Make Better Photos with These 7 Portrait Posing Tips

These portrait posing tips are perfect for mini sessions! First-time photographers and pros alike will improve their portraits with seven simple ideas. (Photographs: LANA TAVARES, 222 PHOTOGRAPHY)


#1: Encourage Interaction

Keep the energy up during your shoot by encouraging your clients to interact with one another. Kisses, cuddles, hugs, and hand-holding all contribute to the natural, relaxed vibe of the photo below. Direct your clients to “snuggle as close as you can,” “hug dad’s leg,” or “hold mom’s hand.” You can also tell the family, “everyone look at mom! now everyone look at brother!”

Settings: EF100mm f/2.8L lens at f/5, 1/2000,” ISO 250

portrait posing tips
Portrait Posing Tips with Lana Tavares, 222 Photography

#2: Change Up Your Lens or Shooting Distance

Show off the landscape or great architectural elements with a wider lens or by shooting from a distance. Then move closer in or switch to a telephoto lens for a bokeh-rich frame that’s focused on your clients’ faces. In the photos below, Lana simply walked a few feet closer to her clients to make a close-up portrait with her fixed 100mm lens.

Left Photo Settings: EF100mm f/2.8L lens at f/2.8, 1/3200″, ISO 250
Right Photo Settings: EF100mm f/2.8L lens at f/2.8, 1/1600″, ISO 250

portrait posing tips
Portrait Posing Tips with Lana Tavares, 222 Photography

#3: Get Every Face on the Same Plane

No, we’re not talking commercial airliners. To get beautiful bokeh and tack-sharp faces, pose your clients with their faces on the same plane – each person at the same distance from your camera lens. As demonstrated below, this ensures everyone is in-focus, and still enables you to choose a low aperture number.

Settings for Both Photos: EF100mm f/2.8L lens at f/5.6, 1/250″, ISO 250

portrait posing tips
Portrait Posing Tips with Lana Tavares, 222 Photography

#4: Choose a Backdrop with Depth

Families with young kids can be hard to pose with any precision. If you’re shooting against a backdrop with depth, however, it won’t matter if the best you can wrangle is a simple line-up photo. Not everyone has access to seaside piers with incredible columns, of course. Consider photographing in a heavily-wooded forest, or on a shady street with buildings in the background. These added elements will keep the photograph interesting without the need for intricate posing.

Settings: EF100mm f/2.8L lens at f/5.6, 1/160″, ISO 250

portrait posing tips
Portrait Posing Tips with Lana Tavares, 222 Photography

#5: Don’t Stop Clicking

If your first photo doesn’t capture the moment you were aiming for, keep shooting! A kiddo’s happy smile can vanish in an instant, so keep your shutter clicking until you know you’ve nailed the perfect photo. Remind parents to keep a smile on their face, so that everyone looks their best when you finally get their child to smile.

Left Photo Settings: EF24-105mm f/4 lens at f/4.5, 1/200″, ISO 100, 24mm focal length
Right Photo Settings: EF24-105mm f/4 lens at f/4.5, 1/400th, ISO 200, 50mm focal length

portrait posing tips
Portrait Posing Tips with Lana Tavares, 222 Photography

#6: Geometry is Your Friend

When planning a pose, think back to geometry class. In the photo below, the family is placed in a triangle shape. This pose creates a sense of balance that will look beautiful framed and hanging on your client’s wall!

Settings: EF100mm f/2.8L lens at f/5.6, 1/125″, ISO 250

portrait posing tips
Portrait Posing Tips with Lana Tavares, 222 Photography

#7: Get Your Clients Moving

Standing still can lead to stiff posing. Invite your clients to walk, leap, dance, or play 1-2-3-Swing! with their little one. Movement inspires easy laughter – even in kids – and can help your clients show off their most natural smiles. It’s also a simple way to enhance flowing hair, billowing blouses, and the kind of natural touch that occurs among people who love one another.

Left Photo Settings: EF100mm f/2.8L lens at f/4.5, 1/250″, ISO 100
Right Photo Settings: EF24-105mm f/4.0 lens at f/4.5, 1/500″, ISO 100, 93mm focal length

portrait posing tips
Portrait Posing Tips with Lana Tavares, 222 Photography

Remember: People Over Poses

Don’t get so caught up trying to make the perfect pose that you forget about the people you’re photographing! Photographs are nothing without a story to tell. So tell that story with your unique approach, and have fun!


Written by ANNE SIMONE | Photographs by LANA TAVARES, 222 PHOTOGRAPHY


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