Socially Distanced Composite Group Photos with Kira Derryberry

Posted by: on Mar 23, 2021

Socially Distanced Composite Group Photos with Kira Derryberry

During a photographer’s career it’s important to keep learning to develop skills within photography, but also in skills like post-processing to remain flexible as the market changes. COVID brought many photographers, like Kira Derryberry, to pivot on how they hold photoshoots. Florida-based photographer Kira Derryberry had to get creative with her photo sessions as she specializes in commercial, headshot, and family portraiture which requires a lot of subjects in one single photo. In order to stay socially distanced and keep her clients safe, Kira came up with the idea of holding individual photo sessions and then compositing her subjects through Photoshop.

Different Photo Options

To begin with, Kira explains that having multiple options is critical when compositing a photo. Giving the client the ability to choose their favorite photos assists the photographer to test out several angles and options when compositing each subject. Placement is also key. In group photos, the photographer needs to ensure that any prominent subject be in the center of the photo. This would ring true in group corporate shots where the owner or CEO would stand out from the rest of his or her peers. When having different photos options, Kira explains that it’s important to take photos of the subject in the exact same angle. Using a tripod, Tether Tools Cable, with her tethering software ensures work done in post is quick, efficient, with subjects leveled correctly. The goal of compositing portraits is that it looks as believable as possible with the appearance that all subjects in frame were taken at once and not individually.  

Lighting Patterns

A key element for photographer’s who will be removing backgrounds and then compositing in post using a software like Photoshop is the consistent lighting in studio sessions. For example, if one subject’s lighting is different than another, the photo will lose its realism and make for a poor group composited photo.  In Kira’s studio, she uses neutral, soft background lighting so that she’s able to adjust the lighting through Photoshop if she needs to. Keeping the lighting neutral and soft allows Kira to play around the shadowing and background of her composited photo. 

Floor Shadows

While this might be a minimal element to a group photo, Kira explains how floor shadows are important to a composited group photo. You don’t want your subjects look “like they are floating in space,” which is why floor shadows are important to keep in mind. If you have floor shadows, that elevates the photo to look more and more believable—which is the ultimate goal when creating a composited photo. 

Smart Shooter and Overlay Mode

Before you start compositing in Photoshop, using Smart Shooter to tether offers a feature called Overlay Mode, which makes consistency and cohesiveness simple in before compositing a photo. The feature allows photographers to overlay a previous shot while in live-view mode so the next shot; making it easy to ensure the angles of both shots work together. The ability to overlay an image with another is a great way to ensure all of your shots align perfectly for post, especially if you’re not using a tripod or are compositing photos taken from a different shoot or studio. To learn more about Smart Shooter, we recommend trying out the software with our 30-day trial.

If you’d like to learn more about Kira’s studio setup or her photography process, watch the video below.  

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