As much as I enjoy shooting theater and dance, I’d really like to learn how to do portraiture. But if there’s one type of photography I really hate to do, it’s the group portrait. There are so many points of failure! Think of the permutations. If there are four people in the image, the chances of someone blinking or scowling or swallowing at the instant of exposure are at least 4 x 3 x 2 x 1, or 24 to 1. I usually have time for about ten exposures. Of course, the odds against a good image have to be multiplied by every possible image-diminishing factor – that is, the permutations apply separately for eye blinks, scowls, etc. So the odds are long, and get longer with each additional person in the picture. Portraiture is hard, but when you choose to shoot group portraits, you’re entering a world of pain.
Even with one subject and control over the background and lighting, I have to take quite a few pictures to get one I like. I’ve given up on getting pictures the subject likes. That said, I really enjoy working with people one-on-one, or even couples. But larger groups are the reason I keep a package of TUMS in my camera bag.