Group shots are one area of photography I am asked to do several times a year. These can range from forty people to possibly one hundred and twenty in a single shot. I have a technical process to produce group shots that make them stand out from the rest, where no one has blinked, all hopefully smiling and the surrounding area telling the story. How I hear you say!
A few years back when shooting on film you would take various images and then choose the best one to perhaps print from. This was the only way it could be done and was very hit or miss. It is virtually impossible in a large group not to have someone blinking, looking in the wrong direction, talking to each other and not paying attention and yes hiding! Even when they are asked to “Look this way”.
With the aid of digital photography virtually anything is possible. It is a big cheat but can get you out, not of “trouble” but a real life situation that is not avoidable in these situations. This technique I use brings back what the eye sees that a camera has difficulty with.
What I stride to do is obtain the best image in the first place, but have the ability to correct slight inperfections at a later stage to suite!
Usually when I do these it is in a conference type situation so a large group would need to be positioned in front of and on the stage set. This is the only space you have to do this right?
Before the people arrive I would take a shot of the set to grab the image that is on screen. Why, because when using electronic flash this will be bleached out and not captured in the actually group shot. This gives you the logo or name of conference to add later. Then when the group arrive they are positioned best one can and in the time frame you have. Usually this is done within five minutes because people will start to become board and fidgety and you will loose there concentration and co-operation.
Capture main Group Images:
Next is to shoot say five to six frames of the group all in the same place. This then gives you in post pro the chance to choose the master image and from that you can use any of the other images to replace expressions or blinking eyes that may be apparent in the master you want to use.
Post Pro Retouch:
Here you have to use image processing/retouching programs and I’ll warn you it is not for the faint hearted. The process to set logos behind people on screens and doing the changes with flawless accuracy does take a very competent retoucher. And I’ll admit sometimes can catch me out, so I call upon expert help from one of my team.
So you achieve a conference set with logos on, all people looking and smiling in the right direction, without blinking eyes. Usually I obtain a 99.9% hit rate using this method and am often re booked by clients due to the quality of my work.