What is friendship without friendcations? What is family without family vacations? The answers are friendship and family respectively. I'm just very dramatic. However, travelling with these important people in your life (and not-so-important people as well, actually) can lead to some truly special moments — moments that deserve to be immortalised. This gives a little extra substance to something we say here at Backdrop: “If there are no photos, it didn't happen.”
Taking selfies with one, two, maybe three people? That can be a breeze. Add four, then five… that’s when things start to get real. Now you have to get all these people to work with you. If you’re as...detail-oriented as I am, you’ll never forgive yourself if you don't get everyone’s good side. I understand, that’s why I bring you some help. Here are five tips for taking perfect group photos:
It doesn't matter if you’d been told beforehand or if someone just tossed you the camera on the spot. Check out your surroundings; what’s a great backdrop that’s wide enough for all of you to stand in? Be deliberate about your selection, even if you have to move everyone around a few times. If you're taking a selfie, make sure the group is facing the light. It looks more natural than using the usual LED flashes.
Also, check if the camera, smartphone or any other device is in the right state to take enough pictures. Basically, check that there is enough storage space and that the batteries won’t die on you. You can do this by taking a few test shots.
2. Get their attention
Some ‘unaware’ shots are pretty good, but in a group photo, the probability of capturing everyone’s good side is substantially lower. Forgo this risk by letting everyone involved know that they will be in the picture you're taking. Make sure everyone knows you (or the camera, in this case) are the main focus. They should be facing your direction while they turn on their model face.
If you're close to the members of the group, tell an inside joke. This will leave them with genuine smiles on their faces, giving you enough time to capture it. Make ridiculous sounds and faces for kids. If you know and understand the group, getting their attention should be easy. If you’re not so familiar with the group, do what I always do: beg. You're all already under the hot sun, I don't think anyone wants to keep posing for that long. They’ll call each other to order — hopefully.
3. Be cheerful
I know I said ‘beg’, but it really should be a last resort. Smiles are very easy to mirror, so if you want to get everyone smiling for the pic, provide yours as a template. Be as cheerful as you can, even when Chris keeps stepping out of the frame. It's hard, I know, but snapping at Chris will only make him — and now everyone — unsettled by you. Later, you can kick Chris out of karaoke night.
4. Take multiple shots
Sometimes, you don’t recognise ‘the one’ until you're alone, a glass of wine in your hand and there’s no sun getting into your eyes. So, take as many pictures as you can, especially in bursts. Usually, the group looks more relaxed and natural around the third picture in the burst. There isn't really any need for the group to do a different pose, unless they're really feeling it. People look their best when they're being natural, so while you want their smiles and attention, remember to let everyone just be themselves. When you all check out the pictures later and find someone with a frown on their face, everyone can go, ‘Heh. Typical Groff.’ It’s expected. It's honest. It's real.
5. Get on top
The larger the group, the more important this tip is. Fitting everyone in the shot can go wrong for a bunch of reasons. However, from above, you get a better view of things and can focus on what needs focus. If your arms aren't long enough, don't fret; just find a selfie stick. Of course, this assumes everyone is just walking around with one. If that’s not the case in your group, now you have to do what the dude with the regular camera would do. Find a part of the location that's a bit more elevated than the rest of the ground, and by the power vested in you as the photographer, call dibs. Hold the device high till everyone’s face shows properly in the frame.