top 3 large family portrait ideas
(6 biggest mistakes with group posing)

Do you need some large family portrait ideas? Posing a big group of people, whether it's at a family party or another big gathering of people, can be one of the most challenging things to learn with portrait photography.

Whether it is a quick snapshot of a group at a celebration like the one below or a professionally posed large group picture shown farther below, it's easy to improve your large group poses by using a few of these ideas.

Large Group Photo of Grandchildren - Adjusted

(The baby in the middle was on oxygen)

I had only a few seconds to take this quick photo of all the grand-kids during a 50th wedding anniversary.

I posed the 3 small children in the middle and had 4 teen-aged boys kneel down in front so that everyone could be seen from the camera's view. I used only 1 chair in the pose.

Big group posing has a unique set of challenges, in addition to the regular aspects of lighting and location choice.

Large family posing is improved when you do have the option of coordinated clothing.

Very large Family Group Pose

One of the best large family portrait ideas I can give you is to coordinate clothing. If you limit the number of colors to 2 or 3 it makes a big difference in your final portrait.

Once a group of people gets bigger than five or six, it isn't as simple to pose everyone correctly anymore. You need someone, namely you as the photographer, to take charge in a pleasant but assertive manner. Otherwise the quality of your group posing will suffer and look unorganized.

With outdoor large group photography, I often look for a shaded, evenly-lit location with a simple background if possible, under a large tree, in the shade of a large structure, perhaps in front of several trees, and often late or early in the day.

Shooting portraits on location is often better for large family groups then an indoor portrait studio where space and size of a painted background may be limited. Here are my three basic large family portrait posing tips:

1. I always use a tripod, if the situation allows it. This not only will hold your camera steady to limit blur from camera shake, but it also allow you to watch the many faces and body position of your subjects at the exact moment you click the shutter.

2. Make sure you can see everybody's entire face from the camera's vantage point. You may have to move somebody slightly higher or lower or you may have to move somebody to the left or to the right.

3. Getting Everyone's attention. My best advice is to have only one person; I repeat, 1 person standdirectly behind the camera to talk, make noises, crazy faces or draw the attention of everyone. It is a much better group photo if everyone is looking directly toward the camera.

I often have to direct any other people behind me to move off to the side, out of view and stay to stay quiet.

If it a large group of the same sized people then you must layer them in different heights.

If it is a few adults and many children, perhaps grandparents and all of their grandchildren, then the kids should surround the grandparents.


six most common mistakes with large group portraits

1. Uneven lighting, either because of a wimpy on-camera flash or because the outdoor lighting is very uneven

2. People with expressions that don't match. Almost everyone smiling except one smarti-pants, 8 year old making a goofy face or everyone happy except the disgruntled teenager who would rather be hanging out with his friends than posing with his family.

3. Someone missing from the photo. In the family photo below, three of the people could not make it to the 50th wedding reunion. I actually had to photography them separately on a different day at a location with similar lighting. Then I added them through some specific techniques in Adobe Photoshop.

Very Large Family Group Pose on Golf Course

(Three of the people above were not in the original)

4. Not everyone looking at the camera. People can easily be distracted by something else, not directly behind the camera, especially with outdoor photography.

5. Everyone being too small in the pose because the photographer posed too "wide" with everybody standing next to each other.

6. This is the biggest mistake of all: someone's head partially blocked by the person in front of them.

These basic large family portrait ideas should help you improve your group photography quite a bit.

For more large family portrait ideas, look at online galleries with large family posing. Analyze the positioning of each individual person within the frame of the portrait.


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