A look at anyone's Facebook page shows that we are constantly taking pictures of family groups or groups of friends, the same look will show that most of the pictures lack a little quality. Without too much effort, it's easy to turn group shots into great photos.
Individuals or groups of two or three shouldn't pose too much of a problem. As a general guide, get them doing something, or reacting to each other, as a less formal feel and a more relaxed picture will always look better than a line of people staring at the camera.
Not Always Easy
Taking group shots is never easy – both in terms of putting a group together and getting them to relax. On top of that, family members rarely enjoy being posed, or when they're together in a group, want to give up time to be posed. The result is that as a photographer, you often feel that you have to rush it. Instead, if the family have agreed to a photo, do them the honour of doing your best.
Go for a fairly tight composition, without too much blank space between the heads. Once you've posed a group like this, don't take one or two pictures – all it takes is one of the group to blink, and it spoils the picture, so take a good number of pictures. If the lighting is bright, pose them with the sun behind them and use a touch of fill-in flash, a slightly overcast day will offer perfect natural lighting.
A simple white sheet on the floor can be a great background if you have family members who don't mind having a little fun. Try getting them to lay on the floor and pose in a shape with their heads together. You'll probably find they'll laugh a lot at first, which can result in some really fun shots, but eventually, you'll be able to capture a great relaxed portrait. You may need a step or stool to stand on so you can capture your shot from above otherwise you might not have enough height.
Adding people to the frame one at a time can work well, too as this will give you chance to build a group pose that gives a cohesive feel to the portrait.
Group portraiture is never easy, often daunting, but when you're photographing family members you are working with people you know well, so you should be able to relax with them, and they with you. 90% of portraiture is in direction, so talking to your family or friends will give you excellent results. One of the most important guidelines:don't use the bad ones! All group sessions will yield good and bad pictures and if you show your family the good ones, they will be more willing to pose for you the next time. Show them the bad ones, even if you think they're funny, your next attempts may be met with less enthusiasm!
So think about your family portraits, communicate to your sitters and let's see some better group shots.