Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tips for photographers // Camera settings for group photos

One thing we get asked a lot is, "What are the best camera settings for group photos?" or "What's the best way to take group shots?" We've all taken photos that we look back on later and realize some people were blurry or stepped out of the focus plane. There isn't one perfect formula for group photos. It's completely possible to shoot with a low f-stop and still get everyone in focus.... just remember what creates depth of field and start getting a lot of practice at what works best for you.

Before I share my settings for group photos, I want to remind you of the three things that create depth of field..... it's not just created by your aperture!   Depth of field changes with:
  • Aperture - The higher your F-stop number, (the smaller your aperture) the larger your focus plane will be. (remember that low numbers mean large aperture, higher numbers mean small aperture)
  • Distance from your subject - the further away from the subject you are, the larger your focus plane will be
  • Focal length or zoom amount - the more zoomed in you are, the smaller the focus plane, and the more bokeh you will create.

Like I said, there isn't just one way to go about this, but here are our aperture "jumping off" points for different amounts of people.
  • 1 person = F/1.4 +
  • 2 people = F/1.8 +
  • 3 people = f/2.0 - f/2.8+
  • 4 people (family session, bridal party, etc.) = f/2.8+
  • 5+ people = f/3.2, f/3.5, f/4.0 +
 ^^^ These are just quick rules of thumb, but sometimes we can put the f-stop even lower if we're confident that they'll all be in focus (which has just come with practice!)

group photo camera settings
 Canon 5D mk ii, 50mm 1.2L lens, // f/2.5, 1/125 sec., ISO-1000, center focus, natural light

group photo camera settings
 Canon 5D mk ii, 15mm fisheye lens, // f/3.2, 1/250 sec., ISO-100, center focus, natural light

group photo camera settings
Canon 5D mk ii, 50mm 1.2L lens, // f/2.8, 1/160 sec., ISO-50, center focus, fill flash

group photo camera settings
Canon 5D mk ii, 50mm 1.2L lens, // f/3.2, 1/160 sec., ISO-50, center focus, fill flash

More group photo tips:
  • If you're shooting a lower f-stop like 2.8, etc., make sure your group is in more of a line, and you're standing parallel with them so they all are photographed in the same plane and no one is out of focus.
  • If it's a more traditional, complex or large group family shot (some seated, several rows or layers of people) it's probably best to start at an aperture of 4.0
  • If you're not sure what works for you with different lenses or different amount of people, get some models to do a test shoot! Try several different settings standing in several different places with different lenses, then you can go home and analyze it and learn from it!! 

{This post simply contains my own thoughts, ideas, and insights. Each photographer is different, and everyone goes about photography differently. This blog's content is copyright of Memory Montage Photography. Please do not copy or republish this text without written permission to do so. If you would like to share this post, please include a link directly to our blog's URL. Thank you!} 

Do you have a photography question that you'd like answered in a future post? Email your questions to Amy: info@memorymp.com - Thanks! 
Pin It Now!


  1. Thanks for sharing guys : ) On your fill flash did you use on camera with the white bounce card that comes on the flash? Looks great. Hope you guys are having a good spring, summer weddings are almost here, cant wait to sweat my butt off!

    -ashley dellinger photography

  2. Just to say THANK YOU for all the great info in your BLOG ! Congratulations for sharing all these important tips and info ! GOD Bless you !

  3. Thank you so much for this info. I have been having a hard time getting everyone in a group in focus. I will definitely try your suggestions! :)

  4. Travel time can be quite a hassle if venues are spread far and wide, especially if you’re planning a large wedding.
    city hall wedding photographer

  5. Beautiful pics with utilitarian info. Thanks a lot. Keep up the good work...

  6. i' like your tips. As a malay wedding photographer i will use tips this as my guide.. thanks alot

  7. Thanks for sharing, excellent advice. I'll be using your tips for my next group shoot


I'd love to hear from ya :)