Poses for family portrait?

I'm taking photos of a small family on the weekend, & was hoping someone could give me some pointers on posing them as this is my first try? (It's not a paid gig, they're doing me a favour by letting me get in some practice & if I get any good shots they get some nice prints in return)

The family is a couple in their early 30's with a 3yr old boy.

Its just being done in my house, but I will have a large black backdrop set up. Props wise, I've got a couple of white barstools, some little childrens chairs, & an old coffe table that can be covered in material (matching the backdrop) & used as a seat. And the floor of course!

I've noticed that many family portraits have the people posed in a triangular formation, is that the norm? Or is it okay to stray away from that? Also, my backdrop is black so I have requested that the boy be dressed in something bright, should I ask the parents to wear similar colors?

If you could provide some links to examples, that'd be great.


5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I can help you with some suggestions.

    Firstly the thing which is most important in any portrait is to present the people in they way they want to be seen. A woman wants to be seen as attractive, a business man as important and so on. Familes like to see pictures of themselves having fun.

    If you make your photoshot fun and aim to capture these people having fun with each other then they will be happy with your results.

    I dont know what you have in they way of lighting set ups Generally speaking if your looking at doing group photos this is achieved with soft even lighting either outside or using studio lighting. kids move so much that unless you have studio lights the shutter speeds in doors will lead to blured images of the little boy. you might get away with using the window light and reflectors to bounce the light back in the shadows.

    I think unless you have your lighting indoors spot on you are far better off going outside and set up out there. you can still use your backdrop in the garden if you want the studio look. but you wont be worrying about the lighting. and the little boy wont be getting bored and troublesome.

    I personally would aim at getting away from the studio look and work solely on the idea of getting fun images

    In terms of poses yes the triangle has always been popular but its a bit staged and not really fun.

    Here is what I would suggest you do.

    Take your couple outside use a tree or something your couple can group arround. mum and dad on one side of the tree with the kid on the other.

    A tree is a good prop as if you ask a couple to stand in the middle of field they feel a little lost. the light underneith will be nice and soft, but avoid the dappled light that you sometimes get with smaller trees.

    Rather than saying i want you to stand here and you there instead say I want you to imagine you are playing chase and have just caught each other. that way your couple will be more able to relate to what your wanting to capture it will feel much more fun and that will show in the finished images. sit them down at the base of the tree leaning against each other maybe with the little lad laid over their knees having a tickle. sat cuddled up as if they are relaxing after a long walk. you get the idea.

    Paint the images you want with the words you use to the couple they will feel much more relaxed with you the little boy wont be getting troublesome. you will also enjoy it much more

    Make sure you keep your background clean, by that I mean if you have this couple as your main subject then you dont want someone in the background walking their dog or cars going past. stick with the shrubs and bushes as a background. ideally try and blur them out with the aid of longer lenses or faster f stops like f 4

    In terms of what to wear have your couple bring several sets of clothes they can change into I'd suggest you avoid branded names of clothing avoid black or whites as if you have strong light the black can block up to being almost totally black and the white can loss all details. I like blues and greys which work well as the skin always has an element of red in and this blue grey mix seems to show the skin tones nicely. jeans look good too but some people feel unnatural in jeans so instead i just say wear things that are comfortable and casual.

    Depending on how adventurous you feel like getting you can always ask your couple to bring a suit and evening gown. the contrast of a carefully light, well posed couple in best clobber in the midest of a super market ile can look amazing.

    I do a lot of this contrasting images, of very posh in very run down areas. I'm not suggesting you do this but it will give you ideas of what can be done later as you develop. I'm now part of a movement known as trash the dress where I take brides and grooms in their formal wedding wear after the big day and shot images against grafitti backgrounds under railways bridges or failing back into a swimming pool in the bridal gown.

    Do a search on "trash the dress" on you tube and i'll turn up somewhere

    Have fun and good luck

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  • Ara57
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Try this link:


    The hairdos and wardrobe are dated, but the posing basics are the same now as they were then.

    You see triangles because they work, and are more pleasing to the eye than straight lines of heads.

    What kind of lighting are you using? Using a black background will help control your shadows. If they have dark hair, you may have some trouble separating the hair from the bg. Drape the barstools if you use them, otherwise they will probably be a distraction. If you're doing full length portraits, drape the floor as well.

    Good luck, hope you get some great shots and learn a lot!

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Okay, you can go with bright colors, but I would not if you are using black. It is okay to do that, but I would have them bring something dark colored as well.

    Have them try to color coordinate and match as best as possible, ex all in kahki's and denim shirts, all wearing jeans and blue shirt, etc.

    All of us are going to have different ideas on this as everyone's still is different. Search photographer's and look at some other photographer's sites. You can get a number of ideas and be able to see what it looks like.

    The triangle works as a pleasing affect. However, you can deviate from that a bit if you are not doing traditional posing. Allow them to relax and have fun and not stuck in a pose everytime.

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    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Visit your library and look for any books on portraiture by the late Monte Zucker. Mr. Zucker was a Master Portrait Photographer and his books on posing should inspire you.

    Steve Bedell is another excellent portrait photographer. You can contact him at sb@stevebedell.com. You can read his articles at http://www.shutterbug.com - just type his name in the Search box.

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  • 3 years ago


    Source(s): Photography Lessons http://PhotographyMasterclass.enle.info/?kNo0
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