Looking for advice for first group portrait

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by emorgan451, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. emorgan451

    emorgan451 Mu-43 Veteran


    I have recently been asked to do a family portrait for one of my co-workers. He wants to include his parents, sibling, and children for a total of 11 people. I have not done a group portrait yet and I'm a little bit nervous about getting everyone posed and mostly concerned about lighting. The plan is for an outdoor shot which is ok (mid April in western North Carolina is beautiful) , but I don't think that I have a viable option to light the shot if natural light is not cooperating (I only have a single 36" octagon softbox and a FL-36r). My other concern is that the two lenses I have for my E-M5 are the 17 2.8 (soft corners) and the 45 1.8 (too long?) . Will either be suitable?

    I'm not getting paid, but still want to do a good job. I did newborn portraits for him and him and his wife loved them.

    Any advice would be great, thanks!
  2. taz98spin

    taz98spin Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 13, 2011
    I'll be in North Carolina in April! I heard it is beautiful there!

    As for your lenses, the 17/2.8 should work. & yes, I do think the 45/1.8 is a bit too long.
    For your lighting.. I do think a 36" softbox will be too small for a group of 11. + the FL-36r (which I have) is not that powerful.

    Maybe you could use the flash just to fill in the shadows and make sure you schedule for a day when there will be optimal natural light?
  3. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    My first advice is... you really ought to get paid for a big job like that.

    Anyways do you have the kit 14-42 that came with your camera? You can use the 14mm end for the group shot. Here is how I would shoot this given your situation. Get the big group shots out of the way. Then break them up and do individuals/couples/small groups. The Oly 45 will come into play here and I suggest using it for most shots. These are the money shots and will impress everyone. I promise you most people don't look at group photos, it's the closeups that they like. Good luck and have fun.
  4. klee

    klee Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2013
    Houston, TX
    I would scope out the spot a day or two early at the same time of day and check the weather.

    if sunny, position the group under some foliage to soften the light and use on camera flash to fill shadows slightly. this is the ideal situation since you can stop down your 17/2.8 a little for more sharpness. beware of distortion near the edges. faces can get stretched. so don't frame the group so tight.

    if overcast you may not need fill flash so much and you could potentially use off camera flash for some accent lighting, if you are confident. otherwise forget it.

    for group shots, especially with kids, I found the first shot it the best. you get the most attention. so take your time on positioning faces, turning bodies, turning faces according you they key light, etc... the get it on the first shot. after that you may get some good adjustments but I found kids sit up straight only for the fist shot then they slouch. hahaha.

    if your hot shoe is free, I heard a PEZ Dispenser fits nicely in there to get the kids attention.

    another thought came to mind, a light colored ground like concrete or stone could serve to reflect some fill light too. more than grass and dirt. same with walls and water and such if they are out there.
  5. emorgan451

    emorgan451 Mu-43 Veteran

    Is it going to be your first time in North Carolina? What part of the state are you heading to? I am planning to make it when I can have the best light available, hopefully I won't need more additional light other than fill.

    I was afraid to tell him I would charge him since I don't really have any experience with this large of a group. I'm really just getting started doing photos for customers so I wanted to make sure my product is worth charging for first. I didn't charge for the newborn portraits for him, but he gave me a giftcard for more than I would have charged :smile: . Unfortunately I don't have a kit lens, I bought the E-M5 used and it came with the 17 2.8. Thank you for the suggestions about the order to do the shots, that makes a lot of sense.

    Thanks for the PEZ dispenser idea! I didn't know that would work. I planned on doing the shoot at a park we both know, and I was going to go scope it out the weekend before using my wife as a test model to see how light falls on people through the trees there.

    Thanks for your help taz98spin, spatulaboy, and klee.
  6. taz98spin

    taz98spin Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 13, 2011
    My wife and I will be heading to look at the Smoky Mountains!
    Yes, hopefully you'll have good lighting and let us all know how your shoot goes.

    Good luck and have confidence! Fake it till you make it :smile:
  7. emorgan451

    emorgan451 Mu-43 Veteran

    Just wanted to update you guys and let you know that the group portrait was cancelled due to an issue getting the family together. Thanks for the input everybody.