I am of the opinion that every home needs a family portrait hanging somewhere. I say this with hesitance, because it is long overdue that we hang up our own family portrait! But truly, what could be better than a tangible daily reminder of the love that fills your home? Even better when the day has been long, and maybe not so perfect, and you catch a glimpse of that visual reminder and think "Oh yeah. That's what life is about."
But how can you create that special portrait? A huge part of it has to do with posing. The wrong pose can lead to an awkward image, a photo that mom might be less than thrilled to display. But the right family poses and you've got a beautiful portrait to feature at home. Today, I want to share with you a few of my favorite tips when posing families.
1. THINK TRIANGLES
Triangles are visually appealing, but not every family comes in threes. I know this personally! In fact, not all families come in odd numbers (which make creating triangles easier). Still, no matter how many people make up your family, try to think in triangles. Consider the image below. Stephanie's family is made up of five, so in posing them we created a triangle of sorts, with the older kids as the base, and dad as the top. Stephanie held her youngest, which created even more triangles. I count at least four triangles within this one portrait. I bet Stephanie's husband, Jason, a high school math teacher, would love to know there's a bit of math involved in this image!
2. MAKE CONNECTIONS
It's pretty much a given that whenever I pose families, they start out with too much space between them. What people initially think is "close" is not at all close enough. When you are posing for family portraits (or posing a family for their portraits), always try to make connections. This does not mean we all put our arms around each other! Doing so leads to that awkward photo I warned about earlier. It also forces bodies to stand broad and to the front, rather than a bit to the side which is much more flattering. No, what I mean by connections is subtle. Have a young girl hold her daddy's arm. Have mom and dad hold hands, or have mom slip her arm under dad's and around his waist. Have an older son connected by mom's gentle touch. There should be subtle connections throughout the image, drawing the viewer's eye from one member to the next to the next. Connections imply love. And that's what you want your family portrait to say.
3. RAISE THE KIDDOS
It is a common misconception that taller folks should stand behind and shorter people should sit or stand in front. While common sense says yes, of course, we don't want to lose little people BEHIND taller people, I'd like you to consider raising your kids. Or lowering yourselves to their level. This will bring faces closer together, which are the focal points of your portrait. Raise your kids, perhaps by simply holding them, or putting one on dad's shoulders. Or kneel down next to the kids. Remember triangles, but bring faces closer together.
4. DON'T FORCE CONTACT WITH THE CAMERA
It's sometimes uncomfortable and unnatural for everyone in the family to stare at the camera. It may even lead to a sort of "CHEESE!" type of smile with dad looking way too uncomfortable, mom looking nervous, and the kids looking away anyway. I say embrace the unposed. Young kids have trouble staying eye to eye with the camera for too long, so let them engage with parents. Have mom tell a story while the rest of the family looks on. This lets everyone (especially dad!) relax a little bit more and the smiles become real. You can get a variety of beautiful portraits this way, one of which is mom and dad looking at child, while child smiles her real smile at me. LOVE IT!
5. GET CRAZY!
Oh I love this pose. After an hour of posing for family portraits, kids AND DADS need a break! Who are we kidding? Mom needs a break too, after all the hard work she put into this session! I love to use this time to let kids get a little goofy. Let dad get a little goofy. Break the rules, have some fun. If things get a little too silly, that's ok. We've got the "posed" stuff, and some of the more traditional portraits, so let's get some unique stuff. One way to do this is to have mom and dad kiss. This almost always elicits groans and grimaces from the kids, which is so fun! Tickling the kids works great too, or climbing on dad. Let the kids get silly. You're guaranteed to get real smiles, real laughs, beautiful expressions, lots of connections, and memorable portraits. These are definitely some of my favorite poses!
Every family is different, every one unique. So find the poses that best fit your family. Older folks often enjoy the traditional poses, while goofy moms like me would rather have the "outtakes" displayed at home. Whatever type your family is, consider these posing tips and you'll capture some great family portraits!