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25 must try poses for portraits and family photos

Subtitle: that might feel awkward, yet look amazing.


If you ever had your photo taken for a holiday card, family photo shoot, or fun portraits - you might be acquainted with the discomfort that can accompany some of the poses you do in that session.


Granted, some of you could be thinking, "awkwardness is in the eye of the beholder", or that these don't necessarily give you the awkward vibes they give myself or someone else.


Just so we're clear, the "awkward" piece can stem from the worry we have of what people around us think, or it simply feels odd in the sense that we don't model these looks naturally (yet, when a photo is taken, they look nothing but au natural).


A few questions I've asked myself when considering a photo session are:


How do I pose if I'm sitting down?

What do I do with my hands?

Will my RBF rule over all else?

Where do I look so I'm not staring at the photographer at all times?


I was fortunate enough to work with two incredible photographers for most of the photos below to guide me in the photo shoots (because I am 100% an awkward turtle).


Kim Strandal (personal photo shoot in 2021) and Dani Moon Photography (family photos in 2020) are both based in Sacramento and are incredibly talented photographers if you're looking for some memories to be made more permanent.


That said: I won't take credit for all of the poses stated below, I just want to pass on the guidance to those who also struggle with what to do in photos.


So without further ado, here are 25 different poses (with some additional tips sprinkled throughout) to help you get the best pictures from your next photo session - and don't fret, you can feel awkward and be amazing to capture in a photo at the same time.


Rule#1: be yourself - show little bits of who you are in the photos, that's the goal and intention of what is captured at the end of the day.


1) The Infamous Laugh

you know this one all too well, making its appearance in almost every group photo ever taken. Rather than opening your mouth without a sound accompanied with a boisterous smile - force yourself to laugh! Most often the photographer will lead the way and say something funny or witty to get a sincere smile out of you - either way, the aim is not to make your face strained, but relaxed.




2) The Conga Line (family / group photos)

Not much to add here, as it is what it is: a cute version of the conga line.




3) Stop and Stare

When you end up stopping for a photo in the middle of the road or in front of a store with a lot of foot traffic - you're bound to be a little out of your comfort zone - WORTH IT, my friend. It provides the day-to-day atmosphere you'd want incorporated in your photos , not too poised or premeditated.




4) Chin Up + Tip Toe

Whatever your destination, this is for you (just don't throw your neck out). (PC: Jason)




5) Over the Shoulder Glance


6) Swing Swing Swing

Sway those arms side to side as you sway those hips of yours (and loosen up those muscles that might be tensed up in the process).




7)That Ground is Lovely

Channel your inner introvert and look down at the ground, and then...





8) Look up, child

Look at you being all mesmerized by the sky or that thought you've had stuck in your head for the past two weeks that makes you smile. You glow and it shows (or it could just be sweat, either way, embrace it).


9) Turn Around (every now and then you look a little bit saucy)

Twirl, and then twirl again. One of those is bound to be the ONE. And you have fun shaking off those awkward feelings, too.



10) Good Distractions

Work with your hands here - whether it be sorting through books, typing on a computer, or grabbing plants like I did. Tip: do this while talking to the photographer to eliminate thinking about your facial expressions too much.




11) Walk it Out





12) Are you sitting down?

Cross the arms, put a hand beneath your chin, and lean forward, dear. You look fabulous.




13) Step it Up

And do it with one arm over your head, then step forward.



14) Not Open for Business

This sitting position may feel weird at first, but it looks so GOOD. Don't worry, we know.



15) You dropped something, my jaw

Place your finger tips to jaw line, and you have yourself a jaw dropping photo.


16) Side Profile Giving us Life

but really - show us those features.



17) Pretty Sippin'

Make a pit stop at a local cafe or any other shop that sells a liquid of choice and use that sucker as a prop you'll enjoy.



18) Looking at Someone, but not really

That off to the side look you make as you're thinking, "yeah, I'll pretend to look at someone" and end up making eye contact with a stranger. Go with it.



19) The Stairs of Yore

Don't ask, the words I say have very little meaning sometimes, just go with it. Stairs can be intimidating as all get out; and they can bring a lot of different angles to your photos, that will hardly be forgotten.




20) Straight Ahead

Don't be afraid of facing the camera directly in the lens and giving that grin we long to see (whether you show some teeth or not, either will stun the world speechless).



21) Show Off Your Walk

Not the "fake" walk where you make it look like you're on the move, but the one where you're moving toward the photographer (or in any given direction). Loosen those shoulders, unclench that jaw and show us what you got.



22) Hold the Tips of your Own Hand

Fact: I googled so many different blog posts before I did my first set of portraits trying to figure out what in the world to do with my hands! When you're not holding anything, don't have pockets to be all cute with, it can feel weird. Here's an option that is bound to look incredible in your next shoot. Just do it, trust me.



23) That Hair, though

You know how you move the hair out of your face seemingly 24/7? Yeah, do that. Run your fingers through your hair, brush your bangs off to the side - simple and captures natural movement really well.



24) Looking at You Looking at Me

Capture that endearing look when someone is looking at your while you're looking at someone else.


25) Go ahead, make your Signature Awkward Face - it's Golden

Remember Rule#1 (and really the only rule that matters): be yourself. The point of these photos is for you and maybe even those nearest to you- whether someone outside of your inner circle finds them "beautiful" or "attention grabbing" is not the point.


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