Photography: Pugs, twins and beauty queens; Neal Slavin is the master of group photography
- Madeleine Morley
- 4 June 2014
Does anyone else remember how tricky it was at school whenever the group photographer came in to take the class picture, and without fail someone always had their eyes closed or was in the middle of a sneeze every time the camera’s shutter clicked? The organisation and coordination that must be required to compose Neal Slavin’s epic, energetic group shots is mind-boggling: there is not a single unintended wink or face contortion present.
On his site, Neal describes the picture that first drew him to group photography: “Sometime around 1972 I came across a panoramic group portrait of a Boy Scout troop at summer camp. The photograph mesmerised me. I recall studying their faces, their body language, who were the clowns and who were the serious kids. They came together for an instant in time, which then vanished forever. The only thing left was that image made indelible by its attention to sharp detail and environment.”
Neal has photographed all sorts of groups throughout his photography career, and he has shot for the likes of The Sunday Times, Esquire and The New York Times. There is always someone or something new and intriguing to look at in his dense compositions, and it’s easy to get lost in the rich hues and lucid colours of the images. If you look long and hard enough, you might even begin to imagine that you can see a ghostly Jack Nicholson standing amongst the crowds, just like at the end of The Shining.