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6 Amazing Family Photo Poses To Improve Your Photography

These 6 family photo poses will dramatically improve your family portraits. Whether you are taking photographs of your own family or photographs of other families these poses will greatly improve the look of your family photos. Photographing families can be a daunting challenge. You are faced with all the variables to getting a good family photograph, such as lighting, location, avoiding cheesy smiles, and trying to avoid those awkward body positions. Having “go-to” family photo poses will ensure you will walk away with images that will delight your family or any family.

Before jumping in, let's look at a few general tips that when combined with these poses will elevate your family photography. The 1st tip is to pay attention to your background. If possible, find a background, with minimal clutter. 2nd tip is to have the families standing in the same plane with their faces at the same distance from the camera. This technical issue is called focal plane. Keeping the family members in the same focal plane will help ensure that everyone is in focus. The 3rd general tip is to have family members touch each other somehow. When people touch each other, i.e., holding hands, a hand around the waist or on the small of the back, a hand on the chest, holding hands or hand on the shoulder it shows connectedness and intimacy. You want to ensure the touching is proper for their relationship i.e., spouses, brothers and sisters, parents, and their children, etc.

So here are 6 “Go To” family photo poses to elevate your family photography!

Family walking on beach holding hands
A classic family photo pose

Family Photo Pose #1 : Walking While Holding Hands. This is both a classic family photo pose and a fun family photo pose and helps get people in the mood for photographs. This is a pose almost any family member can do. Make sure you tell the family that they're going to do the walk a couple of times. This will allow you to change the family’s position in each walk and get a variety of images. The family repeating the walk also allows you to take a quick peek at the images Important: make sure that you instruct the families to look at each other or look out into the distance but not look at the camera and walk very slowly toward you. You want this to look organic and as if they were out in a park or walking down the street and it avoids any chance of a cheesy pose. For the first walk, have mom on one end and dad on the other end with the children in between and everyone is holding hands. On the next walk, you could put dad on the left mom on the right and then switch up the order the children were in on the first walk. Another variation would be to have each family member focus their gaze on another person. You might say: “everyone look at dad” and then take a few pictures and then say: “now everyone look at mom”, etc. Make sure you include each child as a center of fucus as they walk towards you. Remember, have the family walk slowly.

Family standing with child on dad's shoulders and mom behind dad
User you imagination with this one!

Pose #2; Standing: Here is a classic family photo pose where you ask the parents to stand close to each other and have one parent stand on a 45-degree angle to the camera and the other parent move close to the first parent with opposing shoulders touching each other, making a V toward the camera. In other words, they are standing shoulder to shoulder at a 90-degree angle to each other with shoulders touching each other. Place the kids in-between or around the parents in a pleasing manner. Again, you'll want to take one picture and then readjust the children so you can have a variety of images to choose from. Children may be, shy, or need to be held, be cranky, fidgety or squirming so be patient and take what they give you and be flexible. Many times, everyone will naturally want to look at the camera and taking a few of these images is expected and desired, however also have them focus on each other i.e., have everyone look at mom and then dad then each child until everyone has been in the spotlight.

couple sitting on blanket in loving pose
My favorite family pose. The whisper.

Pose #3 Whispering: This is one of my favorite family photo poses that can evoke emotions so be ready to capture the reactions and particularly their facial expressions. In this one, ask father to whisper to mom a few characteristics about mom that he appreciates. Here, look for the mom's reaction to whatever it is dad said. I shoot with a lens that allows me to be a decent distance away from the family so I can’t hear what they're saying but typically you will get an emotional reaction. After you gotten this reaction, ask mom to whisper into dad's ear what she likes best about him and then try to capture dad's reaction. You could repeat this with mom or dad whispering to each child too! This is a great pose as it allows for many shots, the whisper itself, the reactions and the post-whisper reactions, etc.

Pose #4 Photograph The Children And The Parents Separately And Individually. Start with one parent on the ground with all the kids and take a few photographs with all the children and then mom or dad with each child individually. Let each parent decide the best way to interact with the kids. I encourage them to interact as naturally as possible. The parent could whisper in their ear something funny to get them to laugh. Change out the parent and repeat. You want to capture their emotional moments.

Mom holding daughter in her lap snuggling
The snuggle is such an intimate pose

Pose #5 Love Pile! Put mom and dad on a blanket on the ground and tell the kids that when you say “go” to carefully “pile” on mom and dad and kiss, tickle, hug and be loving. You will have to be ready to move around the pile to capture all the action that is sure to occur. Try and capture as many faces at one time as you can as you can bet you will have “miles of smiles” on this one.

Pose #6 Alone: For this family photo poses, photograph just mom and dad. You then want to grab a few images of the children as a group and then each child alone. It is helpful to bring props to keep the children occupied and to tell a deeper story of their personalities. It can be awkward if they don’t have something to hold or do. Depending on their age some popular props include a tea party theme, stuffed animals, books, a soccer ball, skateboard, a volleyball, football, musical instruments, or something that is meaningful to them.

Child on laying on ground facing camera with huge smile
No cheesy smile here!!

In conclusion

These are only a few of the family photo pose ideas for you to try. Before you shoot your next family photo session you might find it interesting to look through Pinterest and pin photographs to a board that you find interesting and fun. See how they fit into these poses and jot down some notes on a 3 X 5 card to take to your session and jog your memory of poses you want to shoot when you're with your family.

Above all, this takes practice so practice, practice, practice. With enough practice you will begin to feel the flow of how you like to pose your family or other families when taking their photographs.

For more information on selecting a photographer and avoiding common mistakes, please check out this blog post:

You got this!

Arthur Ellis is a published portrait photographer in Charleston, SC, and specializes in revealing the beauty in everyone. His passion is to give lasting memories. Your satisfaction is his guarantee, and your timeless memories is his promise. He can be contacted through his website at:

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