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Tips & Tricks

Family Photography Posing Guide | Julia Kelleher

By Hanssie on December 10th 2014

Posing is an art form that every professional portrait photographer must master and consequently, it is one thing that most photographers just sort of hope they will magically “get” as time goes along. While I am a big believer of just jumping in and learning something, understanding some basic techniques when it comes to posing can help you save much time and will help you capture the connection between family members so you can create not just technically correct portraits, but ones that show genuine emotion.


Each family is different and has different dynamics, so there isn’t one cookie cutter way to pose a family perfectly. And even after you’ve posed each family member exactly how you’re ‘supposed’ to do it (and the children stay put), your job has only just begun. Creating genuine emotion and capturing that emotion will make your images 1000x better.

Don’t sacrifice connection for posing. – Julia Kelleher

In the following video clip, newborn and family portrait photographer, Julia Kelleher, shares with us tips for posing a family for a portrait session. The 16 minute video covers numerous aspects of family photography from:

  • Lens Choice
  • Compression
  • Camera Angle
  • Foreshortening
  • Focal Plane
  • Rule of Offset Heads
  • 7 Body Parts to Get Right
  • Learning to See Poses
  • Using Poses For Connection
  • Creating Emotion
  • Safety



One of the things I found most helpful from this video which is a small snippet of Julia’s CreativeLive classFamily Photography: Capturing Connection, was the section on learning to see poses. In this section, Julia shows images of common posing errors and then a side-by-side comparison showing you how to correct each pose.

If you’re like me, you’ll mentally scroll through and scrutinize everything in each photo and what you’ve learned in your years as a portrait photographer and then remember how a simple adjustment – a drop of a shoulder, a twist of the arm – can make a huge difference. Seeing the dramatic difference next to each other (as in the image above for hip position), really helps you see what Julia is talking about.

This one is worth a watch; take notes and bookmark for a refresher from time to time.

Watch ‘A Complete Guide to Posing with Julia Kelleher’

To see the rest of the CreativeLive class, get it here. And for more newborn photography education, check out the SLR Lounge comprehensive Newborn Photography Workshop DVD.

[Via CreativeLive YouTube]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Alexander Europa

    Great intro! I think posing is the #1 thing I am going to struggle with as part of my transition from street/candid shooting to weddings and family portraits. I really need to study this subject much much more….and the list continues to grow. :-)

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  2. Basit Zargar

    Nice !!

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  3. Troy Barboza

    Love the main picture at the top of the article, really helpful with the grid overlayed on top.

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  4. Clare Havill

    great video

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  5. Dre Rolle

    Awesome instructor, love how she’s so funny without even trying.

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  6. Brandon Dewey

    Great Tips!

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