How to Control Focal Length for Group Portraits

Group portraits are paradoxical: How can you pose subjects in an interesting way while still keeping them all in focus? Shooting with a narrow aperture is one option, but that would lose the intimacy of the moment, keeping more of the background in focus. In this quick video, Tamara Lackey shows how to balance sharpness with aesthetics, keeping everyone in focus without sacrificing the pose she wants:

She’s using an 85mm f/1.4 Nikon lens, giving her a wide range of focal-length options, despite her preference to keep it shallow. Ultimately, her own physical distance from her subjects makes a big difference, as well as how close they are to one another.

tamara lackey photography

You can see the difference between their original pose, above, and where they wound up. The daughter in front scooted back a bit, while the one behind the father leaned in closer, in order to tighten up the subjects’ area and keep everything within one focal length.

family photography tips

Sometimes solutions are simpler than they seem—you just need to remember the fundamentals and stay creative.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current: