One of the most rewarding types of photography is taking family portraits. With life moving so quickly, parents love capturing the different stages and ages of their ever-changing families. Yet as a photographer, capturing these beautiful family moments with your camera does not come without its set of challenges, especially when working with young children.

Family Picture Pose Quick Tips:

  • Encourage families to get in close and show affection. This is how you capture some of the most intimate moments.
  • Make the family feel comfortable by having a relaxed and positive attitude.
  • Do posed photos first, while children are the most engaged. Then encourage playful interaction so you can capture a few candid shots.
  • If working with toddlers, bring toys to the photo shoot to capture their attention and bring out smiles.
  • If pets will be in the family photos, bring treats and dog toys to focus their attention on the camera.
  • Consider the scenery and advise clients on what to wear ahead of time. 

Are you always wondering how to get your families to pose naturally? Here’s our guide for flawless family posing!

Taking family photos takes skill. Not only do you have to consider the composition of families and pose them in ways that look natural, but you also have to keep the attention of young children and pets. That’s a lot to juggle, even for the most experienced photographers.

But there are a few things you can do as a photographer to make the job easier and get the results your client is wants out of their family portraits.  Here are a few tips for achieving natural, memorable family picture poses.

Family Poses for Small and Large Families

There are different poses that best suit the compositions of families that can be used to achieve more natural family photographs.  Take note of how many people you will be working with, and position them in complementary ways and different posing styles that bring the dynamic of the family to focus on the image.

Poses for Families of 3 and 4

Working with fewer subjects with families of three and four members allows for more intimate photos that capture the energy between the relationships. Some popular family picture poses include having the parents hold their child or children while they come together in a hug, or getting the family to sit together. It is a good idea to take many close-ups and long shots and to show the subjects in a variety of activities, such as walking together throughout the beautiful background.

Poses for Families of 5 and 6

Working with larger families during a photo session can be very satisfying because there are more variations of poses that can be done to create aesthetically appealing photos. In the shot, try many positions that vary between candid and posed such as the cute photo idea of a ‘family sandwich’. This is when every member comes together with their smiling cheeks pressed close while they have their arms wrapped around each other. Another posing technique to use with larger groups is for everyone, no matter his or her height, to come down to the same level, bringing all of their faces next to each other. This creates a balanced composition.

Family Poses for Each Member of the Family 

The beauty of capturing family portraits is that every member comes together in a photo session to bring a different characteristic to the composition. Each subject has a unique part to play, and the various family members can use their role and personality to try new family picture poses, which adds to the quality of the shoot.

Poses for Mom and Dad 

Parents are the heart of a family, and through the series of photos, encourage parents to get up close and personal with each other and their children. To have a diverse set of photos, take some pictures of just mom and dad in simple positions, such as an embrace or walking together towards the camera. Then, with the rest of the family, arrange them in ways that show the love that they feel for their family. Some of these positions include simple touches of holding hands, hugging, snuggling, and even making eye contact while smiling.

Poses for Kids 

Kids are creative and full of energy, and working with them can be both rewarding and difficult at times. A general tip for family photography is to do the posed photos that the parents have requested first while the children are still engaged. After the family portrait poses, encourage kids to be playful and interact with their parents and siblings. During this time their little personalities come to life through their actions and the expressions on their face and photographing this makes for fantastic candid and creative photos.

Great family picture poses with children include close-ups of kids being held by their parents and using benches or stairs to seat them at different levels. For more picture posing ideas, try taking a series of long shots that show the different heights within the family while they are holding hands and standing together. You might also have the family walk playfully together and focus on the lighting to capture their shadows if you’re going for a more artistic angle.

Poses for Toddlers and Babies

Young children are adorable to photograph, however, depending on their moods, they can be very difficult to work with. Generally, parents will have toys on hand to get the attention of their kids to stop them from crying when they are upset, but it’s a good idea for you as the photographer to come prepared with toys as well. When working with babies, most poses include different embraces in the arms of the parents. One idea to try is to focus your camera on the face of the sleeping baby with a variety of close-ups. During these family photographs, you should strive to capture the parents looking lovingly down at their precious child in the shot as well.

Toddlers are more mobile. Capture precious moments between them and their parents by getting a variety of posed and candid shots of the families playing together. Remember to smile a lot and make the children feel comfortable by having a welcoming and friendly outlook.

