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Posing 101

Lesson 28 of 35

Shoot: Father with Children Poses

Lindsay Adler

Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

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.

Lesson Info

Shoot: Father with Children Poses

So I want to talk about posing with dad real quick, and I'm just gonna switch between the two of them. So what they'll probably do is kind of put these together in post, but I'm gonna switch it so that it's not the same pose, so they're kind of, all the kids out at the same time, and then they can kind of rotate. So I'm gonna talk about posing with dad. Okay, so as I said, with mom, if you're posing dad with kids, pose dad first, pose him so it flatters him, and do what we talked about for traditional male poses so for example, so can I have you take a seat? Just right, you can sit on the ground, yup! Yeah yeah yeah, absolutely. So you can have him sit on the ground, and I'm gonna tweak his pose so he's posing in a flattering way. So there are two main poses that I would probably do for a family shot. Okay the first pose I'm just gonna have it so he can mimic, the first pose would be, something where he has one knee up. Yeah, imitate me, exactly. Okay so what's good about that is that ...

a kid fits nice right here. And a kid fits nice right here, and it is pretty relatively stable. The other pose I would do for sitting on the ground besides these two might be laying. But the reason I would do this is if there was a really little one, like a really small child because then I could kind of have him cradled here. So it would either be somebody on this knee, sitting up, holding them here, or here. Or someone really little right here. So I would make dad comfortable first, what else is comfortable here. If you're just sitting watching TV, how would you sit? Probably like that. Okay, so if he was comfortable like that, what I would make sure would be that somebody is sitting in his lap, okay, so it would make sense. Just like cross it under your knee. Yeah. Just like that, too. So I'll have you sit up straight, so I would put somebody on the back knee, so it's not just bunchy somebody would be here, and somebody would maybe be on his shoulder, for example. Okay so I pose him first, but the other thing that I have is you know, using the dad as support and balance, that's why I'm saying you pose him first, then the kids, and then you can say, hold on to dad's shoulders, sit on dad's knee, whatever. But after that, with multiple children, I do the triangles. So little one goes in the lap, and I say okay, if, and I can actually see how tall they are, so I can figure out if the little one is sitting on the lap, does someone need to kneel behind? Or stand behind, there's absolutely no posing guide that you can have that will tell you how everyone needs to be posed because if there's three different kids from three different ages, it will never work, like not any pose is gonna work all the time so you're looking for kind of the triangle going on. The next one that I definitely want to demo, is photographing close ups of the dads legs, or the dads hand, doesn't look as nice in the studio, but lets say little girls holding on to dads leg and he has his hand soft on her head. You know, like little intimate moments. If you're shooting outside, especially with natural light in there, depth of field, it's really really beautiful. Or, another picture where girls holding on to dads hand, shows how small she is. Holding it right up against her face, or something like that. So I will definitely photograph little parts like that, also close ups definitely do cheeks together, him kissing her forehead, lot's of nice little moments. Those tend to be the pictures I prefer, versus big pose pictures so what I tend to do, is kind of family picture first. Get that out of the way, then go ahead and do individual shots and little close ups, and then if everybody is more comfortable, I'll go back and do another group shot. If they're less, then I leave it be. Because it kind of depends on where they're at. So I'm gonna have you stand up, and we're gonna start off with the parts pose first. Who wants to go pose with dad? Okay, I'm gonna borrow you first. I can see that, so I'm gonna have you, I'm gonna have you hug around dad. Good, and I'm going to have you put your hand right here. Perfect. Let me grab a picture of that. Great. And will you look at me. That was cute, and turn your head towards me. Pull her hair out of her face a little bit. I love your hair, it's so pretty. Good, and now close your eyes. Sleepy time, perfect, good. And so the next one I'm going to have you pose on your knee, like this. Okay, alright so I'm posing him on his knee like, you might've had the guy where I had him sitting in the stool, when he was posing on the stool I had him bring one leg up because it was more dynamic, so pose comfortably underneath, is that leaning out maybe, good, whatever, just like this, okay cool. So I can look at her and