How to Take School Group Portraits

School group portraits are fun to take. For the children, it represents a moment in their life that they won't appreciate until they're older. You're there to preserve that memory for them with a great group portrait. Whether it's a class of 400 people or 30, the rules are essentially the same. 

A quick note to keep in mind is that you need to accomplish taking a great photo in a short amount of time.


The location for the photos has more than likely been picked by the school, and you need to deal with it. Ideally, the best place to shoot will have bleachers or stands because you want to set the kids up in height order. No one's face should be blocked by anyone else. This is all about the group, and if a child's face is being blocked, he may feel left out. 

Another great location for posing the class is a staircase. If the school has steps leading up to the front door, and it looks really nice, then politely suggest shooting there. The area of the staircase should be visually appealing. The stairs leading up to the second floor in the A wing might be great for posing the children, but it does not look good.

If you're shooting a small class of young children in the classroom, then the blackboard makes an excellent background. Separate the children into three equal groups according to height order. The medium sized children will be in the front row, sitting in chairs. The short kids will stand behind them and the tall kids will be in the back. You might need to do a little rearranging to make sure everyone's face will be visible. 


It's also a good idea to have a plaque that you can easily change letters on to note the class and year. Have the child sitting in the middle hold it. Make sure you take multiple shots too. Children have a tough time sitting still, so multiple takes will guarantee you have at least one where they're all looking at the camera.


If you're using lights, you want to have two that are powerful and heavily diffused. The light's purpose is to act as a general fill so that everyone's face is visible. You need the diffusion because harsh light will create shadows and that will make the group shot look horrible. Quickly set the lights up. Because they're covering a wide area, the lighting does not have to be precise or crazy.

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