Posing Tips for Your Family Photos

The key to taking genuine and authentic family photos is knowing how to pose in front of the camera. The idea of booking a family photo session and automatically receiving amazing genuine photos is a myth. There is a little work involved on your part. But don't let that discourage you or give you anxiety...

If you’ve never taken professional family photos before or if you simply want to improve on your last session, here is some advice on how to pose that will leave you with exceptional images. Forget the word “pose” Depending on the photographer you choose – they may or may not use the word “pose” on a regular basis. What we suggest is to forget the word. Many people associate posing as fake and non-genuine and causes anxiety in some. Think of posing as guidance. We suggest how to stand, sit, or group and step back and watch how those directions play out. Whatever the outcome (aside from not taking suggestion/direction well), the result from an image like that is far more genuine than going for that “perfect pose”.

Get Close

The last thing you want is a family portrait that looks stiff and awkward. The secret to creating a beautiful, intimate family photo is to get close. Snuggle up with the people you love if you want the best photos. If there are people of varying heights in the photo, take a few photos on the same level so that you can get your heads close together too. If you’re thinking about that stubborn family member who hates having their photos taken – don’t fret! Joke around about it during the session. Give them a hard time – nine times out of ten they will give in and give your photographer that opportunity to capture that moment. Not only that – he’s now captured a rare moment, one that the whole family wouldn’t be used to seeing! We got the opportunity to do just that on a recent Christmas session in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The mother of the gentleman below hadn’t had a good photo of just him since he was in Elementary school. With a little coaxing and a joke I was able to snap a few photos. 20 seconds later we had images that (once delivered) made her cry.

Have Fun

Your photos always look more authentic when your family is genuinely having fun and laughing. Spend time talking about your favorite vacation or a memory that makes you all laugh out loud. These candid moments always make for the best photos. Depending on your photographer, he may or may not set time aside within the shoot to take candid specific photos. These are photos where the photographer tells you to “act like we aren’t here”. This is your queue to do whatever you’d like. This could include playing with your little ones or puppers, or even just sitting and talking. This time is yours – and will most likely give you the most genuine photos out of the entire photo session.

Keep it Natural

When you overthink posing, it takes away from the genuineness of your photos, which is why it helps to shoot your family photos in a setting where you’re all comfortable and where you can go about your lives as naturally as possible. For example, if you’re in an outdoor setting, take your little one for a walk. If you’re shooting at home, bake something together or snuggle up for a story. This allows the photographer to take more images, while taking much less time (if any at all) giving you direction. You’ll be much more satisfied with the final product, trust us.

Use Your Surroundings

Very often, standing upright in the middle of a room or garden will make your photos look and feel stiff. Use your surroundings to make yourselves more comfortable. For example, if there’s a wall in the vicinity, lean up against it. If there’s a couch available, pose on that for a few shots. Use any and everything within your vicinity to make the photo, different. Don’t wait on your photographer to tell you, just do it. He/she may not have thought of that and you could be helping them!

Make Use of Props

If you would like to change things up a bit or give a younger child something to do, you can also always incorporate a few basic props into your photos to get a few non-standard shots. Be sure to let your photographer know about your ideas and the props you have brought or requested prior to the session beginning. This will allow your photographer to think about acquiring your prop shots while the session is unfolding.

Be prepared to have fun and take great photos

This is the biggest tip we can give you. Aside from being on time (which I know you are/will be) – being prepared to actually have your photo taken is the biggest thing.

You would be surprised how many paying clients there are that pay for our services and look miserable, awkward, and just down-right uncomfortable just being there. Booking a photo session isn't required by anyone and it shouldn’t reflect that (aside from small children, but that’s a whole different story haha!)

Just come to the session ready to smile, have fun, and make memories! That’s what it’s all about! You will, without a doubt, have a better time and much better photos as a result.


If you still have questions about your shoot and how to make the most of it, let us know and we will be happy to assist you with additional tips. We are a San Diego based photographer duo! We specialize in outdoor portrait photography – both natural light and flash. If you find yourself needing a photographer and are in the area (or would like to request us out of state) – feel free to contact us! We would love to discuss how we can help you! Sincerely, J&R

Jeff & Reyna


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