The ideal group photo that is seen in brochures and camera catalogs always looks clean, professional, and effortless. Somehow everyone manages to look their best at the same exact moment, providing a quality shot that flatters everyone in the frame.

But if you have ever tried to take a spontaneous group photo yourself, you know that the reality is often very different from this final desired outcome! For the average person, coordinating outfits, backdrops, lighting and clashing personality types usually become overwhelming obstacles to staging the perfect group photograph.

Whether you’re trying to take a professional group photo for your office workplace or company website, or you’re trying to capture a flawless family photo to use on holiday cards or as home décor, it can be helpful to take a few notes from the professionals. Here are some handy tips for taking the perfect group photo.

Clothing Tips

There’s a good chance that you plan on using this group photo for years to come, so it’s important that the individuals in the photo are dressed in a way that will look great no matter where or when the photo is viewed. The last thing you want to see is an outdated logo, unkempt outfit, or clashing colors that make the photo look amateur. Here are some crucial clothing tips:

Wear Solid Color Clothing

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Bold patterns – no matter how great they look in person – can distract from the overall photo when there are multiple individuals involved. Crazy and intricate patterns may work well for a portrait photo that features one person in the spotlight, but they aren’t as ideal for group shots. If everyone in the group is wearing solid colors on the day of the shoot, there is a better chance of reaching an overall harmonious look for the photo.

Use a Neutral Color Palette

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Bold colors are more difficult to match, so even if you tell everyone to wear a bright red shirt on the day of the shoot, chances are that people will show up with several different shades of red. Also, these bold color choices make it difficult to match other backgrounds, so if you plan on hanging the group photo in your home, muted and neutral colors will be much more likely to match surrounding interior décor.

Avoid Logos

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Logos on clothing quickly become outdated as the years pass by. If you plan on using the photo for many years, you may end up cringing at the clothing you picked out if it has a large brand symbol or logo visible. Also, beware of shirts that have dates on them, such as 5K runs, sports seasons, or family reunion dates. Unless everyone in the group is wearing this identical shirt, tops with dates on them are a bad idea.

Background Tips

Sometimes, picking the best background for your group photo is trickier than it sounds. Amateur photographers often gravitate towards interesting subjects, such as a large plant display, water fountain, or architectural feature, when brainstorming for background ideas. However, if you’re aiming for a truly professional look, this can be a big no-no. Check out these background tips for taking the perfect group photo.

Pick out a beautiful, sprawling space that isn’t too specific, such as a beach or grassy hill. These spaces provide a flattering and pleasant background that doesn’t distract from the true star of the photo: the group!

Position the group of folks about 20-30 feet in front of the background. No one should be back-to-back with a wall or object.

Additional Tips

The clothing and background are the two most important elements in staging the perfect group shot. Once you’ve got those two aspects organized, the rest is pretty simple. Here are some additional tips for taking the perfect group photo.

Lighting

If the photo is being taken outdoors, stage the individuals in the shade or with the sunlight coming from behind them so that they aren’t squinting or getting a glare on their faces.

Composition

Generally speaking, you only need to capture the individuals from the waist up. Focusing on their faces is the most important, so there’s no need for including legs or feet in the frame. If working with a large group, have individuals stand slightly slanted or sideways with their faces turned towards the camera.

Kids

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If children are being included, consider having the entire group sitting near the group to make up for the extreme height difference.

Focus

Be sure you focus on the subjects, not the background.

Multiple Shots

Be sure to take multiple shots. Chances are someone may blink in one or two of the photos, so you want to have several pictures on hand later to choose the best one.

Take the Best Group Photo

While taking a great group photo isn’t always a piece of cake, with these helpful insights, you’ll be sure to capture some fantastic group photos. After you have the perfect group photo, you’ll want to display it for all to see!