poses and prompts

So many of my clients come to me expressing nerves about looking natural in front of the camera--because that's often what draws people to my photos. Here's a peek behind the curtain for some of my very favorite prompts to use during family sessions to elicit real emotion and natural, beautiful smiles.

01 | where's mom's nose?

This is such a fun prompt for little kids and toddlers! Asking them to point to Mom or Dad's nose (or cheek!), and then their own, and back and forth, gets such good giggles from everyone involved. Sometimes the tiny babes can be a tough audience--but that makes the overall reaction all the better! Stick to noses and cheeks for this one. Speaking from experience, over-exuberant toddlers don't always have the best velocity control and nobody needs a mid-session eye poke.

02 | tickle time!

Another great one for toddlers and little kids--sit with everyone facing the camera and give tickles at quick intervals. Bonus points if smooches are peppered in.

03 | "hey, when was the last time y'all raced each other?"

Okay okay okay--so maybe it's not the photo you'll hang on your mantle, but one of my favorite ways to loosen teenagers up in front of the camera (especially teen boys) is to get them moving! Sometimes that means running a race against each other. Err on the side of caution and set some ground rules--everyone has to make it to the end standing!

04 | take a walk

I love a good family stroll, especially in front of the camera. Walking photos can be tricky! The goofier the walk, the more movement that'll be captured in the shot and the more natural it will all seem. Everyone should look at each other during this--that helps take the stroll photo from over-posed to beautifully candid.

05 | sibling sweetness

Sit that newborn right in their sibling's lap and just revel in the greatness. This one is particularly beautiful if I've got a freshie at my session, but works well with young kids in general. Don't be fooled--at home and in the wild, I always have parents spot newborns and edit their hands right out later.

06 | big jump!

I think the best thing about kids is how much they eat up being tossed around. Have both parents grab a hand and swing the kiddo, or have one parent grab both hands and do the same thing.

07 | just let them do their thing

For families with more than a couple kids, I love starting off by just piling them on top of each other and seeing what happens. Usually their natural dynamic will come through so quickly, which means photos full of personality.

08 | kiss! those! cheeks!

I don't care if your kid is a newborn or going to college next week. Kiss those cheeks. Kiss 'em good. Kids make the best expressions when they've got a parent on either side of them smooching those cheeks--everything from giggles to raised eyebrows to embarrassed-but-loving-it. It's all there.