Elizabeth Halford Photography {the blog} » photography in plain English

Posing 101 – 5 Poses for Families

*click here for yesterday’s post in this series*

As if posing isn’t daunting enough when you first get started, how about posing FIVE PEOPLE all at once? posing families is a whoooole ‘nuther topic alltogether. But first, I’ll start by saying that when posing families…

Although you’re working with individual people, you need to think of the family unit as one subject, not a bunch of separate poses.

Direct contact – No matter the poses you go for, always try to incorporate direct contact through touch. Hands on shoulders, arms around waists, any way that you can get everyone in physical contact with each other. This will convey emotional closeness.

Straight across – You can pose a family straight across but you have to be creative to make it work without looking static. Add chairs or get everyone doing something fun like resting on each other’s shoulders. Place the tallest (usually parents) in the center and taper out from there.


Huddle – With the parents seated, get everyone else to huddle around and squeeze in for a tight shot. This is a great time to get some laughs, tickles and otherwise awesome expressions.

When shooting this pose, be sure that you’re not shooting wide open with your lens. As in the photo on the right (oops!) you’ll see that Ryan in the back is out of focus. A good rule of thumb is to set your aperture for how many you have in the shot (within reason of course). So there are 6 in the photo on the right which means that if I hadn’t forgotten to check my settings, I would have set it to f/5.6.

Squeeze in - A variation of the above ‘huddle’ shot but this time, everyone’s just piled on to one couch, bench, picnic blanket. The idea is to get everyone outside of their comfort zone and into their personal space. Not a good pose to jump into from the get-go. A good one for once everyone’s gotten buttered up and in a happy mood. I like to shoot these up high for an interesting perspective.

Clusters – If you have a very large group (like a family reunion) you can arrange people in clusters of their own family units and then pose those clusters together. Or you can do what I do and just say no to huge families! lol.

Clusters revamped - On a smaller scale, you can take a family and pose them in individual clusters. For example (and I regret that I don’t have an example of this!) You could use an archway and have the parents learning up against one side, pulled nice and close as if it were only them and on the other side, pose the kids together in likewise fashion. This makes the statement that although they’re a family, the parents still have their own beautiful relationship and the kids do too. I love it when I see it but haven’t done it yet myself.

There are many different poses for families if you check around on the internet. And if you’re ever in need of some really horrible ideas, check out the Awkward Family Photos site. Never ceases to make me laugh my sock off!

  • http://www.SpringMoonFineArtPrints.com Cynthe

    Charming article. Came here from your DPS article on shooting large people. Sure would like to see more photo examples on that subject which I’m very interested in.

    As an aside: Spotted several typos ~ you may want to correct ~  especially in the into paragraph to the DPS article which will likely be read by 100s of people: “As with any body type (skinny included) their body image may cause them
    to believe that their [they're] either larger or smaller than they are. You can
    tastefully discuss body image with them [the] clients which is something I may
    be inclined to do with any type of person.” Read more: http://www.digital-photography-school.com/6-tips-for-photographing-large-people#ixzz1Mon3CgJS

    And one in this article: Clusters revamped… “This makes the statement that although their [they're] a family,…”

  • Anonymous

    Hello thank you so much! And that’s really really strange because one of my biggest pet peeves is people not knowing the difference between your/you’re and their/there/they’re. My MAC has had some sort of recent update and suddenly is auto correcting my words the way the iPhone and iPad does. I wonder if that happened with this? In that case, Apple really needs to re-do second grade! LOL. Thanks for pointing it out I shall not waste a single second correcting those!

  • morgan wynn

    I do realize that I am a little late reading this! But, this is a very interesting post! I have a family shoot tomorrow, and I am looking forward to trying these out! I am a little confused by one statement and was wondering if you could help me out??

    ” A good rule of thumb is to set your aperture for how many you have in
    the shot (within reason of course). So there are 6 in the photo on the
    right which means that if I hadn’t forgotten to check my settings, I
    would have set it to f/5.6.”

    I have no idea what this means. I know what aperture is and all, but  the .6….I’ve never heard of how that affects your pictures? Could you please help??

  • Anonymous

    Hello! f/5.6 is just an aperture setting. They go:
    1.2, 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 7.1, 8 and so on

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much, and thank you for the rule of thumb, you have given me some great ideas :)

  • http://www.tonysalephotography.co.uk Tony Sale

    Some great advice here I love the way you have posed the family around three dining chairs – these are usually readily available

  • Elizabeth

    Just wondering what lens is the best for group shots.. I have a 42mm 150mm and a wide angle..

  • Crystal Layne

    because the larger the aperture the more depth of field you will have and less blur

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