I mentor other photographers and small businesses all the time. We usually spend most of our time discussing the business end of things since that is my passion, but recently I came across my own big question and this time it had to do with posing families with older teenage kids.
When the Rey family asked me to photograph their family portraits I was initially scared. I had never photographed a family of four where the two children were teenage boys. What do you do with teenagers anyway? I quickly did what I thought would help and I looked at pinterest only to find a lack of ideas for photos of families with older kids. So I decided, I’d show up, and just let things naturally unfold. And then I promised myself I’d put together a quick posing post to help ease other photographer’s fears of photographing sessions with older teenage kids. Now that the session is completed, I want to walk you through the posing and what I did to help the session go easier.
First. Be prepared that there might be some “getting ready” involved. In this case, there was a quick shave needed.
The boys were a little apprehensive of having their photos taken so I chose a location where we could walk a mile loop together with various locations to photograph. I know from my experience in photographing families that if you keep your subject moving there is much less awkward down time.
I usually always start with a traditional family pose just to get that out of the way. Then I get in closer and snap one more up close shot of the same pose (I shoot with a fixed lens so I have to do the moving!). Then I ask them to get closer and put their arms around each other and “act like they love each other.” This usually makes families laugh. Pose ONE, TWO & THREE done.
From there, I simply backed up and took one more of them closer together but from further away:
Then, to keep things moving without having to move anywhere else within the location, I simply switched the family’s positioning around. Again, I asked them to squeeze together and love each other 😉 Two more photos complete in the same beautiful location and it gives the family variety from the same place.
I felt like I had worked that one location enough so I felt it was time to move on…. So we walked to the next pretty location. I knew that I needed the family further from me for a bit (give the boys a break from me being so close to them). I traditionally shoot with a 35 and 50mm for family portraits. I prefer to be close to my families (and any subjects for that matter). So I sent them off to a beautiful tree and took this with the 35mm 1.4. Once they were there and I snapped the first photo, I asked everyone to drop their arms from each other and I asked the dad to kiss his wife 🙂 Look below and see how that small change makes the photo feel more comfortable.
And then asked everyone to look at each other and ignore me for a second. This usually makes people laugh because it’s extremely uncomfortable. HA!
Then, I moved to another location and I started to split the family up. First I photographed the dad with his teenage sons and then singles of each parent with each kid.
And individuals… And solo shots.
And then don’t forget… the parents together. I often think to myself, what photo has most likely NOT been taken in a while. A lot of times I hear from my close friends and family that once you have kids it always becomes about them. SO I try to remain conscious that before the kids there was two people in love. And I play into that. With younger kids, its harder because someone had to always be close to the children and make sure they aren’t getting hurt/etc. Usually in the cases with younger children (like not walking), I’ll put them by my feet so I can feel them safely moving and quickly do my thing… I find 1-3 year olds the most difficult to grab a solo parent shot because they are constantly moving and usually toward danger! So sometimes, at the end of the session, you can ask the parents to get the kids in the car, and quickly pull them to the side of the car (looking for the best background), and grab one. Trust me, they will appreciate that one photo of just the two of them even if the background is not the most ideal….
Ask them to kiss and squeeze in… And look at each other lovingly 🙂
And while you’re doing that, quickly turn around to see if the kids are doing something more natural…
At this point of the session we are about 30 minutes in and I realize everyone is easing up. The session was easier than they thought. SO Ask them to give me their “natural pose”.
And then I back away and ask for a nice, close, loving pose. And at this point, I start to feel in the zone where I’m going to be getting the photos that they most likely will like the best. So I work the area for just a bit… Back up a little more (I like to shoot the same poses from different distances and take in the scenery.). I know the up close portraits are the ones most likely to be printed, but I love included the scenery into photos.
And then I ask them to walk toward me (with mom & dad holding hands).
After this we moved onto the next location. It’s not the best light… But I want one in front of the pond. The dog is included in this series so I use it as an excuse to break the traditional all standing pose. And again, I move in closer.
And then I focus on the cutest fur baby. Cause how can you not?!
And then we move to the next location and I try staggering them and using different positions for each person. I realize after snapping this that I don’t like the one boys hands just hanging there.
So I invite the dog into the picture… and ask the one son to bring his arm around his mom. I love the next two photos.
And then, I move them around. Because I know I didn’t like the hands just hanging, I ask him to support himself sitting on the fence. And then, you know, I ask them to look at each other to move the pose around… Usually you can ask everyone to look at the same person, and that person to look back. And it usually makes that person laugh (so I USUALLY pick the dad because I know he’ll be the most uncomfortable BUT, I know the kids will enjoy staring at him to make him feel uncomfortable). Nervousness usually works well for me in photos. I will play into it to get that person to laugh so in turn. In the end, nervousness also heightens your senses so I feel they leave the session feeling they were really “THERE. in the moment”
And then, of course, I back away for a scenic shot. I ask them to squeeze together and love mom shot. I like this one.
And then we moved to the hill for a sitting shot, and I asked mom to bring her head in with son to bring the photo together.
Lastly, to finish up, I had then walk off together and as they were walking, I yelled out “Everyone wrap your arms around each other and walk.” And they thought this was hysterical so they played into how silly it was for them to walk all connected. But they ended up being some of my favorite photos because, really, when do you all walk with your arms around each other?!sigh.
And then the session was over… OR, was it? The sun was setting. so I quickly snapped these.
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