If you’ve ever looked at your images on the computer and wondered why your subjects are all in focus, this article may clarify why.
The problem arises when groups form into a typical U-shape formation with the people closest to the camera pointing in the direction of the camera. This next illustration is a top down arial view (with the circles representing the tops of the group member’s heads).
If the photographer focuses on the middle person in this group, as is typical, they are not making the most of their depth of field. Whatever is behind the group will be sharply in focus, but the front few folks on either edge of the group will likely be soft.
at f3.5 — which should be a perfectly sufficient aperture for this size group. Note that the red box in this photo represents where my focus point was. Also note that we can’t tell how cute Leslie and Melissa are because they are on the edges of the group and didn’t make the depth-of-field cut. 🙁
What if, instead of focusing on the middle person in the group, we focused on the closest person to the camera? In the common U-shape formation, that would be the person on the edge. We are using
*Edited to add: When people get into a U-shape, I often ask those on the edges to step back so that they form more of a straight line. This allows me to use a lower aperture and still ensure that I don’t miss anyone out. But regardless of the formation, I make sure to focus on the person closest to the camera.