10 Super Simple Unposed Family Photo Prompts
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10 Super Simple Unposed Family Photo Prompts
Use these 10 unposed family photo prompts the next time you are shooting a family portrait. Whether you are a hobby photographer shooting your best friend’s family or a professional who takes clients for portrait photography, you need to know how to get people feeling comfortable when you’re about to photograph them! Getting people to smile and look like they are having a great time can be difficult when posing them into awkward positions and strange angles. Unposed photography prompts are a perfect solution!
Instead of moving people into positions that feel weird, try playing with them and prompting them to have fun. The results will show in photos that look and feel much more natural.
Irina Culic, a family photographer with Forever Ours Photography (based in the UK) shares a recent family session where she used many of these unposed photography prompts. Her work in family photography is stunning, and the prompts make the whole process so simple. Enjoy these ten unposed photography prompts for families that you must try at your next family session!
Photography Prompt for Families #1
Ring Around the Rosie
A great way to get your family comfortable is to start by playing a game. If you’re working with young children, a quick game of Ring Around the Rosie can get everyone in the mood for fun! Be ready to catch the family from every angle, and be sure to capture their faces while they spin. It is entertaining for everyone to have the kids pile on top of dad when “they all fall down.”
Photography Prompt for Families #2
Piggy Back Rides
Who doesn’t like a piggyback ride? Of course, it’s always a good idea to ask first in case your subject has a not-so-obvious reason they can’t carry the weight of a person on their back, but most parents jump on board pretty quickly for this one! Kids always love piggyback rides!
Photography Prompt for Families #3
Race to the Photographer
Having the kids race to me might be my favorite unposed photography prompt for families. It is so simple and leads to such a great photo! Kids love to move, and they especially love to run. If the kids are already running around, as they were during Irina’s shoot, then you can ask them to race to you and see who gets there first.
You can also set up a seemingly impromptu race in advance. In the photo below, I had mom and dad stand in the background holding hands and prompted the little guy to run to me as fast as he could. This photo is not only super cute but scores big bonus points because that little guy is my very first grandson! I love his splayed fingers while he concentrated so hard on the race to get to this Hip Grandma!
Make a quick setting adjustment if you want to get this kind of shot where the parents or the background is blurred out. Be sure to open up your aperture (smaller #) to create that creamy bokeh behind your main subject. For a deeper look at creating bokeh in your photos, read Take Your Photos to the Next Level by Understanding Depth of Field.
Photography Prompt for Families #4
Fill in the Blank Questions
This unposed prompt for families will indeed produce some giggles. Have the family sit together and pose for a couple of shots. Then, when they aren’t expecting it, ask them, “who farts the loudest in your family?” The reactions will be a hoot!
Of course, you can switch this family prompt up by changing out the fart question to any number of fill-in-the-blank questions. Here are some examples to get you started:
- Who eats the most in your family?
- Who cries the most in your family
- Who is grumpiest in the morning?
- Who is loudest in the morning?
- Who has the stinkiest feet?
- Who has the baldest head?
There’s no end to the questions you can ask. Just fill in the blanks of these questions with whatever you’re comfortable with and according to how old the kids are. I love this unposed photography prompt a whole lot for older kids. You can pepper out several questions in a row to see everyone look back and forth amongst one another.
Photography Prompt for Families #5
The Sweetest kisses
If you are photographing a reluctant mama, then here is a sure-fire way to get a smile from her! Nothing makes a mom smile bigger than a batch of sweet kisses from her family. The prompt is simple. Lean in and give mom some sweet kisses on the cheek!
Last fall, I had my dear friend DeeAnn of DeeAnn Feick Photography take family photos of me, my husband, and my one son who remains at home (the other four have grown and flown from the nest). My very favorite shot from the whole session was this one with my husband and my 12-year-old son giving me some sweet kisses.
This prompt is especially yummy during the golden hour when the light is warm and soft. Have your subject tip her chin up to get plenty of light into her features.
