I’m often asked to capture group shots at Church and have settled on a location and process that works pretty well. The image below shows the fifth grade Sunday School class with their families on First Communion Sunday. I started using the East wall of the fireside gallery because it is long enough for pretty much any group and there is more than enough light available. I think the artwork and gallery hanging system on the wall behind the group adds a nice touch to the image. There are (of course) a few tricks to making this work well.
Positioning the first row of people 8 feet from the wall provides “depth” allowing you to blur the framed artwork on the wall (ever so slightly) in the finished image. This depth is much more apparent in the shot of the girls below. The blinds in the windows along the South wall help control the light streaming in during daytime hours.
The overhead light fixtures in the fireside gallery are particularly nice because they not only project light directly down but also create a bright strip of light on the white ceiling tiles above. This reflected light “bounces” all around underneath the fixtures creating a very nice “soft” light source. Combining the different light sources together provides not only an abundance of light but also the opportunity to create different “looks” depending on the position of your subject.
All of these elements make the actual South-East corner itself a nice spot for an “available Light” Portrait.
Positioning your subjects well off the background is always a good idea regardless of the venue. The separation of subjects from backgrounds is an easy way to make your photos “stand out”.