The Best Tips On How To Pose Your Subject

by | Family, Technical, Top Tips


Posing your subject can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s talk about some tips on how to pose your subjects.

Let’s talk about posing. If you are shooting photography that involves people, posing is as important as composition, and learning how to pose your subject takes time and practice. Most people are not naturally comfortable in front of a camera, and your job as the photographer is to help them relax and pose naturally.

The Basics Of How To Pose Your Subject

The first thing that I do at the beginning of each session is spend 10-15 minutes getting to know my subject. I talk to them, get them to relax, get to know them. I do this even if I photograph my kids, husband, or brand new client. I spend a few minutes talking to them about their expectations from the shoot, if they like getting their photos taken, or simply about their day. This not only helps your subject relax, but it helps you to begin to know what to create questions or conversation about during the actual shoot.

The next thing that I cover with them is the basics. I remind them to avoid slouching, help them remember to angle their bodies at a 45-degree angle, never lay their arms flat against their bodies-horrible look-push their chin slightly forward, and lastly, I remind them to move and have fun! Now, I cover this again and again in the session, but it is good to cover it initially as well.

How To Pose Your Subject-Families

I love shooting family photos, and knowing how to pose each family member is important. You are documenting their history, showing their family dynamics and making sure that mom gets an amazing image to hang on her wall.

How to Pose Your Subject

The important part of photographing families is capturing their interaction, joy of being together, and love of one another. You are documenting their lives, encouraging them to show their love and affection, and remember if you appear relaxed and at ease, so will they.

With any family session, I get the posed shots out of the way at the beginning, the whole time remembering to use the rules of composition. The kids are usually more interested in the whole thing initially and are more attentive, so get the guaranteed photos taken care of first thing. After that, move into the less posed, more candid shots.

A great pose to show the family’s affection is the “cuddle pose.” Have the family stand and have the taller members wrap their arms over the smaller member’s shoulders, wrapping them in a cuddle. Make sure it’s not too forced and looks relaxed. If there are walls nearby, lean the family against the wall, staggering the heights and making sure that they are tight and touching. Have dad’s hand on the little one’s shoulder, mom’s arm looped through dad’s.

One tip on how to pose your subject is to think outside of the box when shooting families. Photos of them walking away or slowly towards you, talking and interacting with one another, will be meaningful to the family. Also, have them all lie on their backs and shoot down on them. Remember that a family photo doesn’t just mean faces. Capturing their feet all lined up or their hands are great shots as well.

How to Pose Your Subjects-Parents & Kids

What about parents and kids? I always start by just letting them play. Follow the leader, tag, or a shoulder ride are great ways to get natural shots of dad and the kids.
Have dad sit and have the kids sit on his knee or hug him over his shoulders, all the while having dad tell jokes to make the smiles natural.

If they have a favorite activity…football or dancing, incorporating that is a sure way to get natural smiles.
If the child is little, lifting the child in the air and having mom spin slightly is sure to get giggles. Capture this shot from different angles, straight on, from below and keeping a cute toy on top of your camera to keep their attention will help as well.

Have mom sit and hug her from behind, or sit in her lap and look up at her. Remember that they don’t have to be looking directly into the camera for each shot.
Have them get nose to nose, or have mom plant a little kiss on their nose. If there are two kids, make sure to avoid mom being in the middle with her arms around each. Remember, we talked about how this is not a flattering angle at all? Instead, have her turn to the side and hug one while the other hugs mom.

If the kids are older, have them hold hands and talk. Or lie on their stomachs, telling jokes. Ask them to sit, leaning on mom or dad’s shoulder.

Properly posing, or in some cases, not posing, your subject can instantly make your photos look more professional and convey your artistic vision. It doesn’t matter if you like posed photos or more of a natural unscripted looking image or if you are undecided on your photography style, knowing how to achieve either will help you immensely and learning how to pose your subject is key. So follow my tips on how to pose your subject and watch your photos improve, and it you want weekly Top Tips make sure to come join the Learn Photography with Dena Facebook Group.

Lifestyle Photographer & Mentor

Hi, I’m Dena, a natural light lifestyle photographer with 20+ years of experience capturing other people’s memories and teaching photographers how to understand and easily use their cameras.

Learn Photography Community

Join the Membership and learn how to take the photos you’ve always wanted to take!

Start Taking Better Photos with My Free Cheat Sheets

You have a great camera, but you still aren’t getting the photos you want — the photos that truly WOW you! My Photography Essentials Cheat Sheets will help you improve your photos in just minutes!



You have a great camera, but you still aren’t getting the photos you want — the photos that truly WOW you! My Photography Essentials Cheat Sheets will help you improve your photos in just minutes!