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Fursuit Group Photos Issues and Suggestions

Home Forums General Discussions Photography Fursuit Group Photos Issues and Suggestions

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  • #54206 Quote
    BEFORE YOU READ THIS- This is from the perspective of a fursuiter, not a photographer. I am clearly visible in the photo, so there is no bias here, I am not complaining because I wasn’t visible because I was, just sharing my own observation looking back on the photo. Please don’t read this and say “oh well we can’t do that” or “I don’t think that will work” and no reason why you think so, I am kindly offering solutions to problems I noticed, you either have something to contribute, or nothing to say.

    Looking at the picnic group photo, I noticed a couple of things.  Instead of just dumping the complaint, I will explain the issues I saw, and then offer some solutions for future photos.

    With the angle that was chosen for the official photo posted on Twitter, most of everyone in the back was not visible at all. The group was also oddly long, like spread out wide, and I feel like we could have been squished together a little better.

    I recognize that the picnic groups are large, and hard to control. However, I think many people also value the group photo, so it’s important to take some effort to make it look nice and organized. For example, the last few years at Furry Migration, this has been done by corralling all 300 some suiters into a very specific, contained spot, and then taking a picture from above. Everyone is clearly visible. We can try this with other large group event photos as well- for instance- next time at the picnic we could try to take that picture with everyone on a hill, facing downhill, with photographers at a somewhat elevated spot- something like that, its hard to explain without actually being there to look at, but taking the time to really play with locations and elevations might be worth it.

    I also believe the picnic group is still (barely) small enough that we can do height control, ie having shorter people in the front,taller people in the back, people sitting down in the front row, etc. Obviously this would be ridiculous to try to do while people are forming up, so I’d suggest when the photo is being announced, also explaining how the picture will be taken. “The photo will be at 2 on the hill, we want tall people in the back, short in front.” Then when people start grouping up, go down there with a megaphone and start reminding people again.

    I think this can be practiced, on a much smaller scale, at the Oval meets. A photo booth is often set up anyways, and it is totally possible to have a group photo in that room.

    Please let me know your thoughts!

    #54209 Quote
    I think even if the photographers stood at the bottom of the hill the picture would have turned out better and everyone would have been seen.
    #54210 Quote
    I’ve talked With Yarrick about this a bit, he says that the sun behind us would have destroyed the visibility of us, and suggests that we go back to the old picnic park which had stadium like seating that we could stand on and I think that’s a great start. Location this year was not up to par for the group pic it seems. We’ve also talked about drones being used to take the pic, but cameras for them aren’t the best and some parks outright forbid drones! Its going to be a process but putting our heads together on this can surely solve the issue. It would also help us if we could give the photographers a way to elevate themselves when taking pics, like with a stepladder
    #54211 Quote
    I would argue a park shouldn’t be selected based on a single photograph.  From an actual food perspective the park was ideal, with the large charcoal grill and the running water and outlets available.  Also, having done a lot of shooting myself that day I would also argue that there were plenty of other locations where the sun and slope were both favorable.  In fact there were actual bleachers not far away I think could have been used to good effect.  I’d assumed that’s where the photo was actually happening.

    "The problem is not that there are too many idiots in the world, the problem is the distribution of lightning."
    - Mark Twain

    #54212 Quote
    Oh I wasn’t referring to locations as in parks, heh, I was referring to locations within the park! Agreed selecting a venue based on the photo is absurd
    #54228 Quote
    Let me break this down from a photographer’s standpoint as one of the two photographer’s on the ground at the picnic and as one of the photography heads at the convention. I’m sure I’ll be putting words in Yarrick’s mouth, but I doubt they would be one’s he wouldn’t object, hopefully, to much about.

    Note this will be long, but I’ll try to keep it as short as possible.

    First let me go through the mental process before going into specific questions. As this comes up every few years with people arguing for “shooting down hill” vs “shooting up hill”. However, the first thing that needs to be firmly rooted in everyone’s mind is the photographer(s) are going to do what we can to make it as simple and quick as possible. As a result, the best setup is one photographer picking a spot to compose the picture, and a few photographers/handlers working to organize and compact the group into something that will hopefully result in a good shot with majority of the people visual able (as not everyone is going to due to many different factors).

    With this stated, there are three spots at that park (which was 100% new to us) to do a good group shot.

    1. The wide flat ground of the tennis court between the picnic area and the parking lot. It is great from the standpoint that it gives a nice large spot, and a big hill in front of it. Thus giving photographers the best high ground. However, the sun was in the wrong spot and there was concern it would cause issues trying to get a consistent lighting.

    2. The bleachers out by the soccer field. Which is great for shooting up, but it was sadly in full sun at the the wrong angle. Which has two issues.  The first is it would put the deeper follow-me-eyes into darkness, and the second the bright light makes it harder to balance the WHITE-WHITE vs BLACK-BLACK fursuiters (a problem we fight with on a small scale for Fursuit Photography at a convention).

    3. The little valley we shot in. Which offered the right amount of shade. And if organized better may have worked out better as there is a large hill on one side, and smaller hill on the other giving the ability to do tiering while still having the high ground. However, as our first time there it is hard to fully know how to shoot it without doing a trial run.

    The decision was on #3 as it gave us the best choice for the conditions we had.

    Within #3 we had a choice of shooting “up the big hillside,” shoot down into the valley, or shoot “down/across” the valley. Shooting up the hillside requires doing a lot more organization in managing heights as it becomes easier to lose the shorter fursuiters.  Where shooting down hill or across the valley requires less of that management (still required, but it is more forgivening).

