Fun Poses for Family Portraits

Fun Poses for Family Portraits Op1

Fall is one of our favorite seasons. Cooler temperatures, fall colors, pumpkins and family portraits just in time for the holidays. If you want to avoid becoming one of the latest victims of “awkward family portraits,” we’ve got some great ideas to help you create beautiful memories without looking stiff and formal. Today we offer a few family portrait poses as well as some tips for a great family portrait session. 

Candid Moments

Today’s family portrait sessions are much more casual than what you may remember as a child. In fact, candid poses are preferred to formal posed shots. With that in mind, don’t worry so much about having everyone looking at the camera. If it happens, great, but don’t force the smiles.

Instead, have your family members looking at each other, rather than at the camera. Your photographer can then work their way around you and take shots from multiple perspectives. They may even ask you to all look at the camera. When they do, chances are that you’ll have forgotten you were being photographed and will smile naturally. 

Get Close

One of the quickest ways to improve your family portraits is to get close. Nope. Even closer!

The same principle applies to group photos. When people are spaced too far apart, it gives the impression that they are disconnected. It also looks awkward– so avoid the awkwardness and get closer.

If getting close doesn’t come naturally, here’s a few set-ups to try.

Families of Three:

Mom and Dad, you’ll sit on either side of your little one. Squeeze in close for a big kiss. Your child will probably squirm, but when you pull away, we guarantee that everyone will have a huge smile on their face. Your photographer’s goal will be to capture your baby looking straight at the camera even if you aren’t. It makes for a great candid moment and can easily be done in a sitting position.

Families of Four or More: 

Similar to the “big kiss” pose, try a family hug or a “kid sandwich.” Depending on the age and size of your children, either pick up your children (mom and dad on either side) and squeeze together, or drop to your knees and go in for a tight hug. It can feel a little awkward at first, and your photographer will surely be laughing at you, but it’s one fun pose that will loosen up the entire family.

Photographer’s Note:

Don’t be afraid to move in even closer to capture all the emotion of the families that you’re photographing. So much emotion is conveyed through our facial expressions. By filling the frame (in camera or crop), you’ll draw attention to that emotion and the connection between the family. Just be sure to give the family a head’s up that you’re moving in.

Classic Pyramid

One of the most natural and classic portrait poses for families is the pyramid. The shape of a pyramid is wider at the bottom than at the top.

For larger groups, this can mean organizing yourselves into rows. Perhaps the first row has five people, the second row has four people, and the third row has three people (or something similar). It doesn’t have to be a perfectly stacked pyramid, but it’s a great place to start.

Alternatively, consider using the shape of a pyramid or triangle if you have a family with young children such as the photo above. If your children are able to stand, they become your pyramid’s base. Then, mom and dad become a second row. If you have a child that needs to be held, they become your peak. From that point, don’t worry too much about exact posing, just let your family act naturally.

If you’re worried about how to position your feet and legs, you can always refer back to our “How to Look Great in Photos” post. Or you can avoid legs entirely by sitting or laying down with legs stretched behind you. 

Line Up

An easy way to mix up your family portrait session is to line up!

It’s not only an easy family portrait pose, but standing up and lining up also prevents children from getting bored. So, take a break and stand up.

Once your family is standing, have everyone hold hands in a line. This not only gives the family a little bit of space, but it looks cute too. From there, you can walk, swing, skip, or whatever else you can think of. Just have fun!

Large Groups

Family portraits with large groups are a challenge. The bigger the group, the bigger the challenge! And while some of the poses above will still work (such as the pyramid), there’s a few other points you have to keep in mind.

For one, if you’ve ever tackled spring cleaning, then you know that the best way to tackle a big job is to break it down into smaller parts. The same applies to larger groups.

For example, let’s say that you, your brothers and sisters, along with your children and your parents all want to be photographed. Group yourselves into individual families or small groupings of 2 or 4 at a time. You can then build the smaller families into a larger pose such as the portrait above.

Be sure to position adults first since children have such short attention spans. Have your photographer ready and everyone else posed BEFORE asking any children to jump into position. We promise it won’t take nearly as long and you’ll be much happier with the outcome.

Photographer’s Tip:

  • When working with a large family or group, you aren’t going to be able to control individual poses or expressions. In fact, you should avoid a uniform look when it comes to large group photos. The key is to pay attention to the overall composition.
  • With that in mind, before you take the first photo, make sure that everyone’s face is visible. You can always fire off several shots and do a little head-swapping in post processing, but you’ll save yourself some time if you just pay attention. A quick way to tell if the pose looks natural is to look for at least part of the shoulders.
  • Also watch out for blinking. Take several photos to make sure you get at least one with everyone’s eyes open.

With these pose ideas, you’re now ready for your upcoming family portrait session. Just remember to have fun and your photos will be amazing!

For more portrait photography posts, check out Portrait Photography Basics.

Photo Credit: Ashley Sisk, Jurek Photography, Katelyn McKay PhotographySimply Snapshots, and Stephanie Simon Photography


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Ashley Sisk

Ashley lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children and Kitty Paw. She's a work-from-home mom with a natural light photography business and a passion for sharing everything she knows. Since leaving the corporate world, she now spends her time chasing her preschooler, nursing her new baby, writing and finding ways to enjoy life. You can find her on Facebook, Google + or on her website.

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