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Posing 101

Lesson 26 of 35

Shoot: Family Poses


Posing 101

Lesson 26 of 35

Shoot: Family Poses


Lesson Info

Shoot: Family Poses

I wanted to address a question that I got, if that's okay to start. I got a bunch of kind of the same questions about groups. And I wanted to kind of clear this up. So a couple people asked me, they said, when you're posing a group, I was always taught in order to get the whole group in focus, you had to have them on the same plane, which is why people often pose with heads in a line, right? Everybody lined up because then you know they're all in focus. So they said, the way you're doing it, wouldn't it be out of focus for a group? Okay. So, the thing that affects an image being out of focus or having not enough depth of field for a group is depth, this way. So if I'm stacking people up and down, as long as they're pretty close it's okay. But you wouldn't be able to shoot at say, 1.4, if you have somebody sitting here, someone kneeling, and someone standing, let's say that's maybe, like 2 1/2 feet or something. I would, at that point, to be able to get the front head in focus and the b...

ack head in focus. I would probably have to shoot at 5.6, or 8.0. And the deeper that group gets, the smaller my aperture has to be. But again, plane is actually, if this is the camera, plane would be this way. So I'm trying to get everybody similar from depth-wise. So I might have the people in the front lean back a little bit. And the people in the back lean forward just a little bit. Maybe I wanna compress that distance. But the height up and down doesn't make that much of a difference. There are, of course, exceptions. If you're up on a ladder and things like that. But, so yeah. So in those cases, a deep group, you are not going to be able to shoot at 1. unless yeah, they are perfectly lined up, but then it's not an interesting pose. So you have to kind of, adapt to make it work. Okay, so. Are there any other questions, or should I jump into it? I would say let us jump right into it. We're excited to see what you've got. Okay awesome. What we're going to do this morning, and I guess you guys already got introduced, is we're going to photograph these beautiful little girls. Hi guys. (giggles) I got to see photos of them yesterday, watching. They got to watch Creative Live and see what it's all about. I have to say this, okay? I haven't photographed kids in forever, so you will be able to see if all my posing ideas work, and I would say this is more of a posing class than a wrangling class. So if you wanna know how to get great expressions out of kids, and how to really get a lot of intense candid shots, definitely go see Tamara Lackey's class. That is what that class is all about. It is all about photographing children. What I'm going to do is more about family poses and kids poses. So if you really want to know okay, how do I interact with children, what can I do for something a little bit different, check out her class, she's great and crazy and wacky and awesome. So what I'm going to do right now is I'm going to start with family posing essentials. I'm going to give you my top five. That applies to any family group, whether it's a mom and dad and a child, or two children, or three children, or four, you know, building up. Then I'm going to talk about, okay, posing with mom and dad together. The two of them together, and then with just mom and then just dad. The differences that would actually apply. My family posing guidelines, see if we get the keynote up there. Number one, okay. The biggest problem I see when people are posing families is they tell them everybody just go stand out there. And actually, who was saying that? That was a problem they have. You say just go stand out there, and then you're trying to work everybody in, and then what you see is you're actually kind of influenced, because people stand in a natural way, which doesn't mean it's good but then it's too much effort to change everything. What I recommend you do is pick one parent, and you build the scene. So I will, perhaps, pick maybe the mother first, so that I can pose her and flatter her. Then build everyone around. Just like I do with groups. I don't just say go sit out there and then tweak. This is something is that huge, and I see this, I was looking at inspiration on Pinterest a while ago for a family portrait poses. And a huge thing I saw is that the parents get forgotten. They're slouching, the mom looks wide because she's laying on her side with her hands to the side. Another really big one is when they have mom sitting there with a kid on each leg, so she's literally like this, as wide as possible, straight on towards camera. It's not flattering. So what I'll do is I'll kind of try to build with parents first so that I know that they look good and then fit kids in appropriately. And of course you can tweak if someone needs to be held on to more. So don't forget the parents. Plus, they're the ones spending the money so if mom doesn't look good, I mean she, the kids always look cute. You can get them to pay attention, to really look at the camera, they're still going to look cute, pretty much any pose is okay. But parents will be aware of their poses. Number three. Just kind of like with couples, is find ways, if you can, to turn heads and body languages towards each other. A common pose that I will see for family portraits is where everybody's kind of sitting back to back, legs out, perfectly symmetrical. The same thing with groups is, when it's not perfectly symmetrical, then you notice. I don't aim for symmetry. Maybe balance, so not everybody's grouped on one side and like one on the other. But I also, again, I try to have them facing toward each other, instead of everybody away and legs out. You could do that, maybe with, maybe teens, but not with