see where she fits. I posed him first, so do you want to come around over here and now he can put his arm around her, or she can stand behind, good. Can you put your arm around dad? That was cute actually, look, she's holding his hand, you know multiple points of interaction, great. So I'll take a picture just like that. Pose him first, good. And now I'm gonna have you kiss dad's cheek. That's good, and look back at me. Great, perfect. And now you can you take your hand over here, your left hand, and pull down to dad's hand over here. Both of them, put both hands on his hand. Good, just like that, and can you tilt your head towards her a little bit, perfect. Relax, shake your shoulders, shake your shoulders. Good, perfect, good. And now, I'm gonna have her sit on your knee. Will you sit on his knee? And perfect, good, you're gonna fall off? No. No? Do you need, ooh. And put your arm around him. Good, perfect, and can you put that hand on her leg, so you can balance her just a little bit. Perfect, great. Good, and I'm gonna have you lean towards me a little bit, yeah there you go, good! And tilt your heads together, squish them! Alright, so the whole time what I'm looking at is she first sat back, just like with anybody else, she sits back, and you can see tension in her neck. So I'm gonna take the picture, might as well take the picture, but sitting back she has a lot of tension in her neck, so I get that, then I ask her to lean forward, and it worked fine. I had her do one with her arm around his shoulder. If I can ask her to sit up straight, and then it's not straining, great. If it's still gonna be straining, then I try to put the hand somewhere else. So I'm looking, and it worked with her standing, and he's like, yeah, and it worked with her standing on one side, it worked with her sitting on his knee. Will you sit on the ground again? Comfortable pose, whatever's comfortable. Okay so, this is what he's comfortable with, but instead of facing straight on into the camera, can you tilt so that you turn toward your left. My left? Yeah your left. Perfect, okay, so I want to make he's comfortable, because if he's not comfortable I can tell. So I'm gonna have you, if she sits on your knees is it gonna hurt? No it's fine. Great, will you sit right on his knee? So I'm kinda fitting her in to whatever she fits that's comfortable, that looks great. And will you bend your elbow a little bit. The reason I'm having him bend his elbow is this looked more strained, and it made him look wider because this was blending in with the front of his body, so there was no separation, when he pulls his elbow back, and there's actually a little more shape. Oh, model poses again, I like this. These are good model poses. Can you stand up real tall? Good, making sure posture looks great. And now can you lean out towards me? Good, little less, right there! And will you put your hands on your legs? Yeah cute, perfect. Good one, one more, great. Okay, perfect, so everybody fit, and you look really really cute, and that's adorable, will you put your hand on her arm? Yeah, great. Ah that looks super cute. Since they're doing good, can I add you? Will you come in, ooh, Oreo's, you're gonna bring that to me? No. It's okay it's okay. Do you want to sit on your knees, do you want to sit like this? Okay so what I'm looking at, hi. You can take a picture if you want. I'm trying to figure out where I can sit here for a triangle so when she was sitting on the ground, she was a little bit too low, and lets see how, if I shoot from over here, her heads in the way, but if I move over this way it's a perfect triangle, so I'll move to suit them. They're good though, right? Yeah. Yeah, I understand, I love Oreos. Okay good, and sit on your legs. Just like that, good. Can you put your butt this way? There you go, perfect, perfect perfect perfect. Good, you look very unhappy. Is that because you didn't get to finish your Oreo? I don't blame you, I'd look unhappy, too. Okay, so just so you know, since they're moved back, the lighting isn't right, so what I would do in a perfect situation is move them forward and move the lights back but it looks fine, it looks great. I see in his hand a little bit of tension, so I have him wiggle his fingers just a little, just soft, ooh she's gonna take care of it. Thank you, okay good, that's much better. See you're teaching dad how to pose. Good, and will you put your hand just a little lower. Good, everybody look right here. Ooh, maybe not. Okay, wanted to see what it does. Okay, I'm gonna have you tickle them. Whenever, alright I'm ready. I'm ready, go for it. (screams) (laughs) I'm gonna have you, why don't you tickle dad? You wanna tickle him? Whoa, big pile! You're okay, wanna scoot this way a little bit? Yeah let's get a little closer. Alright, I'm impressed by that. Okay, will you stand right behind dad? Will you stand right behind him? Right there, perfect. That's impressive. Okay so you look perfect, and will you stand back on the ground, good. And will you give him a hug? But hug