Group posing can be a tricky task for photographers who lack the experience, confidence, or knowledge to guide and communicate with their clients to get the perfect shot.  For some, especially those who consider themselves to be introverts, it’s the most challenging aspect of portrait photography.

A great family photographer needs to showcase your charisma, presence, and warmth.  She needs to understand body language, cues to elicit emotion, and more.  Change your approach to family portraiture to help establish relationships and capture the magical moments your clients want with these 5 group photo poses below!

Note: The following article features posting tips for family portraits.  In future articles, we’ll discuss the best editing software for these photos, including options like Portrait Pro, Skylum, Lightroom, Photoshop and PhotoDiva.


Before anything put the camera down. Directing is 10 times easier and more personable when you’re not hidden behind a camera. This is an opportunity to connect with your clients and show that they are your complete focus. We start every portrait session by running our clients through the Foundation Posing Framework:

Begin with the classic pose and have your subjects face the camera in order to get them comfortable for the session. The classic pose is one of the easiest family photo poses because it is:

  1. Simple – Your clients should already be familiar with some variation of this pose
  2. Quick – The familiarity should make it quick to execute.
  3. Safe (albeit Boring) – While not very creative, it’s the traditional, must-have shot.

Transition your clients into a V-Up pose and frame them within the scene by creating equal visual weight throughout. With any family portrait, we want to show connection and familiarity with touch points; the more touch points we create, the more intimate a pose becomes. Read more about why touch-points make or break a photo here!

Family Portrait Pose #2 | Hug into the Middle

What if there is too much space within the family member? Direct them to hug into the middle. Not only does this create more intimacy but also ensures we have a focal point in our images.  This is a perfect pose for a family hugging onto their child, grandparent, or other person of focus.

See how we created the perfect lighting in this tutorial here.

In family portrait sessions, we want to highlight connection while also keeping the photos as authentic as possible. Utilize multiple touch points and wait for natural reactions. Keep an eye out for distractions like natural pointers and negative or tight framing.


Family Portrait Pose #3 | Action Pose / Fun Family Pose

Sessions with children pose their own set of challenges, one of which is working on borrowed time. In these instances, we need to move very quickly, but always remember the family is looking to you for direction, charisma, and warmth – no pressure right?

Incorporate action to engage the entire family and then wait for the right moment to capture natural reactions. We like to refer to this as assisted photojournalism – watch this webinar to see what it’s all about!

Seamlessly transition from the classic pose to something more candid by directing the family through a jumping shot, posing contest, or a running shot. Not only will you be able to capture more authentic expressions, but you’ll be able to capture as much as you can before a meltdown.

If your clients are actually having fun, there’s a good chance that will be reflected in the imagery you create!


Family Portrait Pose #4 | Editorial Family Formals

We typically get requests for editorial family photos during weddings rather than family portrait sessions. When shooting editorial, it’s important to communicate that even though these shots are complex, time-consuming and risky, they are the most memorable photos.

To see how we created this group photo with one Profoto B1 click here!

Don’t be intimidated by group editorial posing. It takes practice, research and time to fine-tune due to the nuances and focus needed for every subject in the image. By asking the family to smile with just the lips we can capture a serious but soft gaze. Upgrade to Premium now to see how we pose our large group photos in the Complete Posing Workshop!

Be sure to understand your client’s vision before attempting editorial family formals.  This style of photography is a departure from traditional family photos and should be used only when you know that the clients wants it.

Family Portrait Pose #5 | Tight Crops

As photographers, we’ve all heard you have to be at the right place at the right time, and in most cases, this still rings true. However, with a bit of directing we can recreate candid moments.

intimate family photo tight crop

In large family portraits, space changes the presence in the photo and creates a mood and sense of symmetry, even with an uneven amount of people. Reducing the amount of space in the frame has the same effect. To make a moment more intimate, we suggest reframing for a tight crop. By limiting distractions, the focus is on emotion and body language, and to reinforce familial relationships, focus on hand placement to establish a connection.

See more tips from The Complete Posing Workshop to perfect your family portrait sessions! Or start streaming the workshop as a Premium member right now!