Posing Families | Tips for Portrait Photographers

Posing, sounds like it would be really hard but it’s not! At least not with a little bit of prep and practice.

Posing can be really fun because it can be really subtle and it can make your clients feel a little more comfortable if you take a little bit of control.

Here are a quick five tips for posing families in particular. I’m talking about 5 people or smaller. Larger families will have their own separate post because it’s a whole different thing!

I’m not giving you exact posing because every family dynamic is different as is the location, time, situation, and mood. However, these tips will help at ANY family session to keep them going, keep them fun, and get the great images that the parents are going to want to buy!


START WITH NATURAL POSING

What the heck is natural posing? I know seems like a made up term, and it is. I made it up, or chances are I heard it somewhere. Anyway, the point of natural posing is to simply allow your clients to get into the groove of the session by just being themselves.

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This is helpful because it gives you time to get your exposure right, perhaps walk to an area that is perfect for the session, or just talk and shoot while keeping things light and less “in your face with a camera”.

Ask your clients to walk hand in hand, or carrying their children if they’re young, and have them just explore and check out the location.

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With smaller children, younger than 3 years, exploring and walking around helps them get familiar with their surroundings rather than forcing them to smile and pose at the camera right off the bat. Which let’s face it, toddlers kinda do their own thing and run the show most of the time, ha!

Even with older kids, giving them an activity can help them relax in front of the camera.

Even with older kids, giving them an activity can help them relax in front of the camera.

Getting these natural poses can really bring about real connection between family members and also authentic expressions which are probably the favorite images for parents.

During this time, get close to the children and explore with them as you take their photos. Ask them to run to daddy and play a joke or jump on him. Ask the children to hug or maybe make faces.

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All of this play will help you gain their confidence and they’ll eventually do what you ask. Of course it’s not a guarantee but at least they’ll think you’re fun.

POSE QUICKLY AND GO WITH THE FLOW

Posing can get pretty boring for children so try and pose quickly and go with the flow. It’s really important to tell the parents that children run the show and it’s the best way to gain their trust and with some coaxing, get them to pose as you want.

Pose mom and dad first and then ask the children to go on either side. After I asked them to all look at each other, which is the result at left. Then the kids wanted to show me their floss moves so I let them play and have fun!

Pose mom and dad first and then ask the children to go on either side. After I asked them to all look at each other, which is the result at left. Then the kids wanted to show me their floss moves so I let them play and have fun!

Start with posing the parents first. Put mama and daddy where you want them and then tell the children to pose with one or the other. If there is only one child, pose the child in the middle or perhaps being help by one of the parents.

Sometimes posing the parents where the children are is your best bet. This little girl sat on the rock as we were playing a game and I quickly asked the parents to sit on either side. Two seconds later, the little girl was running again!

Sometimes posing the parents where the children are is your best bet. This little girl sat on the rock as we were playing a game and I quickly asked the parents to sit on either side. Two seconds later, the little girl was running again!

Posing mom and dad first helps the children see that they too are listening to the photographer and so usually, the children quickly pose alongside the parents.

Here is where you have to shoot quickly and be ready to…

ACT A FOOL

With smaller children, you should be ready to act a fool. Play is the strongest asset you have when dealing with children under 5 years old because they don’t have any interest in getting their photo taken.

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However, if you’re ready to bark like a dog, sing the wheels on the bus as loud as you can, or jump around to get a laugh, you bet these kids are gonna do whatever you ask them to.

Get close and tickle babies, grab keys and shake them loudly around you. You can also use clapping to get attention. Play the peek-a-boo game or just anything you can to get their attention.

Wanna know how I got these kids to stay still? Before this I barked like a dog and meowed like a cat.

Wanna know how I got these kids to stay still? Before this I barked like a dog and meowed like a cat.

Sometimes you’ll have to swap out heads in the final images to make sure that everyone looks their very best.

If you feel like the children want to be silly, let them be and then say “ okay now a good smile for mom and dad”. This gives them the go for being themselves but also toning it down to get what their parents want.

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MIX STYLES

The best way you can keep children engaged in the session is to keep mixing both natural posing and directed posing. This keeps children moving and doesn’t let them get bored with the session.

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Giving them something to do also helps to keep them exploring and going. Children usually last a solid 45 minutes and that’s hoping for the best.

Switching it up can keep them going a little longer and you can get some really good expressions out of them by showing them photo sessions can be fun too!

Posed verses non posed. Both showcase the family as they are!

Posed verses non posed. Both showcase the family as they are!

So, what is your biggest challenge with posing families?

I want to know what you want to learn about each Friday, send me an idea!

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