Just in case you wondered, even dads can get in on the action and enjoy some sweet kisses, too! Don’t forget to follow this prompt with a group hug for another natural family shot.
Photography Prompt for Families #6
Kisses are Gross!
On the flip side, when you have preteen kids in your family shoot, they may only last for a couple of those sweet kiss poses (not like the little ones who love it). But some of the best shots are when they make their most natural expression. This photo shows my 12-year-old son, prompted by photographer DeeAnn Feick of Northville, MI, to make his best eye roll while mom and dad share a kiss behind him. He happily obliged for this shot at our autumn photoshoot, and I love that it is a natural face that we regularly see at my house! I know there will come a day when I’ll look back at this photo and remember his salty expression with fondness. Someday my son will appreciate how much his mom and dad love each other, but for now, ew!
Photography Prompt for Families #7
How much do you love each other?
Irina shares how she got this sweet photo of these siblings, “I first asked them if they ever fight, and the reply was a lot! But after I asked if they love each other despite the fighting. The answer was YES! Then I asked them to show me with a hug how much they love each other.” Photographing kids alone during family portraits is a must, especially when you get a shot as sweet as this one!
As a parent, don’t you love seeing your kids loving one another? True confession: I still love when I see my grown adult kids bonding and helping each other out. A mom never gets tired of seeing her kids love each other. This unposed photography prompt is a perfect way to make that happen!
Photography Prompt for Families #8
When you have a family with small children, searching for bugs, sticks, leaves, and rocks can be so much fun. This unposed photography prompt for families works well if you have camera-shy kiddos at your shoot. Have mom or dad get them involved in looking for a treasure on the ground (even better if you plan ahead and hide a tiny toy or coin). When they are engaged in hunting and are paying little to no attention to the camera, you can snap a few shots of parent and child interacting naturally, as shown here with my son and grandson. My grown son doesn’t always appreciate having his photo taken, so I really love his natural expression here with his son.
Photography Prompt for Families #9
Make the Silliest Faces
This silly and unposed photography prompt works for everyone in the family. Who doesn’t love to make crazy faces when the camera is on them? Even my 2-year-old grandson got into the game on this one. The trick is to be ready. As soon as the silly face goes away, a great big smile will follow. Be sure and set your camera on burst mode (or high-speed shutter) to get various smiles as they play out. It is also essential to make sure you set your shutter speed fast enough to catch the action between faces. For more about shutter speed, check out Using Shutter Speed to Freeze Action. There’s no such thing as too many photography tips!
Photography Prompt for Families #10
Share Some Wisdom
If you have a family with older and younger kids, this unposed photography prompt for families works incredibly well. Have one of the older kids reach an arm around the younger brother or sister, look into their eyes, and share a piece of wisdom or great advice. This prompt works well for father and child or mother and child as well. If you are lucky enough to photograph a child with a grandparent, you MUST prompt the grandparent to share some wisdom with their grandchild.
Photography Prompt for Families Bonus
Prompts for Mom and Dad
When you are photographing a family, you don’t want to forget a couple of shots with just mom and dad without kids, too. Irina shared these two unposed photography prompts she used for her family session, and look at the incredible results!
Look each other in the eyes with your noses close but not touching.
In your sexiest voice, tell her what you had for breakfast.
You know we had to get in on the action, too, with the sexy cereal prompt… You never know how that one is gonna end.
Be sure and check out Promptography for Couples – The Art of Prompting for Natural Poses for a whole list of photography prompts for couples.
One thing’s for sure, no matter who you are photographing, be sure and keep pressing your shutter as you switch from one prompt to another. Some of the most amazing shots come from taking a few candids while your subjects are transitioning. Check out this extra special mom/son moment from Irina.
Wrapping it All Up!
Once you get into the habit of using prompts instead of posing, you will find many ways to use unposed prompts for families and couples. Your friends and clients will love their photos and have great memories of the time they spent with you!
I’ve put all of these unposed photography prompts for families together into a handy cheat sheet for you to clip and use the next time you’re photographing a family.