A Guide to Family Portrait Posing

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Group Photography, Photography Tips, Portrait Photography

family portrait on gray photo backdrop

Portrait photography is one of the most popular ways photographers make a living. However, when photographers choose to branch out into family photography, a whole new dynamic is created. Posing family members well for a portrait becomes perhaps the most difficult part of the photo shoot. Your photos need to reflect not only the individual people in the image, but the family together as a whole. Here are some things to remember as you proceed. There are a number of ways to approach family posing, but the broadest categories are traditional and unique. The artist in you may be itching to portray something unique and creative, but you need to respect the preferences of the family, who more often prefer the traditional approach.That doesn’t mean a little creativity won’t be welcome, but sometimes you need to take a few shots inside the box before you can convince the family to step outside of it. If your family is open to originality, you can even capture some green screen shots and put the family in a fun, exotic location via a little photo editing.


Some traditional methods of posing families include positioning everyone around the head of the household, or lining them up according to height.  Traditional shots work best against a neutral photography background, such as a muslin backdrop. Often times when a photographer is professional and encouraging during these traditional shots, the family will become more open to some other more creative ideas as well.


If you decide to use the unique approach when it comes to family portraits, it’s a good idea to slowly ease into the more original ideas. Most families are wary of posing in odd locations or positions. Keep in mind non-traditional doesn’t have to mean bizarre. Many photographers make the transition to something more creative by choosing subtle themes, like pairing up mother/son and father/daughter combinations in order to highlight different relationships within the family. Height combinations don’t have to be strictly shortest to tallest. You can put the tallest in the center and the shortest on the outside for a pyramid effect, without the piling. Keeping a sense of structure will help families get behind your ideas when you are arranging them against a photography background.

family portrait on white photo backdrop

Once you try a different theme, you’ll want to think of a few more to ensure there is plenty of variety for families to choose from when they pick out their portraits. As long as you’re keeping a sense of unity and structure within your shots, it is likely that family members will react positively, and may even present a few ideas of their own. No matter what type of family portrait shoot you are doing the most important element may be to keep moving. As long as the family is engaged and having fun with the shoot you will likely get a multitude of great shots. After a long shoot, family members get tired, siblings fight and parents bicker. Sometimes simple redirection will pull family members back and diffuse the situation. Having a couple different photo backdrops handy will help keep things moving and add variety. Photography is full of surprises, and you never know when one might occur during a family photo shoot, giving you a great and memorable picture the family will cherish.

-Photographic Backdrop Photography Team

Interested in learning more about family portraits? Read Groups & Family Portraits: 11 Group Photography Tips

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