Posing people together – whether it’s families, kids or couples – can be one of the most challenging aspects of portrait photography. In my experience, most subjects awkwardly await direction when what I want is for them to interact naturally so I can capture their love and connection. However, this also applies to family, friends and kids’ portraits!
So make sure to use this article’s ideas to take photos of “people posing without posing” in general. As long as they are emotionally connected to each other, you’ll be able to make the most of these.
Guess what? People need some direction. Including couples! But I’m not talking about awkward, stiff poses that you’d never see a person do in their everyday life.
There are many prompts you can use to naturally bring out genuine emotion and spontaneous moments when your posing people are in a relationship. In turn, their connection and love will be revealed, giving you the opportunity for a variety of shots.
So to help you get creative, we’ve put together 20 of our favourite unposed couple poses that will do all of the above, and they look great too!
This couple pose is a no brainer, sure… but there are so many variations on the hug and so many ways to frame it! When framed front on and looking at the camera, you can capture facial expressions.
You can photograph them from behind too, and focus on arms encircled around the back or fingers entwined.
Or little fingers…
Moments like this will naturally follow when you encourage parents and kids or a couple to hug…so quickly capture a few different poses, including getting in tight and close.
For this couple’s pose, ask the partner behind to nuzzle the other one’s neck, or whisper something naughty in their ear, or touch nose to cheek. It makes a big difference if the person in front responds by raising their hands to connect with their partner’s encircled arms.
Shoot side on and ask your subject positioned behind to rest his or her face forward on their partner’s back and look toward the camera.
These types of couple poses are especially great for conveying affection and love, both for adults and a parent with a child, especially as it puts them in a position where they can easily interact.
Photo Tip: A long lens is great for shots like this, as it enables you to really step back so your subjects can forget about the camera, and moments will unfold more easily. As a bonus, a long lens will compress your background, giving you a gorgeous background blur.
Not necessarily a couple’s pose but a great one for kids because it’s so playful to begin with. They won’t help but giggle, and you’ll get some fabulous expressions and moments.
When it comes to couple poses, this one needs no explanation really. However, there are so many different variations of this. The forehead kiss, the tip of the nose kiss, the subject looking at the camera while being kissed, the holding hands and leaning in for a kiss…
I could keep going, but I’ll share my vision in images instead!
Photo Tip: There are so many different photos that can be achieved from one simple couple pose just by varying your framing. Zoom in to frame close; use a wide lens to include the environment whilst still being fairly close to your subjects (eg. 35mm); step back and include their whole body, clasped hands, fingers entwined.
For this pose, ask couples to touch noses.
What I love about this one is it never fails to make them laugh! Spontaneous moments that you can’t plan will naturally follow, so make sure you’re ready to capture them!
I love this pose because it’s a more casual version of everyone lined up for the camera.
Related: How to Focus in Larger Groups
Stand up and shoot down on a seated family. As well as being a variation on the wide shot, it’s a perspective that lends itself perfectly to candid moments between family members.
If you’re height-challenged, you might need a chair or a small step ladder…just be careful! (I’m afraid of heights and really clumsy so I get jelly legs just thinking about it!).
If you are looking for some fun couple poses, this one is a great choice. Ask any couple to do this pose, and you’re guaranteed natural laughter will ensue.
Tech Tip: Watch your angles! This shot is best-taken side on. If your legs are pointing directly toward the lens and you’re shooting with a wide-angle lens, it will distort the size of her legs in relation to the rest of her body.
This is another shot that is guaranteed to bring forth joyous squeals of laughter and delight, whether your subjects are kids or adults!
Tech Tip: Try this one from down low to capture their expressions and connection more easily.
Kids particularly love this pose. So as a bonus, it’s useful if you have some small reluctant subjects!
When working on ideas for posing people, know that, just like with the piggyback, kids love the swing. It brings a lot of fun to the session, which is perfect for getting genuine smiles and laughter. Get them to start quite far back from your camera, get your settings ready, and ask them to walk towards you while swinging their little one.
Photo Tip: For this suggestion and the next few, where subjects are moving faster or towards you, you’ll need a faster shutter speed to freeze their motion, and, preferably, a continuous autofocus drive mode.
Related: How to Take Fast Action Photos
Another one that (most) kids love and helps bring an element of fun to the session, is to ask mum or dad to raise them high into the air. Ask them to pause when they get them up there to give you time to capture their expression and focus properly.
This might not be as much of a couple’s pose…but you can try! (and please send us your shot!)
Photo Tip: Use a wide angle lens and include lots of negative space for a really impactful shot. Then try it again and get in close and capture those delighted expressions.
For a couple with small children, ask them to hold their little ones’ hands and either walk towards or away from you while talking to one another. These poses are both natural-looking and entertaining for the little ones.
Ask families with older and at least two children to form a line. Make sure you mix up the heights so it doesn’t look too orderly!
Photo Tip: This pose will be more meaningful in photos where the family members are walking and talking to one another, rather than looking directly at you.
Kids and couples love this one, and I find it a great way to start a session because it sets the tone for fun immediately and breaks the ice. And I promise… they.will.smile!
The lovely example below is of two little sisters running, but you can imagine how cool this idea can be for a couple’s photography session as well.
Try this pose for kids, adults, and couples alike!
This pose is a surefire way to get people laughing and interacting naturally. And a fantastic shot for a wedding!
Related: A Guide to Second Shooting a Wedding
Looking for some laid back couple poses? There’s something so casual and comfortable about sitting or leaning against a wall that will always relax subjects.
There’s a certain age (or rather, size!) when this one becomes difficult! But until then… get mum and dad to pick the kids up, holding them between them.
Make sure mum and dad’s bodies are turned toward one another. You’d be amazed how far that one small thing goes to ensure you convey connection.
Get down low and capture children with mum or dad’s hands or arms connecting with them.
Try this pose for couples too to show their love and connection.
These sorts of poses are ideal for getting real laughter, and helping the couple forget about the camera.
One mistake I often see is adults struggling to get kids to smile for photos simply by saying “smile” or “say cheese!”. If you ask for cheese, you’ll get cheese! Instead, engage them with talk, fun, jokes, songs, silliness.
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