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FuelBooks Holiday Tip: Compose a Photograph with Multiple People for Your Holiday Card

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In this excerpt from his FuelBook, Composition for Portraiture: Creating Compelling Headshots, Group Shots, and Senior Pictures, Dan Ablan shows you that the way you can be more creative with group composition is to photograph them in small groups.

Fuel Books

Composing multiple people means one thing: a more complicated shot. Certainly all portraits face a compositional challenge, but the group shot can bring your stress level up a notch—unless you know a few key techniques. The composition within a group shot has usually been nonexistent as it’s just easy to line everyone up and take the shot. But why not be a little more creative? The way you can be more creative with group composition is to photograph them in small groups. Figure 18 shows a family group shot at their home, but broken up into smaller arrangements.

Figure 18 Rather than lining up multiple people for a boring group composition, break up people into smaller groups, keeping in mind the triangle rule.

As you probably know by know, getting people comfortable plays a role in the composition of a group shot as well. By avoiding the line ’em up type of shot, not only are your subjects more relaxed, you get a better-looking portrait. Two key elements play a role in this image to make it work. First, the small groups allow the subjects to avoid being lost in a large group as each is able to posture differently. Second, and more importantly, is that each small group follows the triangle rule. Figure 19 shows where these visual cues are.

Posturing your subjects to follow the triangle rule is easier if you can visualize where the lines are. For example, in Figure 19, the three boys on the left are purposely standing in tall to short order to create a line that leads your eye into the photograph. To connect the taller boy on the left, he has an arm placed on his brother. You can see how these subtle changes help create better composition in portraits.

Figure 19 A look at the same image with triangles drawn in shows how the subjects line up.

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