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Family Group Posing

Lesson 11 of 33

Using Furniture In Family Portraits

Vicki Taufer

Family Group Posing

Vicki Taufer

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Lesson Info

11. Using Furniture In Family Portraits


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:09:12
2 Favorite Family Group Poses Duration:12:45
3 Plan the Photo Shoot Duration:04:08
6 Review Images from Shoot Duration:04:37
8 Family of Three Shoot Recap Duration:10:05

Lesson Info

Using Furniture In Family Portraits

What I've been most excited about, honestly, to talk about all day is posing with furniture. Just cause I, my husband thinks I have a couch fetish. Like I said, at one point I think I had 32 of them. We might be down to like 10 at this point. In that I say couch, some things are maybe just, you know, loveseats or a chair, it's posing with furniture. And so, this really I'm gonna talk about a lot, and I'm gonna do this today. This is like my favorite pose that we'll sell all the time. It's not your typical shooting straight on at the couch, which I'm gonna do for sure, but then when you turn the couch to the side. Of course we always, we want everybody to look good, we want mom to look really good in the photos, and having her lay down and kind of pile everybody around her. This is about, you could probably get about six. You could probably put somebody over there on that top left corner, but like five or six people would definitely be tops, and of course depends on the age of the kiddo...

s. But I'm gonna walk through you. One person, two people, three people, how that pose would evolve. So for example, this would be that pose with one person. Another way you could shoot that. And this is, a lot of these things are very natural. I mean this is, like I let the kids kind of just do their thing, or I'm talking, I'm like lay your head down, snuggle up on your hands, so that I hope to mimic some of that for you guys today. But when you get two people, this is combining the whole looking at each other. The other one, I shoot with couches outside a lot as well, so those are specific couches that are more lightweight, or maybe smaller loveseats easier to move around, but I can do those same poses outside. Siblings, you know, older siblings you can do that same pose. Somebody's laying on the couch, somebody is sitting down on the ground, or, for little ones, they both fit up on the couch. Family of three. This shot I love. This is actually a good location I'm gonna talk to you about in a little bit. Or this is in Minnesota where I don't have a studio, but I've built a relationship with a store that sells furniture that I can shoot in. And so there's creative ways you can actually get a studio without having a lease and having a studio. So three people, four people, and again, showing different age ranges of these kiddos. Family of five, mom is pretty much always the one laying on the couch. Once in a while we can fit a little kiddo next to her. Different family of five, how I would shoot that. More like the first post I showed you. And then of course you can flip that couch around. This is great for... We might have this today. For when the kids are not all staying in the same place. So this is like, you know, dealing with that depth of field thing, like, you get them all like, maybe this is the last second, mom and dad are plopping the littlest one on the couch, the other siblings are already there and shooting it. That's a cool panoramic shot, you know? Just shooting them on the couch that way. Sometimes it turns more into this. Which is great. Like that's a, actually we have that as a gallery wrap in our studio. I love that shot. Sitting on the couch, standing on the couch. This actually I shot a few weeks ago in Minnesota in a client's home. Again I will tell you this, it's been interesting. Like, we have this great studio in Illinois and I found myself, over the years, like I could almost shoot with my eyes shut. Like it's my space, like this is obviously out of my element a little bit, and so it challenges you. I go up to Minnesota, I don't have a studio, I have clients who, it's the same website, they see studio work, I want you to do that. Oh, okay. And I couldn't go to the warehouse with the couches that day, I went to their home, literally took soft box, their whole living room was set up as a studio; a backdrop, their own couch, and it was great. Like this looks like it could have been shot in my studio. But just another way to pose with the kids standing on the couch I love. Sisters, like so how I would maybe, and I'll do this today, I will shoot individually. So even though we're talking about a group posing class, absolutely, all the time I will do every breakout I can possible. That's because I love to shoot that way, but it's also great for products. So I will shoot it. Not a ton of time, like it might be literally one minute with each kid, but get a great shot of each of the kids by themselves, maybe all the girls together or all the boys together, whatever groupings I can come up with. So then you could take that single shot and do all the kids together. An example of taking furniture outside. Also that looking down pose. So again, of course whenever you see my looking down poses, pretty much make the assumption yes, I probably got a shot when they were looking at the camera as well, but those were some of my favorite ones. And again, like, the couch is not turned straight at the camera. I think sometimes people tend to think that way, like just, it's the couch, you're gonna set it down like that, but turning it gives them the arms of the couch to lean on, and something comfortable to do with their hands. Older siblings, so sometimes you run into the challenge, I will say this: when they're older, they like, you don't want them to look like they're a couple. So one of the ways I do that I tend to maybe have them a little more back to back, than as much of the huggly, snuggly that I would do with an engagement couple, you know, two people on the couch. But other chairs, other furniture besides couches we've got, you know, the younger sibling sitting there on a couch. Other furniture I have little, and I'm always moving this around. Like that piece with the family of five sitting on that little, like, dresser, that's actually in our house now. So it's kinda fun because some of my furniture, like, then it ends up in my house, then I take stuff from my house to the studio, and it just kinda keeps evolving. But I use stuff like that all the time too. So maybe just sitting on, you know, giving the kids something to sit on makes it feel, of course it's not their home, but it like gives a different feel for sure than that classic, up close, simple background look that I also do. And then definitely still doing the whole flying kids, look at each other, let's just set the stage, see what happens, so you could call that an outtake, or a look at each other shot with the family on the right. And I love combining multiple pieces of furniture. So no this isn't a couch, but it's the same kind of posing that I could do with a couch, but bring in multiple chairs. And again, this does not have to be an investment. Most of these things, like that one chair in the middle, I have had since I started, probably picked up at a flea market. Most of these things are garage sales, flea markets, things like that. The one thing, oh I do have a great story. So one of the shots that I have on a yellow couch, I have that back there there's a shot with a yellow couch that I shoot on all the time. And Jim and I had just started the business, we pretty much had nothing when we started, I didn't share that part of the story, so we took lots of risks cos when you don't have a lot you don't have a lot to lose. So we made some pretty big, risky decisions, didn't have kiddos yet then either, didn't have a lot of money, he was landscaping and I remember calling him I'm like I just went by this garage sale, I found a couch, you have to go pick it up. And so he's probably thinking like 20 bucks or whatever, I mean it was still, like, I think a couple hundred dollars, this beautiful, old, yellow vintage couch. Well of course I get a phone call like you're kidding, no way, I'm like absolutely, get it. And then what's fun, cos the next segment we're gonna talk about dogs, I have a picture in here I'll show you of the dogs on this yellow couch that a client, years later, called to have a session and they came in and they're like that's my mother in law's couch. (laughing) So I had bought it at their garage sale and it was so awesome. I was able to photograph their beautiful dogs on the couch and, what's so funny with this life cycle of photography, is just a month or two ago they came back in with, now, their grown kids with their next set of dogs and we did a whole, like, recreate session on the couch with them.

