How to Get Sharp Focus in Group Photos

For Photographers

Dec 3, 2018

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Hey photographers! I’m sharing one of my favorite tips for wedding photographers today – how to get sharp focus in group photos.  One of the hardest things for new photographers to figure out is that once you’re shooting with wide open apertures to get those beautiful dreamy backgrounds, it can actually work against you when it comes to large group photos with lots of layers.

So if you’ve ever taken an image of a family or wedding party and the front row faces are all in focus but the back rows aren’t, chances are, your aperture setting was your problem!

When you’re shooting wide open, the plane of focus is more narrow.  However, when you shoot in more narrow f-stops, the plane of focus is much wider, meaning you focus is sharper in a wider area.

Don’t worry, you can still get amazing group images with a more narrow aperture setting. There are two things you can do to help combat losing focus on faces in multiple rows.

  1. Limit your layers.  We try really hard to limit our layers (rows) of people to 2 – 3 layers.  This helps us still shoot in those wider aperture settings, just bumping enough to get all layers in focus.
  2. Narrow your aperture.  We start a group photo with an aperture setting of f2.  I take one test shot, taking a moment to zoom in on the result to make sure all my layers are in tack sharp focus.  If it’s still a bit fuzzy, I’ll bump my fstop to 2.8.

These techniques come in SO handy when we’re shooting bridal parties and family formals on our wedding days! I hope it helps you next time you’re out taking photos!

Want more education? Head over to the education shop for more resources for photographers!

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