5 family poses that always capture connection

  • family picture at the lake by Elena Blair

I like to think of my posing technique as directing rather than posing.

When working with families, it is important to be able to guide and direct them into pleasing poses that ultimately demonstrate the connection within their family.

There is so much connection to be captured within every family. I invite you to think outside the box and beyond traditional stiff family portraits. Here are five poses that always capture connection.

1. Tickle pose

This is probably my favorite family pose and it always yields a fun and natural interaction. Place the family in good light and ask them to sit nice and close to each other. Then, ask the parents to gently tickle the kids. Ask the parents to look at the kids while tickling them and also ask them to make sure that a child’s head isn’t covering their face.

happy family portrait by Elena Blair

2. Breathe each other in

I ask the family to embrace each other. Then, I ask them to get as close as they can and breathe each other in.  As cheesy as that sounds, many parents can relate to this exercise. I make sure to direct the parents to face toward the child or children and make sure they aren’t looking at me. It doesn’t matter if the child is looking at the camera or facing into the embrace of his or her parents. This yields an intimate and connected sot.

family of 3 snuggling under a blanket by Elena Blair

3. Let them be wild

Nearly every session with young children has a moment when the kids have had enough! For me, this is when the fun really begins. At this point, I direct the family into an open space with good light and I give the children permission to move their wiggly bodies. I ask the parents to get close together and touch in some way, either by embracing or holding hands. Then I direct the kids to move. I ask them to chase each other, play ring around the rosey, or hold hands and run toward me. In this shot, I am directing the children with the third option, to hold hands and run toward me.  Connection with movement creates an authentic and interesting portrait.

family photo in a field by Elena Blair

4. All in the frame

I like to find ways to creatively get everyone in the frame and interacting yet not posed in a traditional way. First, direct the family into good light. Then, ask them to get close together, close enough that you can capture them all in the frame. Allow them to make this pose on their own. You have set them up for a beautiful shot, now allow them to interact and capture that interaction. In this shot, they were all throwing rocks in the water, I shouted “give mommy a hug!” Two kiddos hugged mom while the baby continued to throw rocks in the water. The result is a shot full of life and love.

family picture at the lake by Elena Blair

5. Look at each other

Give the family permission to NOT look at the camera. When they look at each other they are more likely to have natural facial expressions and genuine interaction. Sit them close together and then direct them to look at each other. With small children, I often use humor to get them to look at their parents. In this shot I asked the little girls if daddy had a booger. With older kids I will direct them to talk to their parents or tell them a silly joke. Parents often need to be reminded to look at the kids during this exercise and not at the camera.

photo of mom and dad and two daughters outside by Elena Blair

Family photography can be fun and artistic! I encourage you to try some of these posing techniques in your future family sessions. Have fun!


About the Author:

Elena S Blair is a self declared people person! The Seattle based photographer, wife, and mother of three claims the relationships and connections in her life inspire her photography. Elena owns a thriving lifestyle family and newborn photography business, focusing on capturing moments and connection. Elena is passionate about helping other photographers find meaning and purpose in their work and business. She teaches The Art Of Lifestyle Photography.


  1. Kim Peterson Feb 17 2015 at 1:00 am - Reply

    Thank you so much, Elena!! These tips are awesome!!

  2. Patricia Borgstede Feb 17 2015 at 8:47 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for the tips! I LOVE the tickle shot idea, I totally will try using that next family session.

  3. Stephanie :) Feb 17 2015 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    Great job, friend! Am lovin’ all your work, and getting my fix now that I’m finally on CM. Hope all is well. Hugs from NM!

  4. sandra miller Mar 02 2015 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    LOVE these ideas.
    The best part about these is the tips you shared on how to word it to parents.
    Thank you!

  5. Christy May 01 2015 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Love these tips. Great to keep in mind!

  6. Iris Jul 15 2015 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing these great tips. I have to keep those in mind for future sessions.

  7. Great tips! My absolute favourite is #3. Always produces authentic shots 🙂

  8. Christopher Hall Jul 06 2018 at 12:44 am - Reply

    Great article. It can be hard sometimes ‘training’ clients who always think of photography being looking straight at the camera and smiling.

    Give me natutal looks any day.

Leave A Comment

Follow this blog