I think that we have all had that group photo session. You know, the one where NO one is prepared to take the photo, no one knows how/where to line up, and there are a million things wrong with the layout of the photo. You know, the one where someone who is tall doesn’t want to get in the back of the photo, even though that’s the only logical place. Or, better yet, someone who is short doesn’t want to be in the front. Like, what are you five foot tall? Get in the freaking front.
Yeah, those photos usually end up disastrously. Today I am going to give you some great tips on creating a group shot that looks somewhat decent. This is perfect for you whether you are getting ready for a group shot of your sorority or just a regular campus organization.
Give People Almost Too Much Warning
People are notorious for forgetting everything that you tell them, especially when you are dealing with students. Likely, the student has a million things on their plate, and they forget that they have an upcoming group photo shoot.
To combat this, tell your group members about the photo shoot multiple times. I would encourage that at least one of these warnings be in a physical meeting. The other ones should come in the form of an email (or if you can, a text message.)
Make sure that with each warning, you give the same information. You don’t want any of your warnings to be something vague like “don’t forget about the group photo shoot!” That message is too vague, and if for some reason that was the only message they got from you, they would be confused AF.
So, with each warning share all the most pertinent details: the date, the time, the location, and the dress code if you have one.
Don’t Be Afraid To Give A Dress Code/Guide
Dress codes can be beneficial for your photo shoots. By setting a dress code, your photos will look a million times more cohesive. If you are doing a sorority or fraternity group photo, a dress code won’t be as weird, but you can still set a dress code for any group photo shoot as long as you give people plenty of time to get together the necessary material.
Your dress code can be as simple as wearing the group’s shirt or much more complex. How close your members feel to the organization will determine how complex or elaborate your dress code can be.
Make A Relaxed Dress Code
Often when people hear the word dress code, it stiffens them up because what if they don’t have what the dress code entails. Usually, for people in Greek life, it is to be expected that you will have to purchase something for a photo shoot, but it’s completely different for most other organizations.
If your photo shoot dress code isn’t as simple as wear the official shirt of the campus group and blue jeans—you may want to create a more relaxed dress code.
For example, if the color blue is prominent in your organization’s colors, you may request that everyone wear a blue shirt and a pair of blue jeans. Your photo will still look put together, and your members will most likely not have to buy anything new for the photo shoot.
Have Extras Of Dress Code Attire If Possible
There is always that one person who forgets or couldn’t find the required clothing. If you have some extra things that fit the dress code requirement, bring them with you and encourage others to do the same just in case. You wouldn’t want to put anyone out of the shot just because they couldn’t find what they needed.
Alternatively, you may want to require that people let you know by a certain date if they can’t find the required items. That way you aren’t just toting around a bunch of things, and instead, you can bring only the essentials or find someone who can help that person out. You may want to set the deadline a few days before the photo shoot, so you aren’t completely scrambling to find the right material.
Scope Out The Site (And Be Prepared With Props)
You should scope out the site that you booked for your group photo shoot before the day of your shoot—especially if you are filming your photo shoot in a different location than where you normally meet.
See what is in the building or open area where you plan to take your photo. An open set of stairs with nearby windows are your best friend when it comes to group shots because you can easily pose a huge group on a set of stairs with no problems.
If you see no proper ways to get a good group shot with the props on site, you may have to bring some extra things to make it happen like a bench or some chairs. The location that you are filming at may be able to provide extra chairs or benches so I would contact them ahead of time to see if they can help you set up your photo shoot.
Let Your Group Know Exactly What’s Going On Throughout The Shoot
Have you ever been in a group photo smiling ear-to-ear only to realize the photographer is nowhere near ready to press the freaking shoot button? I hate when that happens, and it makes the entire shooting process take five-ever.
So, if you are the photographer or you know the photographer, ask them to keep the group up to date with what they are doing. Let your group know step by step so that they aren’t needlessly smiling or posing while you are still setting up the shot. Your group members will thank you for that!
Use A Nice Camera If You Have One
iPhones and Androids have come along way, but if you are serious about a group shot, I encourage you to use a nice DSLR if you have access to one.
I use the Canon Rebel T5 or the Canon Rebel T5i for all my photo shoots on the blog, and I LOVE it. Since there is a Canon Rebel T6 series, the T5 is usually reasonably priced. You can also get a DSLR certified refurbished from Amazon or the retailer. I got my T5i certified refurbished, and it looks and performs like new (but it was cheaper than the T5i list price.)
Having a nice camera for your group photo shoot will allow you to get amazing shots over a phone’s camera.
Take Multiple Shots
Most cameras have a continuous shutter feature. USE IT. You also want to get a few different poses as well. The more shots you have, the more you have to choose from when you edit the photos later. There is a chance that you will have more than enough shots after doing this, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I would rather have more shots than what I needed over having not enough shots.
Don’t Have Too Many Cooks (Photographers) In The Kitchen
You want to get shots for you, your social media chair, and the president of the organization that is just so proud of the work that they have put in and they want a picture of all their members for memories. With so many people to take pictures for you may feel that the best thing to do would be to take pictures all at once, DO NOT DO THIS.
When you have too many photographers in the kitchen, your group members are confused. They don’t know who to look at or who is about to take a picture. All the pictures turn out bad because you stretched your members too thin.
Get your main photos first. Then get a few photos for the people who want extra shots like the social media chair and the president. Someone’s random iPhone photos should never come before the main, fancy, photos.
Create Smaller Groups During Your Session
It's REALLY hard to get great huge group shots. I would encourage you to take some shots that are still "group" shots without the huge group. For example, take pictures of your officer team, all your chairs, the various new member classes you have (if you are in Greek life), etc. Find several ways to segment your group. This will help you get the most out of the group shots that you are taking. These smaller group portraits will help you with all things recruitment.
Throw In Some Candid Shots
Stiff, group shots are great, but they don't really showcase your group at it's best. Throw on some music, get your group talking, and capture photos of them in the moment. Maybe snap a few shots during a group meeting or when y'all are having a game night. Whenever you have an activity with your group, you should be taking pictures of it.
Hire Out If Necessary
Composing your own photos can be hella stressful. Sometimes the best thing that you can do for your group is to hire someone to take the photos for you. Don’t be afraid to hire a local photographer or a student who is majoring in photography. You can find a great photographer without breaking your budget, and you may even have a great photographer in your group. Ask around!
With these tips, I am hopeful that you can cut down on awful group photo sessions. Group sessions can be fun and truly highlight your sisterhood/brotherhood or campus organization. Be prepared, be smart, and work hard to make sure that everyone has a good time taking photos at your session.