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Thread: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

  1. #1

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    Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Our family is having a reunion at Thanksgiving and I need some ideas how to take a group photo of 80 people. The photos will be taken inside a large building. I know there is room to line up at least 10 (possibly 12) folding chairs. Then I could place about 10-11 people standing behind the ones sitting in the chairs. 10-15 kids could sit on the floor...so where do I put the rest? Usually in a group shot this large many people wind up partially hidden behind someone. The only thing in the room will be long cafeteria type tables and folding chairs. Many of the family members will be older 70-87 years old, so it has to be safe. Anyone have any ideas?

    I am also taking smaller groups of the individual families, but would love to have a group shot of everyone. Outdoors is really not an option due to small area around building and the old folks would get too cold.

    What I need is a set of bleachers Just thought someone might have a nifty idea they have used before.

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Jeannie

    The big problem that you describe is that you have 80 people and room for 10 wide. That means you need 8 rows. I can't see how you do that without being somewhere where you have a staircase on which you could step them all.

    The other alternative is that you have to get up high and shoot down on them. So, a fairly large set of step-ladders, with someone at the bottom holding it to make sure its secure.

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    So no one takes family group pictures at a reunion?? I did come up with the idea of instead of taking the whole group - as 80 people in a 4x6 photos are going to be really small. To take a photo of the 1st generation , 2nd generation, and 3rd generation thus making the groups smaller. What I was trying to come up with is something to use to elevate another row of people behind the ones standing.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    What I was trying to come up with is something to use to elevate another row of people behind the ones standing.
    Yes, but is that going to be enough?

    If you have:
    • Row 1 sitting on the ground
    • Row 2 kneeling on the ground behind them
    • Row 3 sitting on chairs
    • Row 4 standing behind the chairs
    • Then what ............................

    On the basis of 10 wide, as you stated, that's only 40 people. So you're not needing only one row of something else to elevate, but several. Which is why I suggested that it would be easier for you to get up higher.

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    One far out suggestion (and would take a lot of work, but it can be done, I did it once and that time of year is now upon me again), is to take several group shots and make a panorama out of it. Difficult but it can be done. Admittedly I had a very large room, so only one group to set up, but I did 5 shots and stitched them together.

    So, lens distortion may be a problem, but if that can overcome try the following.

    Set up group one, stand well back and take picture. Get the people at one end (say RHS) to move over to the other (LHS), bring in second group and pose them. Take second picture. Take RHS people to LHS, bring in 3rd group ... repeat until everyone is done.

    Align the pics so the RHS from one align close enough with the same people (LHS) in next shot.

    Then all you need to do is to find a printer that will print out long and narrow prints.
    OR print out one large print, but have the pano stacked so you get multiple copies on one print. Cut as appropriate.

    BTW, many Epson printers (even basic ones) allow for a length of 44". I have several prints of 8" by 40"+. All printed at home.

    Graham

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Actually, thinking about it, does the picture have to have everyone in the same group. You could set up to take individual pictures (or smaller groups as someone already suggested) and print them as a collage (formally presented or not).
    If they have a sense of humour, make them as Wanted Posters.

    Or again, many places now print small books, you could have everyone in a book.

    Graham

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Thanks for all the suggestions. The panorama stitching sounds very intriguing. But after thinking about it, I think the best way is to take a group shot of the first generation (14 people) second generation (25 people) third generation (25 people) fourth generation (9 people). This will make the group size more manageable. I am also going to take individual family shots. I am planning to make a photo book from Mixbook with photos from the entire day. I like my photos to tell a story so I cover an event from beginning to the end.

    Unfortunately, I just found out that my oldest aunt (part of the 1st generation) fell today and broke her hip. She is facing surgery - probably hip replacement, so plans are "on hold" for right now. Hopefully, if she does well, she will be able to come. She is the oldest of the family at 87.

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    How big is the room?

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Another idea is that each of the 80 people throws a few $$$ in the hat and you employ a professional photographer with all the right equipment to do the shoot?

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Another idea is that each of the 80 people throws a few $$$ in the hat and you employ a professional photographer with all the right equipment to do the shoot?
    I don't get the impression that that was Jeannie's idea...

    Jeannie, have a look at this thread on Group photo as well. I added some links to a photoshoot by professional photographer Joe McNally, who raises another issue...LIGHTING. Getting that right for that many people or even the subgroups will be difficult as well.

    Let us know whether you got to do shots in the end and if possible show us some of the results. Good luck!

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Letrow View Post
    I don't get the impression that that was Jeannie's idea...

