Group Graffiti Portrait In London

What’s the best way to include a variety of locations in your images from a single shoot? Go for a walk with your subject(s), just as I did with these five friends. This graffiti wall was just one of the perfect locations we came across.

These five friends are all from Norway (although the woman who contacted me to arrange the shoot, Cathrine, now lives in the UK). They wanted some portraits together in London, so I arrived there bright and early on the day, feeling a little less than bright myself (I’d been out with friends in Rugby the night before).

Walk ‘n’ shoot

We walked along the South Bank, chatting and stopping to create a portrait when the light and location combined to catch my eye. This walk ‘n’ shoot approach is always a good way to get variety in the images, and helps everyone relax between set-ups, too.

I noticed this wall of graffiti slightly hidden away in a corner. I always look for great light first of all; in this spot the light was soft (so flattering) but still with a little dimensionality (adding shape and depth). I also loved the water on the floor, as I thought this might add some great foreground interest.

Posing the group

Once I had picked the location, I needed to place the women inside the scene. Posing five people is always a balancing act, as you don’t want it to look like a wedding (or police!) lineup.

Instead, I asked them to stand very close together – with no gaps between them – and lean against the wall. To stop them tensing up or becoming self-conscious, I continued chatting to them and laughing with them all the time. This is so important as I want to see how they stand naturally, not when they’re wary of the camera.

Once they sorted themselves out (while still laughing away) I tweaked the poses a little to make sure the women were standing in a natural, but still visually appealing and flattering way, with a strong, fashion-shoot look.

Then, with everyone in place, I crouched down to achieve a low camera angle, adjusting my position until there was a little water from the foreground puddle included in the frame for additional visual interest.

Camera Settings

  • Focal length: 98mm
  • Aperture: f/4.0
  • Shutter speed: 1/40 sec
  • ISO: 320
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