Skip to main content

photo & video

Pose It, Light It, Love It

Lesson 8 of 33

Shoot: Group of Three

Clay Blackmore

Pose It, Light It, Love It

Clay Blackmore

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

8. Shoot: Group of Three

Lesson Info

Shoot: Group of Three

This card could be sixteen gigs, which is fine but there's another slot in here that I can put an sd card in at thirty two gigs and I can set that thirty two gig card to shoot j pegs maybe medium j pegs so I'm at a wedding shuffling in these sixteen because these cameras they munch up the cameras the cards time I go through twelve cards but guess what? The rehearsal dinner, the engagement and the whole wedding is sitting on the little sd card as a backup isn't that phenomenal because when you shove all that media round it's kind of dangerous you know tio even touch it so I love the new camera feature to do that and speaking about the camera feature, I got a comment on my feed that I'm tipping the camera lot now if this lens was a one thirty five sometimes the ball heads they bought they what do they they brought him out they won't go anymore this lens has a collar on it so my tip is really easy they're just very lubricated graphite and it just left right? So that's a real nice feature ...

on the big white limbs that it has that collar the other question was nondescript backgrounds you know again I'm shooting wide open like f four five six so the backgrounds are melting so sometimes you can get away with a little texture in the back wall you know a brick wall sometimes, but usually ah window a tree forget it you're never going to get through that. So what I want to talk about now I think is probably the heart of the wedding and that's family you know, getting the family is everything and that's where the money's at and when I say that I come in it for the money I want to make a big album I want to make a big sale I want to do a double volume in triple volume and you know it today I'm dealing with two clients at each wedding my first client is the mother she's paying for it beauty's in the eye the checkbook holder so so hire I have to keep mom happy and she wants all the family covered, doesn't she? But the bride's been looking at the magazines oh, I love this I love that it's so editorial and fashion and fun and I don't want any posing I wanna have a good time so we delicately bounced into those situations my answer the wedding day I'm going to start at three o'clock and goto six with portrait when the first guest arrives when they first show up there's no more proposing will let it flow and that's a good rule and and it all fits together but the portion I'm about to share with you now is the really most important part putting three four five together and make it quick and fund because no no doubt you're going to get a list of pictures that they want to have photographed like thursday friday here's our list and I did a wedding excuse me that I got nineteen pictures that the bride wanted done before the ceremony nineteen actually I got one I'm not even kidding you this and I have the pdf document that she emailed me it was fifty photographs and she named out everybody in each picture so I had to have a spotter to tell me who the people were and I had to coach her because some of those groups appeared inside other groups like she would want this group and that group and this group and that group some of these little groups were inside the bigger groups and I tried to tell her you know, I think we're gonna have to really focus on my list first and then we'll do whatever we can do after she didn't want to hear that she wanted her list down the way she wanted it done and I did that, but the only way I could do that is technique quick technique I didn't think of any journalism I didn't do the bride's dressing the groom's dressing room I was focused on family I'm waiting there and I said everybody needs to be on time and I have a schedule and I just checked him off. Let go. So let me show you a few of these pictures in a few of these compositions and how they might come together this is your road map a group of to a group of three now look at that group of three it's an inverted triangle inverted pyramid that's the easiest way to put three people together you can also flip that upside down and do a triangle we do triangles all the time, especially on the bigger groups. The group of four is really special. I go to city to city to city with traveling I always see the news team you know, the ways have four people in the news team you don't mean they have the billboard and they're always a group of four on the bus on the billboard on the television and I'm always saying, oh man, they need me to pose that group before because they never get it right you know it's four people but here's how we do what we start with two people their bodies a little further apart we bring the third one in the middle and the fourth one up of the higher the group of five there it is for you then six we see three we stand three a group of seven four seeded three standing now I might be doing a wedding and I've got this group of six put together beautifully and the bride's mother runs over to mrs clay I need this picture but I want you to add my sister her husband and their three kids and I'm right here doing my thing with my lights we're about to do it and I say to her carol I'll do that for you in the next room when we do the big family groups don't let me forget I won't forget I'm going to do everything I needed to hear first you have to politely and firmly dictate how this is going to unfold if you let the bridegroom and the parents tell you how to do all this it's going to be a disaster let's face it you know the typical bride of today gets married once or twice in a lifetime and we get married every weekend eso we understand the flow in the pace and where we need to be and this is a conversation that needs to be done way before the wedding day that look we're gonna have a schedule we're going to be here and then we're gonna move there and they're gonna go there I definitely I'm gonna have a journalist with me if not two and a filmmaker and they're not going to say a word to anybody they're just going to do the journalism on and have a ball so we're going to plan our work and work our plan all right, so let's let's look at a couple of slides and just see what I'm thinking about this is a really beautiful portrait made environmentally in the home for a magazine I love this picture I don't know if you see george stephanopoulos on tv this is his wife and children and how do you think I let this photograph what do you think I did? What do you tell me? Daylight but give me a little more help just all daylight they like the reflector that's what everybody would think and I appreciate that and I feel good because that's what I wanted to look like I let this exactly like I lit the portrait's this morning you see the hair alight the boom arm coming over I've got two lights over here in a v shape I've got the main light davey and I even have a light behind the three of them lighting the curtain so these four lights went in their home we're set up for this portrait and look at the triangle that's what we're here to talk about group two so these air sisters and it's just the setting sun in my back and I just came right in there there's no light here added it all it's all natural light we call this the sweet light the sweet light time of the day where the sun is just just it's probably actually just gone down, you know what? If it were up, I would be shooting into it backlighting, backlighting back when you know we lost our son. No problem. This is the sweet light time we turn around and we use the sky as the main light see those those catch lights in the eyes and isn't that a beautiful photograph? Two sisters right there, they're dressed. Well, the red barn comes out great. A group of three at the wedding day, then a fun shot in between the frame in between the parents of the bride watching be photographed, the groom and his parents this is how it comes together, you know, action and reaction. And one thing I never said today is, you know, the camera looks both ways if you look at pictures and they look very staged and they look very posed and they look very, you know, flat its because the photographer is not excited now sometimes it's hard to be excited if you're not sure what you're doing, can I get a witness out there? You know, you're just you're just swimming under like a duck, you know, you're trying to remain calm, but your legs are going, oh, my god, oh my god, what am I doing? Oh, my god, I'm again so after it you know, one hundred thousand hours of practice, you really get to the point where you don't even think about it and you're really just trying to hey, hey, we're having fun and you keep a smile on your face and they're going to smile back so I say that affectionately, but the camera looks both ways and I think that's maybe the mantra for the whole three days is that I'm going to be excited and the people