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.
Group Of Seven. A group of this size is easily arranged, by simply introducing another figure back of the center in the group of six. An entirely different arrangement may be effected, however, as shown in the upper group of Illustration No. 67. Here the settee was brought into use and two subjects posed on it. If the middle standing figure were removed you would at once observe the pyramidal construction of each set of three figures, which give practically the same effect as that shown in Illustration No. 66 - the group of six. A group of five may be arranged and two additional figures introduced to one side in such a manner as to cause the end figure of the group of five to carry out the pyramidal construction. By referring to Illustration No. 67 - the group of seven-and covering either of the two end figures, which will give the same effect as removing them, you will at once see that there remains a perfect group of five. By again covering, or, in other words, removing the two figures at both ends, there will remain a perfect pyramidal group of three. A group of three and a group of four may be combined to make a group of seven.
Group Of Eight. In the construction of smaller groups of six or seven, it is necessary to break up the uniformity of the height of heads, and in order to accomplish it some ingenuity must be brought to bear. In the lower group shown in Illustration No. 67, although the positions of some of the individual subjects have been changed slightly, the general arrangement is practically the same as shown in the upper group of the same illustration, the eighth figure taking the place of one of those standing, which now occupies a position at the end. As a rule, the most important subject in the group should occupy a central position, and this figure may have the body and face turned away from the light, but both should not be at exactly the same angle. All of the individual figures of any group should be given positions as free and natural as possible, and the more figures introduced into a group, the greater will be the necessity to exercise control over them.
535. Larger Groups are constructed along these same lines; so bear in mind that your individuality will count to a great extent after you have mastered the elementary principles of arranging small groups.
Lighting. You should use all the light available in the ordinary room when dealing with a large group, because when a large space, such as would be occupied by the group is illuminated from one end, the other end of the group, being very much farther from the source of light. will not be sufficiently illuminated. Plenty of latitude, however, is always allowable for securing a reasonable amount of light on the face - a flat tight should be avoided. Between the two end figures, which are oppositely lighted, there are many positions that give intermediate forms of lighting, and these will be found to suit certain subjects better than others. This is but one of the many points to be considered in arranging a group, and the result must always be more or less a compromise.