Let me start out by saying, I am not a professional photographer. Photographers have years of experience and a plethora of knowledge above my skill level, but casual photography is something I enjoy. I have learned that as soon as you start developing some of these skills and have an open mind to learn, your camera can take you far places.
Working and living in a college environment, I have had the awesome opportunity to photograph some of the living communities for fun. What a great idea it is to capture these groups and their special college moments before they fly by any faster. At first it was intimidating to take photos for others let alone a group of 10-30 girls. I felt immense pressure to get it right. After a few years of doing this however I have realized that these photo shoots have given me the most exposure and experience to practice my photography.
If you are looking to expand your experience in photography or looking for specific tips for photographing group photo shoots, these five tips helped get me started.
If you are near the location of the photo shoot, spend a bit of time exploring the location and getting to know your surroundings prior to. This will allow you to get acquainted with the space you have to work with and let the creativity start to flow. Is there a staircase for them to line up along? Is there a location for you to take photos from above? Are there buildings in the background you'd like to avoid in the frame?
Give Yourself Time
This is possibly the most helpful tip for getting strong, natural group photos. Everyone has a better attitude when there is not a hard time limit. The group will be more relaxed and organic in their poses and you will feel less pressure to get the perfect photos in a short amount of time.
Duplicates, triplets, and quadruplets of photos will be your best friend. Keep snapping away for every pose and position. It never fails that one person is fixing their hair, another is blinking, and someone else is distracted by the bird that flew overhead. Although it takes longer to go through the photos in the end, you will be glad to have multiple options.
Do Your Research
Pinterest and Google are magnificent tools for creatives in this generation. Do your research on positioning and poses to come prepared with ideas for the group. They may come with ideas of what they'd like, but ultimately you know best with what works and looks best.
Have Fun with the Group
And finally, enjoy your time photographing the group. When you are having fun, they are having fun. Bring energy to the group and give them the space to let their personalities shine. Some of the best photos come from spontaneous, non-staged moments.