Family photos are challenging, as there are often little kids who don’t want to sit still, and usually, there’s at least one person that doesn’t really want to be there. So, how do you pose great family photos? The key is to make the poses fun, while still including everyone close together in the shots. Start by ditching the idea of family photos that you remember as a kid—instead of stiff poses and fake smiles, try these five family photo pose tips and ideas.
Tip 1: Be Flexible and come prepared
Posing families is quite different from posing an individual. For one, there’s more people that need to be placed in a flattering spot. Photographing families usually means there’s a child (or two or three or four or…) involved. Younger kids won’t understand the “chin up, foot back” directions you give them, and while older kids may understand, they’ll get bored quick and there goes the chance for genuine smiles.
The key is to come to the shot being both prepared and flexible. What does that mean? It means having a few ideas, but not being too upset if those ideas don’t pan out. A child might be too cranky for the idea to work, or the pose might not suit the family best. Have a few backup ideas, and don’t be afraid to try new things on the fly if none of those are working. Prior to the shoot, talk to the parents and find out what the kids are interested in—it may be a good idea to bring a few props for shoots with really young kids, like bubbles or balloons, to keep bring out once their boredom hits in order to get smiles the entire session.
Pose 1: Take a walk
“Sit still” poses often don’t work for families with little ones. Instead, have the family walk and talk together. Don’t try to get them to look at the camera, just capture the way they are together. Piggy back rides work good for little kids, or holding hands or simply however the family feels comfortable. You don’t want to force them into a pose that doesn’t really show their family dynamic well.
Tip 2: Try triangle shape with the faces
** **The best poses will create a triangle shape with the faces, because that leads the eye through the photo, yet still makes the family feel like one cohesive group. The traditional way of making a triangle with the faces is to have the tallest in the middle, but families with little kids don’t do traditional so well. The “tallest” could be the shortest with someone else riding piggy back. Or, mom and dad could be sitting while the younger kids come from behind.
Thinking triangles while you’re posing can be hard to do, especially with everything else that’s going on. So, if in the middle of your shoot you find thinking about geometry out of the question, aim for a simpler goal—just to have all the faces close together. That means working in layers so short kids aren’t so far away from mom and dad’s face, like using chairs or a fence or simply having mom or dad hold a child.
Pose Idea 2: Tell secrets (or give kisses)****
When you want a candid photo of everyone talking and laughing together, putting them together and saying “now talk and laugh” is just going to make everyone feel awkward. You have to create the moment. To get them to talk and get them close together, ask one or two family members to tell the others a secret. With some ages, kisses on the cheek work well too, though with older kids that might get you a pretty grossed-out expression.
Tip 3: Give an action instead of a pose
Remember going to get family pictures as a kid? It was a lot of dressing up and sitting with stiff smiles. Family photography doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, go for a bit more relaxed approach. Instead of sitting and posing everyone, give them an action to do instead. That could be taking a walk, blowing bubbles, playing tag, tickling the kids, surprising mom and dad from behind, going for a piggy back ride, holding hands, telling secrets, jumping…the possibilities are endless. Try to create actions that get everyone’s faces close together and move to new poses quickly, before that attention span runs dry.