family portrait poses
examples that give you good ideas for family portraits



How would you like to know how to create beautiful family portrait poses?

It's challenging to pose a family for the first time. It's a skill that takes time to master. I'm still learning, but here are a few time-saving shortcuts to good family posing. 

By viewing the sample photos in this article you will get some great ideas. Using just a few of these simple posing tips will make a dramatic difference. Most of these are outdoor family portrait poses, but you can use this article as a family portrait posing guide for indoor and outdoor portraits. This post also has critiques of the posing in a family portrait gallery.

Family Portrait Poses - 4

The quality and impact of your final picture can be greatly improved with a few basic adjustments. After consulting with the client, we agreed on a location for the family portrait shown above.

What you want to do is to keep the clothing color scheme simple, so that it's easy for all of the families to match colors. Here are some more tips on Portrait Clothing.

Notice that I spaced everyone fairly equally. This is an important tip for you to follow. Adults are almost always place behind the children and babies.

Since they are so much larger than the "little people," you want the larger bodies bodies partially blocked by the smaller bodies, while making sure that everyone's faces are completely visible.

Five adults were standing in the back row. Three ladies were sitting on barrels or a posing stool and two men were down on one knee. One woman was sitting on the ground with her baby posed on her leg.

Three children were standing and 5 were sitting. This provides a pose that gives us a variety of heights for peoples' faces.

The photo below is another example of placing the smaller people in front of the larger people. This family of four was photographed at one of my favorite locations.

Family group of 4 posed outside

In this pose I had the two young boys pull their feet in toward their bodies.

I posed the parents so that their feet and legs were mostly hidden. This simplifies the image and allows the viewer to focus on their expressions.

Notice that the man becomes "smaller" in the photo when I angle his body a bit to the side.

use chairs or stools for larger family portrait poses

The photograph below was taken at a 50th wedding anniversary. There was no room inside the church hall, so I found an area outside in the open shade. For a definition of "open shade" go to Photography Definitions (This will open a new window.) The sun was on the opposite side of the white wall behind my subjects. The wall was plain and did not distract from my subjects.

Arrangement of 8 family members

In this photograph, I used two adjustable stools for the two people in the middle and made them a little higher than the two end people.

The children on the ends sat on regular posing stools. This makes the bottom row of faces into an arch shape, instead of a boring straight line across.

Notice what I did with the 4 people standing behind. I altered them by taller, shorter, taller, than shorter. This is another way of creating a little visual interest in a family portrait pose.

I took a few poses, then told the children to lean in cozy toward the center and got this great portrait with everyone smiling. The final photography posing tip for family portraits is the "pyramid pose."

Improve your family poses With The Pyramid 

Family of 5 posed inside their home

Once again, I placed the mom and the dad behind their children.

A pyramid is widest at it's base and narrows as you go up. Now look at the "shape" of this pose. Look at the first four family portrait poses on this page.

Yes, it's true they are not pointed at the top like a true pyramid. But, they are all wider at the bottom and a bit narrower, at least somewhat, at the top.

Portrait Photography Books are a great resource for more information on family portrait photography as well as for tips for posing individuals. Sometimes it's nice to be able to read from a printed book with tangible photos as examples to view.

Family Portrait Ideas. These tips are not absolute rules. Experimenting a bit while you shoot your pictures is the best way to learn to take better digital photos. For some help with creative family posing, try finding some ideas and inspiration for great family portraits. Have fun and experiment as you learn to take better photos.

Family Portrait Photography. What do you need to know to create great family portrait photography? How can you tell what a good family portrait photographer should be concentrating?

Photo mistakes. You can evaluate and edit your photos after your session. You will be able to delete the ones that you consider photography mistakes. If you like this page, make sure to bookmark this web site, so you can come back another time and learn other tips and tricks about digital photography and cameras.

Basic Family Poses. If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in some basic family portrait posing tips here.

Large Family Portrait Ideas. Large family portrait poses present special challenges for photographers. Here are the 6 most common photography mistakes when posing large groups and 3 tips for better poses.

Photography Poses for 3 People. How to do photography poses for groups of 3 people and links to photography posing tips for other-sized group portaits.

There are many things to consider when discovering these kinds of portrait photography tips. If you have an interest in posing families and a few retouching techniques to improve your portraits, here is another article for you: Posing Families.

Family Portrait Books. Tangible printed books can give you a lot of family portrait ideas and information about family portrait poses as well. Here is a link to many photography books at Amazon, the largest on line retailer where I have ordered books and photography equipment.

Here is another source for great digital photo tips. This one is one that you would have to pay for. But sometimes the good things in life do involve an investment. Click Here!


You can learn a lot by studying a family portrait photography gallery. It's is a good way to get more family portrait ideas for posing and clothing choices. I try to be critical of my own portrait photography and I analyze the posing when I get back to my computer after each portrait session. Here are some critiques of some of the family portraits I've taken.

family portrait of 3 peopleFamily Pose of 3

A terrifically nice client of mine wanted an outdoor portrait in their beautifully landscaped back yard.

