I’m a Photographer and These 16 Poses for Family Photos Always Look Adorable (and Totally Natural)

Get ready to blow some raspberries

Parents know that there is perhaps no wider dichotomy between feelings than those engendered by family portraits. On the one hand, you want super-cute photos of your kids for the gallery wall. On the other, you dread pleading with cranky children for half an hour while the photographer looks on. (If only kids were as good as adults at following the rules.) Well, don’t fret. As a portrait photographer, I’ve worked with plenty of kids over the years—and I’m sharing 16 poses for family photos that always yield smiling, natural and relaxed photos so good, you’ll want to hang every single one.

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poses for family photos: marionette. parent holds toddler by the hands as the toddle forward
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1. The Marionette

Have a toddling 1-year-old? Hold their hands from behind and walk with them. This will give your photographer great pulled back and close-up shots. (Not to mention, it’ll keep your kid occupied while the shutter is clicking.)

poses for family photos nap
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2. The Nap

This has helped me with fussy kids in a pinch. Just pick them up. Sometimes that’s enough and you can give them a kiss on the cheek or blow a raspberry for some giggles. But if they just want to lay down on your shoulder, let them. It’s cute and calm.

poses for family photos shoulder ride
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3. Shoulder Ride

Let your child sit on your shoulders. The key to making this pose a success is to then hold their hands—not their legs. Otherwise, they’ll be grabbing onto your head for dear life (and you can say goodbye to that blowout).

poses for family photos twirl
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4. Twirl

Great for little girls—I like to ask them to spin and show me their beautiful skirt. Or I have them twirl like they’re dancing with their parent.


poses for family photos: parents hold baby and kiss him on the cheek
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5. Cheek-to-Cheek

Start off sitting, and then place your child on your lap. Then, put your cheek to theirs. Option to kiss, eskimo, blow a raspberry, put your nose to their temple or have them look at you. This pose also works standing.

poses for family photos pyramid
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6. The Pyramid

Our eyes love shapes and patterns, so creating a triangle in your composition always makes for a winning pose. Whether you’re posing a gaggle of kiddos or yourself and your only child, this works. This is as easy as staggering people’s heights. Tall, short, tall, and so forth.

poses for family photos 50 50
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7. The 50/50

Related to the pyramid pose, the 50/50 helps create the triangle. Have one (or some) of the children sit, while the others stand.

poses for family photos laying down
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8. Laying Down

Take sitting one step further and lay down. I love getting a good upside-down shot full of giggles.

Getting on Their Level

poses for family photos eskimos
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9. Eskimos

Have the subjects stand face-to-face. (This works with parent/child and sibling pairings.) If the parent is in the shot, crouch down to their level. Hold hands and touch noses. *Dies from cuteness overload.*

poses for family photos: mom gives baby kiss on the cheek
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10. The Big Smack

As it sounds: Have one subject give the other a big kiss on the cheek. (You can do this sitting, standing or crouching down with your child.)

poses for family photos back hug
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11. The Back Hug

Have your child stand in front of you, then crouch down and give them a hug from behind while you both look at the camera. Or do the reverse.

poses for family photos patty cake
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12. Patty-Cake

This is a great way to capture some candids. Play patty-cake or another game to elicit some genuine smiles.

Action Shots

poses for family photos swing
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13. The Swing

Fact: Adding movement to photos helps direct some of the kids’ pent-up energy into something that works for the photographer. You’ve probably done this many times just for fun. Have the child stand between two adults, hold hands and swing them. Laughter will ensue.

poses for family photos airplane
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14. The Airplane

For toddlers, the airplane works like a charm to produce giggles. This is often a pose I use with dads, but any parent can do it. Just toss them three times in a row while the photographer clicks away.

poses for family photos stroll
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15. The Stroll

This can’t get any easier. Simply take a walk together! If you don’t want to all hold hands, just make sure you stay in the same focal plane—or let the kids run ahead.

poses for family photos: father blows bubbles for two toddlers
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16. Play

Yes, you can and should bring toys, snacks, stuffed animals and other fun distractions to your photography session. They don’t have to be in every shot, but as a photographer, I like that they can add some color and personality to a few portraits. Plus, it gives everyone a space to act naturally and not feel the weight of the camera’s gaze.

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I’ve covered the lifestyle space for the last three years after majoring in journalism (and minoring in French) at Boston University. Talk to me about all things sustainable &...