    Jeannie, have a look at this thread on Group photo as well!
    Unfortunately, all Jeannie has (as I understand it) is a 300D with on-camera flash though -- pretty hard to do a "Joe McNally" type group portrait without a lot more lighting gear.

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Unfortunately, all Jeannie has (as I understand it) is a 300D with on-camera flash though -- pretty hard to do a "Joe McNally" type group portrait without a lot more lighting gear.
    Oh, I agree. I don't think that there are many people around who could do a shot like Joe has made there (including me). Which is why a lot of people have heard about Joe McNally, but are not aware of who Letrow is.
    But, it's read and learn. Some of his suggestions might help generate ideas for Jeannie's shoot and whatever her equipment is, (proper) lighting is always going to play an important role in the end result.

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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Another idea is that each of the 80 people throws a few $$$ in the hat and you employ a professional photographer with all the right equipment to do the shoot?
    The simplest solution .
    We are all so hands on here, it took ages to get to this point. Love it, made me smile.

    Good point. We have to know when to back off and let someone else do it (just like home maintenance/renovation).

    Last LARGE group I did I had a single studio flash (Bowens 200 with umbrella, although I reckon a 58gn flash would just about have done it as well). I took 5 photographs across the group and spent ages on the stitching together (couple of hours, auto pano feature did most of work). So it can be done.
    I don't like to show my failures, but here it is below.
    What was wrong? One persons legs are repeated and positioning of people was not good (not how they arranged themselves, cos some are camera shy), but the group was a straight line and I was too close so perspective was wrong. Those on the end are smaller than the middle. Apart from that I was happy with the result.
    (BTW, room was fairly low ceiling and white, so reflection helped).
    It's that time of year again and so on Saturday I do the same (having learnt from the previous 2 mistakes - I wonder what mistakes willl be done this time ).
    Graham
    (doesn't know when to back off for renos either)
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    Need ideas how to take really large family group photos
    Last edited by GrahamH; 24th November 2011 at 12:02 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamH View Post
    The simplest solution .
    We are all so hands on here, it took ages to get to this point. Love it, made me smile.

    Good point. We have to know when to back off and let someone else do it (just like home maintenance/renovation).

    Last LARGE group I did I had a single studio flash (Bowens 200 with umbrella, although I reckon a 58gn flash would just about have done it as well). I took 5 photographs across the group and spent ages on the stitching together (couple of hours, auto pano feature did most of work). So it can be done.
    I don't like to show my failures, but here it is below.
    What was wrong? One persons legs are repeated and positioning of people was not good (not how they arranged themselves, cos some are camera shy), but the group was a straight line and I was too close so perspective was wrong. Those on the end are smaller than the middle. Apart from that I was happy with the result.
    (BTW, room was fairly low ceiling and white, so reflection helped).
    It's that time of year again and so on Saturday I do the same (having learnt from the previous 2 mistakes - I wonder what mistakes willl be done this time ).
    Graham
    (doesn't know when to back off for renos either)
    Group pano
    Need ideas how to take really large family group photos
    Those feet look weird indeed

  15. #15
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    Re: Need ideas how to take really large family group photos

    Is it possible to shoot outdoors? Weather in Loisiana can be a bit chilly for that if a cold front is coming through but, it would be easiest, especially if you shoot from an elevated position. Church or courthouse steps are the greatest place to shoot because you are able to use each step to elevate each row to the rear...

    Here are a few hints though if you have no steps......

    1 Arrange the group in a slight concave arc, rather than a straight line. This will even the camera to subject distance between the people at the ends of the line in relationship to those in the center, minimizing distortion...

    2. Shooting from an elevated position would also equalize the distance between the front and rear rows and the camera. That woul help in both lighting and in preventing distortion...

    3. Don't have the subjects standing shoulder to shoulder and broadside to the camera. Instead have the center person in the line standing face on and the people to the camera right standing at about a 45 degree angle with their left side towards the camera, the people to the camera left also stand at about a 45 degree angle with their right sides to the camera. That way, you can cram a lot more people in a shorter line...

    Donald's plan would work...
    •Row 1 sitting on the ground
    •Row 2 kneeling on the ground behind them
    •Row 3 sitting on chairs
    •Row 4 standing behind the chairs

    However, I think that you might get more then ten people in a row if you arranged them the way I mentioned...

    If you have some small kiddies, they could be lying on the ground in the very front. Hard to control them away from their parents though...

    I hope you don't plan to use the self-timer and run around to get into the picture. That could propose major problems...

    Make sure you have fresh batteries or are working with a/c flash. Groups get unruly waiting for flashes to recharge. Shoot several shots so you can PP out any closed eyes or stupid expressions...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 24th November 2011 at 05:03 PM.

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