Portrait Posing

Portrait Posing – Relationships and Family

Many of you may not know that Ally and I have spent over 30 years as photographers in the Wedding and Portrait fields. Although it is rare that we photograph a wedding these days, combined, we have photographed over 1000 weddings and thousands of portraits!

Photographing people in a posed environment in so many various forms of lighting will quickly sharpen your skills and patience!

In this edition of Tuesday Tips, I wanted to share the number one aspect of posing I look for when working with our clients and show you a number of examples to help you visualize the process when photographing families and relationships.

If you have not yet watched the videos in the professional content area of the PEN site, I STRONGLY encourage you to watch the Importance of a Portrait video as well as the video on McKay Portrait sessions. Both will give you a realization of why I am sharing this tip and also leave you with strong emotions taking place.

Regardless of whether you are interested in becoming a professional portrait photographer, there are key elements in these videos to help you understand the importance of photographing people as well as MANY useful tips on how to do so! Whether you decide to photograph professionally, or just your family function, these videos are a MUST watch!

It is also important to understand that the technical part of producing a portrait such as good lighting, posing, and re-touching is all a part of the process and must be excellent, in order for a portrait to truly be a piece of art. That is why we have and will continue to produce courses on the PEN site for you to learn and grow in those areas.

However, all of that doesn’t mean a thing unless a portrait truly shows what I consider to be the most import aspect of the entire photography session. So what is this most important aspect of a portrait? It is that the RELATIONSHIP shows and the story are told of who you are photographing in ONE single image!

Yes, if you can convey the relationship between a husband and wife, their family and all that is part of who they are in an image, you will have found the true key to portraiture! Do this and add the technical elements mentioned above, and you will do what so few photographers, in my opinion, are doing today.


Tip 1. Make sure your location is set and you know how to light properly.
Bad lighting will kill the mood. Learn how to light and be prepared for that specific portrait ahead of time. Learn to light for BOTH outdoor and indoor portraiture. We will continue to bring you lighting tips as well!

Tip 2. Make sure the clothing is simple, clean, and solid!
Nothing is more distracting than one person wearing plaid and another stripe patterns in the same family portrait.

Tip 3. Pose naturally and allow relationships to shine!
Portraits posing can and should happen naturally and then make fine-tune adjustments. Allow posing to happen in a fresh loving way.
I watch people struggle so much with posing. One of the best ways to pose families is to engage them with their relationship. If you say, “place your arms around each other tight” guess what, people will do so. From there, make small adjustments to get what you need. Allow the session to move naturally and spontaneously.

Tip 4. You do not need to repose after every image.
After you find a great pose, keep working with it making small adjustments, tweaking as you go, moving your own angles. TONS of poses can come out of one simple pose by making small changes and not overburden yourself with trying to make every shot a totally different pose!
After you get what we call the money shots, which are the key basic images, looking at the camera and great expressions, move into more fun and crazy images.

In this first image below between these two sisters who have an incredible bond (both adopted and AMAZING story) you see the first image. Nice simple and easy.
In the second image, it was a moment where I simply said to the older sister, look at the camera while her younger sister was looking down, and WHAM just like that you got the story of the older protective sister coming through!

Both portraits are totally different, and yet came out of a simple pose.

Tip 5. Experiment!
Once again, after you are sure you have great simple images, start playing and trying new creative elements. If it works, great, if not, no big deal. Some of the best portraits come from just going for it and getting a family to tickle each other such as the first portrait above.

Above all, make sure their relationship and connection are shining through. Talk to your subjects and let them know they look great. Share how their family looks awesome and just engage with them. You will see they will naturally react, smile, and connect with each other and you!

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this week's Tuesday Tip. As mentioned, please be sure to watch the videos over on the PEN site on Portraits and you will find that you will be on your way to creating beautiful portraits with emotion and relationship values shining through!


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.