The holidays are packed full of photo opportunities. From falling leaves to frozen landscapes; from Fall festivities outside to meals shared with family and friends indoors.

It’s why we decided to do our #500pxComeTogether photo quest this month. What better month to take beautiful groups photos!? But if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, or understanding what it takes to take a group photo that captures the feeling in the room and not just the people, we’ve put together some basic tips and ideas for you.

These 3 Basic Tips and 3 Fun Ideas will help you begin to master the art of the group photo, and if you’re brave enough to submit to our #500pxComeTogether photo quest, might just earn you the big prize!

Group of attractive young women of different ethnics taking a selfie - Students having fun - Best friends spending time together - Tourists photographing on a city tour

3 Basic Tips

Not sure where to start when capturing a great group photo? A great place to look for inspiration is (and don’t kill the messenger here… this is true) commercial photography.

No, not for the attractive people and sometimes obviously fake laughter, but because great commercial photographers know how to capture a festive group scene in the warmest, most genuine possible light.

Here are 3 basic lessons you can learn from quality group shots available on the 500px Marketplace, that you can apply to your entries in #500pxComeTogether.


Candid Beats Posed

The candid shot will ALWAYS beat the posed group shot. Even if everybody is posing, be the person off to the side, capturing a candid of the in-between moments when aunt Suzi is trying to figure out how to work the camera and the group is joking around between photos.

If you’re sharing a meal, hover around the table and capture the interactions and genuine smiling faces of people eating, drinking, and being merry.


Isolate, Isolate, Isolate

In real estate it’s “location, location, location”; in unique group shots, “isolate, isolate, isolate.” Isolating a few subjects from the group while keeping the rest of the scene in frame can make for really professional looking photos.

This works really well for bigger get togethers or while you’re sharing a meal. In this case, posed even works well as it’s balanced out by the rest of the scene… a fun moment shared between the people in the photo and the photographer, but nobody else.


Capture an Emotion, Not a Group of People

The most important tip though (and probably the hardest to follow) is to strive to capture an emotion, not a group of people. If you’re taking photos at Thanksgiving tonight, for example, try to feel the room and react to it.

Is your group boisterous, all interacting at the same time and being loud (in a good way)? Zoom out and capture that interaction.

Is your group more intimate, warm and cozy with plenty of contented smiles and side conversations? Let your photos become more intimate too. Get closer, isolate individuals more, and if you are going to pose the group, pose them in a way that matches the vibe they’re giving off so everyone is comfortable.

3 Fun Ideas

Okay, you’ve got some basic tips down, now let’s get creative! Here are 3 fun, modern ideas that take you beyond the “everybody toasting” photo that you’ve probably seen a billion times.


Shot From Above

This one is more challenging but very rewarding. If the house you’re eating in has an upstairs landing that looks down on the table you’re both lucky and set to do this; If not… consider breaking out the step ladder!

Yes it’s a bit of a pain but while everybody else will have more typical festive group photos to share after dinner (or Thanksgiving dinner) with friends, you’ll have something almost none of them will!


Go Meta

Absolutely love what Hero Images did for this particular photo. The fun of the occasion is captured in a different way that sets the image apart and gives it a very modern feel.

This correlates very well for the shooting candids advice up top, too. Taking a picture of a photographer taking (or preparing to take) a picture of a group will get you this same ‘meta’ effect.

Hispanic women taking selfie at family reunion

Up Your Selfie Game

Don’t be afraid of the selfie—whether that means capturing one yourself, or taking photos of people taking selfies (it’s probably gonna happen… it’s 2015). Just make sure that you do photography justice when you take that selfie.

Group of friends of different ethnics taking a selfie - Young modern hipster people having fun and laughing - Multiracial group photographing themselves and looking into camera

The photos above are great examples of professional shots that either show a selfie in the making, or are selfies themselves.

Quick Note: if you’re going to do a true selfie, put the phone away and use your higher quality camera. Smartphone cameras have come a looong way, but that front-facing camera is still terrible.

And that’s it! Whether you’re going out there to conquer the #500pxComeTogether photo quest in its last few days or just trying to capture some more beautiful memories this holiday season, we hope the tips and ideas above helped.

If you have any questions at all, or maybe even an additional tip or technique to share, drop them all in the comments down below!