- Family Portrait Posing Basics
- Composition for Family Portrait Posing
- The Number of People Doesn’t Really Matter
- Varied Heights and Ages Blend Together - Or Not
- Themed Family Portrait Posing
- Printing Your Family Portraits
- Recommended Photography Gear
- Acrylic Print vs Canvas: Which Is Right for You?
- Large Canvas Prints Sizing Guide
- What Is a Metal Print?
- Try These Photography Storytelling Techniques
- Layflat Photo Book Buyer’s Guide
- What Is Color Correction?
Photo by Wavebreakmedia via iStock
The fall season is a prime time for family portrait photography, so I think a few tips for family portraiture are in order. One of the most difficult aspects of family portraits for newer or casual photographers is family portrait posing, so we’ll concentrate on that mostly, but I’ll include some other tips for good measure, too.
These family portrait posing tips and other ideas are usable for all seasons, by the way, and will work indoors or outdoors. As a bonus tip, we’ll examine the importance of using a high-quality printing company to create physical prints and enlargements that really highlight the family portraits you create.
Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents:
Family Portrait Posing Basics
Photo by PeopleImages via iStock
We’ve all been in that situation…
You’re the photographer in the family, and everyone is together for some occasion, so “Hey! Can you take some pics?” is one of the first things you hear. Or perhaps you’re an established photographer of any genre, and a client asks you to take portraits of their family.
You already have photography skills and a nice camera setup. So, you likely know all of the basics of exposure, focus, a stable camera mount, and so on. It’s posing that seems to cause the most anxiety.
Family portrait posing - and any group portrait posing, actually - is much simpler than you may think. We just have to use the skills we’ve already developed for our other photography.
The one skill we may not think we have mastered yet is the ability to control multiple people with spoken words. Our family portrait posing ideas and direction need to be conveyed to our subjects.
Even that skill is probably already a part of your skill set. If you’ve dealt with any clients in person or over the phone for setting up appointments, determining payment, or adjusting contracts, then you have the necessary skills! Simply use that mindset of being calmly in charge and communicating accurately, and apply it to directing people for family portrait posing.
“Family Portrait Photography - Our Session and Posing Workflow” by E-Squared on YouTube has some nice ideas about family portrait posing, including how to pose the kids effectively. Check it out in the video above.
Composition for Family Portrait Posing
Photo by pixelfit via iStock
One of those photography skills mentioned earlier is knowing how all of the rules of composition work. The Rule of Thirds, S curves, the Golden Spiral, symmetry and asymmetry, and more, can be used effectively for family portrait posing.
As you start arranging people, you’ll find that groups of people comfortable with each other will automatically arrange themselves into a balanced composition. All we do is fine-tune the arrangement.
Out of all of the rules of composition, I find the Golden Spiral, also called the Fibonacci Sequence, is the composition that most often occurs naturally in a relaxed family or group portrait session. Combine that composition tool with the Rule of Thirds or S Curves, and you will have the family portrait posing part of the shoot done before most people notice that you’re directing them.
A few spoken directions may be all that's necessary, such as “turn this way,” “square up your shoulders,” or “why don’t you two trade places?” Watch out for hidden faces from the camera position, too.
Framing and focusing occur first, then posing, and lastly capturing the images makes a good workflow. Using a tripod and a wireless remote is a good idea as well. After that, all that’s left is post-processing and printing your photos!
The Number of People Doesn’t Really Matter
Photo by Vanessa Nunes via iStock
Whether the family portrait posing consists of a small family of three or four people or a larger extended family group of 20 or more doesn’t really matter. In fact, sometimes, a larger group is easier to pose than a small one.
The basics as stated above stay the same. All that changes is we may have to speak a little louder and we really need to take extra care to check that no faces are hidden behind someone else as seen from our camera position. That’s the one problem that always seems to come up, but the fix is simple - just ask them to move over a little!
Varied Heights and Ages Blend Together - Or Not
Photo by PeopleImages via iStock
The old standard we all have seen is lining everybody up according to height, all in a line. This works, but that diagonal can be enhanced by changing the line into a slight curve or by breaking it into thirds.
Other ways are to have the taller people in the center and shorter folks on the ends. For some groups, though, that kind feels like creating a hierarchy of sorts. Sometimes varying them is a better idea. Even the “line up” posing isn’t an absolute. Having people stand in front of and around each other also works.
The quality of your family photos depends not only on your skill but also on the quality of the photo printing service you use.
How you arrange people might also relate to how you envision printing the image. For example, if you want the image in portrait orientation, you need to keep the group close together.
However, a family portrait of the 50th wedding anniversary of a couple with all of the kids and grandkids might lend itself more to a landscape orientation. This type of image can be posed with the primary couple as the focal point and all of the others posed around them. The Golden Spiral works great for this type of situation.
Also try out varied heights of where the individual people are posed - some sitting, some standing, perhaps reclining and even squatting. All of these are valid options for family portrait posing.
As you play around with the posing, make it enjoyable and relaxing. This will lend itself to better family portraits with much more natural posing and expressions.
Themed Family Portrait Posing
Photo by evgenyatamanenko via iStock
Holidays and special events are great opportunities for themed family portrait posing. Of course, everyone is probably thinking of Christmas cards right now, but the same ideas work all year round.
For these types of images, some props may help with the family portrait posing. Possibly suggesting some themes can also work wonders. Does the family have a shared interest? Maybe fishing, soccer, race cars, or dogs are the interest of many in the family. Take advantage of this and use it as a family portraiture theme.
If you’re picturing an acrobatic circus family in your mind, you’re on the right track. Really, any centralized idea can work amazingly well as a themed family portrait!
Printing Your Family Portraits
Photo by Ondrooo via iStock
Family portrait photography isn’t finished until there is something to share. After all of that fine work you’ve done regarding locations, themes, family portrait posing, exposure, and lighting, you want the resulting physical prints and enlargements to shine, too.
Printique, Adorama’s fine printing company, is an excellent source of family portraiture enlargements. In addition to their high-quality paper prints, Printique also offers unique and special printing options.
For example, you can order canvas wraps and metal prints as wonderful ways to share the family portraits. Wood prints, acrylic prints, and hardcover album photo books are also fantastic ideas from Printique.
And no matter which vessel you choose to display your family portraits, relying on Printique to deliver an incredible product is simply a no-brainer. I’ve ordered many products from Printique over the years (including a gorgeous canvas print) and in each instance, I’ve been blown away by the quality.
Family portraits become valuable heirlooms as time goes by. Using your established skills, these family portrait posing ideas, and having the images printed by a high-quality printing company all but guarantees that the images you create will be treasured for years to come!