Take better group photos

Upgrade your friends and family shots with these easy tips.

Group gatherings are cause for celebration – and documentation.

They’re a rare opportunity to get a photo with everyone together. But that means the pressure is high to capture a shot that makes everyone happy.

Don’t worry though, you’re not alone in this endeavour. Follow these five tips to better assemble your guests and come away with an image worth treasuring.

1. Line ’em up

If you’re shooting five people or fewer, there’s an easy way to pose your subjects: have everyone stand in a (not so straight) line against a simple, boldly coloured or uncluttered background. Make sure they’re facing the light source, be that the sun or a lamp, as this will cast deep, sharp shadows onto the background, especially if everyone stands a few centimeters in front of it.

Add shape to your line-up for more engaging shots.

2. Work the crowd

We’re all friends and family here, so encourage some physical contact; you’ll notice all the photos here have it. Whether everyone’s throwing their arms around one another or simply standing near enough that there’s no space between them, touch makes your photos look warmer and the people in them more connected.

3. Get in there!

This is a group photo, so make sure you’re part of the group. Camera+ 2’s self-timer grants you up to 15 seconds to jump into the shot. The app also has a feature to help avoid any awkward facial expressions: Smile mode automatically detects when everyone is smiling, then fires off several shots at exactly the right moment. To enable it, tap the plus sign next to the shutter button, then swipe right on the bottom row of icons to tap Smile.

Human contact adds a level of warmth to your group shots.

4. Play with the space

Large groups allow you more creativity, so don’t just have everyone sit stiffly in the same position. Put them behind the couch, on the couch, in front of the couch – wherever you can to make the shape more dynamic. If there are three people in your image, try positioning the middle person just slightly in front of the others. As you can see below, it brings them into greater prominence and makes the entire photo feel more anchored.

5. Embrace your outtakes

You know how you count to three before taking the first shot? Try shooting before you start counting. And continue after everyone thinks you’re done. The idea is to get your subjects to look unposed and natural. Sometimes it’s the goofy faces and candid interactions that make a photo a favourite.

5. Edit, edit, edit

For our first shot against that orange wall, we used the VSCO app’s C6 filter to bring out the warmer tones. We also increased the contrast, saturation and exposure to make the image pop. For the other two photos, we found that Darkroom’s standard filters added contrast and saturation while keeping everyone’s skin tones natural and realistic. Remember, the goal is to make everybody look good but still like themselves.

Camera+ 2’s Smile mode waits until everyone is grinning to capture.

Do more with your images

For that first shot against the orange wall, we used VSCO’s C6 filter to bring out the warmer tones, then increased contrast, saturation, and exposure to make the image pop. For the other two photos, we found that Darkroom’s standard filters added contrast and saturation while keeping everyone’s skin tones natural. The point is, we messed with these photos a lot. You should do the same. Just remember the goal of editing: make everybody look good—but still like themselves.

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