When I was just starting out with outdoor family photoshoots, I remember being so nervous before each session. I worried so much about finding the right poses and keeping a nice “flow” during the process. It was quite intimidating filling an hour-long session with prompts and unique poses. What I began to realize is that each family had their own unique characteristics and I learned to play off of them to elicit natural emotions. Overtime, I began to accumulate a mental list of posing ideas I could reference for each session.

Posing Ideas for an Outdoor Family Photography Session

Now, these aren’t necessarily ground breaking poses. My goal is to initially build a bit of rapport so that the family feels more comfortable with my ideas and directions. I feel this is key to achieving those innate expressions of joy, excitement and love in my photography.

In addition to this, it’s crucial to be prepared for those who are a bit more difficult to warm up to having photos taken. Yes, I’m talking about babies and toddlers. I generally want to begin the shoot with standing poses where they’re still being held in in the parents arms. One technique that works well is having the parents on the outside and the kids in the middle. This is helpful to having the kids feel more comfortable and safe with their parents being close and touching on each side. Once they become curious to everything going on around them, they will want to get down out of their parents arms and we can do more of the casual poses.

For the purpose of expression, here are some things I would ask of the parents.

• Look at and make goofy noises with your kids.
• Dad, can you lift baby up like an airplane?
• Sister, can you give your brother a kiss on the cheek?
• Brother, can you whisper sister a secret?
• Mom, can you tickle baby?

In general, I have found by this time the kids usually become more comfortable with the setting. This makes it an optimal time to work on the individual kids and sibling shots.

Without too much delay, I ask the parents to begin assisting by helping with prompting the kids like they would naturally.

• Let me see your silly face!
• Do you know how to laugh?
• Show me how high you can jump!
• Can you run super fast?
• Can you spin around in a circle?

By this time, the parents seem to feel more relaxed with me by now and I like to move onto snuggly seated poses. It’s always a good touch to encourage the snuggles by bringing a blanket to sit on and allow the parents to choose if they’d like to use it or not.

Once everyone is seated accordingly, I look for different angles and distances to increase the intimacy of the shots. I continue to encourage funny jokes, tickles and snuggling. It’s important to remember the kids may move climb and want to play, just go with it and ask the parents to as well. I like to ask the parents to sing or surprise the kids to increase the overall emotional expressions from the family.

Finally, as I wind down the session, I transition to movement shots. This is a perfect opportunity for you to unleash your creative mind, insightful eye and work on the individual shots. I find it handy to use this time to give the kids a break and allow them run around and explore.

For movement poses, I have found these to return successful results:

• Swinging or spinning (between arms, around in a circle)
• Piggyback rides
• Shoulder rides
• Races 
• Red Rover
• Lifting child in air

All things considered, it’s important to just have fun. My goal is to inspire a “natural” and “organic” atmosphere which ultimately led to some of my best results.

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As always, if you’re in Madison, WI or nearby, please reach out to me for any of your photography inquiries. I will do my best to accommodate your needs.

- Erin Lenore  📷❤️

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