Poses with Grandparents

Adding grandparents to a shoot gives a generational aspect that adds to the photos. Capture the personalities of the grandparents with their children and grandchildren by taking a series of candid family picture poses of the subjects interacting.  Try contrasting the generations by getting the grandparents to pose directly with their grandchildren by hugging or playing with them. Another popular pose is centering grandparents and having the family stand around them.

Poses with Pets 

Pets bring a new element into a photo shoot. The family pet is a beloved family member, and getting parents and children to pose beside their dog allows for a variety of pictures. Gage the behavior and temperament of the dog, and if it is really well trained. get candid photos of the family playing with their loved creature. Another option is getting the family to sit around the dog or to have pictures of them walking it. Photos with pets are a good chance to take both long shots and close-ups. Another tip for working with dogs is to bring some dog toys and treats to help keep the attention of the furry friend.

Family Photos in Different Scenery

The background and environment of a photoshoot set the stage for how the family will interact. Each shoot will be unique because of the different dynamic of every family. However, in the snow, at the beach, or in nature the family picture poses can be dependent on the environment.  Every location has a unique characteristic, and it is important to be conscious of using these backgrounds to your advantage to get the most out of each picture. Shooting on site can be tricky when you are not prepared. Look at the weather report prior to the family portrait and advise the clients to bring clothes they will be warm or cool enough in.

Family Poses in the Snow 

The winter is a great time of the year to take photos. Children look adorable bundled up in their snow gear, and the family will naturally pose closer together to stay warm in the chilly weather. Capturing the snow falling around the family as they pose and smile creates a soft texture in the pictures. Try bringing fun into the shoot by getting them to pose around a snowman, peak out from snow-dusted pine trees, make snow angles, or have an impromptu snowball fight. All of these playful elements will bring personality and allow for really amazing candid shots.

Family Poses at the Beach 

The beach is a beautiful backdrop for family photos; with a variety of terrain to place the family on it makes for an artistic and fun shoot. There are a lot of poses that can be done at the beach between the sand, the water, and the rocks. Take photos of the family sitting on the sand, building sandcastles or having a picnic. The blue water provides a lovely backdrop and depending on the age of the children, there could be photos of them playing with the waves. Beaches with large rocks are great for creating perceptional depth for the picture; each member can stand or sit on a different sized rock, which gives the photo an artistic element. Photos on the beach encourage family picture poses that are centered on playing around the location.

Family Poses in Nature 

Nature is a preferred backdrop for many family portraits especially at parks, forests, and trials. During autumn, when the leaves are turning stunning shades of yellow, orange and red, families flock to these areas to pose at these gorgeous locations. Family poses in nature depend greatly on each location; look for benches, horizontal trees, and rocks to take cute sitting photos. A favorite photo is candid shots of the family throwing leaves in the air or having the subjects lying down in a bed of them, the background color gives the pictures a warm quality.

Family Poses for Christmas 

Christmas photos are fun to capture because sometimes the family is dressed up in the same outfits or in holiday-themed sweaters. These festive elements such as hats, stockings, and candy canes can make great props to enhance family picture poses. Try a variety of posed and candid shots of the subjects acting happy and silly together. Take many natural photos of the family interacting, but during Christmas time it should be a rule that you need to take at least one overly posed awkward Christmas photo for the family to send to all of their relatives.

General Posing Rules 

Get Up Close 

Even though families of various sizes have different positions that are more athletically appealing, one of the most important things to remember is to get everyone to pose close together. Encourage families to look more natural in their photos by not being afraid to hold hands and wrap their arms around each other. By getting up close, many cute family poses can be achieved that capture happy and intimate moments.

Have a good attitude 

To get the best results from a photoshoot, it is so important to make the family feel comfortable and relaxed by having a good attitude. You need to be friendly and open with the subjects to get them to try different family picture posesChildren will especially pick up on negativity, and it will be very difficult to get them to cooperate once they do not like the environment they are in. To avoid this, bring your biggest smile to a shoot and try to have an easy going and happy attitude while communicating with the family of how you want them to pose. 

Each family portrait session is different, yet with these tips, you will have the tools to work more effectively with your subjects to create those natural photos everybody craves. As the photographer, take into account how many subjects are in the photos, the location of the shoot, and have a positive attitude while taking photos that feature a variety of poses. By being aware of these aspects, working with clients to create the family portrait that they envisioned becomes clearer and the processes become a lot of fun. And for more tips about posing families for photoshoots, check out our family portrait posing guide.