I pose to you this question: Who is them most important person in the group? This might be debatable: Everybody seems to be looking at the woman in white, but based on the placement of the subjects, you might think it's the woman with the red striped shirt. Which is it?
Based on content, you'd guess the woman in white, but based on composition, the woman in red gets the vote. In fact, it's the woman in white, and the confusion points out subject placement is about as important as the direction of your subjects' gaze. To the good, everybody is looking towards the center which keeps the viewer's gaze inside the photo. But the woman on the right, positioned at the horizontal one-third line, is in the strongest position, from a composition perspective. Based on position alone, my Woman In Red (stripes) appears to be the star.
Let's Make A Rule: Yeah, yeah, rules were made to be broken. But when you only have a few minutes to produce a shot, these simple points are worth remembering:
- Main subject placed in line with the junction of center and rightmost vertical third, with her/his head about one-third from the top edge of the frame.
- Main subject faces camera left.
- All subjects looking towards the center of the frame.
Next time, I just say "Your Honor, would you make eye contact with one of the attorneys?"
Final Notes: Photographing in a courtroom means you have to run the security gauntlet, and no matter how good you think your plans are, something is bound to go wrong. I was at security at 1:50, but didn't get to Courtroom 6A for fifteen more minutes, and even then I had an escort. And for all my preparation, the shot came down to a series of six images, taken with my camera held "Hail Mary" above my head, using Live Preview to guide my composition, to avoid a cluttered foreground. Lighting was provided by a single, on-camera SB-900 with a Diffusion Dome. There just wasn't time to do anything else. This really only works because my subjects were all about the same distance from the flash, and the background was relatively close to my subjects.