like his shoulders, right there, good. Okay you wanna sit on your knees, you wanna sit right here? Put your knees on the ground, good. You look very unhappy, okay. Perfect, can I have you stand right behind your sister? Just stand right behind her, or kneel right behind her. Right there, ooh, right there, right there, a little more. Right there, come back! Okay, so right behind her. Okay, let me see your face, let me see your face, perfect. Okay I got triangle, so now I would shoot triangle, got it. Put your arm around dad, the other arm. This arm, there you go, good, here we go. Does your nose itch, do you need a tissue? Uh uh. Okay use your sleeve, that's good, I like that, good style. I'm good with that, listen, that's good. Will you sit up straight for me, good, okay. Perfect, excellent. And them I'm gonna sit you right out front here. Gonna come up here, and sit like I'm sitting. Put your legs up to the side, perfect. Oh well not out to the front. See how I like have my knees bent? Good, and then just scoot her that way a little bit. Okay and take a nap, lets take a nap. Okay, and will you sit her up for me. Just sit her up a little bit. Okay sit up big, and point your feet. That way, um, that way, good, perfect, good. And will you lean your head toward him, good. So I'm looking for body language, she was leaning away, looked like she didn't like him and that's not nice. You like dad right, ahh, that's nice. That's a relief. And look right back here. Baby Mario. What? (laughs) Ooh. Let's see here, okay. Good, okay cool. Will you both stand up for a second? Alright we're gonna see if she wants to pop in for a photo. Nana? Come on Nana. I don't wanna get out. Yeah go ahead, go for it. Come on come here, come here. Okay so mom, mom, I'm gonna pose you, too. Okay just pose to the side, comfortably, whatever. I'm gonna pose her in front of you, we're gonna see if we can get this family shot. Okay will you put her on his front knee, okay, perfect. Okay so I got the two, I got the most important person there. Alright, can I have you kneel behind him? Sure. And move up closer. Okay good, will you put your arm around mom, so I'm looking - She might not tolerate someone else sitting on my lap. There she goes, she fine. Okay relax, don't look stressed. Okay so I'm looking for a triangle that looks good. And then can I actually have her sit like in between her legs without her knees like, up, she's kind of crunchy. I wanna see your beautiful face, good, just like that. Do you want to come back? She can sit wherever she wants, wherever she wants. Okay ready. Okay, so I'm gonna take this picture first. Then we work on the nose there. Do you want to come behind me and, something to me. What is she doing to me? (kids laugh) She can sit wherever she wants to sit, as long as she doesn't run away. She want to stand up behind you? Whatever she wants to do. Come on, do you want to put your arm around her? Do you think she would stand back with you? Do you want to stand with mom? Or do you want to sit on his lap? I'm fine. you can stand over here. You're falling? Than you can sit up straight, sit wherever you want. Hi, want to look? You look cute, yeah you okay with that? Come on, lets take some more. We'll try. Okay we'll give it a try here. Okay guys, we're only gonna take one more picture, if she wants to pose nice, okay? So, I know you two are big girls. So we're just gonna get her pose perfect. Okay so kneel behind dad. Just kneel back behind him just a little bit. Okay, will you put your arm back up on him? Will you put your other arm on him? Good. If she wants to sit in front, that's fine, too. Wherever she wants to go. Where you comfy, are you comfy like this? Yeah that's good, and okay. I want to sit like this. Like that? Try and talk her into it. Underneath, underneath good, just like that. You're perfect, okay, you're good, she needs some work. Whatever you want, you can hold her, and I can pose you appropriately. (babies cry) Okay that's good, that's perfect, so I'm just gonna have you sit down on your feet though, right there right there, so if she poses towards us we're good. Okay, do you want to tickle me, whatever you need. Come on, ooh! Put your arm down a little? Clivey, Clivey, Clivey, Clivey. Daddy tickle me. Daddy tickle me. You want to be tickled? Okay, let's try. See, you were posed perfect, I'm just waiting on your little sister. You're the big girl, you don't need any help. She just needs a little help, here we go. Okay everybody good? Everybody tilt your head together if you can. Ow what? Are you holding on to her or what? Okay. You alright, okay. I'm gonna probably call it quits on that. I mean so here's the thing, I have a shot where she looks totally fine, so totally that works out for me fine. Okay. Okay great, they're saying you're like the best cat juggler out there, Lindsay. Oh really? Alright let's give them a hand, yes. (audience claps) That looks cute. This is fantastic, Lindsay, do you want to take a couple of questions? Yeah absolutely, I'm flipping through to