When it comes to taking group photos, this is probably the worst possible reaction a photographer could receive. But that is exactly what Don Ambridge, the father of 7-year-old Miles Ambridge said when confronted with his son’s second grade class photo:
“This was not a malicious act; I don’t think it was done on purpose. I just don’t think there was any rational thinking behind it.”
An in-depth discussion of this photo has started here: Class Photo Facebook Discussion
Miles was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy when he was 13 months old. The disease attacks nerve cells in the spinal cord and as a result, leaves him bound to a wheelchair. Unfortunately this made Miles the unintentional victim of a photographer’s poor choice of composition.
Instead of being included in the photo, Miles was set off to the side, completely separated from the rest of his classmates.
“Being picked on and being set aside is horrendous and this was what was happening,” said Anne Belanger, his mother.
So, how can you avoid making a mistake like this?
- Make sure that the group looks cohesive. If you come across a tricky situation like this, take a little time to try out different options. The photographer could have chosen to place Miles in front and have the other children closely surround him. Sometimes we don’t think of these things at the moment, so it’s important to relax and brainstorm. When in doubt, discuss your ideas and ask for their opinion. This can save you a lot of trouble. You’re in charge, but you’re not a mind reader.
- Take several photos. One set of closed eyes, or parched lips can really ruin a photo. If you are shooting digitally, review each individual’s facial expression before moving on. And always take more than you think you’ll need.
- If you are taking a group photo, you may not be the only photographer. Make sure that you have their full attention. A simple countdown usually does the trick. Don’t be shy.
- Pay attention to the sides of the picture. Double-check that the people on the ends are properly lit, and included. Leave enough space around the entire group to ensure that the photo will be able to be printed in various sizes.
- Above all, be mindful and mentally prepared. Anticipate various situations and visualize the solutions.
Following this debacle, it was decided that the photo should be retaken, everyone is very happy with this new version. You can see Miles smiling brightly on the right side in the striped shirt:
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