Class Description

Taking a great portrait of one person can be a challenge, but how do you capture an entire family looking their most authentic selves? Well-known family and children photographer Vicki Taufer will show you how to focus on the relationships and keep your clients relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera.

Vicki will show you:

  • What props and gear you should have on hand to bring out the best in your group posing
  • How to shoot with natural light as well as in the studio, and what lighting you’ll need to highlight all group sizes
  • How to make your clients feel comfortable before the shoot to get authentic images
  • The most efficient workflow to make your post-processing work for you

Whether it’s a group of children with pets or the extended family with grandparents and cousins, Vicki will give you the confidence to tackle any situation and provide your client with images that they’ll want to purchase and hang on their walls for years to come.


DOlores RUsso

All I have to say is - Vicki you are a saint. To handle four kids, dog and their parents too, not to mention a class of students watching...AND YOU'RE TAKING PHOTOS, GOOD ONES!! All I know is, I could not handle that as you have even though I was a teacher for 25 years (K-12, all of them) - and wonderful people like you are far and few between. May you stay healthy and happy and continue interacting with kids and parents - you really have a talent! (I had to turn the sound off on the vid because it was driving me crazy,, with kids, dog, etc etc!)

Marla GIbson

It was true to life and yes, a bit chaotic. But I enjoyed it, it shows the work that often does go into a session with all the multitasking. I got some great ideas for poses, and learned some new way to interact with younger children. Thank you for a honest session and not a perfect planned one.


Fantastic posing class, loved watching Vicki in action. There are so many little things she said to the families she was photographing that really made all of the difference. Jed's product template creation and backend streamlining segment was great too!