Family Photo Posing Tips {Older Children}

February 16, 2012

in Family Photo Posing Ideas, Photography Posing Ideas

Older Children Posing Ideas for Family Photos

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We are very excited about our new Photo Posing Ideas section and we hope you will be inspired by these posts to try something new.  This week we are thrilled to welcome back Jean Smith as she shares her posing ideas for families with older children.

Let’s say you are on your way to photograph a family with small children. When there are little children involved, it is pretty much a given that we are going to show up with a small arsenal of tools (noise makers, toys, treats, etc.) in hand and are ready to chase, run, sing, bribe, and sometimes make ridiculous noises for most or all of the session.  Because the little ones rule the shoot, we don’t always have a lot of posing authority or the ability to set up the perfect shot in our heads.

But, what happens when you are on your way to photograph a family where toys, noisemakers, and treats aren’t needed?  What??!!  The kids can take direction without a treat or a bribe?  Gasp!

6 Posing Tips for Families With Older Children

A few years ago, after photographing so many families with small children, I showed up to my first family photo shoot without little ones…parents with four teens and early adults.  Double Gasp!  What was I supposed to do with them?  I was so used to the chasing and candid shooting of small children, that I wasn’t sure how to photograph them in my lifestyle/candid style of photography.  They can’t exactly play Ring Around the Rosie or toss a kid up in the air (not a pretty picture I am painting).  I couldn’t exactly make bodily noise jokes to get them to giggle like crazy.  I froze and felt that every creative juice had been sucked clean from my body.

So, what to do with a family with older children?

I’ll tell you what I do.  I know I have 100% control of the situation and undivided attention from the audience.  I lack that in photo shoots with small children, so here, I am going to use that to my advantage and be creative…just in a different way.

1| Get creative by challenging yourself.

  • Get unique and creative images by using different angles, different lighting situations, different focal lengths, and new poses that you wouldn’t normally have the time to try while working with little ones.  Maybe you could try switching lenses in different situations…shoot a posed family shot with an 85mm lens instead of your usual 24-70mm lens.  Or maybe try a new lighting situation…backlighting instead of open shade, or shooting in full sun rather than late evening sun.  Forcing yourself to try new things during a shoot allows you to hone your skills and become a better photographer.

Older Children Posing Ideas
Older Children Posing Ideas


2| Find something they love to do together.

  • You can still maintain a lifestyle/candid feel to your images by having the family do something they love…picnic, game, special location, hobby, sport, etc.   I find it is sometimes easier to shoot when you have a purpose or theme to work with.

Older Children Posing Ideas


3| Try a little bit of silly.

  • You definitely have to feel out the personalities of the family members as some people DO NOT want to be silly or laugh (go home grumpy dad) and we don’t want to be the obnoxious photographer trying to force a funny moment.  Most parents want their family to be captured happy together and having a good time…especially now that their children are older and those silly times are more few and far between.  Parents LOOOOOVE photos of their children having a good time…especially with their siblings.  So, play up to their personalities.  If they are shy and quiet, keep it tame.  If they are outgoing and like the attention, then by all means, do something fun!

Older Children Posing Ideas
Older Children Posing Ideas


4| Get combination varieties.

  • Because you do have their full attention, it is easy to get a variety of combinations and mom will just HAVE to have the Sibling shot…and the Mom and Dad shot…and the All Girls Laughing shot…and the All Girls Serene shot…and the All Boys shot…

Older Children Posing Ideas


5| Avoid over posing.

  • With families with older children, it is easy to get photo after photo with them perfectly posed and smiling at the camera.  While there is nothing wrong with posed images, families only need so many of those and usually choose their favorite one or two.  Every mother wants a perfectly posed image of her family to put on her wall or send to Grandma, but they also want happiness…spontaneity…laughing…even serenity.  Even a mother of older kids adores the candid photo.

Older Children Posing Ideas
Older Children Posing Ideas


6| Show the love!

