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5 Rules for Better Group Shots

Frank Villafane (frankmv)

Keywords: group_shots, frankmv, composition, tethered, portrait, kids, seniors, smiles, cable, wifi

Five is an important number:  There are five fingers on your hand (and five toes on your foot), five major food groups (although this is debatable as nutritionists keep reclassifying them), five senses (sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell), five vowels in the English language (a, e, i, o and u), five members in a quintet (duh!) and so on - five is indeed an important number.  And for purposes of this discussion, there just happen to be five rules for taking and capturing better Group Shots.  

Genscript Company Photo
Click for an enlargement


Hello, we’re Frank & Rose of Urban View Photo. We’ve been shooting professionally for the last eight years and have been called upon to take many group shots, for both professional clients and just plain folk.  Over the years we’ve learned what works (and what doesn’t) and have boiled down our lessons learned into five fundamentals or principles absolutely essential for getting the best possible group shots.  

But before we disclose exactly what those five rules are, let’s review the "five Ws" of the Group Shot, that is, the who, what, where, when & why. 

Wikipedia states: “The Five Ws…are questions whose answers are considered basic in information-gathering…they constitute a formula for getting the complete story on a subject.”  Any discourse on Group Shots therefore needs to answer these five questions: Who? What? Where? When? And Why?

Who takes Group Shots?  Photographers…professional or otherwise – or even non-photographers.  

Who are in Group Shots?  People (usually).  Couples, children, families, bands, teams, classes, companies, etc.


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1 comment

philippe ned baba (nevan) on June 19, 2019

Hi Frank, i went through your article with much attention as i see that we cover the same aspect of photography-portraits! I love that. You have put what i do in words and you have reminded me of the things i do and the way i proceed too. This is a way to judge myself. You helped me revise the basics too and gave me some useful hints-posing,getting to a higher point, for example. However, i would suggest you mention a little about the settings. At least speed and aperture. In case of the very large group, did you use a flash? what type? When you mention posing the group back to the sun, what type of lighting you propose? Hope to read from you soon. Regards Ned