How to Take Great Group Photos

Group photo tips

As a corporate event photographer, taking group photos is just part of the job. Whether it be a handful of people or several hundred – we’ve covered it all so we thought we’d share some tips to get a better group photo.

It’s not easy to get a great group photo, here are some common problems:

Herding Cats

This one happens even before the photo is taken. There is always that one or two people who have ducked off to the bathroom, on a phone call or simply MIA. You then send somebody off to find them and they end up missing as well.

Blinkity Bill

Blinking is just a normal thing we do as humans and there’s no point fighting it. Unfortunately for the group photo, the more people you have, the bigger chance there will be with at least one person with their eyes shut in the photo.

Ooo Squirrel!

A phone is going off, something just happened in the same room, another person next to the photographer has a camera or iPhone trying to take a photo and well… there will at least one person that looks away from the photographer. Whether their head is turned or just the eyes. Guaranteed!

What are we doing?

Are we standing seriously for a PR going to the media? Or happy that you’ve won an award and want to print it and stick it on the wall or are we going to pull our goofiest faces and share it on social media. The point is, you’re going to get different expressions in the group photo.

And while there will always be challenges with Group Photos, outside of the technical side of things here are some ways to improve your chances of getting a nice shot.


As a subject

We are impatient beings who just want to carry on and party! So before you gather everyone make sure you know where everybody is and know where you want to take the group photo if there isn’t a designated photo area such as a media wall.

A person from your group should be designated leader and relay the photographer’s instruction for a quick, smooth process.

As a Photographer

If you have a mobile studio setup or a media wall, the location has been decided for you. When you don’t have a set area then you might try and find a location where you can pose the subjects on uneven footing such as a staircase or gather some chairs to create different height levels.

While the subjects are getting into position, do a quick count on how many people you are about to photograph. This will give you an idea how tight or wide you will need to set them up.

It’s Not Hide & Seek

As a subject

If you’ve ever been in a school photo (I’m sure most of us have), you will remember that the taller kids always got to stand in the back – that’s right, things haven’t changed.

You have all heard “If you can’t see the camera, we can’t see you”. Sometimes there may be people who try to hide behind other people – this just ruins the photo. If you don’t want to be in it, simply step out.

As a Photographer

You have to take control of the group. After all you are the professional, you’ve done this many times over and you simply point and direct people as fast as you can, the best as you can. People will appreciate a fast setup rather then spending time standing around.

If you have a large group, it might be easier to shoot from an elevate position – maybe even a chair. A small step ladder may also be handy.

Just ‘One’ More

As a Subject

You will most likely hear a photographer say “one more” as they rattle off a few extra frames. You’re probably wondering why they need to take more then one photo. Usually a number of reasons such as people looking away at something else or the most likely reason is somebody in the group blinking. If a photographer can get a shot with everybody’s eyes open it means they don’t have to spend time replacing closed eyes with open eyes from another frame.

As a Photographer

The more people, the harder it is to guarantee that everyone not only has their eyes open but it looking at you. So take multiple shots but remember to keep it as short as possible.

Relax. Smile

As a Subject

Take a deep breath and smile. The photographer is there do take the best shot he can so stand comfortably and face the camera. If something needs adjusting they will let you know.

As a Photographer

As the person taking the photo you are there to make people feel relaxed and comfortable. If you have a genuine smile and can take control of the group they will see that you are confident in what you are doing.

Alternatives to using “Cheese” are words ending with an ‘Eee’ sound. Bees, knees, trees, boys in Gs’, monkeys and so on. You can also try other words such as snickers.

One at a Time

As a Subject

You want your photo now. On your phone to share it with the world no matter how bad the lighting is. You just want it NOW! Please don’t step in front of the photographer while they are taking the photo, or stand next to them while they are taking the photo. Simply wait till the photographer has taken their photo first so everyone is looking the right way.

Try not to give the photographer your phone to take a photo. They already have their hands full holding their gear.

As a Photographer

You need to be assertive and polite at the same time. If somebody is hovering over you with their phone trying to get a photo, either let them take the photo before you or after you. Having them near you will simply distract your subjects.

If you can, have an assistant to deal with those pesky smartphone photos so you can worry about getting a great shot.