Family photography is a great way to keep beautiful moments with the people you love. But during a photo session, family portrait poses are one key variable.
To make your family photography work easier, here’s a list of my 15 favourite family portrait poses.
They’re all illustrated by family picture poses from shoots I’ve conducted, so you can see them in action!
Most of the families I worked with were of two parents and a single child. But you can adjust these family photo ideas to the families you work with.
What to Ask Before the Shoot
This has to be an enjoyable experience for each of the family members or else their discomfort will show up in the pictures!
With so many things to keep in mind, it is really easy to get stressed and distracted. This, in turn, can badly influence how you guide and instruct your models.
One thing that would be extremely helpful to have is a list of family portrait poses that you can refer to. With that, you will always know what to do and even if you get distracted you can quickly get back into focus.
The concept of photographing families is quite broad. Families these days can include any number of people. Single parents, families with many children or families with no children.
The photo session might even include additional people like grandparents and so on. This will take all of your energy and creativity from your previous portrait photography.
This means you have to be flexible. And ask your clients in advance how many people they’d like included in the photoshoot, how many children they have, who’s related to whom and how, etc.
15. Hand in Hand Stroll
This is an excellent family portrait pose to start with. In this pose the parents are holding onto their child’s hands. And the family just walks naturally.
They can look towards the camera, but you can get really nice candid shots if they just walk as if you were not there.
Encourage them to actually walk, not pose. This will get the parents to focus on their kid instead of you. And you’ll capture beautiful moments of genuine family love.
14. Take Junior for a Walk
In family photo poses, it’s all about your subjects appearing as natural as possible. Poses that build on each allow the photo shoot to flow seamlessly.
Ask one of the parents to hold up their child while they’re walking with their partner. This pose is really great if the kid gets tired.
If you work with a family with two children each parent can carry one to create a symmetry. Or if the age difference between the children is greater, you can have one parent holding the toddler.
The other parent can walk hand in hand with the older sibling. This is a great idea for family portrait poses for 4 subjects.
Another thing to consider is where you position yourself. You could walk ahead of them and take photos of them walking towards you. Or you can take a photo of them from behind.
A nice trick is to tell them to walk down the street and call out to them randomly to look at you.
13. Follow the Leader
This is another great sequential pose of the ‘Hand in Hand’ initial tip. Let the child walk ahead of one of the parents as if they’re leading them.
This pose is great for toddlers in the first months after they start walking. And parents really like these photos because this period of time passes really fast.
A fun variation is asking the second parent to follow behind the first parent, creating a human chain. This is one of the great family portrait ideas in this list.
Remember that kids at this age can get tired of walking quickly so be fast with your camera. Also, keep in mind that kids at this stage might decide to run suddenly. Make sure that you are in a safe area.
12. Goof Around
You should encourage the group to play around for one of the best family photography poses. A fun trick to try with toddlers is to make them pass under the legs of the parents.
You will get the chance to catch some nice smiles and the photos will be lively! This is a great chance to get the little ones, and even the entire family smiling.
11. Lean on a Wall
Leaning on a wall (or trees) is a good option for family photo poses. People usually find leaning back against something more natural than just standing in the middle of the street.
You can also try variations of this pose. Both parents can hold the child up, just one of them can be holding the kid. Or the child can stand up on the wall or tree stump, with the parents supporting them.
This is one of the best posing ideas, aimed at improving your photography business.
10. Sit Down Family Portrait Poses
I like to start my photo sessions with a few family portrait poses where they are seated. This is a really nice way to get them comfortable with the camera.
You should kneel or sit in order to take photos at eye level with the family. One of the best aspects of this pose is that you can be at eye level with both the parents and the children.
Get the family to sit closely, so they can hold hands or each other’s shoulders. Make sure that they don’t have big gaps between them as this might give a sense of disconnection.
One more important thing is to pick a good place to sit. Pay attention to both safety and cleanliness. This is one of the best tips on family portrait ideas.
This is especially important if you’re just starting the photo session. No one is going to be comfortable with a smudge on their pants and it will ruin the photo session.
9. Make a Train
This is a fun variation of the sitting pose. In this case, instead of sitting next to each other, the family sits one behind the other.
Just make sure that no one is blocking anyone else from view. Generally, a shortest to tallest arrangement works best.
This is a great way to create family poses for 5 subjects. With a simple set up, you can capture great photos.
8. Baby Lift
This one is a fun one but you have to be careful. You don’t want the child to fall or get sick!
I suggest doing this photo only if the parents play with the kid like this at home too. And if they are 100% sure that it is a safe move.
You can take the photo from eye level, but it is quite impressive to do it from down to up. Select a fast shutter speed to make sure you freeze the movement (around 1/250 seconds for example). And snap away!
The baby lift is one of those iconic and classic family portrait poses that you always need to cover.
7. Give Them a Hug
For parents, hugging their child is so natural that they won’t need too many instructions. I think this pose works really well when the adult is kneeling. The kid can reach their neck.
It is also a good chance to take photos of just one parent and the child. By swapping the subjects around, you can create many family photo ideas from one.
6. Kid’s Eye Level
In this pose you have the parents kneeling or crouching near the child. This is a way to have all the members of the family at similar height. This brings balance to the composition and gives a feeling of closeness and unity.
One of the greatest family portrait ideas is to keep the group balanced.
5. Kiss the Baby
This photo is a must when it comes to family photo poses with a kid. Most likely, the parents will kiss their child even if you don’t instruct them to.
You should try to capture those genuine moments but also don’t be shy and ask them to repeat the kiss if you missed the moment. They will be happy to oblige.
4. Lay Down
For lying down poses I recommend you use a picnic blanket or something similar. If you are at the beach or on wet grass I also recommend you to put a plastic sheet under the blanket.
Family photography poses work best when the family is connected, and having them laying down is just one example.
3. Change Perspectives
For this pose, you have to crouch and point up with your camera. You can tell the parents to stand next to you holding the baby and have them to look down towards the camera.
You can play with the focus and have them all in focus or just the child. Change the perspectives and be creative in generating a constant flow of different family portrait poses.
Unless you have a drone, in order to take this type of photos you need either to get higher than the family (using stairs, benches and so on) or get the family lower than you. They can sit or lay down.
The idea is the same in either case: they look up. And the closer together you can get them to be, the better.
One of the best family photo ideas you will come across.
2. Details Count Too
You can get more artistic photos by cropping the image and focusing on the feet. They should stand close to each other and I recommend to have the children between the parents to emphasize the difference between the adults and the kids.
You can do the same with hands, maybe even hats or any other matching detail you can find.
1. Stay in One Location
It can be tempting to move from place to place once you have a good shot. This wastes time as you need to change your settings and compose the new environment into your shot.
By limiting your shoot to fewer places, you have more time to experiment. Moving around your subject will give you different backgrounds to work with.
Here, you can incorporate details and shots from different perspectives.
Feel free to use the photos in this article as inspiration for your next family photo shoot. I recommend you to give the family clear and easy instructions.
Encourage them to be active. Have them walk around, hug, kiss and play. This will give you plenty of chances to take some beautiful candid photos and capture genuine moments!
Let them do their thing, it might not be the poses you were planning, but if you keep an open mind, you will find photo opportunities anywhere.
Flexibility is crucial in family photography! Make sure they are having a great time together. This is a sure way to have a successful family photo session and get some great pictures!
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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