Posing Prompts for Family Portraits

My posing prompts for family portraits are the secret to more genuine, natural family portraits even with limited time! My favorite posing prompts basically boil down to one of six Pick Up Points, four of which are essential points I make sure to get through in a full 1-hour session.

Before we can go into each Pick Up Point, a clear vision for the shoot and understanding of light is crucial. Make sure to sign up for my All About Light and All About Flash courses for a step-by-step breakdown of my lighting system, real life examples of troubleshooting, and bite-sized lessons that you can quickly refer back to before a shoot.

I developed Pick Up Points to be a posing system that eliminates the need to memorize long lists of poses. Instead, I can focus on connecting with my clients and having fun together, creating lasting and genuine expressions!

Check out my interview on Rangefinder to hear about how this system originated – Caroline Tran’s Posing Pick Up Points for Family Portrait Photography: Free Webinar.

The 4 main Pick Up Points I absolutely MUST get through are:

1. Cake Toppers

This is a stiff but great starting point because I don’t know everyone’s personalities yet. I tell everyone to pretend that they are on top of a cake. Imagine just creating little figurines of them and putting them on top of a cake, how cute is that!?

Read How to Color Coordinate Clothes for Family Portrait for tips to remember for your next family portrait!

2. Walk/Run

This is exactly what it sounds like! Have them walk or run for a fun, movement filled pose.

3. Cheek to Cheek

Snuggle up close!

4. Prom

Let’s bring it back old school! Show me your best traditional prom pose.


Remember, these posing cues are not set in stone but rather are meant to inspire. Have fun with them! You can fall back on them or jump forward with them when you feel stuck.

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