How to Capture Relaxed Lifestyle Family Photos

When I work with a family, my main goals are to capture love, connection, and a little piece of humanity. Within any family dynamic, there is so much to be captured, and my aim is to showcase those beautiful, fleeting moments. I specifically want to create relaxed lifestyle family photos for each family that I photograph.

Relaxed and natural lifestyle family posing.

I do not want my clients to have images that are stiff and uncomfortable, even if they are well-dressed. I want them to have images that convey a feeling and transport them back to a specific moment in time.

Without a sense of connection, you are simply capturing a pose and their outfits. Perceivable connection gives family photos a human feel and makes everything within the photos appear genuine.

Once you give yourself the creative freedom to go beyond traditional, stiffly posed family portraits, you can create artistic and emotive images. This is what relaxed lifestyle family photos are all about.

The Art of Posing for Relaxed Lifestyle Family Photos

Mother and 3 children snuggle in a lifestyle family pose.

Here’s the thing: in order to capture photographs that look unposed, you have to learn how to pose, guide, and direct. When you are photographing families, you are working with real people, not models. They need you to guide and direct them so they look their best and feel comfortable connecting in front of you. Posing and guiding is an art form.

I like to say that I guide my clients, but really, I pose them. Then I direct them to interact, and that is where the authentic moments come from.

I am going to share with you five of my go-to family poses to help you capture relaxed lifestyle family photos. You can implement these posing and guiding techniques with any family right away.

Five Go-To Poses for Relaxed Lifestyle Family Photos

1. Stand in a Line and Dance

How to pose a family of 5 play during a lifestyle family photography session.

Yes, you heard me right. You often see this pose executed in a stiff and uncomfortable way, with everyone standing in a line, looking right at the camera. But this pose can be made fun and heartfelt. Start by asking the family to stand in a line and hold hands. Now tell them to dance. Direct them to look at each other while dancing. Some will really move, and some will simply interact. Either way, it yields a connected photo.

2. Breathe Each Other In

A relaxed lifestyle family photo by Elena S Blair.

I ask the family to embrace each other. Standing or sitting, I make sure they are close and facing their bodies towards each other. Then I ask them to look at each other. Now I say, “Okay family, breathe each other in.” As cheesy as that sounds, many parents can relate to this exercise. I make sure to continue directing the parents not to look at me. It’s okay if the child is looking at the camera or facing into the embrace of his or her parents. This yields an intimate and connected photograph.

3. Tickle Pose

the tickle pose for relaxed lifestyle family photograhy.

This is probably my favorite family pose, and it always yields a fun and natural interaction. Ask the family to sit down as close together as they can. Place smaller children on their parents’ laps. Now ask the parents to gently tickle the kids. Ask the parents to look at the kids while tickling them, and make sure that a child’s head isn’t covering their face.

4. Let the Kids Move

Family of 8 lifestyle family photography.

Nearly every session with young children has a moment when the kids have had enough! At this point, I direct the family into an open space with good light and give the children permission to move their wiggly bodies. But, I always give the kids boundaries. I will say, “You can run and play between this bush and this rock.” I ask the parents to get close together and embrace. Then I direct the kids to move. I ask them to chase each other, play ring around the rosey, or hold hands and run toward me. Connection with movement creates an authentic and interesting portrait. I usually shoot this fairly wide to include some of the environment at the session location.

5. Get Up on the Shoulders and Look

Connected lifestyle photography pose with a family of 5.

I like to ask Dad to put one of the kiddos up on his shoulders. Now I direct Mom to walk up to Dad and hug him. If there is more than one small child, I will ask Mom to hold the little one. Any older kids can either hold hands with Mom or stand right in front of Mom and Dad. Now, I direct Mom and Dad to kiss, and sometimes I ask the kiddo on Dad’s shoulders to lean down and kiss Mom. This yields a fun and loving pose.

Embracing Lifestyle Family Photography

Family photography can be fun, emotive, and artistic! I encourage you to try some of these posing techniques in your future family sessions. With good posing and guiding, you can offer your clients meaningful photographs that will bring them joy for a lifetime. By mastering the art of relaxed lifestyle family photos, you’ll be able to capture the genuine love and connection that makes each family unique.

Are you ready to take your Family photography to the next level? Check out my free class Introduction to Lifestyle Family Photography and 5 Family Poses that Always Work! Watch me walk you through each pose step by step!

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