wrong uniform, you’ve got a uniform for them right there. Watch their hands. When you have a group of people, when they
put their hands in front of them like this, it’s, “I have to go to the bathroom.” When they take their hands and put them behind
themselves, it’s, “I have no arms.” Get them all to be the same, either drop to
the side or in their pockets or one hand in the pocket. Just try to give some uniformity to the experience. Now you may have a different view about that. You may want to do it differently, but that’s
my experience. “I’ve got to go to the bathroom,” “I’ve got
no arms.” More comfortable here at the side or in their
pockets I think is a nice place. One of the most important parts of this process
is to be in charge. They look to the photographer to take control
and to be in charge of this experience. Don’t look to the management or to the boss
[inaudible 00:07:02]. You be in charge. You stand up there. You get it organized. A megaphone can help or if you really have
a big group of people that can’t hear you, but the reality is you’ve got to be in charge. You don’t want to be mean, you don’t want
to be rude, but you want to have a sense of authority that this has got to happen, it’s
got to happen in the time frame. I always say to people, “Okay, everybody,
let’s move along. We’re all gonna freeze to death out here if
we don’t all get together, you know? Everybody listen here.” And I always go, “Oh, oh, hey, everybody. Right here, right here. Oh.” I’ll say, “I can’t go ahead, I can’t keep
going if everyone’s going to keep talking,” you know, I’ll let them know. Don’t to keep trying to take the photograph
when people are talking. My mother taught me that. She’s a schoolteacher. She goes, “Don’t ever try to teach school
when kids are talking. When a kid starts to talk, you stop. And all the kids go…and then you go forward.” And you can do that very same thing with a
group of people. If they all are talking, you just stop and
you look. They all go…”Okay, I need everybody with
me. Let’s move forward.” And once you get them back with you, you can
move forward. So it’s always a hard thing to do and people
are cold, they want to be done, they want to be done with it, out of there, but you
just got to get them with you and move ahead. But be nice about it. You don’t want to be rude, because then your
clients won’t like you very much. So there’s some tips on how to shoot team
photos or group photos. You know, this is a great place to start your
business, a great place to get work because every company needs team photos, a way to
introduce you to them and get that work at that level and allow you to move up and do
work for them in other areas. Join our Facebook group. We have a great group of people over there. They’re talking about all their images. Post your team photos, talk about the challenges
that you’ve faced when you’ve taken images of big groups of people, how you’ve overcome
them. Show us some of the lighting you’ve used to
overcome those issues. We want to share, we want everyone to grow
from that experience, so get over to the Facebook group, The Slanted Lens Facebook group. So keep those cameras rolling, keep on clicking. And last one, two, three. All right, thank you very much. You know, after working in this business for
25-plus years, I really understand the things that photographers and videographers face. I know the industry, I know what you need
to overcome the problems you face. Sit down with me in a mentoring session and
I’ll help you overcome the problems you’re facing. Sometimes you just hit a wall and you need
some help. I can definitely do that for you. So go to, click on the
mentoring button and set up a time when we can Skype together and I can help you solve
your problems. Subscribe to The Slanted Lens, like all my
buddies here did. You could come and hang out with us. We have a wild time together, me and my buddies
here, my mannequin buddies. We have a great time together, so come and
join The Slanted Lens. Subscribe. You can be friends with us, too.

60 thoughts on “How to Shoot Group or Team Photos

  1. Jay, every single your video is so entertaining and I have learned a lot from them. Thanks and keep this good work!

  2. Excellent tips. Very convincing. Very useful. The samples help make the points even more memorable. Thanks a lot, Jay.

  3. Great info. I have done some informal group photos, and I've always wondered how to get the lighting and organization correct. Thanks for this info! Suppose you replaced the rectangular softboxes with large octoboxes (which I have)–would that work out?

  4. There's also an app called "LightTrac" which uses a satellite image (like Google Maps) and tells you the sun's position at any time of the day. Even calculates how long the shadows will cast too. I used to do real estate photography and the app saved me a lot of time trying to figure out where the sun would be pointing rather than drive to a location especially when I have multiple houses to photograph. Hope that helps, Jay!