    When we talked we decided to shoot down. In fact, I think Yarrick and I had slightly different ideas of “shooting down.” I was thinking getting people up more on the embankment on the other side of the valley so we could get some of the tiering effect of shooting up, while having the high ground. And I suspect Yarrick was thinking on the flats. As well as I was thinking at the top of the hill, and Yarrick was thinking mid-hill. *shrug* Lack of full discussion on our part.

    Another thing that helps is for the photographer to be loud and energetic.  As it helps to organize and fire up the crowd, but neither one of us were really in the mood to be that way.  Good example is at Furry Migration the person on the main floor shouting, being silly, and working to try and organize the shot.  And the handlers around the room either taking directions from him or from the secondary viewer up in the balcony calling fixes over the radio.

    Now that you have an idea as to the thought processes and where it may have broken down in implementation. Lets discuss the “lining by height” discussion a bit more.

    I 100% agree that sorting from tallest to shortest would improve every group shot. It is something every elementary school photographer learns day one.  However, it is easier to do when you know everyone’s name and you can call out to them, or you can catch people’s eyes and direct them.  In fursuit I know you don’t hear me as well which means I have to either be nearer or yelling.  And I know in fursuit you don’t see as well which means I have to determine your visual area and call out fursuit colors, types, etc.  And this gets hard.   And lastly, in elementary school it is easy as the teacher says “Everyone line up by height” and the kids can self-organize (almost like a bubble or quick sort.. Sorry, programmer geek =).  Most fursuiters don’t do that well as they don’t always considers horns and ears.

    The only really good way of handling this is to have all the fursuiters line up, file past a handler that directs them down to another handler at the start of a row. And then that handler can organize within their row and the row in front and behind.  And this would be great if we had people willing to be handlers.

    However, there is still a potential major problem. One that wasn’t an issue because we had a cool Fall Picnic, but the blazing hot Spring Picnic fursuiters would have roasted before we would have been finished.


    Guess it boils down to this.

    1. If the community wants better group shots at the picnic we should have at least three people good at taking direction willing to come to Yarrick or whomever is running the photo shoot and offer up being handlers.

    2. The photographer running it needs to be able to clearly walk them through what their vision is so the handlers can work to make that vision a reality.

    3. We need to have fursuiters think about their height a bit more and try and migrate either forward or backward. Some I know already do this (Thank you Innova, Ringer, etc), but majority don’t and want to be with their friends (which is cool, but sometimes makes it harder for us).

    Cassini, I hope this helps.  This isn’t a justification or a “We’ve always done it.. We will not change.”  But an honest assessment from the photographer’s side.  I’m open to new ideas as long as people are open to allowing me to find potential flaws in them.  And those that know me well know that I even poke holes in my own ideas.  I just want to find, like I stated above, the easiest, fastest, and simplest way of handling things for both parties.

    #54230 Quote
    As one of the group’s main photographers (although I didn’t help coordinate this group photo) I have to disagree with the decision that was made, simply on the basis that harsh lighting is much more easily correctable in post than blocked faces are.


    It may not look as good, but most of our subjects don’t care as much about top-tier image quality as we as photographers do, and just being visible in the photograph is far more important to them

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Kehmet.
    #54231 Quote
    I understand that people were unhappy with the angle the group shot was taken at. This said, a large majority of our group shots people get blocked in. In order to get a perfect shot with everyone visable we need one of two things: Stadium Seating or a vantage point like we had at the Hyatt.

    Blackhawk Park in Eagan is a facility we haven’t used in several years that has stadium seating perfect for that “Perfect Group shot” where everyone has a much better chance of being seen. My recommendation is if this is important to you, request that the next Picnic is Held at Blackhawk Park. The more voices we have asking for this venue the better chance we have of it being selected for the Spring Picnic next year. Not to mention that the facilities at Blackhawk are amazing as well…

    -- MNFurs Photography Head--

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    #54239 Quote

    As one of the group’s main photographers (although I didn’t help coordinate this group photo) I have to disagree with the decision that was made, simply on the basis that harsh lighting is much more easily correctable in post than blocked faces are. It may not look as good, but most of our subjects don’t care as much about top-tier image quality as we as photographers do, and just being visible in the photograph is far more important to them

    Chiming in here. Whether or not people attending the event care, MNFurs the organization does care because we use these photos in our advertisements, like the ad for the fall picnic on the back of this year’s con book.

    When we select a new park and run a picnic, the fursuit photo is the last thing on the event runner’s mind. I mean, I want good fursuit pictures too (being that I’m a fursuiter and maker), but it’s really secondary to all the work that goes into running a picnic. This was a new park for us. If we return and use it again we will be able to make the fursuit photo better for next time.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Aerak.
    #54242 Quote
    Chiming in here. Whether or not people attending the event care, MNFurs the organization does care because we use these photos in our advertisements, like the ad for the fall picnic on the back of this year’s con book.
    Well, by “not top-tier image quality”, I don’t mean bad, just not 100%. But still perfectly deliverable
    Also I just realized I’ve been reading into this thread wrong. It seems the decision was to avoid putting the sun behind the group? But putting the sun behind the subject is what I always aim for
    Sun in front means harsh, direct lighting, and if your subjects are not suiters, very harsh squinting
    Sun behind means the only light making it to the subjects face is indirect/reflected, and thus much more diffuse. If you expose for the suiters, you’ll blow out the sky+some of the background, but our group photos never have remotely interesting backgrounds to begin with, so I don’t see why that would be an issue.
    Another thing I’d like to bring up is that we always do our group photos as close to the shelter as possible, but we shouldn’t be afraid of walking a small distance.
    At Wilderness Campout (a Wisconsin furs group camping event) the group photo location was a good ~5 minute walk from the camp area, and even in the 90+ degree heat, we still had a full turnout of fursuiters
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