Top 10 Tips for Family Photo Poses

In both studio and on-location photography, the right family poses make the difference between stunning memories and forgettable snapshots. Most families and groups don’t know the simple techniques that can create amazing frame-worthy shots. These ten tips tell you how to pose to get it right:

1. Get close.

When family members are touching, the viewer gains a much better sense of intimacy among the group. This does not necessarily mean shoulder-to-shoulder, but can mean hands around each other’s backs, a hand on another’s shoulder, or leaning against each other.

family portrait photography

“Beautiful Family” captured by Gagan Dhiman (Click image to see more from Dhiman.)

2. Go outdoors.

As in most types of photography, a stunning background and sunlight make for better pictures. Nature shots do not need to be as grand as the ocean–just some trees or grass make all the difference.

outdoor portrait photography

“Family Portrait – Harvard, MA” captured by Anne Ruthmann

3. Find enjoyable activities.

Group poses don’t need to be formulaic. You can photograph a family while they are doing something they enjoy together in a candid style. Simple activities like throwing a ball or huddling around a card game make for engaging images.

4. Stimulate interaction.

You will achieve better group poses when the family is interacting with each other and not with the camera or photographer. Encourage the family to react to each other, talk, smile at each other, and engage playfully with one another.

interactive family portrait photography

“Family Lifestyle Portraits” captured by Anne Ruthmann

5. Use angles.

Professional photographers know that straight-on shots framed without angles are astonishingly boring. For better photography poses, use at least two types of angles; turn each person in at an angle from the camera or tilt the frame slightly to give some zest.

family portrait poses

“Family Portraits 6” captured by Danelle du Toit (Click image to see more from du Toit.)

6. Use props.

Family poses are immeasurably improved when the family is composed with some key element of the setting or some objects that they are holding. This can be chairs, picnic blankets, musical instruments, sports equipment, bicycles, or whatever best matches the family’s personality.

7. Coordinate clothing.

This is not for all families, but memorable images result when a family matches. Naturally, the group doesn’t need to all wear the same outfit, but coordinating colors can make for a catchy shot.

family photography

“Family Walking in Great Sunset – Myrtle Beach State Park” captured by Ryan G. Smith

8. Stagger depths.

To make an interesting image, do not put everyone in the group in a straight line at the same distance to the camera. While they do need to be relatively close to maintain focus, introduce some stagger into family picture poses and you will find the extra dimension brings terrific character.

creative family portrait photography

“Family Photo” captured by Willie Brown (Click image to see more from Brown.)

9. Avoid awkward moments.

For many families, being photographed is uncomfortable or awkward. Make everyone comfortable. Don’t ask them to do things that are unnatural to them or the attempt to instill clever poses will be worse than no poses at all.

10. Be creative!

Avoid the classic and formulaic structure of having the tallest family members in the back and shortest in front. Similarly, avoid the mountaintop framework of tallest in the center, flanked by shorter people in the group.

Experiment and enjoy!

About the Author:
Danny Anderson is a contributor to a Professional Photography Poses website (site currently down).

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One response to “Top 10 Tips for Family Photo Poses”

  1. James says:

    Half of these “tips” have nothing to do with posing.

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