We’ve all been there: you’ve spent time getting ready, and are feeling pretty good, when someone takes out a camera and snaps a photo. No biggie. …until you glance at the back of the camera and can’t help but notice that you’re hunched over, have what looks like a triple-chin, and your arm is wrapped so tightly around someone that it looks like you’re trying to strangle them.
This scenario gets even more frustrating when you’re hoping to get that perfect, mantel-worthy shot for your holiday card, only to find that you hate how you look (and your kids look miserable) in every frame.
Now that I’ve been on the other side of the camera, working as a photographer, I’ve found that there are a few universal tips that can help everyone look their best.
So, whether you’re working with a pro this year or taking your own pictures, here are 7 posing tips that will help to make sure that this year’s family photo is so good that you can’t wait to put it on your holiday card!
1. My 5 golden posing rules
Each time you get into a new pose, quickly go through these 5 things in your head. They’re small adjustments, but will make you look a lot more relaxed in your photos.
Shoulders – Relax & pull your shoulders back (no hunched backs!)
Chin – Push your chin forward & slightly down (pushing your chin away from your neck helps avoid double chins, and bringing your chin down will make your neck look defined & slender)
Hands – Ballet hands! Keep your hands soft and relaxed – not rigid, straight, or in a fist or claw.
Arms – Pull your arms away from your body. They’ll look thinner if they’re on your hip, in your pocket or around someone.
Joints – If it bends, bend it! Knees, elbows, fingers, waist – a little bend goes a long way.
2. Posing tips for women and men
Women – Twist your body a bit so you’re not facing the camera straight-on. Lean onto your back hip & lean slightly forward at the waist.
Men - Keep feet shoulder width apart and shoulders square to the camera. Place your arm around someone or put your hand in your pocket (Watch your thumbs – either 4 fingers in your pocket and thumbs out, or only thumbs in your pocket and fingers out).
3. Posing a group – get in close
Tell everyone to make sure they’re always touching someone else. I know this is easier said than done with young kids, but it’ll make your whole family look like one unit.
When I’m on a photo shoot, I always tell people to get in as close as they possibly can… and then move in a little closer. That tiny gap between two heads looks 10x bigger on camera – trust me! Also, make sure to lean in toward the group with your body, not just your head (no broken neck syndrome!).
4. Cheese-free posing
It seems that most kids (and some adults) naturally say “cheese!” whenever they see a camera, but getting the best image sometimes involves not only not smiling, but pretending the camera isn’t even there. Try playing a game that you know makes the kids laugh, having a tickle war, or just sharing a quiet moment with each other. Check out our tips for getting natural photos of kids.
5. Non-posed posing – finding the goofball
There’s at least one goofball in every bunch. Figure out who that is in your bunch, and make them do something ridiculous that will get everyone else laughing and loosened up.
6. Posing kids - unleash the fun
Letting kids do things they wouldn’t normally be able to do makes the whole situation feel like a lot more fun! Give them a free pass to jump on the bed, make a mess, or just run around and be loud.
7. Give ‘em a break!
Ok, this isn’t a posing tip, but it’s really important for a great session, so I wanted to mention it. Don’t expect too much from your little ones. Pay attention to their moods and know when it’s time to take a breather. Depending on what helps them relax, you can snuggle them a bit, give them a snack, or let them run around and blow off some steam. And who knows, you might end up catching the best photo of the day!
Hope these tips help you and your family look your absolute best! Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment below.
If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out Part 1 of this series: What to wear for family pictures.
Let the picture-taking and holiday-card-shopping begin!