Because of the clothing choice they made, I placed the mom in between her son and her husband to create color balance. Normally I would place the tallest individual (the father) in the middle, between his wife and his son.

In this instance I felt that I should have the mother in the red shirt hold the small dog in front of herself and make it a more symmetrical family portrait.

If anything, I could have had the son stand on something like a book to raise his level just a few inches and it would have created a "U" shape for the pose. I don't do many standing poses like this, but it worked quite well here with their clothing choice and the background.

family portrait on beachBeach Portrait

Beach photography can be tricky because of quickly changing weather and lighting conditions.

A fog rolled in as the sun went down and the un-retouched photos were lacking in contrast.

I had to do quite a bit of retouching in PhotoShop to increase the fine details and give this family portrait more contrast.

The neutral color of their clothing and the rocks, combined with the hazy background really bring out the flesh tones nicely

Outdoor family posePastel Theme

The idea for this family portrait was to have each family dress in a different pastel color.

The grandmother wanted it to be a casual portrait so everyone agreed to wear jeans and to go barefoot. How could I have improved the pose?

I man dressed in green was the tallest subject and should have been posed more toward the center of the group. I easily could have switched the position of the paste green family with the position of the purple family.

That way the tallest person in the pose is not on the edge of the photograph.

Family pose of 6Triplets

I put this family portrait in the photography gallery because it was a unique situation. The parents did not have much luck in taking their very-active 3-year old triplet boys to a traditional studio.

They thought their own home environment would be a better situation to photograph their active children.

To get this portrait I actually had to stand in front of a large screen television. This is where the boys attention was was riveted and was the only way I could get them all to look in the same direction at once.

I used a studio strobe aimed at the wall above and behind the television to the right, to create a large, soft light source. I posed them with their heads as closely as I could.

It might not win an award for artistic design at a photography print competition but it was a definite hit with the parents and I was glad I could capture this family portrait for them to enjoy for many years.


All but one of the images in this family portrait photography gallery were taken with natural lighting and a zoom lens.  The key is to find the right location with good lighting. For outdoor family sessions, I recommend using a solid tripod.

By using a tripod, you can easily watch your subject as you photograph them without having to hold your camera and you can eliminate blur from camera movement for sharper photos. Portable stools or posing barrels are very helpful to arrange your subjects at different levels.

See how I used the barrels below to position my subjects at different levels.

Outdoor pose 6 adultsPosing equipment
Wooden half barrels turned upside down

In addition to posing barrels like the ones shown above, folding stools are easy to carry and help when posing larger families.

When shooting group photos inside I usually use studio flashes made by Novatron. Novatron is out of business now, so I can't recommend them to someone looking to invest in new studio lighting equipment, but I'm still using Novatron strobes with umbrellas because they reliable, last forever, and give me great lighting. As The Traveling Photographer I need something that's designed to be portable and easy to set up.

family portrait in the woodsPortrait on a Bridge

I used my longest telephoto to take this portrait from across part of a lake. It was good natural lighting with fill light coming from the sky and the lake.

There was I posed this family portrait of 5 so that each of their heads was at a different height.

I then cropped it at waist level which eliminated some distracting things in the foreground. I also blurred the background a little bit in Photoshop to make it less distracting. The trees were too "busy" behind this family and I wanted to put the emphasis more on the family, rather than the background.

Family beach portrait

The sixth image in this Family Portrait Photography Gallery was taken just after sunset.

This beach portrait is a classic example of the "M" pose. As your eye travels from left to right, draw an imaginary line from head to head of the subjects.

Yes, the dog is definitely a part of the family and was posed in that specific spot to make it a pleasing composition. I study other photographers work to improve my own posing techniques.  In addition to this family portrait photography gallery, more good sources of valuable information available to all of us in portrait photography books.

As you gain experience with your photography, you develop a feel for better posing and composition without having to think about strict composition rules.

If you've enjoyed the tips on family portrait poses in this family portrait photography gallery, please share them with a friend.

Another source to use for interesting portraits is a book. Copy pose ideas from a good book written specifically about posing for group photos.   

You can get these books anywhere. This particular book on the right has hundreds of samples for groups of three or more people.

"Hundreds of samples provide inspiration and are easily replicated, allowing photographers to customize the source material to meet any type of need."

Have fun shooting family portrait poses!

Article published by Bruce Lovelace


Bruce is the publisher of this website. He is the author of the book "Improve Your Photography Instantly."  Read more on Bruce on his Bio Page. He's been known as The Traveling Photographer ever since 1994. Read more about this website.

View some of Bruce's photos on Instagram.   Visit the Facebook Page. Watch him on YouTube.  Bruce runs photo workshops for kids and adults, and provides one-on-one photography coaching.

Digital Photography Education Location on Google My Business

You might like these