This post is all about how to pose your subjects for photos. This might be posing your own family or kids, or it might be posing your clients if you are a professional family photographer. Either way, these family posing tips will help you start to pose like a pro.
Do you ever feel like you just don’t know where to start with getting great family pictures? Most of my photography lessons are geared around teaching you how to take natural lifestyle photos so you can document your everyday life. However, you may also want to know how to get those slightly more professional looking photos for Christmas cards and Grandma’s wall.
So how do you pose your kids or family for pictures?
This is a question that I get often, from mom’s and professional photographers alike. The trick is to pose your family in a way that flatters everyone and doesn’t look stiff or, well, posed.
Here are my 7 family posing tips I use every time I take family photos. They’re meant to get photos that showcase connection and look less posed.
Natural interaction is key
Don’t force anything to happen. Talk and interact like you always would and encourage your family or the family you are photographing to do the same. The more you can encourage your subjects to act like they would normally, the better your photos will be. In the beginning allow them to just be them. As you start taking photos and you find your subjects are comfortable with you, start giving some suggestions. I think of this as guiding rather than posing.
With my family, it looks something like this:
I go to a park or outdoor space with my family and we wonder and explore. I take candid shots as the kids are exploring a new place and engage with them in between shots. Then I start giving small directions like, let’s all climb up on this rock, can you run up by your brother, look at those flowers, etc. These small interactions lead my kids and family to be closer together and in an area I want to photograph. I might put a blanket down and get everyone to sit with each other. I usually bring a few rocks on the blanket and let them look at them. I might tell them to tickle each other or snuggle, tell each other secrets, etc.
The key is to keep everyone having fun and no one feeling like they are posing and getting their photos taken. I do these same things when I take clients out for a photo session.
Take a variety of shots in each position rather than moving a lot
You don’t need to pose your family hundreds of times to get a variety of photos. When you are in a good place, like on the blanket in the above example, keep shooting. Let the moment continue as long as you can and look for different perspectives. You can zoom out or in and keep talking to get different expressions from your subjects. You will be amazed with how many different photos you come away with even without moving continuously.
Don’t take only posed pictures
Everyone wants a couple photos where everyone is looking at the camera that they can share with grandma and grandpa. However, my clients always tell me it’s the in between photos they cherish the most. Continue shooting even when you aren’t posing your family. Take pictures as everyone is walking together, talking, as dad is consoling a crying toddler, and any other small moment that happens during the photo shoot.
Keep the heads close
An important thing to remember is to keep everyone’s head close enough together. If mom and dad a standing tall and the littles a way below them, your eye won’t know where to look. As much as possible get heads near each other so you can focus on everyone. This doesn’t mean they have to be in a straight line, just keep them snuggled up close together. This will better show their connection as well as keep your eye leading towards their faces.
Add depth by putting people on different planes
Whenever the opportunity presents itself, take photos with depth. If everyone is sitting or standing together, put some behind and some in front. You can use stairs or natural elements to help you accomplish this. You can also add depth by taking a photo with someone or something in the foreground and focusing on your subject in the background. Alternatively you could focus on your subject in the foreground, but keep something or someone in the background, just slightly out of focus. Even when your subjects are on different planes, get them to squish together so they still look close. Unless you’re trying to blur someone out in the background.
Mix up the combos
Whether you are photographing your family or doing family photos for someone else, get different combos of the people involved. Take photos of the whole family, the mom and kids, the dad and kids, the dad and mom, the girls, the boys, and solos. This will likely happen naturally as you wander around the area you’re photographing, but if it doesn’t, make a point to get these different shots.
Head, half body, full body
One trick I use to turn one pose into three poses is to think about head, half body, full body. Here’s what I mean: first get a close up or a portrait, focusing on the head and shoulders. Then back up a bit (or zoom out) and focus on waste or mid thigh up. Be careful not to crop at the knee. This makes for a very awkward photo composition. Last, zoom all the way out and get the whole body or bodies in the image. This trick works for taking photos of one subject as well as any combination of your family members.
- Keep the interactions and posing as natural as possible. Suggest and guide rather than pose.
- Take several shots in each position. Shoot through the moment.
- Get photos in between the poses.
- Keep heads close together.
- Create depth in your photos by paying attention to different planes.
- Capture different combinations of people in the group.
- Take 3 different images in each position, head, half Brody, full body.
Find five or six key poses that work well for you and then start to vary them slightly. This will help you build confidence in your photography, especially if you’re photographing someone other than your own family. Posing will become very natural for you the more you practice, just like everything else in photography. There is no right or wrong way so continue developing your voice and do what feels right to you. It doesn’t hurt to browse Pinterest or photography websites for inspiration, but make sure you don’t lock yourself into certain poses that may or may not work for the family photos you are trying to take.