5 Poses and Prompts for “Candid” Family Portraits

Lately, I’ve noticed that the word ‘posing’ isn’t very well received in the photography genre of candid family portraits. We want our clients to act naturally, but without pose structures and detailed prompts, families often feel awkward and less than natural. If you’ve ever had to say, “Just relax!” I know that talking to clients during family sessions often backfires. How can you create images that are candid, emotional, and connected? By creating “candid” poses that encourage connection. I’ve found that the best poses are infinitely recyclable and can be used for each family session, below are five of my favorite poses when shooting candid family portraits with his prompts.

  1. let parents touch their head
  2. turn someone over
  3. Don’t forget to compliment your mother with small pose tweaks
  4. Create a “parent” portrait with the child looking at the parent
  5. playful with dad
Having two parents face to face is a quick way to create a connection in family portraits.All photos © Brooke Schultz

1. Let your parents touch your head
The easiest way to make a connection in a photo is to touch your head. It’s awkward to keep touching the head while the parent touches it, or the child rides on it or tickles it, but it looks connected. I often tell my parents, “No matter what, keep your head together!” Pay attention to the stories your poses tell. For me, the parent, not the child, is the center of the family unit, so I always touch the head of the parent and never let the child get in the way.

Prompts and poses include turning someone upside down
Flipping someone over creates excitement and energy in the portrait.

2. Flip someone over
Younger children love to flip over, so they often have dads turn them upside down while mom holds another child. When turned upside down, it brings out the excitement and energy for everyone to relax and play. It also creates a more interesting composition as opposed to everyone sitting or standing in a straight line.

A candid family portrait with a young girl is turned upside down.
When flipping someone, allowing everyone to relax and play instead of sitting or standing in a straight line creates a more interesting composition.

You don’t have to come up with all new poses and prompts for every photo session, so feel free to riff on the idea of ​​someone being upside down as often as you like. keep. Some of my photos have someone upside down, but due to the number of family members in the photo, cropping, and different lighting, even if the prompts are the same, it’s still fresh for me and my client. This is not laziness. It actually saves my creative energy so when I try something completely new I don’t spend all my energy trying to reinvent the wheel with every new pose and prompt.

Mother and child lie down and laugh.
If mom looks like trash, the picture will be trash. Turn your face slightly into a more beautiful light, or catch it from the side instead of the top of your head. Small tweaks go a long way.

3. Don’t forget to compliment your mom by tweaking your pose
Often when photographers try to create candid images, they throw all thoughts of flattering poses out the window. No matter how cute or funny your photos will be, they will be garbage. Moms, the ones who have to walk by the image in the hall every day, the ones who often bear the brunt of the invisible work of raising the next generation, are tangible evidence of the depth of their contribution. They certainly don’t get enough recognition and approval, but photographers can honor mothers and the magnitude of their work by devoting a little time to them. Be careful if you have to tilt your mom’s face slightly to hit it. She spreads her hair so that it flows underneath her when she is lying on the bed. If you sniff the child’s forehead from the side instead of from above, the camera will recognize the beautiful side profile instead of the top of the head. Compliments don’t have to take a lot of time. Small tweaks go a long way.

Child looking at mom and mom looking at camera.
A portrait of the child looking at the parent and a portrait of the parent facing the child
A camera is a good way to blend candid imagery with portraiture.

4. Create a “parent” portrait
Even if the purpose of the session is candid, a portrait of the child staring at the parent and the parent pointing the camera is a beautiful way to blend both candid imagery and portraiture. The easiest way to do this is to pre-focus and then say the parent’s name while engaging with the child. This brings out a natural, unguarded camera look. This is always breathtaking as a photographer trying to capture the unmasked version of the real parent when we all stop putting it in the foreground we sometimes assume. Even if you want to, offering a sincere compliment will keep you feeling relaxed and sink you in the second you make eye contact. just as fun. Thus follows the dance of directing clients and being open to their responses, which vary from person to person and from moment to moment.

Invite Dad to be playful and participate in a candid family portrait.
Movement gives emotion to the family image. Using the father as a source of this energy can breathe life and authenticity into your photos.

5. Playful with Dad
Family photographers get a bad rap for sometimes resisting the photographer’s instructions during photo shoots or wishing they could opt out of photo shoots together, so how do family photographers pose for their dads? Dads have a particular aversion to feeling awkward or posing, so if they’re indoors, they can either wrestle their kids on the floor or outdoors to do other things. Encourage your family to hug and surprise them. Motion adds emotion to images. Using the father as a source of this energy brings candid family portraits to life, giving them the authenticity we all crave as candid family images grow in popularity.

Tweaking a candid family photo requires posing and inspiring, but small tweaks can go a long way in making the photo emotional and affectionate. Use these signposts at your next family session to bring out the best in your family members, let their authenticity shine, document the ups and downs of family life, and how you want to remember them for generations to come. Please record with

Brooke Schultz Passionate about creativity, I am a family photographer who takes a deep look and feel of parenthood and family. She doesn’t do images that are boring, unconventional, or that anyone would have taken. She loves candid family portraits and she creates works that are passionate, romantic and genuinely soulful. She is equally drawn to light and dark, the pretty and the essential. She tells both sides of the story and shows other photographers how to do the same.

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