Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Technique Tuesday: Lighting, Arranging, and Shooting Large Groups

Good Morning Everybody,

CAnon 7D-2 So this past weekend I'm playing around with Lightroom 3.  I'm all fired up about how it shoots tethered and want to see if it really is as easy as they say.  Well, it is that easy.  Fire up Lightroom 3, plug in your camera and the computer finds it and installs the necessary drivers - all no big deal. Hit File -> Shoot Tethered in Lightroom 3 and up pops the control panel - ready to go.  I fire off a few shots, and presto - up on the scene they appear. All pretty cool.

Then I decide to see what happens if "catastrophe strikes". I yank the camera cable out of the camera - not much happens.  The computer does it's little "kerflump" sound link something was disconnected and Lightroom 3 tells me "No Camera Detected"  and that was about it.  Shooting Tethered 1 I plugged the camera cable back in and everything lit back up ready to go - nothing to reboot, restart, reload, or anything.  This was all way to easy and I can't wait to play around even more with this hot new feature in Lightroom 3.

OK, enough of my weekend "geek games". How about we get on with this week's Technique Tuesday - "Lighting, Arranging, and Shooting Large Groups".  Here we go...

Lighting, Arranging, and Shooting Large Groups

This tutorial has been on the DigitalProTalk request list for a while so I pulled a few images, worked up a nice demo for you to show you exactly what I do when shooting large groups at a wedding.

You know, when I'm shooting a wedding, time is ALWAYS at a premium.  You've got to capture the photographs in a short amount of time and they have to look good, not necessarily perfect, but really good. Shooting groups is more than just about the lighting.  You need to consider how to arrange the group so you don't cast shadows on other group members. 

And, you need to choose the correct focal length lens so that all the head sizes from front to back in the group are the same size.   In this tutorial I'll walk you through the main things you've got to keep in mind when shooting large groups and what you need to do if you want them to look good. 

Hit the PLAY button and enjoy the show.  -David


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  But, be sure to stop back tomorrow.  Have a great one and I'll see you then.

Adios, David


  1. If you said it in your turtorial on Lighting Large Groups, that the off camera flash should be up high, to drive the shadows down behind the subjects....
    We used to call that "spill light", when you aimed your flash to the fartherest subject and enought light would fall on the close subjects.....

  2. Hey David...is it just me or are other folks having a problem with sound after the intro music, before you go to the computer. I do not get any sound while you are in front of the camera at the start or at the end.
    Thanks for doing these videos they are great teaching tools!

  3. Take the last image for instance... Where do you focus? There are 5 rows if you count the kids. I have always focused on the first row. Correct or incorrect?

  4. Thank you David for another fine tutorial. It is good to see the lighting concepts you've spoken about so many times applied to solve what might be considered a difficult lighting situation. I appreciate the permission to allow for a few minor imperfections so long as the overall result is good. Some of us can get distracted with perfection and miss connecting with the people on an emotional level. The "group hug" is great; you can feel the love in those photos!

  5. I had no problem with the video. Hey David, how about expanding on the clothing consultation?

  6. Hi Anonymous,
    You need to be at an f-stop that will keep everyone in focus. Always focus about 1/3 into the subjects/group you need to be in focus. Read about Depth of Field, Focus plane, and Hyperfocal distance at DOFMASTER.com.

  7. Great tutorial. Awesome images. I had an extremely large group last weekend (about 40+). I will definately try this at our next wedding. BTW, when you are filling in with your on-camera flash, are you using a modifier or just bare flash?

  8. Thank you David! I was one of the people asking you to cover this topic not too long ago and you really do read the comments!!! This was very helpful! Could you also talk about the mechanics or techniques on posing large group? Thanks again!

  9. David - I am curious about balancing your flash with the ambient lighting. You mentioned that you drag the shutter a bit to pick up the ambient. It looks like the ambient light in most of those shots is incandescent/tungsten. Do you use CTO gels on the flashes to match the color or just let it be?

  10. Hi, David.

    Since you're dragging the shutter, i assume you're on a tripod? In the Kelby 'all day shoot' video, you didn't seem to use a tripod at all. Great tutorial!

  11. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I cringe every time I'm asked to do a group shoot, but this will make me feel more confident next time. The feathering and fill on-camera make sense. Thanks much!!

  12. The information in this tutorial is EXCELLENT! Thank-you, David.

  13. Wonderful! Thank you David
    Happy Holidays

  14. This tutorial was extremely helpful, thank you for sharing...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


  15. Thank you David for your wonderful video tutorials. I have a commercial shoot booked and you're video just soothed my nerves.
    I'll be shooting groups of of between 16 and 24 people, and now I'm sure I know how to get the job done.
    Thanks again.

  16. Hi David,

    Thanks so much for yet another helpful tutorial. Large groups is something I have had problems with in the past and your simple yet effective approach has given me an idea of where I'm going with this. Re the comment above about raising the flash high to throw shadows on the ground; is this a technique you use? I am wondering if by having the flash held quite high on a pole, if the assistant could move it nearer to the centre of the group thereby helping the spread of light further?

    Anyway thanks so much for all the effort you put into helping us on here. I really love this blog.