  5. Very nice! One thing I am always struggling with on large group shots – where is the best place to focus? Second row? Just in front of the noses in the first row?

  6. great tutorial as usual Jay, do you have a 'recipe' for gauging the height of the strobes against the number of rows to avoid the guys in front casting shadows on the faces of those behind them? Or is it trial and chimp so to speak? Keep up the good work

  7. do you have any advice for wedding group photos after the ceremony? That would be handy as I find I have abit of trouble with them

  8. Superb tutorial. Interesting to watch your style and techniques. Noticed you had a lot of manpower, plus shooting video for this tutorial. If I may ask, what how much do you usually price a job like this? I usually quote for a one day job based on number of people to shoot, image end use etc. I'm mostly a one man op.
    Cheers from Montreal.

  9. Good stuff Jay P.. I noticed you had a grip truck at the location. Who do you rent from and do you mind me asking how much it was for it? I'm somewhat in your area and always looking for a good bargain:-)

  10. Thanks J.P., your content is amazing – always very informative and delivered with fantastic enthusiasm. Lovely stuff!

  11. Jay! Do you have any relation with the J.P. Morgan banking services? xD love your channel! Your videos are really great

  12. Hey Jay, thanks for all your great tips , but as this also goes out to people who are not American – pleeeease slow down a bit so we can understand you!

  13. I know this is a matter of taste, but apart from making a gig like this look like a high production value shoot, why would you want to shoot with strobes as opposed to just ambient light?

  14. i have seen many videos before of people with 1 million or more subscribers but this video was phenomenal !!! thanks for the great video !!!!

  15. Great video! I saw you use 2 different lenses, when you use 15-30mm and when 24-70mm, depends on size group? Also what focal length you use to avoid distortion, especially with the 15-30mm.

  16. Excellent mentor. Sir when I capture group at wedding in low light sometimes it happens images not come sharper how can I take sharp ,

  17. Awesome! I have a group shoot with about 200 employees coming up, and I'm wondering how I should light that many people… This is at least a good start, but if you have any examples you've done that large I'd appreciate any resources!

  18. it happens to me when i get a group photos in wedding.. everyone is looking in different ways, someone is talking.. that is when i stop. i just look at them..

  19. Am going to a job interview tomorrow where I would take photos of youth in sports (stills).
    I came across your video and loved it… so many great tips and your humor made it fun to watch. Thanks a lot!

  20. Hello Jay P, I wanted to know what was the distance of your lights to the team you were photographing….. Thank you

  21. this is a great tutorial, congratulation , and I have a question for a group of more of 200 people
    what len and focal lenght would you use ? the same the 24 70 len or other,
    Thank you for your answer.

  22. hello sir i am Nihar From India working for a school as a photographer and i would be taking group photo of 575 teachers can you please guide me by some tips on camera sitting and and which lens should I use Kindly help thank you

  23. How did you bring all of those people into focus? We have a 5D Mark IV and will be taking team pics of our son's baseball team on Tuesday. Thanks for any help.

  24. HI I HAVE A PROBLEM, I took a group picture of our family reunion, I'm on manual focus and I checked the screen its focused, but looking at the final pictures its a bit blurry WHAT THE HECK im honestly panicking because that was my only chance to get everyone together for the shot only to see that the picture isn't completely focused

  25. Love all your videos – very informative, entertaining and lots of great information. I have a large group of people (around 100) I have to shoot at my office and they want it out on the grass in front of our building. The sun will come up and over the side of them and I'm afraid everyones faces will be blown out. I'm not sure what to do because they're set on this one location! (and no idea what we'll do if it rains!)
    What is a good lens length and F stop to use to make sure everyone will be in focus? I have NO idea how this will go because there will be many people deep….Can you help with any guidance?! I've never shot a group this large before!! And how far in should I focus? I heard 1/3 of the way in as a general rule. Thanks for any advice!!

  26. Do you get problems with strobes at the same stop with crossing shadows? Will low percent of strobe minimize that?

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