see kind of what I got. And what I want to make sure, and you guys can take a break for a second. You wanna go eat more candy? (audience laughs) I know they have a mass amount of candy. So I would tell you what I would be looking for that I want, I know that I want a picture with dad, with each one of them separately. That would be something I would try to do. Because here's the thing, when you have group shots, it's great for when they grow up to just have one with their dad, and one just with their mom. Like most people don't have that, and so it's something that is really awesome. So I try to get one of each of them alone, and I wouldn't try to make it a really profound pose, I would just have him hold her, and get one of each. So yeah just shoot that off. The next thing that I would wanna do is get dad with the tree of them. And then once I got a pose that I was comfortable with the three of them, I'd add mom real quick. Okay then, I would go ahead and get a picture of mom and the three of them and then mom with each one of them, and we'd see how they're all doing at that point. So what I'm looking through, if I were trying to do a full family album, it wouldn't work, for what I got here, it wouldn't work to have a ton of family photos, but what I would do is then try to get a picture of each one of them. And for the picture of each one of them, I make it all about them and whatever they wanna do. So we're gonna do that later, we're gonna try to work with that as well. But what I'm looking at here is I have triangles, good posture, they look comfortable, and that's the most important things I'm looking for. And then of course expressions are the most important part beyond that. Fantastic, so we got a question here in the audience, Anastacia? I don't really have a question, just like I wanted to say Lindsay, you did awesome. I'm a mother, and I'm a photographer, and I've been on both sides and I was just like, parents you have amazing kids they just, I don't know how to push that long you know? My kids would've already just flipped, they did really awesome, and for a photographer perspective this is the moment you start to pull your hair, and I'm like oh my God, like I'm the worst one in the whole world but, that's just like sometimes you photograph families, you'll have like two-three hours with napping, changing, eating, and, Lindsay, you are awesome, not being a family photographer you did such a great job. No thank you. It looks really really good, and I took so many notes and I'm just like, what to keep an eye on, and you just have to be lucky. Thank you for the encouragement, because I can tell you I think the last time I actually did a family photo was maybe seven years ago so do you know how old I am? (audience cheers) That was awhile ago. Alright so, quick question from Brian in Memphis. Should we use children to partially cover maybe overweight parents? Yes, absolutely. What about larger kids? How should we try to make them look their best, or should we even try flattering smaller kids using the poses we talked about? Um, that's a really good question and I actually did have that as well. One of the things I was super concerned about, I actually have a very specific example. I had a child that came into my studio, that had a birth defect with a very very uneven face. Like, severe, very noticeable. And at the time, as a portrait photographer, I'm like, how the heck am I, how do I flatter this kid, how do I hide that, I fix that? And the point is I don't need to, they're a little kid that's what they look like. It doesn't matter, so at that point, they're beautiful their parents see them as beautiful, they are, and so you're just tryna get expression. So for little kids, most of the time I'll let them do their thing, but if the kid is heavier, I just try not to have them slouching so instead, all the poses I would have them around mom and dad, would be standing poses. So I would have mom and dad sitting, and then you know have the kid leaning on their arm, or standing behind because remember how I said with someone heavier, anytime that you sit down, everything bunches up so if you do just want to help them look their best, it's not that I'm trying to slenderize, I'm trying to actually, not make them look balled up. So it still does apply. Cool, so question from Louise. Will Lindsay's posing techniques vary when there is a big age difference between the children? For example, a three year old and a 14 year old. Well okay so for that, let's say, or even if I go more than that, let's say that the kid is like 16. It's nice because I consider mom and dad anchor points where I can sit children, but if they're older they're they're another anchor point so I could pose them, I just pick whoever is most difficult in the family, I pick whoever that child gets along with most and that's my anchor. I pose them first, with the kid on, and then I can just add people so if the 16 year old girl gets along best with the little boy then I'll pose them then pose mom and dad around. It