Another September shoot was for my client Bryony Farrar and her BMovement. Bryony teaches acrobatics, pole dancing and mindfulness among many other things and I’ve photographed her a few times recently doing improbably flexible and balanced poses. This time, Bryony approached me with an idea to display the variety of students she teaches including a group shot of them all. After a brief consultation, we were able to put this shoot together and bring Byrony’s idea to life.
Now, I’m pretty comfortable creating group shots nowadays but that hasn’t always been the case. I guess when you start out taking photos for fun, you never really think about how to light a group photo, where to place people, how to pose them etc etc. As soon as I started shooting commercially, I found I was frequently asked for them, a request which triggered no small amount of anxiety on my part!
It’s long been a part of my makeup that whenever something bothers me or I struggle with it, I make a conscious effort to lean into it and get to grips with it. Simply, I don’t like finding out that I can’t do things well. So when this does happen, when I struggle with a thing, I tend to get a tiny bit obsessed until I feel I’ve worked past whatever was troubling me. It might sound endearing but, as I’m sure my wife and various friends over the years will confirm, it can be a little frustrating at times when I can’t just let a thing go. It’s that same trait that pushed me to get competent at various sports over the years and compete at a national level on a trials bike.
Like a lot of my photography, I simply broke this scene down into it’s components: backdrop, positioning and lighting and worked from there. To some people I suppose this might seem surprisingly uncreative but when you have a good idea of what you want to do with each of these things, I think you’re most of the way there with group shots. I suppose that goes for all of photography – it seems so much easier when you have a clear vision in mind or what you want to achieve.
For the reader’s enjoyment I’ve posted below one of my first attempts at a group shots that, mercifully, never saw that light of day. It’s pretty bad, right? Feels a bit like they’re expecting someone to kick a ball at them!