If you have had difficulty in getting your voice heard amongst family, friends or workmates, photographing them in a group is one way of being able to acquire that certain voice of authority you have been lacking. Because that is what it really needs when shooting groups as opposed to singular people shots. Like the wedding photographer, someone has to be in control at all times.
Another thing, have some predetermined idea of how you will go about the task and where it will all happen and stick to your plan.
Let me tell you about my first group assignment.
It was at the birthday party of an eighty-year-old lady, who had her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all attending and I knew at some time or other I was going to have to do a very large group photo. So I let the MC know of my intentions, but to allow me time to just go about taking some posed and some candid photos of individuals, whilst I looked for the ideal setting for the group photo. I found an area that had a reasonable background with no visible distractions and taking into consideration, that due to all those people, I was going to need a high vantage point to get everyone in the shot and luckily, there was a park bench that I could use to stand on. As I had brought a few different lenses with me, I selected my old non-digital 17-35mm wide angle. Wide open it gave me a maximum digital equivalent of about 52mm. I assumed this would be acceptable for the size of the group and from where I would be standing. Of course, I will have my flash attachment fitted too. I noticed also, as my planned time for the shoot would be about 3 pm, the sun would be behind the group and off to the left, so I wouldn't have a problem with backlighting and my flash unit would balance the scene anyway.
Once I had all the main coordinates fathomed out I then conferred with the party MC that I would be ready for the group shot in about ten minutes and would she let everyone know. This gave me a bit more leeway and by going around the family taking single subject photos and small group shots, I was getting more and more relaxed with them and no doubt them with me.
When the time finally came around for the big one, I thought, ‘Well, this is it - do or die.’
I walked over to the MC and asked her, would she now let everyone know that I was ready for the big family shot. When they were all brought to attention and informed what was happening, I then took control and asked them all if they would follow me to the spot I had chosen.
It’s strange, but I didn’t have to do much sorting. I just asked them all to form into a tight group and stand with whoever they wanted to stand with. Of course Great Grandma took pride of place up front and they all soon settled into their positions behind her - all smiling with great anticipation.
I let them all know that I intended to take several shots and would they please not disperse until I gave the OK.
Well, it all just seemed to go like clockwork. Everyone had a great time and couldn’t say enough about the resulting photos. But I am sure the whole secret to it being such a success, was the planning, knowing full well that even the best of plans can go awry, but fortunately, for me, on that day anyway, they never did.
There will be many situations in life where you will find the need to take control and if you have full confidence in yourself and in what you are doing, half the battle is won. Makes no difference if you are driving a car, flying an aeroplane or simply operating a camera.