doesn't mean they have to be the center, but it means I get them situated first. Great. Sounds great. So question form photo Scott, this is sort of on the edge of wrangling but, do you find posing the smallest children first loses their attention span too quickly? Is that something you ever consider? Okay so great point, I'm gonna be honest for what I did and people out there might hate me for this, but if the kid is being good right away, I make sure I get a good shot because I know I can swap heads if I have to. I know that's not like the right answer, but I don't want to wait and pose everyone and then they get impatient with me, so what I'll do is I'll pick my angle, I pose dad or mom, and if i know I shoot from the same angle then I know that is something that I could do. So I just make sure I have that shot first for sure. Usually what I do and I didn't do this, but what I used to do is I'd line everybody up, and if one person, only one is being really difficult, I would hold completely still, I would get that shot, and then I would tell everybody, you know tickle Clivey, make Clivey laugh, whatever. It does not matter what everyone else looks like, but I get that one good expression out of her, I made sure four out of the five people were perfect, and then I could grab just one. I definitely did not want to do, let's grab a face for mom in this one, and a face for dad in this one. I try to get everybody just as close as perfect as possible and if the littlest one is being difficult, then I just do a shot for her. And I mean that's a matter of technology, that's what I found was less stressful for me. Just don't wanna spend too much time on that obviously. Lots of questions about it in the chat rooms so, I'm sure a lot of people use the same one. Yeah and just so you know, this is a for Photoshop thing, what makes it possible for you to be able to do that, is you have to have the same focal length, and the same depth of field and the same angle. So basically what I do is if I know roughly what my composition is, you kind of plant yourself there for that photo, if you know that's what you're gonna have to do. If everybody's being great, then I can move around, I can shoot different angles but if I know okay, I'm gonna do some swapping, you basically want to keep put. And you don't want to keep switching lenses, And that's gonna make it a lot easier for you. It doesn't need to be on a tri pod honestly, it's just a matter of different lenses, we talked about this changes compression, so the face would look different and if you're shooting a wide aperture then maybe it changes the depth of field so it kind of, keep your setting all the same, and then it makes it easy. Great Lindsay one more question, and we've been getting this the last few days. This question is from Shawn W, wanting to know about location shoots, do you bring a bunch of apple boxes or stools, and use these elements, and Pete asked about how do you pose on the beach. Um okay so I did stools, but I have just like a multi, basically what I had was a multi step stool but it was meant to look nice. They're white, you know what I'm talking about. And I'll bring that on location. Most of the time I just pose people on the ground, but I would bring it just in case because then I could have someone stand up behind or sit on it. On the beach it's just sitting. I would put the people on the edges with kind of their feet out, somebody in the center, and then pose around, it wasn't any really different, it's more at that point, time of day, and all the things the posture still come into play so kind of laying out in the sand, that becomes a challenge a little bit. I've done a couple of those. That's great so last question, and then we're gonna take our first break of the day. Lot of questions coming in about larger families, about five, six, seven kids, do you kind of just do the same thing as you did today and just meld it with the group from yesterday? The group techniques from yesterday? Adding on and building triangles, is that, do you use the same techniques? Yeah it's the same thing and what I will ask right up front is I ask, who's getting along that day? Like okay hey, I want everyone, are they gonna, are these two fighting? I try to read their body language but if I also know that she obviously looks up to big sister, then I just pose them together and the people that are easier to deal with, I just pose them in triangles. So it's triangles, it's the same thing, and then just putting priority on whoever is not being the easiest for the day.

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.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1

Keynote 2

Keynote 3



Bridal Couples

Bridal Parties




Couples - Different Height.




Female Seniors

Folding - HowTo


Male Seniors



Mature Couples

Mature Men

Mature Women


Parents Children

Plus Size

Same Sex-Female

Same Sex-Male

Women Posing

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



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!