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What are good standard poses for group shots of 3 or 4 people and how can I arrange folks so that they don't just look like they're 'standing around'?

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Good question. The classic example is a wedding shot - bride, groom, 4 parents. What can you do with that? – ElendilTheTall Jul 20 '11 at 12:49
@ElendilTheTall - You can't do anything, it is going to be boring, trust me. – dpollitt Jul 20 '11 at 17:51
If you want the standard poses, just look at any complete wedding photography shoot from the past 20 years. You will get lots of ideas, all boring, but all standard :) – dpollitt Jul 20 '11 at 17:54
Ah dpollitt, welcome back. I've been advised to pick your brain re. semi-pro wedding photography. Catch you in chat sometime :) – ElendilTheTall Jul 20 '11 at 18:10
@dpollit - Standard may be boring, but I want to get a handle on standard while branching out. :) – rfusca Jul 20 '11 at 18:53
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Here's a couple of suggestions:

  • Classic family or work group portrait: Seat a person or a couple and have the rest stand behind and to the sides. The person or couple sitting down will typically be determined by seniority, but other criteria might create interesting dynamics too, so don't just blindly go by the numbers.
  • Another classic, especially with younger subjects: Have the group jump and photograph them midair with a fast shutter speed and/or a flash to freeze the motion.
  • With a more lively and dynamic group, you can also experiment with untraditional poses like for example standing one person a feet or two away from the rest of the group, then have the group look at the one person while the one person looks at the camera, vice versa, or other combinations of looking/not looking.
  • Arrange the group members like a classic band photo. Place the lead person center and front, and have the other persons stand further behind and to the side. Arrange the people in individual poses.
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Some good suggestions there. Can you link to any example shots? – Mark Whitaker Jul 20 '11 at 9:17
Dear jumping shots - please go away! – dpollitt Jul 20 '11 at 17:52
Sorry, I don't have any group portrait shots that I can share at this time, but that's a good point! I should add a few group portraits to the portfolio :-) – Kim Burgaard Jul 23 '11 at 10:03


A classic approach is to arrange people so their faces form triangles. This is aesthetically pleasing.

Example by "Harriet Bayliss Photography

another Example by ".eti"


A technique which is useful when you have lots ( > 4 or so) of people is to arrange them in subgroups, such that each sub-group works on its own, and arrange the sub-groups so that they link together somehow.

Example on Flickr here by "off the*deep*end".

Another example, also on Flickr. This one by "Sadie Collins"

Heads Together

Finally, putting the subject's heads close to each other builds interest. It makes them look connected. Here's an example where "Waechor"'s image works because the 3 girls' heads are close/touching.

Good luck. :)

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