This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Arrangement Of Groups. Before attempting to pose figures in the form of groups, a very careful study should be made of the lesson, as well as of the group illustrations in this volume and Volume VII. There are many ways of arranging subjects to form pleasing effects, the best and easiest to arrange being those in pyramidal forms. Always make your subjects feel perfectly at home; otherwise, stiffness and set positions will invariably result. The height of the subjects must be the first consideration, while the second is the adaptability of the features of the various subjects for various forms of lighting. Persons with full faces photograph better in Rembrandt and Shadow Lighting effects. Therefore, they should be placed near the light, but facing away from it. Many persons photograph best in Plain Lighting, and such should face the source of illumination. Tall persons should usually be seated, while short ones are more easily handled, in smaller groups, by having them stand. In large groups it is often necessary to have an extremely tall person stand at the back and a little to one side of the center of the group. Your individuality must be brought into play, and judgment used in selecting the subjects so each one will fall into the particular place that will give him the best possible advantage, both for lighting effect and for posing. Each subject in the group is of vital importance and must receive individual attention. Do not try to bunch a number of people together and expect to secure satisfactory and pleasing results - this cannot be done.
Arranging Groups Of Children. As children are naturally graceful they are very easy to handle, and readily fall into the various positions given them. Stools or chairs of different heights may be employed, yet usually a settee will be one of the most convenient accessories to use for the smaller groups. Where a large number of children are to be photographed, the addition of a chair and other accessories may be necessary. Never try to force children into the different positions. Simply direct them to take the positions you wish to have them occupy. Under no circumstance have one head directly over the other.
Arranging Groups Of Adults. The same pyramidal idea of arrangement should be carried out in grouping adults. Where children are included in such groups, the older persons should be grouped first and the younger members arranged about them. Little ones may be arranged to fill in any gaps which may be formed in posing the adults. Under no circumstance should all figures face toward the camera. The greater the variety of individual positions the better.
Arranging Groups Of Two. The heads of the two subjects should be quite close together, for if widely separated the resulting picture will be practically square. A panel shape is far preferable. Never have one head directly above the other, and do not have both bodies facing in exactly the same direction. As a rule, the bodies should face slightly toward each other. It is permissible, also, to have one turned a trifle to one side and the other facing almost squarely front, but the person who faces front should be of slender statue. The bodies of heavy built persons should never face the camera.