Figure 6-4.Formal group photo.
feet of all members are in the same position. When the
front row is seated, the feet may be crossed but all in the
same direction. Each person should be looking at the
camera, no broad smiles, just pleasant expressions.
Nothing should be so different about one person that it
draws an excessive amount of attention. Remember, to
get maximum depth of field, you should focus the
camera one third of the way into the group (if there are
nine rows, focus the camera on the third row).
As with everything else there is a time and place for
formal group shots. What would happen, though, if you
stylized the shot just a bit? Instead of always shooting
the group setup that clearly identifies each member in
the typical lineup by grade or height, why not think of
your group picture in terms of your other photographs?
Put in some foreground or a background. Use an
interesting bit of lighting or a somewhat different
setting. After all, do your subjects really have to be
shoulder-to-shoulder? Do not forget the frame
approach; it can work for group shots too. The group can
be placed in a situation that has some relation to it.
Foreground objects can be used to create a frame for a
group of people in a photograph. Even one of the group
members-the squadron commanding officer-can be
your foreground; the rest of the officers can be scattered
throughout the background.
The success of a formal group photograph (fig. 6-4)
is dependent on your ability, as a photographer, to direct
the members of the group so you can obtain the
composition desired. Never hesitate because of grade to
request members of the group to change their expression
or position or to correct a discrepancy in their uniform.
Be diplomatic about it, of course, but do not let the
matter go unattended. It is embarrassing and a waste of
valuable time to call a group together again to retake a
picture regardless of the reason for failure.
The most important lesson a novice photographer
can learn about photographing groups is how to remain
in charge. Unless you are very careful the group will take
control, and getting all the members of the group to look
at the camera at the same time becomes almost
impossible. Unless you are the dominating type,
maintaining control is not easy. Remember, you cannot
make good group pictures unless you are in control of
the situation. To be in control, you should keep talking
to members of the group and monitor their behavior.
Have your equipment ready so you do not waste time or
lose the group's attention while you load film or
reposition the camera and lights. When you talk to
people, they will naturally look at you, and therefore at
the camera. Your directions and patter also prevent
them from getting a word in edgewise among
themselves. You must be firm when it comes to
arranging the group. Do not be afraid of moving people
about and telling them where to stand. Remember, you
are making the pictures; you can see best what the final
result will look like.