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9 Quick and Easy Tips for Posing Families


Shooting families can be tough.  They can be so difficult to pose, especially if they are larger, but small doesn’t always mean easy.   Have you ever tried posing an adult family of 3?   It’s easy to run out of ideas.  It can be challenging when family members would prefer to be somewhere else and all of that can lead to major intimidation and shooter’s block.  Is shooter’s block a thing?  When you’re so nervous or overwhelmed you can’t come up with any ideas to make it through your session? 

We have certainly been there, although less and less now that we have nearly 11 years under our belt.  We have struggled with posing families, especially when we’re  doing so many back to back and over and over again.  It can be hard to come up with fresh ideas but when you hit it can be so special, which is why we came up with a few quick and easy tips for posing families below.

Next time you have a family session, try to remember these simple ideas to make the best out of your time with your families.

  • Exhaust your location. It is important to maximize your location and use every possible angle, texture that your location provides.  Early in our career we would move 3-4 locations in a 1hr session, because we hadn’t trained ourselves to see the magic and versatility of one setting.   Do you best to maximize a location for all that it can provide before moving on to the next.  This teaches you to work with and see everything your location has to offer and cuts down on travel time. 
  • Think of the family like “Tetris” & work on building the photo.  You know the game of Tetris right?   Where you build horizontally and vertically to fit the pieces into place?  Well, family sessions are much like that.  It’s taking your pieces: the family and trying to figure out how to make it all fit together.  I like to build out and up.  I generally start with an anchor, at times the father and build up and out.  This makes you think of building a picture vs. throwing people into a picture and hoping it works out. 
  • Shoot interactions and natural expressions and reactions.  Much of a family’s dynamics come out in the in between moments.  Be keen to capture those.  When you’re transitioning from location to location or pose to pose, keep the camera up.  You are likely to catch a ton of natural expressions and the true relationships between family members. 
  • It’s in the details. Pay attention to the small details.  Baby hands and feet.  A child’s lips or eyes, the way they clinch their mom’s hair or the way dad looks mom in the eyes.  Those tinder moments and reactions are just as impactful and powerful as a posed picture of the family and likely will mean something to the family, so get those too. 
  • Use leading statements and questions.  Think about different questions you can ask or different statements you can make to trigger reactions you are looking for.   For example:  ask the little boy what his sister does that makes him laugh and then watch sisters face for the reaction.  Have the dad whisper something romantic into his spouses ear and catch that tinder moment.  Have a child tell their mother what they like about her while hugging her and watch mom’s face light up.  Think about the type of reaction you want to capture and ask the questions that lead to it. 
  • Move Your Body.  Do not stand in one spot.  Squat, sit, stand on a table.  Move around and be willing to shift to get pictures from different angles to tell different stories.  Shoot through things and over things, don’t be afraid to position yourself in different positions to capture the story. 
  • Manage Expectations.  Tell your clients what to expect from start to finish.  Tell them the flow of the shoot and what they can expect.  This generally helps to guide the session, cut down on questions and ease any additional worry or anxiety, and bring reassurance about the process. 
  • Put Yourself in Their Position.  Think about how you feel when you are in front of the camera.  What is it that you need?  What is it that you like.  Care for your clients and capture their family the way that you would want someone to capture you and your family.  Put that same level of detail and care into creating their images as you would want someone to put into creating yours. 
  • Relax and Have Fun.  Ultimately, all you need to do is capture this family the best way you know how and in the way you capture all of your other families.  THAT IS WHY THEY HIRED YOU.   Location, props, and past sessions mean nothing because NO ONE is like the family that’s in front of you and their session is the only one that counts.

Remember that every family is different and uniquely special, that you are capturing moments and personality of THAT family’s story and that no one knows you’re unsure unless you tell them that you are! 

I hope you find these tips helpful as you go out and capture your next family!  Comment below if you can use OR have used any of these tips or add a few of your below in the comments. 

Until next time, 

Ike and Tash