are going to be excited we're going to keep it fun there's that group before, by the way and if you draw a line between the two boys eyes, you're going to see this line is going to be parallel can you see that? All right, so sometimes I'll be doing the portrait like this, and I would probably trim this right here in vignette it and they might say, well, you know, you could tell that that connor he looks much taller than his brother and I just say it's just for composition when it is full of groups groups over here in a minute and everybody will be their natural height. There's a group of five one, two, three, four, five I did all the bottom it's with monty did the wedding. He put this couple on the cover of range finder magazine. These people love our work they love this portrait style I brought the background I brought the setup and that's thes whites right here spider lights and there you can see it all come together how about a group of three outside in a pyramid that's three generations the grandmother, the mother and the bride who's going to buy that picture? All three of them even the unborn grandchildren are going to want this one I'm telling you this is when you want to get the three I'm telling you this is one that you want how about the parents with the bride is as long as you know it's supposed but it doesn't feel is posed with the lighting is beautiful, we're working outdoors and we're adding flash to this and I'm going to talk about that tomorrow there is our group before one and two let's just look at those two lines for a second those two circles draw a line and you can see the slope and then we just put the mother in the middle had the father to the back the father could be on a little block I don't know just to get him up usually I use the stools to lower the people rather than put the people up in the blocks and I'm doing a shout out to my camera craftsman buddies I've been with this group for I don't even know fifteen years monty is right in here and they're there I am and there's bill macintosh, alvin g elizabeth correra these air the best photographers in the united states, mr phillips cherished bill stuart there's, monty male holsen there's don emmerich this is a grandstand group and to get eighty people in one picture, we're going to do an armchair group and run a row of chairs across the back to do the big group that you see here. What's the first thing I looked for when I made this picture, the background, a background with a lot of depth, the lighting on this is very easy, it's just one light over camera, so we're going to do bigger groups later on as we go forward, but these big corporate groups are really important there's I'm on a list of several country clubs in town and congressional country club aven l lakewood caves valley. Last ten days ago, we photographed the super bowl trophy with the owner of the team and the ravens coach jim harbaugh with all the members of case valley and we're talking fifty people that each made a big donation to be in the picture and you know what? They are all busy, they're all having a party, they don't want to go sit in front of my camera, do they? So it's the need for speed action fast being a boldness of attack telling people exactly what you want and kind of getting their attention not just kind of wishy washy you're gonna lose the people so it's kind of like I've been on stage today but some people say man once you start you just engaging you that's what I am when I'm shooting I want people to know this is going to be fast and fun and I might be like ten minutes from finishing a big group but the whole time I'm saying ok, we're just about there I think I got a couple more minutes I think we're there here we go I'm ready let's get it and then I'm looking I'm looking at each person and that's how we make the big groups and I hope we have time you know, to do more of the group photography like that so let's make some groups let's put together we've already been doing to is all morning haven't we? So let's do a group of three so let's see who we got out? We've got several people let's have amanda and hannah we've got three and sean, we'll start with one light here so this is real easy and also a lot of times you think about who goes in the front this is a great question this should be a prize winning question when you're doing a group before a group of five I'm doing a family I get to pick who goes up front anybody catherine the shortest and bright bright and high youngest now the guy is most important who the most important proves a checkbook holder no, not the senate it's the senate it's the it's the heaviest person you want to hide the weight in the back? I'm sorry so we wanted always put the slim people up front and we've got three really heavy people I don't know what I'm gonna do but my weddings you know people live the good life you know kind of like may hear we're always thinking about hiding the bodies body blocking is what hanson phone calls so I'm going to kind of size up the group real quick and I'm gonna put the heavier people in the back and hide the bodies so what I could do here since we've got you know boy girl boy girl why don't we just see it? Shawn right here it's on you so suddenly and turn your knees this way a little bit okay? A little bit okay, so now let's switch the sides because we've got hannah a little bit lower on why don't you guys slide back a little bit? Because that'll give us room to get both cameras going just come right back here with just lie back a little bit more so let's go live feed let me get my camera turned on back there you can already see the group coming together right here the pyramid like that just like that so the lights are coming down lets just put your left hand here and let's put your right hand here and I think you stay right here I'm gonna lower you a little bit just come forward a little bit now again I want to just say to amanda, put your chin right here and turn your nose this way a little bit and I still feel we could bring you down a little bit sorry, back up a little bit just keep all your weight there sit there now we got a tip you head this way little you'll set up a little bit good let's see if we're live yet we're gonna come off the power point and go to the camera there we go beautiful by the way I learned how to go to black and white at the break we're not going to do it though. These colors all the great together so let's look at amanda she's tipping her head away from the light so let's tip your head back to the light and turn your nose to the left and your shoulder right behind your brother right shoulder right shoulder yeah, you see how I close that in real fast so I was showing her your shoulder right up behind so then hannah, you lean right in there to the picture that's it we're almost there. Sean, sit up a little taller yet. Sean tip your head to the right. I feel like if you look at the lighting, it feels a little hot on hannah. Hannah, look right in the camera. Look at my camera. Good. So I'm gonna take this light and just really feather it away. You see what I just did? It's still in there? Just barely. And now, as the groups get bigger, the light gets flatter. Does that make sense? A little flatter and this is a time where my fill light behind camera, which is another one of the tv sixes I've been using. T d five td six has six bulbs. We have it right over there and we put it on bro on it and it just gives me that nice feel like we're there, hannah leaning a little bit more good. I feel like a man and he's a tip or head to the right a little bit and turn your nose to the left and we're there. This is the brother on his wedding day and he's going to be focused nice and sharp right there and if he smiles were going to take the picture right there, chin up a little bit right there that's that easy? I mean, can you imagine? Let me just hold the picture for a second. If I were not telling you how I'm doing these pictures, how I could roll because I could just, you know, I wouldn't have to sit here and explain every nuance I would be doing it, and I could just people can line up and I could just who do you have and here's, where I'm at a wedding? I'm shooting away and I said, I need the next group right here. Who's who's ready? I haven't photographed you yet. Who do you have your family here? Just bring him over here. So while I'm working here, I'm staging the groups, which is kind of crazy when people see that they're like, man, this guy's he's into this and they line up for me and I'm serious, I'm at a wedding and I'm just just next next next and I'll do like the three kids together add the parents group of five, take the three kids away, do the parents and if I just give people a cd what's gonna happen, they're going to go right out to the scanners and right out to the wal mart printing up so now it's a time to be a good salesperson and be aggressive and make a beautiful sail give him a good deal, you know, and I don't get all these pictures, but they need to be retouched. Everything we do needs to be retouched, okay?

