What to Expect at Group Photoshoots (Photographers Perspective)

A photo like this could only happen at a group shoot! Thor vs Merida!

What is a group photoshoot? The type of group photoshoot I’m talking about is 1 or more photographers taking pictures at an event with more than 1 client/model (there are also groupshoots with many photographers and 1 model but that’s a different subject). It can have a theme or an intended client list, but sometimes it can just be “Hey I have studio time booked for 4 hours let’s see who I can get to come out!”

What should you do as a client/model at a group shoot?

  • Jump in! If there are multiple photographers grab ones attention and start shooting. Photographers will tend to setup in a location, either somewhere they like that’s part of the existing location or even in a studio type setting where they are configuring lights and an artificial backdrop.
  • If you only have 1 outfit make the rounds to each photog and spend maybe 5–15 minutes getting some photos (even if there’s only 1 photog). Then watch some other attendees get some new ideas, think of new poses, and/or wait for the photographers to change location, or add in a prop/change their lighting then jump in again.
  • If you have different warddrobe changes know that you might not get them all photographed. Pick your top 3 then go from there. Do the same thing spend about 5-15 mins with each outfit per photog, then go change. Rinse and repeat.
  • Coordinate with other attendees! Planning on wearing a blue summer dress first? Or maybe you’ll start as a comicbook villain then migrate to a movie protaganist. Post in the event page what you’re planning and see if anyone else is planning the same theme. Even if you don’t shoot together the photographer can plan their setups based on whose doing what.

What do you see happen at these shoots (as the photographer)? I’m not going to lie as a photographer I love it when someone jumps in front of the camera and says “Oh I have this awesome idea or pose…. and another and another” These are people usually who are more comfortable in front of the camera and they end up monopolizing the time and getting the most photos. If you stand in front of me with great ideas I’ll take your picture! If you stand in front of me with terrible ideas I’ll take your picture! The problem is you need to stand in front of me.

Don’t hide the whole shoot!

There are inevitably some shy people who come out to group shoots and have to be coaxed into getting on the stage. Sometimes we’ll have assistants who will help coax these people, but typically we wont. As a photographer I should also be coaxing these people and providing some posing instructions. The issue is it’s really hard to focus on what’s going on outside the eyepiece. If you’re hiding out in a corner being invisible I’m typically focused on what’s in front of me. What my camera settings are, what my light settings are, what poses should we try next, what props, hmmm.. maybe I should add a chair for this shot. I just got all my lights adjusted for someone standing and now you want to lay on the floor!? Oh no now this flash stopped firing let me fix this technical problem without letting the client know there is one.

Ok I’m a shy person what should I do?

  • Research beforehand! Look up some poses you really want to try and practice in front of the mirror. If it’s a themed shoot look for some other photos in that theme. If it’s cosplay and you are cosplaying a character your photographer may have no clue who that character is. You are the expert! Get into character! How would Prince Hammermill the Patient of planet Xorolc pose?
Sometimes you can find a friend at the shoot! And suck their blood i guess.. Hey! I won’t judge.
  • Find a friend to go with you! Find someone to encourage you to get on the stage. Tell you when you’re looking good and when your pose is spot on! You can partner up and do some poses together, just don’t forget to do solo shots too. Typically I would suggest it would be better if this friend is also going to pay for/model for the shoot also. At my shoots I’m usually bringing water/refreshments, maybe entertainment, etc to make sure people are taken care of. If you have a wallflower friend that comes out and just consumes space (which can be valuable), and or the refreshments that’s cutting into our bottom line. It’s also hard not to catch the photobug and inevitably you’re friend is going to want to get on stage too!
  • Look your best and be on time (or early)! Unless your photographer is new chances are they’ve seen and photographed alot of different people. This is a job for them. They are taking away time from their family to create these photos. People run late it happens. However, nothing will annoy a photographer more than if you show up an hour late wearing sweats looking like you just rolled out of bed (and either A get in front of the camera like that or B just start to get dressed). I want product I can show prospective future clients. You want photos to hang on your wall, or post on your Facebook wall at least, I imagine. Even if it’s a free or low cost group shoot at least show the photographer you value their time. Chances are they’ve been onsite 30 mins to 1 hour early setting up. You can also come out during this time to get dressed, do hair and makeup etc and have a conversation with the photographer so you start to build a relationship and both of you get an idea of what you’re looking for.

Why don’t you schedule time-slots so everyone has equal time? I used to do this when I started out and realized it almost never works. For multiple reasons.

  • People are late. This is the number one reason scheduling time slots doesn’t work. If I have you booked from 6–7 and someone else from 7–8 and you show up at 6:45 and start getting dressed.. well you aren’t getting any photos which means now you’re not going to pay me beyond your sitting fee/reservation and we’re both going to be angry. (This happens alot I mean in the range of 100% of the time someone is ALWAYS late).
  • Wardrobe changes. Let’s say you are scheduled to shoot from 6–7 you get there early at 5:30 and get dressed and are ready to go by 6! Woohoo! You only have 1 outfit. I’m going to run out of ideas by like 6:20. We spend the next 40 minutes trying to figure out ways to shake it up. Let’s pretend the next person from 7–8 does the same and has 5 outfit changes. We’re going to get like 10 photos of the first outfit 5 of the next and maybe 1 of each of the rest and your hair is going to look progressively crazier in each one as your rushing to change clothes, we may even have some shots of you half dressed trying to put on your pants or something.

I feel like not having a set schedule works better. Take the examples above maybe one person is late that’s Ok I’ll just shoot the other people that are there. Maybe you only have 1 outfit? That’s ok too you can get a few photos relax and think of new ideas and jump back in. Maybe you have 5 outfits? That’s ok we’ll get some photos you jump off and change while i’m shooting other people then come back fresh knowing you didn’t loose any of what would have been your timeslot.

Hope this helps! Please let me know in the comments if I missed anything!

Find more of my work at mortproductions.com