Does anyone have words of wisdom photographing a large family group of 18 out doors. What would be the best lighting, in the shade, late afternoon front lighting, side lighting, but what about the shadows on the part of the face that is not lit, where to focus, how to pose. What about flash, would a flash be able to light such a big group.The best lens to use. The angle, eye level or looking down. I used to think I could take a decent photo until I got confronted with this large group and now I think I know nothing.
"What would be the best lighting, in the shade, late afternoon front lighting, side lighting,"
That's foremost a matter of taste. I'd suggest 4.00 PM with the sun at their backs so that they don't squint.
"but what about the shadows on the part of the face that is not lit, "
That is where flashlight comes in (directed at the group from the front, obviously). Set it at fill-in.
"where to focus, "
On the front row with aperture set at f/8.0 to get sufficient Depth of Field. Make sure the distance between the front and back row isn't more than 5 feet.
"how to pose. "
Depends on what kind of group it is and what atmosphere you want the photo to express. Better appoint someone else to do 'crowd control' and basic setup of the pose, so you can concentrate on the technical details and do the final, subtle, directing ("Everybody stand up straight", "look into the camera", "say cheese", etc.). Be sure to brief this 'crowd controller' in advance.
"What about flash, would a flash be able to light such a big group."
One flashgun won't. But since you'll be shooting in the daytime that's not a problem.
"The best lens to use. "
I recommend a short telephoto lens - like 85mm (in 35mm film equivalent) - to avoid most perspective distortion.
"The angle, eye level or looking down"
For a 'standard group portrait': eye level (pay attention to the background!). For a 'creative' group shot you could try and find a high standpoint, 15 foot high or higher, and shoot down onto the group, which could be standing bunched closely together and looking up into the camera. Obviously the lighting advice above must be reconsidered then.
Oh, and a tripod is essential!
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