little kids. As soon as body language, anything is away, it's not like a united family photo. It doesn't make it horrible, but it's better if body language is together. Number four. What I recommend is either you pose mom first, so you can flatter her, or honestly if there's one that parent the kids clearly listen to more, pose that parent first and then build around them. So I would add the youngest child first, because they're going to, it's most important for them to be sitting on dad's lap, or right in front of dad, or in dad's arms, or whatever it may be. As I build, I build that way. An anchor parent, I can add another parent if the kids are older and can wait, if not I do anchor parent, youngest kid, build someone else in. So that would probably be my suggestion. Build just like within groups. And then number five is avoid lining up heads side to side or up and down. I know I've seen, like, you know when people try to do really cute and stacked heads, that the problem is it doesn't work nine times our of ten, or 99 out of 100. What happens when you stack people vertically is somebody's slouching. Somebody's in the bottom. Somebody's uncomfortable. When you pose side to side, its boring again and its just kind of lined up. So those would be my general five family posing guidelines. So what we're going to do is we are going to pose, who wants to pose first? Do you guys care? Let me grab my, Okay. Oh, everybody wants to pose! Okay, this is good! Excellent. Mom, can I borrow you for a sec? Alright, and what I'm gonna have you do, so same thing as the the way I would pose mom, oh she's ready. She's ready. (laughter) I love it, that's okay. No, come. Come to Mommy. (child cries out) Would you just take a seat on the floor? Yeah. Okay and what I'm going to have you do, notice I told her to take a seat on the floor, she sits kind of cross legged. So I'm just going to have you sit with your hips to the side and your legs out this way. Okay, good. You can call her over whenever you would like. Okay, honey If she wants to. (child's voice) Come here, sweetie. She's like no, I'm done now. (child cries) So I don't actually need everybody right now, I can kind of build and wait til she's calm. Um, okay. So, can I have Phoebe please? Hi, okay excellent. Alright, so. (laughter) Well, no. So that's, I mean that's exactly it. So what I would usually do is take whoever is youngest, once I get mom posed and flattered well, not straight on towards camera, kind of leaning out to the side, I'll take whoever's youngest and pose maybe on her knee. Okay, so that would be fine. Would you like to come model for me? Okay. So I am looking for lining up heads again. But not straight, I want triangles. So will you sit next to mom on the ground? Okay. So this is what I'm going to look for. I'm like okay, I got them sitting there, what can I do to tweak to make triangles? Can I have you scoot really, really, really, really, really, really close? Perfect. So right now, everything's a little bunched but it doesn't matter because I would get a close head shot. So no problem. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to have you grab my light. How you guys doing? Good. Yeah? Are you happy to be models? Yeah. Yeah? Do you already feel like models? I've seen Ross take a million pictures of you guys. A million. You're like, famous to me already. Let me see this. Is it on alright? And the modeling light is not on. We'll give it a try here. I'm gonna grab my camera, okay, perfect. And can you sit up real straight? Yeah, perfect. And everybody lean in towards mom. Good! Just like that. Let's see. (camera clicks) Alright. I'm going to have you put your legs down. Uncross them, perfect, and sit up really, really, really tall. Really, really, really tall. Perfect, okay. And now I'm going to have you scootch your heads in again, one more time. (camera clicks) Mom, can you grab her hair just a little bit, out of her face? Both of them, actually. They have gorgeous, gorgeous hair, and I love it. Okay. Okay, perfect. Alright, perfect. Ready? One, two, three. (camera clicks) Okay. So, you know, all nice and cute for a close shot but it would not be something that I could pose full length for. So what I'm going to have you do, do you see each other? Aren't you cute? Okay, ready? What I'm going to have you do, I'm gonna have you sit like this, towards Mommy. Just like that, perfect. Okay. And what I'm gonna have you do, is I'm gonna have stand behind. Do you care? Will you stand behind Mommy? Okay. And I'm gonna have, Aww. Stop it, that's sweet. And can you put your head right there? Okay cool. Right there, perfect. And now get back down and hug Mommy again. Want to to hug Mom again? Little taller, little taller, Good. And will you scoot that way just a little? Perfect. That's cute. (camera clicks) (beeps) Oops. No flash. Let me try that again. (camera clicks) That go? Perfect. Okay so, here you go. Would you put your, would you put your hand on Mom's leg? Would you put your hand on your Mommy's leg? Good, one more, one more, one more! Ready? One, two, three. (camera clicks) And stand up real tall. That's, ooh. That's pretty good. (laughter) (camera clicks) That's really good. (camera clicks) Okay, now. Ready? This is what you're gonna do. Ready? You're gonna do this. Like jumping jacks. Ready? Just like this. And now come closer, to Mommy, right there, perfect. Okay ready, one, two, three. (camera clicks) Good. Can you sit up a little taller? Right there, perfect. And jumping jack legs! Jumping jack legs, okay. Good, perfect. (camera clicks) Okay. So, I would just kind of tweak with that. I was waiting for dad, how's dad doing? Better. We'll see if he's doing okay. We had some tears. Phoebe and Zoe, everyone things you're adorable on the internet. You guys are the best. (applause) Alright.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.


