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December theme: 'Group Portraits'

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  December 2, 2011 01:07 PM

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(Photo by Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

Young actors at the Lyric Stage in Boston.

We've had a few contests recently where we photographed inanimate objects, so let's return to the realm of the living with this month's theme: Group Portraits. It's the time of year when we gather with family and friends, and if you're known as the photographer of the bunch, your ability to assemble people into a coherent whole for a photo that everyone will want to keep forever will be tested.


(Photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

The Allman Brothers Band inside the newly renovated Beacon Theater in New York.

Darren Rowse at Digital Photography School offers 12 tips for shooting groups: Prepare, pick a good location, take multiple shots, get in close, pose the group, time your shoot well, think about light, take control, shooting large groups, use a tripod, use an assistant, and smile. (!)
How to take great group photos by Darren Rowse, DPS


(Photo by Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe)

The Harrington family has been in every Reagle Music Theatre holiday production for the past 11 years.

Kenneth Hoffman at PictureCorrect advises to never line up faces in a row, either vertically or horizontally; he says that curves, triangles, and diagonals create a more dynamic flow. He also says that hands can play an important role in portraits, that you should avoid dead spaces between heads, and the setting can help balance a portrait.
Setting up group portraits by Kenneth Hoffman, PictureCorrect


(Photo by Jared Charney for the Boston Globe)

Tufts University a cappella group the Beelzebubs.

Andrew Boyd, aka The Discerning Photographer, suggests that you be prepared so that you can work quickly; people aren't always thrilled about posing for a photo, so also be ready to keep them entertained. The safest shots are full-length or waist-up. Make sure you can clearly see everyone's face. Use your motor drive to shoot at least three frames of every shot. Once you have your standard shots, ask your group to do something creative or off-beat; you may be surprised with what they come up with.
How to shoot great group photos by Andrew Boyd, The Discerning Photographer

So armed with this great advice, get your family or friends together and start snapping. A group must be a minimum of three people. I'd prefer that you take the photo this month, but I won't insist on it. So if you have a great portrait in your portfolio, you can use that.


Your photo does NOT have to be taken this month, but it's good to shoot something fresh for these contests when possible.

We'll define a group as at least three people.

One photo per photographer.

The deadline is midnight Thursday, Jan. 5 (to give you time to recover from the holidays).

Here are the complete contest rules.


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