photo by lisafx via iStock
There’s a reason talk show hosts love to laugh at bad family portraits from the 80s…
Photographers make family portrait posing mistakes every single day. Sometimes they are incredibly bad.
So, here’s a quick list of tips that might prevent your family photos from ending up as an internet meme.
Family Portrait Posing Mistake #1: Having Men Cross Their Legs
photo by imtmphoto via iStock
Yikes. Does anything look more unnatural than a grown man sitting on the ground criss-cross-apple-sauce?
Unless you’re taking yoga or workout portraits, you should not put a man on the ground with his legs awkwardly all over the place.
photo by Arundhati Sathe via iStock
I think the only exception to this rule is if it’s a father playing with his child. Otherwise, just avoid putting grownups on the ground.
Family Portrait Posing Mistake #2: Using Trees Incorrectly
photo by monkeybusinessimages via iStock
I don’t know why a favorite cliche for family portrait posing ideas is to put your family at the base of a tree.
Trees in the background of family portraits, like in the photo above, are fine. The depth of field keeps them out of focus and they give the portait a nice setting.
photo by XiXinXing via iStock
When you are outside using trees to shade your subjects from harsh sunlight, make sure the trees are part of the background. In the photograph above, the tree has become the foucs of the photograph taking up more space in the frame than the subjects.
It is also important to be aware of branches and other objects in the background. You don't want any of the subjects appearing as though they have a branch growing out of their head!
Family Portrait Posing Mistake #3: Not Staggering Couples
photo by Wavebreakmedia via iStock
When multiple generations of family members are in the same photo, it’s important to stagger couples so viewers can identify who’s who.
For example, is there anything more awkward than having your sibling accidentally identified as your significant other?
In the image above, the mother and father should have been coupled in the middle of the shot, not their two children. Instead, their kids look like they’re the couple!
photo by Cecilie_Arcurs via iStock
Since there are easy family photo poses that differentiate brother/sister pairs from married couples, this should be a portrait posing mistake that you don’t make.
Stagger couples in each family portrait. Make sure couples are touching or embracing and siblings aren’t.
In the image above, it’s clear who the couples are, not just because of their age difference but because of the manner in which they have been positioned in the shot.
Family Portrait Posing Mistake #4: Unrealistic Expectations for Children
photo by inarik via iStock
Kids want to play, they don’t want to stand around for hours waiting to politely smile for a family portrait.
I also hate seeing family portraits where a toddler is standing with the exact same pose as their parents.
photo by oscarhdez via iStock
You’re going to get better expressions out of children if you allow them to play around with their siblings and parents during the shoot.
While you can still get some more traditional portraits, make sure you intersperse these shots with more fun photos. Doing so will help you create a more authentic collection of images to present to your clients.
Family Portrait Posing Mistake #5: Relying Too Much on Formal Posing
photo by Spiderstock via iStock
Out of all family portrait posing mistakes, this might be the biggest one.
There are way too many cliches in family portrait photography. While these aren’t necessarily embarrassing, they are certainly boring.
photo by filadendron via iStock
If you allow the family to play during the shoot, or at least capture the in-between moments, they’ll appreciate the candid shots possibly more than the posed ones.
Besides, one of the best portrait photography tips you can use is to incorporate props into the photo shoot.
In the image above, the cookware and ingredients on the counter are excellent props for getting the family to relax in front of the camera and engage with one another in a meaningful way. The result of this is a much better portrait if you ask me!
Bonus Tip: Make the Most of Portraits by Printing Them on Canvas
While it isn’t practical to have a huge canvas print made of every family photo you have, for those special ones, canvas is the perfect substrate.
Personally, I love the look of canvas - the subtle texture brings photos to light and the thick frames on which canvas is stretched give it beautiful depth on the wall.
But not all canvas prints are made alike. I did a lot of shopping around before finding a good canvas printer, but I finally found them in CanvasHQ.
Over the years, I bought some pretty terrible canvas prints, but since working with CanvasHQ, I’ve gotten nothing but spectacular results.
The folks at CanvasHQ take care to ensure each canvas they ship is just what you want. And with fast shipping, you get it in a jiff.
Even if something does go wrong or you aren’t satisfied with the print, you can send it right back to get a new one. Not bad!
I appreciate the high-end materials that CanvasHQ uses, from the professional-grade inks to the gallery-quality canvas to the handmade frames.
I’ve lost count of how many prints I have from CanvasHQ, but what I can tell you for sure is that they have the best canvas prints money can buy. If you have family photos of your own or prints to deliver to clients, I can’t recommend CanvasHQ enough!