Photo Shoot Ideas for Friends

Famous nature photography Ansel Adams said that “In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.” So too, the experience of capturing your friends on camera, should be a fun, light-hearted exploration of possibilities, as much about the experience itself as it is about the final photos that result from your time together.

This group is having fun while still having a portrait taken.
This group is having fun while still having a portrait taken. (family image by Valentin Mosichev from Fotolia.com)
Use Props

Follow the lead of senior portrait photographers and ask friends to bring along something that illustrates their favorite activity or exemplifies their character. Ask friends to play with these items and share them with one another. While watching their activities, a composition will emerge; then rearrange objects and friends to design a shot. Provide a prop yourself, in the form of an object like a ladder or a TV for friends to perch on or gather around. Or, provide banana splits, baseball equipment or nail polish to have friends use in striking appropriate poses.

Using a book as a prop adds visual interest to this photo.
Using a book as a prop adds visual interest to this photo. (family read book image by Pavel Losevsky from Fotolia.com)
Choose an Unusual Composition

Wedding photos of the bridal party standing in a row does capture everyone, but the composition is typical and uninteresting. As the writers at Photography 101 point out, asymmetrical photos are, on the whole, more interesting than symmetrical photos. Arrange friends in more unusual and original ways. Experiment with filling the camera frame with friends clustered together with one or two standing on chairs behind the others so the grouping has a vertical element. In any close cluster, make sure that everyone is touching someone else in order to have the group shot form a cohesive whole—picture friends sitting on one another’s laps or holding one person aloft for example.

This unusual position captures the fun and emotion of the relationship.
This unusual position captures the fun and emotion of the relationship. (gogogogo !!!! image by Charly from Fotolia.com)
Framing

Similar to using a prop, adding a frame to your photograph gives it visual appeal and directs the viewer's eyes to the central subject of your friends. Use a simple door-frame with your friend's heads popping through (See Reference 3), the archway of a building or a window frame with your friends sitting outside around a patio table. Experiment with camera angles and distance when framing your friends.

Trees form an effective frame.
Trees form an effective frame. (etnic family in the forrest image by ennavanduinen from Fotolia.com)
The Design Rule of Thirds

Art and photography schools have long taught students to break a photo or canvas into thirds, both horizontally and vertically and to center the elements in the photo in various ways within those sections. For instance, friends could take up the bottom two thirds of a photo horizontally, with an archway in the upper third of the photo.

This photo captures the family in the center vertically and balances them roughly in thirds horizontally.
This photo captures the family in the center vertically and balances them roughly in thirds horizontally. (Happy young pair with a small daughter on the nature. image by Stanislav Komogorov from Fotolia.com)
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