Easy Settings for a Family Group Shot

Posted February 28th, 2012 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

Seems like every time we have family gatherings, those of us with cameras are always called into service to take the ubiquitous family photo. Here’s a question from a reader today:

Hi Mike,

I have an opportunity for all my family to be here next weekend and I was wanting to try to take some family portraits. I was wondering if you had any tips shooting a large group? Around 15 people 6 of which are children and 9 adults. I’m using a D90 I have a couple of lens, 18-55mm and 55-200mm both are Nikkor VR lenses. I have a SB600 flash but hopefully we can go outside. What settings do you recommend? Also any tip as to how to line up the group?

Thanks for your help

– J.S.

Here's a group portrait of a bunch of cousins taken during a Thanksgiving family get-together. I used each of the tips included below to get this quick shot.

Here's a group portrait of a bunch of cousins taken during a Thanksgiving family get-together. I used each of the tips included below to get this quick shot.

ANSWER:

Hi J.S. –

My suggestion is to keep the photo very simple. I wouldn’t worry too much about adding a bunch of lighting since this adds overall complexity. Also, since you only have one small strobe, it will be difficult to create a full studio lighting arrangement anyways. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Move family to the shaded side of the house or yard. That will keep contrast down.
2. If you want, you can add a little bit of fill flash with the SB-600, but dial the power down so it is just adding a tiny kick of light to brighten the eyes.
3. Pose the group so their heads form simple triangles or diamonds.
4. Turn shoulders towards the middle of the group. That keeps people looking thin. Don’t pose them with shoulders square to the camera.
5. Use a focal length of about 50mm or longer if you can. Don’t take the picture at 18mm since that will cause major distortion.
6. Set the camera for Matrix Metering, Aperture Priority and about f8.

Thats it. Use these tips for simple and fast group pics.



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