  • I typically find the favorite family posed portraits amongst my clients are the ones involving closeness…hugging, arms wrapped around each other, laying on shoulders, etc.  Formal posing is not required…just get them close and require that everyone is touching someone else in some way (link arms, arms around waist, head laying on shoulder, etc).

Older Children Posing Ideas


Jean SmithJean Smith is a portrait, wedding, and commercial photographer in New Hudson, Michigan. She has a super rad husband (also a photographer) and four awesome little boys who keep life fun and VERY busy! To see more of her photography, visit her website, blog or follow her on Facebook.




{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris April 8, 2013

Thanks for all the ideas. I always battle to come up with good poses for family photos.


TidyMom January 7, 2013

oh you don’t know how much I’ve been looking for a post like this! Being the mom of a 16 &25 year old, and hobby photographer I tend to take more photos with older children and I’m ALWAYS needing ideas – especially for my own family.

here’s a set I did for a family friend (4 teenagers) a few years ago (please note, this was the first time I ever shot a family other than my own – so I know they’re not the best, but we did get some fun shots)


keko adrian August 29, 2012

its awesome tips, very useful for me because i’m a new comers in world of photography


Wendy June 23, 2012

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions for photographing 3 older boys cousins together? ages 11-18 Thanks:)


Christy Harper June 21, 2012

Love this :) Thanks for sharing!!


Vera Sheffer May 9, 2012

Thanks for the tips! The photos are awesome as well!


cristy February 26, 2012

Love the one with the dad throwing the Uno cards, great shot!


Abhishek Mehta February 19, 2012

I loved your post. We always have this problem in our family. We never seem to have the best pose and never like the our photographs. Thanks to your tips, they should be much better now. We will start being silly and do whatever we like to do together……:)

Thanks for sharing.



UrFamilyLivin February 17, 2012

Family Photo Posing Ideas {Older Children} | I Heart Faces


Fotobounce February 17, 2012

Wonderful tips from Jean Smith Photography! —>RT @iheartfaces: Family Photo Posing Tips {Older Children}


Maggie S. February 16, 2012

Thanks for the tips. I’m getting ready to do two shoots with older children. This will help!


Colleen February 16, 2012

this was great….it really makes sense to give them actions. thanks so much Jean!


Caroine February 16, 2012

This my initial edits of a small selection from a family shoot I did. The final edits are much better, and I was really pleased with how this shoot went. Like you, I am more accustomed to running behind small children! 😀


Caroline (Frogmum/TMFH) February 16, 2012

I found this post SO encouraging , because it showed that I’m OK doing what I do! 😀 THANK-YOU!


Darci Jones {A Pretty Petal} February 16, 2012

I enjoy visiting this website everyday! It has helped me learn so much! I was wondering if you have thought about doing a blog on how to focus? I know I have a hard time getting my images very sharp. I feel like I am focusing my camera correctly but when I get home they are not so focused and it makes me just want to cry. I would like to know if you have a large group where do you put your focus box at? If you just have a couple where do you put it. I have thought I was doing it correctly but not to sure now. Please help with this topic!!


Kathryn Grace Photography February 16, 2012

Thanks so much for these! Keep the posing tips coming… this is one of the things I struggle with the most as a photographer!


FX Photo Studio February 16, 2012

How many of you take family pictures? Many, I guess. Here is a great tutorial for you then:


Angie February 16, 2012

Wonderful tips from Jean Smith Photography! —>RT @iheartfaces: Family Photo Posing Tips {Older Children}


angie {the arthur clan} February 16, 2012

Great tips Jean! Thank you so much for sharing them with all of us. :)


cutebun February 16, 2012

I like this tip!


Jennifer Stamps February 16, 2012

This is great! I too have a hard time with families of older children. These are great tips and cute poses. Thank you for sharing your experiences!


Carmen February 16, 2012

Wonderful tips!


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