Let’s say you are at an event like a birthday party, a family reunion, or a holiday get-together, and you want a group photo that includes everyone. No one should be left out just because they have to operate the camera and be the acting photographer. So, what are the options for including the photographer in the shot?
The first option has played out in so many comedic scenes in movies that it seems like a forgone conclusion that it will end in a botched photo.
Setting the self-timer, which comes standard on nearly every camera, usually begins with the obligatory, “Ready? Is everyone ready?” and then the photographer’s mad dash to get into the frame, hurtling over tripod legs, furniture, and the family dog, and ending in either a premature shutter release or everyone maintaining a camera-ready pose for far too long (potentially forever) wondering if the self-timer has malfunctioned.
Practice using your camera’s built-in self-timer and assess your ability to run into the frame without incident, or consider one of the other shutter-release alternatives below.
In addition to the self-timer, most cameras today have a receiver for an infrared (IR) remote. The remote is usually purchased separately and works like a television remote control. Set the camera to receive the remote signal and then just aim and press the small, single-button remote, and the camera fires immediately. You can also set a delay to give you time to hide the remote behind your back or out of sight of the camera.
Want to fire the camera immediately from behind your back or with the remote in your pocket? Radio remotes can do that, and have longer ranges than IR remotes. Purchased as a set, with a transmitter that is your remote, and a receiver that plugs into the camera’s remote release socket, they are reliable and able to trigger the camera from long distances—and the transmitter does not have to be in the line of sight of the camera.
Built-In Wi-Fi Connection
Many new cameras have built-in near-field-connectivity (NFC) Wi-Fi, which allows mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to communicate with the camera. Beyond just a simple shutter release, most allow preview, viewing, and transfer of images and changes to camera settings through the manufacturer’s camera app.
Adding a Wi-Fi Connection
Companies like CamRanger and Tethertools make devices that can add Wi-Fi preview, shooting, and image transfer to cameras that don’t already have Wi-Fi connectivity built-in.
“Old School” Long Cable Releases
Finally, an extended electronic cable release can provide a very satisfying shutter press, and no batteries are required. You can choose to show the cable in the frame or hide it. Just be careful not to trip over it and don’t get it too tangled.
For most older film cameras—and even some digital cameras that have mechanical shutter release sockets, bulb shutter releases with air tubes are still available and are yet one more way to capture a holiday group photo with everyone, including the photographer, in the shot.
If you’d like to read more, click on the link to Cory Rice’s B&H Explora article, Accessories for Making Better Family Portraits. Do you have any personal techniques that ensure you get in the picture, too? Let us know what they are, in the Comments section, below.
For the Canon film cameras, New F-1 and A-1, with their respective motor drives, Canon has a wireless remote called the LC-1 receiver/transmitter.