Unreality Studios manifesto

Part 5 of A Photo-Illusionist’s Declaration by Jerry A. Sierra

On Group Shots

Every real and unreal photo-illusionist knows that group shots can be a nightmare. Getting more than three subjects to agree on anything is challenging enough with experienced and devoted actors… so I prefer to photograph them individually and combine them in post… Still, sometimes you have to have them together for dramatic reasons.

Group shots in which your subjects are between six and eight inches tall, can often be challenging and take longer to accomplish. You have to watch out when adjusting the final positions that your subjects don’t fall over and knock others down… sometimes you tape or glue down your subjects, which makes it more challenging to make the final arrangements… you’re losing the light and your patience… and demands of reality await you…

Breaking Bad figurines group portrait

The Breaking Bad group shot was such an experience. This group portrait, in full unreality mode, features two Walters, one with the dark jacket and one with his lab wear… When Saul fell to his right everyone else in the shot went down with him, and it took me a while to find Walter’s hat and three pairs of glasses that had flown off the set (table) and into the real world. Jesse, not surprisingly, held on to his mask. (Way to go, Jesse!)

Surprisingly, the pre-Disney Stormtroopers were unexpectedly cooperative and professional. They would have made pre-Disney Lucas proud.

Pre-Disney Stormtroopers

My preference for group shots is that they include a source of natural light, and various targeted spot lights… Walter in lab-wear, for example, has a special light aimed at his head like a sniper’s scope from across the park…

Another problem with group shots is that they must remain “a group” when added to a collage or montage… this isn’t always convenient or desirable.

I’ll often make individual shots of the participants in a group shot using the same or similar lighting setup. This can open up creative opportunities later on, allowing the individual figure to be cast in a totally different project.

There is, of course, a certain freedom in assembling the group in Photoshop, which allows for individual re-sizing and re-arranging of the various participants. And, as in the case of the Apes in the previous page, to use different shots of the same figure to create the feeling of a group. How many different Apes do you think were used in that image?

New yellow brick road

NEXT: On Collecting Figurines - A Confession

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