  • Use camera angle, lens choice, and cropping to improve your poses

  • Hide unflattering problem areas

  • Address different body types through posing and wardrobe

  • Go for simple poses rather than extravagant ones

  • Pose couples, individuals, and groups to ensure everyone looks good

  • Understand the differences between posing women and men


Posing is one of the fundamentals of great photography. It’s also the thing that photographers have the least control over. We can choose our lenses, set up, lighting, and retouch with Adobe® Photoshop®. But when it comes to photography poses, we need to pay attention and work closely with our subjects to find the perfect pose and best way to capture the most flattering image.

Fashion and portrait photographer Lindsay Adler will break down the fundamentals of perfect posing, giving you the basic rules you should follow to make your subjects and your photos look their best. Through live photo shoots and slides, Lindsay demonstrates the do’s and don’ts for every category of subject, including men, women, older people, couples, brides and grooms, groups, and more.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Connect with your subjects through sincere compliments, repeating their name and discovering their passions.

  • Avoid using negative terms that will make subjects feel ill at ease.

  • Master the rules of posing, then know when to break them.

  • Be confident when posing couples at a wedding whether it's a bride and groom, mature couple or same sex couple.

This course is perfect for novice photographers just getting their feet wet in the world of portrait photography, but it also offers useful advice and techniques for even the most skilled professionals. By the end, you’ll be able to discover the beauty in every one of your subjects, and bring it out for the world to see.


  • All levels of photographers who want to set themselves apart and up their posing game.

  • Professional photographers who want to learn new ways of posing women, men, children, couples, and groups so they can impress current  clients and attract new ones.

  • Hobbyist photographers who want to learn to pose their family and friends.


  1. Introduction to Posing

    Lindsay goes over what she'll cover in this posing for beginners course, including the do's and don'ts of posing, how the course will be broken up, and some basic posing tips and guidelines to keep in mind.

  2. Expression and Interaction Posing Tips

    Getting your subject to do what you want them to do can be tricky. Lindsay offers some helpful tips on how to get the right facial expressions for portraits, allow special moments to happen, and capture posed candid shots.

  3. Posing Guidelines

    Get the lowdown on some key posing techniques every photographer should know, from how to make your subject look slimmer to how to accentuate their best features.

  4. Basic Posing Demo

    Lindsay puts her advice into action using a model for a live posing demo that will teach your some beginner photography poses.

  5. Posing Parts: Shoulders, Chin, Eyes & Hands

    Lindsay delves into the specifics of how to do head and shoulders portrait posing to make your subjects look their best and get the right look.

  6. Posing Parts: Men, Feet, Elbows and Nose

    Learn specific male photography poses to make men look more masculine. Lindsay also goes over how to position elbows and noses for good poses.

  7. Posing Guide Contact Sheet Examples

    Look at various contact sheets and learn about model poses for fashion photography.

  8. Posing for Body Types

    Learn about posing for different body types so you can make anyone look flattering.

  9. Posing and Shooting Flaws

    Every subject will have a flaw or two, but there are lots of things you can do to hide or minimize those flaws in your photos. Lindsay also shows you some common photography posing mistakes to avoid.

  10. Male Posing Guidelines

    Lindsay gives you essential guidelines for how to pose for male photos to make men look their best and compensate for their flaws.

  11. Essential Male Poses

    Get more advice on male portrait photography poses to make men look attractive and masculine.

  12. Essential Female Posing: Standing Poses

    Lindsay summarizes the essential guidelines for women standing poses so women can look their best.

  13. Couples Posing Guidelines

    When posing a couple, you want to make sure they actually look like a couple. Here are some guidelines for photography poses for couples so that both people look great.

  14. Shoot: Female High School Senior Poses

    Lindsay goes over what to keep in mind when doing senior portrait female poses, including how to make the experience fun and how to ensure the photos are both flattering and appropriate.

  15. Shoot: Male High School Senior Poses

    When doing senior portrait poses for guys, you'll want to make them look big, tough, and cool.

