The Psychology of Group Photography

Today I received a “Christmas Greetings” letter from a beloved organization. On the front was a group photo of the employees, spread out across several rows of chairs. After looking at the photo for a minute, I thought, “What is this image saying to me? Surely, they didn’t mean it to come across the way I am taking it, right?”

There is an underlying psychology to group photography.

When there is physical distance between two or more people, a viewer may naturally think there is emotional and relational distance as well. Multiple the effect depending on the size of the organization and the amount of distance between subjects, and the result may be an unintended psychological response of, “Whoa, how do they function? I hope they like each other more than the photo suggests.”

The art of group photography isn’t just about making a pretty, hip, or technically-perfect picture.

It’s more than making sure everyone is smiling and no one blinked. It’s about accurately conveying the vibe of a group, taking into account the multitude of ways composition affects the psychology of an image.

Now, if this is the feeling the photographer was going for, then job well done.

If not, the next time you want to be hip with a group photo, make sure you know what your composition will tell your customers about the psychology of your organization.