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Photography Poses - The Missing Ingredient

You've read all the "best digital camera" articles, got the best price on your first digital camera, and even glanced at its owner's manual. Are you itching to take some shots of your family, or what?

Slow down, soldier. Before you take 200 shots that seem great AT THE TIME, but upon review, are less than what you expected, let's prepare. PREPARE?!?! I'll bet you thought charging the battery was the hardest part of taking great photos, didn't you?

Sorry to disappoint you, but if you want to improve your photo results 50% in 2 minutes, let's review some basic advice from the pros.

There are two photography categories of GENERAL ADVICE that always apply, regardless of whether you're using a digital camera to take family portrait poses, baby pictures, pet portraits, group pictures, funny photos, or even maternity portraits. The first category is&


1) Prepare For The Event

Prepare for the event by imagining WHICH photography poses you would like to capture. Consider who, where, how, and the type of environment.

2) Take Multiple Photographs

Take multiple shots of each pose (remember, digital memory is reusable, a.k.a. "free"). Regardless of what you say or do, people will blink. Don't count on noticing small problems on the camera's tiny LCD screen (even on full magnification); which leads to...

3) Check LCD Screen

Check the digital camera's LCD screen for general framing of the picture, movement, visibility of faces, and the histogram. Note that you can think up a fantastic photography pose; arrange everyone perfectly; and, have the photograph "frozen" (no blinking or shaking of the camera)... but, when you check it out in the LCD, you see 2 drunks fighting in the background!

And, my favorite...

4) Funny Phrases

Have some funny phrases handy to use JUST BEFORE YOU TAKE THE PHOTO. Don't use them when setting up for the shot. And, don't use the same phrase ALL THE TIME. Throw in funny anecdotes, phrases, names, and words that you know your family will find more amusing than "cheese." A natural smile looks four times better than a fake one. The second category is...


Indoor family photography is very different from outdoor family photograph (duh!). For INDOOR PICTURES...

1) Wide Angle

You will tend to use the wide angle more often than your telephoto setting. Pay particular attention to your "end people" (those farthest to the right and the left in your viewfinder), and verify there is enough space in the picture, so that if cropping is required, the end people don't have to lose a limb.

2) The Flash

Flash considerations are critical. Do not be outside your "flash range." For example, if at ISO 100, your flash can properly illuminate 12 feet, don't attempt any photography pose that requires anyone to stand at 14 feet (unless, of course, it's evil cousin Ira who you want to veil in darkness).

3) Plan "B"

If you need to be further away than your flash allows, here are two things you can try...First, increase the ISO setting (but not so much as to produce too much noise), and second, move to a significantly brighter location.

4) Watch Your Background

If there are distracting features, change your settings to blur the background (see the Techniques page on our site). The best photography pose in the world won't look right with a distracting background. And finally...

5) Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

If there are mirrors or reflective surfaces in the background and you can't find a different location, only take the picture in such a way that the flash is NOT PERPENDICULAR to the surface, but at an angle (unless you WANT a nice photo of your flash).

Outdoor family photography has completely different issues. For OUTDOOR photography...

6) The Sun

Avoid photographing in direct sunlight, or in mixed light and shade, especially faces. Optimal lighting for taking photographs is produced from a slightly overcast sky.

7) Shade

When photographing in shade, use fill-flash (see "terms" section on website) when necessary. And, really finally...

8) Beauty

If practical, take the picture at one of the beautiful natural settings near you. Imagine the result of a creative photography pose captured in a stunning environment. Can you say: "Over the mantle!"?

Numerous categories of poses and tips can be found on our website below.

Robert Bezman is a professional photographer and owner of Custom Photographic Expressions. Robert has created the website to help digital photographers create better photographs. Robert has a free newsletter and e-book at

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