  16. Shoot: Mature Male Poses

    Lindsay shows you how to pose older men to make them look good and age appropriate.

  17. Shoot: Mature Female Poses

    Lindsay shows you how to photograph an older woman, including getting good posture, keeping the chin out, and hiding her hands.

  18. Shoot: Boudoir Poses

    A great boudoir shoot depends on making sure your subject is relaxed and comfortable. Lindsay shows you how to minimize flaws, get natural boudoir poses, and use shape and movement to your advantage.

  19. Shoot: Plus Size Poses

    Go over some tips and tricks for plus size photoshoot poses so you can make plus size subjects look slimmer.

  20. Shoot: Wedding Photography Bridal Poses

    Lindsay shows you how to do bridal portrait poses that are both natural and dramatic, and how to pose your bride so she looks beautiful and elegant.

  21. Shoot: Mature Couple Poses

    Photographing older couples depends on reading their dynamic and choosing the most flattering poses for both subjects.

  22. Shoot: Uneven Height Couple Poses

    Posing couples of different heights can be a challenge. Learn how to make the shot look natural, avoid strain, and even out the overall image.

  23. Shoot: Bridal Couple Poses

    Lindsay demonstrates how to do wedding poses for couples, including unusual cropping, using props, and making sure both the bride and groom look their best.

  24. Shoot: Group Poses

    The key to a great group pose is to have good balance, without being perfectly symmetrical. Lindsay offers a variety of tips on how to pose groups, including avoiding multiple arms around shoulders and having physical contact between people.

  25. Shoot: Bridal Party Poses

    When working with bridal parties, it's important to know the family politics, so bring notes! Lindsay gives you some great wedding party posing ideas, including that traditional bridal party group shot that tends to be symmetrical.

  26. Shoot: Family Poses

    When shooting a family portrait photo, don’t forget about making sure the parents look good, too! Here are some family photo posing ideas, such as paying attention to body language and avoiding lining up people’s heads.

  27. Shoot: Mother with Children Poses

    Lindsay gives you tips on mother and child poses, including how to make the mom look good and how to pose children of varying ages.

  28. Shoot: Father with Children Poses

    Get some specific advice on posing a father with kids, including whom to pose first and where to place the youngest child.

  29. Shoot: Single Child Poses

    Get posing ideas for one child, including allowing the pose to reflect the child’s personality, letting the child interact with their environment, and being sure to follow their lead.

  30. Shoot: Multiple Children Poses

    Get posing ideas for siblings so you can capture their relationship as well as their individual personalities.

  31. Shoot: Maternity Poses

    When doing maternity poses, you want your subject to look good and be comfortable. Lindsay gives you very specific advice on how to accentuate a pregnant woman's best features.

  32. Shoot: Maternity Couple Poses

    Doing maternity poses with husband means you’ll want to make the man look equally important, strong, and supportive.

  33. Shoot: Same Sex Couple Poses

    Lindsay gives you tips for posing same sex couples. The key is to follow their lead when it comes to being romantic and touchy feely.

  34. Shoot: Fashion Female Poses

    In fashion photography, the regular posing rules don’t apply. You can get away with almost anything as long as it looks good and is done with intent. Lindsay talks about professional model poses for females, such as using elegant hands and elongated necks to communicate the mood.

  35. Shoot: Beauty Poses

    Lindsay shows you her modeling poses for beginners, including emphasizing tendons and clavicles, tilting the head toward the camera or keeping it neutral, and using over-the-shoulder watch angles.



I would highly recommend this class! I have been shooting for some time now and I've been pretty satisfied with my pictures from each session. A few weeks ago, I happened upon this class and thought it would be nice to get some new ideas. I then took the ideas from this class and applied them to a maternity shoot. I must say it took my pictures from good to amazing!!!! My clients bought them all😊 Thank you Creative Live for offering such amazing classes to help any level of photographer learn and grow!

Ruth Ganev

Lindsay is such a great teacher. She doesn't overcomplicate things - so that you can really learn. She also reviews things again and again - only in different contexts - that make total sense. I have learned so much from watching this course of lessons. I went to a natural lighting portrait workshop a couple of weekends ago - and was able to put into action what I have learned. The models loved my photos, too. She keeps things moving, is clear and to the point. I highly recommend this class to anyone wanting to become better at posing. It is so rewarding to look back at my previous photos and understand what doesn't work and why, and also to see things improving. She is a natural teacher - the course is not boring - you will learn tons!

Maya Tleubergen

I really love it! Thank you, thank you, Lindsay! Beautiful girl with a huge talent to teach! I absolutely love it! Worth every penny!