When posing family groups, it’s important to be able to set your subjects at ease. Being able to communicate with clear and simple instructions will help keep your subjects relaxed, and connected as a family unit. This way, you can focus on creating stunning family heirlooms for your clients!
GIVING POSING GUIDANCE
We’re all different, and so are our clients. Not everyone is comfortable being touched a lot – and it’s not always practical to move a client into pose constantly throughout a shoot. So it’s important that we, as photographers, are able to communicate through a variety of means – clear and simple verbal instructions, demonstration by posing ourselves for them to mirror, and, if the clients are comfortable, gentle guided touch.
By telling people what you’re going to do before touching them, they’ll know what to expect. They’ll understand that it’s part of the process. For example, let them know “I’m going to position your hands so that I can place your baby in them”, or ask, “Do you mind if I move your hair?”.
MAKE YOUR SUBJECTS COMFORTABLE
When a family books for a portrait session, they are typically focused on updating their walls to reflect their growing family – not on how they will pose in front of the camera!
For many people, posing for photos is an unfamiliar, if not uncomfortable, experience. That’s why you need to put yourself in their position to understand the type of instructions they’ll need to hear. Remember, your clients can’t see themselves and don’t know what they look like. So they’re relying on your guidance to ensure they look their best.
Before your next session, spend some time working out the best way to communicate posing movements with your subjects.
In Kelly Brown’s Posing Families and Groups tutorials, you can see how she works to make clients feel comfortable while guiding them into flattering poses. Listen to the words and phrases Kelly uses in this FREE video from her tutorials.
POSING FAMILIES WITH NEWBORNS
- Give clear instructions to the parent who will be holding the newborn.
- Explain what you need them to do, and why.
- Help guide their supporting hands into place.
For example, “I’d like you to place your hand here, facing this way. This hand will be supporting your baby’s head.”
FAMILIES WITH TODDLERS
Most toddlers are busy little people, who aren’t overly interested in sitting still for photos! And they can be unpredictable, especially when they are in a foreign environment like a photography studio.
- Work quickly. Be ready to shoot when you bring them onto your set.
- Avoid high props or stools which may present a fall risk, especially if there is a newborn in the family group.
TIPS FOR RELAXING IN FRONT OF CAMERA
When people feel tense or unsure of what to do in front of the camera, it will show in their photos. So it’s really important to identify and manage this early in your session.
Below are a few suggested directions you can use to help people relax. Importantly, if you do the action yourself, people will usually mimic you, feeling less self-conscious, and moving into a relaxed state sooner.
TENSE SHOULDERS / BODIES
“Relax those shoulders. Take a DEEP breath, and, as you breathe out, just let your shoulders/body relax.”
RIGID / FAKE SMILES
“Give your mouth/jaw a big stretch.. like a big yawn! And then let your mouth relax naturally.”
We want to avoid tense hands and splayed fingers, which look like they’re gripping onto the side of a cliff for dear life!
“Relax your fingers… Give your hand a shake and let your fingers just rest together gently.”
GETTING TODDLERS TO ENGAGE WITH THE GROUP
Give them a simple direction to interact with another family member, to draw them into the direction you want them to face.
eg. “Where are baby’s toes?”; “Give Daddy a cuddle.”; etc
Whether you conduct dedicated family portrait sessions or include parent and family portraits with your newborn sessions, these tips will help you pose and communicate with your subjects to achieve natural, relaxed portraits.
For more tips on lighting, styling, composition, posing and more, see Kelly’s Posing Families and Groups tutorials. In these videos, she works with 8 different family groups – some with newborns, some with primary aged children, and some with young adults. There’s even a fur baby! With over 3 hours of videos, you’ll learn to create connection and communicate with subjects of all ages, to capture stunning family heirlooms.