5 Easy Family Portrait Posing Ideas

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in Featured, Photography Tips

5 Easy Family Portrait Posing Ideas

Group posing can be a tricky task for photographers unwilling to guide and communicate with their clients to get the perfect shot. Family portraits are the perfect opportunity to channel your inner Gandalf because you are working with multiple people who need direction. His ability to entertain and have fun drew all of the creatures of Middle-earth to him. It is why the Company trusted him so much – he observed first, then guided.

With the same approach, we can transform from photographer to director and do everything necessary to establish relationships and capture the magical moments our clients want. The 5 key steps to a successful family photo session are:

  1. Start with the Foundation Posing Framework
  2. More Proximity = More Intimacy
  3. Create Overlap or Touch Points to Show Connection
  4. Create Even Spacing
  5. Avoid Too Much Overlap

We discuss this in great detail in our Complete Posing Workshop, your guide to becoming a better communicator and director. Your charisma, presence, and warmth are what transforms a portrait from ordinary to extraordinary. Here are 5 group photo poses that can change your approach to family portraiture:


Before anything put the camera down. Directing is 10 times easier, and much less intimidating to the client, when you’re not hidden behind a camera. Not only is it an opportunity to connect with your clients but it shows that they are your complete focus.

We start every portrait session by running our clients through our Foundation Posing Framework. Start with the classic pose, having your subjects face the camera, in order to get them comfortable for the session. The classic pose is one of the easiest family photo poses because it is:

  1. Simple
  2. Quick
  3. Safe (albeit Boring)

Have your clients get into the V-Up pose and frame them within the scene, creating equal visual weight throughout. With any family portrait, we want to show connection and familiarity with touch points; the more touch points we create, the more intimate a pose becomes. Read more about why touchpoints make or break a photo here!


Family Portrait Pose #2 | Hug into the Middle

See how we created the perfect lighting in this tutorial here.

In family portrait sessions, we want to highlight connection while also keeping the photos as authentic as possible. By having the family move closer together we instantly create more intimacy. Keep an eye out for distractions, like natural pointers and negative or tight framing.

Family Portrait Pose #3 | Action Pose / Fun Family Pose

Great directing is a catalyst to great posing. Sessions with children pose their own set of challenges, one of which is working on borrowed time. In these instances, we need to move very quickly, but always remember the family is looking to you for direction, charisma, and warmth – no pressure right?

Incorporate action to engage the entire family and then wait for the right moment to capture natural reactions. We like to refer to this as assisted photojournalism – watch this webinar to see what it’s all about!

Seamlessly transition from the classic pose to more something more candid by directing the family through a jumping shot, posing contest or a running shot. Not only will you be able to capture more authentic expressions but you’ll be able to capture as much as you can before a meltdown.


Family Portrait Pose #4 | Editorial Family Formals

We typically get requests for editorial family photos during weddings rather than family portrait sessions. When shooting editorial, it’s important to communicate that even though these shots are complex, time-consuming and risky, they are the most memorable photos.

To see how we created this group photo with one Profoto B1 click here!

Don’t be intimidated by group editorial posing. It takes practice, research and time to fine-tune due to the nuances and focus needed for every subject in the image. By asking the family to smile with just the lips we can capture a serious but soft gaze. Upgrade to Premium now to see how we pose our large group photos in the Complete Posing Workshop!

Family Portrait Pose #5 | Tight Crops

As photographers, we’ve all heard you have to be at the right place at the right time. In most cases, this still rings true, however, with a bit of directing we can recreate candid moments.

intimate family photo tight crop

In large family portraits, space changes the presence in the photo and creates a mood and a sense of symmetry, even with an uneven amount of people. Reducing the amount of space in the frame has the same effect. To make a moment more intimate we suggest reframing for a tight crop. By limiting distractions the focus is on emotion and body language. To reinforce familial relationships, focus on hand placement to establish a connection.

See more tips from The Complete Posing Workshop to perfect your family portrait sessions! Or start streaming the workshop as a Premium member right now!


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