The Truth About Posing in Lifestyle Photography

With the popularity of lifestyle photography, the word “pose” has become somewhat taboo. It irks me when I scroll through social media and see a well-known lifestyle photographer claim, “I just love candid moments.” Why is this a pet peeve of mine? Because the reality is that even in lifestyle photography, a significant amount of posing and guiding takes place.

This can be incredibly frustrating for new photographers. They arrive at a family session expecting beautiful moments and interactions to unfold naturally in front of them. But this just isn’t the case. Moments and interactions need to be posed and directed to achieve the desired results.

Take, for example, the following image. It appears completely candid, but I want you to know that I posed every element of that shot. True story.

A lifestyle photography pose with mom and child.

If posing makes you uncomfortable, think of it as directing. It’s similar to a dance choreographer or a play director guiding their performers to bring their vision to life. As a photographer, you must know how to pose and direct meaningful interactions, or they simply won’t happen.

Posing and guiding is an art form, and I believe it is essential to lifestyle family photography.

But I Don’t Like Posed and Stiff Photos

Neither do I. My photos are full of movement, connection, life, and love. But those moments and emotions are there because I guided and directed them to happen. I own that.

But My Clients Want Only Candid Moments

Of course they do. However, when they arrive at the shoot, they expect you to take control. They want you to tell them what to do. They want you to pose them and guide them. They rely on you to show them how to interact. I promise.

How to Pose for Connected Lifestyle Photos

I’m glad you asked. Here are a few essentials when it comes to posing and guiding for connection and love.

1. Let Go of Perfection

Forget about the image of a stiff and uncomfortable perfectly posed family. That’s not what we’re aiming for here. Instead, think about the emotions you want to evoke with your work and how you will pose and direct your subjects to achieve those interactions. It helps to make a list of the emotions you want to create.

For example, in this photo, I wanted to evoke the deep connection a mother has for her children. I asked the mom to sit up with her little one, ensuring the child was tummy to tummy with her. Then, I directed her to wrap her arms tightly around the baby and lean in for a snuggle. Then I asked older sister to give mom a hug from behind.

Mother and her two children embrace each other in a lifestyle photography pose.

2. Get Comfortable Touching Your Subjects

I often walk right up to my families and place them exactly how I want them with my hands. This isn’t always necessary, but often it is.

3. Be Ready to Talk to Your Subjects

I provide step-by-step instructions to my families to achieve the photos I envision. I know exactly what to say to get them to interact in the way I need, elevating the pose to the next level.

My Method for Posing in Lifestyle Photography

Because I believe posing in lifestyle photography is so essential, I’ve developed a method that provides a step-by-step formula for achieving my favorite poses. My approach goes beyond a visual guide. While many posing guides offer examples of poses without explanation, my method breaks each pose down into a step-by-step process you can execute immediately.

Example Formula

  1. Ask mom to pick up the littlest in the family, making sure she is tummy to tummy with her.
  2. Tell her to see if she can spot herself in your lens.
  3. Now, ask the other kiddo to get on Dad’s shoulders.
  4. Ask Mom and Dad to come in as close as they can and give each other a kiss.
posing for lifestyle photography, family of 4 share a close and cuddly moment.

What makes my method unique is that I also include videos where I talk you through all the poses, elaborating on exactly what I said to the family to achieve the pose. This makes my posing and guiding method even more effective.

I am excited to share my knowledge with others through my free webinars and courses.

I want to debunk the myth that lifestyle photography happens naturally and give photographers the knowledge to execute beautiful lifestyle photography.

Looking for a few poses to get started right now? Here is a posing guide with 8 family poses that always work to get you started!

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