Class Description

Join Clay Blackmore for a three-day immersion into the art of photography. Drawing on decades of experience, Clay will cover the essential posing, lighting, and composition skills that are key to creating jaw-dropping images with any camera.

You’ll explore working with both natural and in-studio light. Learn about the essentials of portrait posing, including strategies for working with individuals, couples, and groups. Clay will also share his fail-proof tips for making on-the-fly adjustments so you're able to work seamlessly with any subject, in any environment and source of light. You'll also master the art of capturing the picture-perfect wedding story quickly, reliably, and completely with stunning results.

Whether you’ve been taking photographs for years or are just starting out, this course will give you the knowledge and inspiration to take your work to the next level.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Clay Blackmore Top 10.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


a Creativelive Student

Clay Blackmore is the real deal in portrait photography. The guy is a bundle of creative energy and technical mastery. I took portraiture with Monte Zucker, and am glad to have Clay now as his successor. This concepts in this course are the rudiments. They'll never change, regardless of trends and fads. Clay is also very likable and fun to watch work. Keep your ears peeled for every word. When Clay points out those many little details, they all count. Love the course, and have a ton of respect for Clay. He's a portrait master, and a great guy. What else could any portrait student hope for?


This a wonderful class. Clay has worked w/Montey and brings a supreme knowledge to photographers who want to learn more. His skills are creative and insightful with a modest personality. This is an amazing class that comes with a great price.

Tom Lokos

Of all the courses I have purchased without exception this is the best. Clay is an excellent teacher. When he speaks he is saying something and not just talking. He explains his lighting techniques in great detail while demonstrating them . He is clear, concise and fun to listen to. You will learn how to pose individuals all the way to large groups, while learning the correct way to light them. All this while being entertained by one of America's great portrait photographers.