7 Ingredients for Variety in Family Posing

Does family posing have you stumped? We’ve all had that moment during a family photo session where the family says “What do you want us to do?”

And you hit a blank.

Memorizing some (or all!) of these 7 ingredients will give you a quick go-to arsenal of family posing ideas – each one can be tweaked and expanded upon, and each family will respond differently to your prompts.

This will leave you with not only a variety of poses in your family’s gallery, but also lots of variety across your overall portfolio.

1. Play and tickles

Prompting parents to play with their kids (and surprise tickles!) is a great way to get both parents and kids to relax and let go of stress associated with a family photo session.

Parents love that they do not have to stand and look at the camera, and kids will buy into the idea that this is a fun experience. The result? Natural, joyful photos filled with real expressions.

It may be wise to take those “formal” photos before you prompt them to play, in case someone gets their knees dirty, or hair gets a bit messy.

playing during family posing
Andrea Mae Photography
mom swinging girl during family session
Melinda Sue Photography

2. Move

Closely related to play, getting your families to move feels a lot more natural to families rather than stiff and formal family posing.

Movement can be as simple as a family just walking together while holding hands – you can photograph them from behind, or have then walk towards you, or from the side as part of a landscape shot, or even as a silhouette , and every one of these angles will elicit a different feeling.

mom leading kids over river bed
Alysse Duncan Photography

Not everyone has to be moving in your frame – there are lots of fun shots to get with the parents standing still while the kids run around.

fun family photo with kids running to camera
Carrie Lynn Photography

3. Kid-focused

Want soft, loving expressions from parents? Ask them to look at their children. The most impactful photos are the one where the kids are looking at the camera, while their parents look at them.

family posing with child looking at camera
Oak + Fern Photography
parents kissing child in family photo session
Carlee Holyoak Photography

4. Parent-focused

These shots are natural extensions of kid-focused images. In stead of looking at their kids, we have parents focus on each other. They could look at one another, kiss, or just bring their heads together. It creates an increased level of intimacy in the photos, and parents love the reminder of the beauty of the relationship that started the family.

kids running around parents
Trandafir Photography
mom and dad smiling at one another with kid on shoulders
KCP Creative Imagery

5. Eye contact

When your families look at the camera, their faces are not showing their true feelings. But have families look at their loved ones, and it all changes.

Somewhere in your session, you will be posing one parent with one child (more if you are photographing a single parent), or 2 siblings together. It sounds overly simple, but asking them to look at one another is always the start of softer looks, genuine smiles, and very often, infectious giggles!

mom smiling down at little girl
Tessa Mol Fotografie
mom and kid in field
Jen Zav Photography

6. Kisses and hugs

When all else fails in family posing, get them kissing and hugging! Watch their expressions soften, eyes close, and the atmosphere become intimate.

mom kissing baby in family photograph
Capture Hawaii
family photo session with baby
Jessica Schroeder Photography

7. Touch

Touch is a large part of connection in family posing. Regardless of how big the family is, or how they are posed, or which prompt or direction you are using, you need to keep the family touching.

But hands are the first thing families tend to forget about. So remain vigilant, and if you are seeing your families with dangling hands, remind them to get back to touching someone close to them.

mom and three kids in family photo outdoors
Agi Rygula Photography
family posing with large family
Tess Dana Photography

These few helpful hints can carry much of a session, so write them on your hand if needed! And if you’re still new to this, check out this blog on Getting Started with Family Photography. It is a great kicking off point for a whole new genre in your photography portfolio.

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