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Deconstructing The Group Photo & Posing Techniques In The Royal Wedding Photos

By Kishore Sawh on May 21st 2018

There won’t be another wedding that will eat column inches quite in the fashion as that of the recent Royals, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. And hand-in-hand with that, none other will produce photographs that will be put against quite the same scrutiny.

At this point, just 2 days later, the family have released a few official Royal Wedding Photos taken on their wedding day by renowned fashion and portrait photographer Alexi Lubomirski, and whatever you think about the colour or the crop of the photographs, they capture emotion, likely evoked by the photographer. They also display the use of classic key techniques for photographing groups that we continue to teach on SLR Lounge and in our workshops like the Complete Posing Workshop and Photographing Group Portraits.

Photographing large groups can be challenging as it requires the deployment of a varied set of skills from communication and posing, directing, to lighting and problem-solving. Here are a few things to consider for successful group portraits:

Learn More About Photographing Groups

Communication

Any wedding photographer will look at the group images and notice a very obvious challenge, and that is the abundance of children. Achieving an image where 10 children are in their place, camera facing, and wearing nice and natural expressions all at the time of capture is no easy feat.

While in this case the photographer may have had help from nannies or an assistant and family, it still rests on her/his ability to direct, entertain, and pull it all together at the moment of capture, and all of that requires engaging. One of the things we suggest is to get out from behind the camera and engage with your subjects at the right energy level until everyone is in their right place, getting as much set before you pick the camera up to place.

layering & Touchpoints For Connections

For groups portraits like this, a certain level of intimacy is desirable as typically you’re dealing with close friends and family. While that level of intimacy might exist, depicting it through the photograph is the product of creation, and overlapping persons covering no more than about 20-30% of the other’s body is a good way to do this, keeping in mind you’re aiming to have all subjects fall within the same depth of focus you’re using.

An even more effective way to depict intimacy and connection is through the use of touchpoints. As the moniker suggests, it’s a physical point of contact which creates a literal and figurative connection between the people in the photo. Putting hands on shoulders, interlocking arms, and even holding hands (subjects depending) are simple and effective ways to suggest and depict when you can’t describe; they convey familiarity and guide a viewer as to the relationships in front of them between the subjects. This was used generously for a Royal Family in the images we see here.

Symmetry

Even when the Queen of England is in your frame, if the bride and groom are too they take precedence. Pye likes to suggest to think of the bride and groom as the centerpiece, and from them you build the pose outward. This is solid advice and will help you build a foundation and anchor of the image.

Things to keep in mind when building out said pose is to have the other subjects point their bodies and toes a bit inward toward the centerpiece, and to be cognizant of height and other physical symmetry in the group.

We can see here that while there were not an even number of people to be split between the two sides of the bride and groom, clever and deliberate choice in posing, layering and distribution of people provided that there is still that all-important sense of balance in the final image.

Lighting

The images we’ve seen aren’t the easiest to deconstruct in terms of lighting. It appears that natural light with some manner of balanced fill was used, with particular attention paid to exposure in order to keep the lights on in the background to add context.

Lighting a large group is a challenge all unto itself as you have to consider size, whether you need to make it a composite shot, what light and modifier to use, where the shadows need to fall and all the rest. And for a detailed look into that, check out the following article, and master off-camera lighting large group photos and learn how to accomplish these kinds of shots in our Unscripted BTS workshop, part of our Premium membership!

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3 Ways To Photograph Family Group Photos With Flash

Terms: #Composition
About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

3 Comments

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    I agree. The bride and groom take center stage and their parents to their side. Give Grandma a break!

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  2. Darius Vaitkus

    Hm… Why Royals did not take SLR Lounge….. ?Can’t understand.. I never saw any mistakes on any of SLR workshops… And Alexi made few in one photo! He had 20mins for 6 photos and….We see it with the red marks on article’s cover which promoting workshops “how to don’t do like Alexi” :))))

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Darius Vaitkus did you read the article or just assume it was negative? Kish did a great job discussing the techniques used, the marks were showing those techniques. They weren’t critique. We all know the constraints photographers face in these kinds of situations. 

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