Use This Giant List of Photography Prompts to Capture Natural Photos

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Use This Giant List of Photography Prompts to Capture Natural Photos

The title says it all!  Use this giant list of creative photography prompts to capture natural photos of all of your clients.  Add photo prompts to using posing for portraits. From kids to seniors and singles to families and groups, start using this list of photo prompts, and you will see a significant shift in the natural look of your portrait sessions.  If you’re looking for some creative photography ideas for your next photography project, then look no further!

Photography Prompts for Beginners

What are Photography Prompts

Most people don’t care to pose awkwardly and stiffly when having their portraits captured.  Enter photography prompts!  Rather than following a bunch of rules about how to line people up and place them into calculated positions, use these photo prompts to encourage genuine interactions between the people you’re photographing.

Photo prompts are so simple.  You can give the people you’re photographing some basic instructions, then watch them come alive.  You can throw out a prompt or two and watch them interact.  Be ready with your camera because the magic will happen naturally!

If you are looking for other creative photography project ideas, check out Six of the Most Creative In-The-Box Photography Ideas or 18 Creative Photography Ideas for Beginners to Improve Their Skills

I Still Don’t Get It

Using creative photo prompts is simple. Here’s an example of how to use prompts for family photos.  Instead of lining up a family in the perfect position and trying to get children looking in your direction, try this.  Lay a blanket down on the grass and ask the family to climb on with kids sitting on mom and dad’s laps.  Now throw out a prompt, such as “everyone give mama a cuddle!” and watch as everyone’s faces light up.  Kids will snuggle into mom, and dad may even give her a smooch on the cheek.  Be ready with your camera because the action will happen fast in this kind of real-life photography.

Using prompts creates a genuine family moment.  You won’t need to worry about getting everyone looking politely into the camera and smiling because the smiles will happen naturally here.  These photographs almost always make mom, dad, and grandma happy!  Portrait photography will never be the same!

Now what?

I have put together a giant list of prompts for you to use in your next session.  I’ve divided the list by session type, but know that you can use any of these prompts for any subject.  Mix it up, and don’t be afraid to add your own!

If you’re nervous to try photo prompts instead of posing for portraits, go ahead and practice on someone you know or ask around for a model or two that will help you out.  Finding a model is the perfect opportunity to give back by offering a photo session to someone who wouldn’t typically be able to afford a photo session.  You get some great practice, they get some fantastic photos, and you never know what their future holds or who they know who might be interested in hiring you for some of their own unique and gorgeous portraits.

Photography Prompts for Couples

Couples are so much fun, aren’t they?  Using photo prompts instead of portrait poses is a beautiful way to show the connection between two people.  It may be hard to imagine how these prompts can come together to create an entire session. Don’t worry – I’ve put together a sample couples photoshoot using some of the prompts below.  Check out Unposed Photography Prompts Instead of Poses for Natural Photos to see some of these prompts at work!

  • Softly snuggle your noses
  • Gaze into each others’ eyes like it’s been 100 years since you have seen each other
  • Try to kiss upside down
  • Use your nose to draw on your partner’s cheek.  Now guess what they drew.
  • Sniff her hair
  • Walk toward me as if you’re drunk
  • Walk toward me while bumping hips
  • Wrap this blanket around yourselves and cuddle to stay warm
  • Find your partner’s most ticklish spot
  • Hold each other’s hand and run
  • Dance like it’s your first date (or your wedding dance)
  • Dip her and plant a kiss on her
  • Give a hug from behind
  • Hug while sitting on the ground
  • Give Eskimo kisses (or rub noses)
  • Kiss with only your teeth and not your lips
  • Kiss as if it’s your last
  • Whisper your favorite cereal in her ear in your sexiest voice
  • Pick her up and twirl her around
  • Twirl her as if dancing
  • Have her piggyback on him – spin around
  • Dance like no one is watching
  • Tickle her or tickle him
  • Take turns sharing with your partner the qualities you most admire in the other
  • Whisper in your partner’s ear what you thought the first time you met him
  • Touch foreheads, sync your breathing, and connect to this moment
  • Imagine you were stuck in the freezing snow, cuddle up to keep warm
A husband and wife laughing with a lake in the background demonstrating the sexy cereal photo prompt

Family Photo Prompts

I love using unposed prompts for families.  Kids are so natural at this, too!  They love to play, and when after the session, they will remember this day with joy and laughter.  I’ve put together some examples of using prompts with families in 10 Super Simple Unposed Photography Prompts for Families.  Also, be sure and take a look at How To Capture Family Photos the Easy Way to see some ideas for capturing important details during your shoot.

  • Tell me your favorite dad joke
  • You’re on the cover of a music album, give me your best musician pose
  • Piggyback child with mom and dad holding hands and walking
  • Run for the hills
  • Make a kid sandwich
  • Play Ring Around the Rosie
  • Have the kids run toward you while mom and dad look on from behind
  • Everyone kiss the youngest child
  • Play tag, mom is it
  • Who has the stinkiest feet
  • Group hug! Smush even closer! Closer! Get as close as you can! Now nobody fart, okay?”
  • Everyone tickle dad
  • Everyone look at the person that snores the loudest
  • Now everyone look at the person that burps the loudest

Photography Prompts for Children

You simply must try photo prompts for your next child session. It’s so simple to get the kiddos having fun.   If the child is super young, as in toddler age or below, I always keep mom and dad close.  If they are old enough, I like to walk them just a bit away from their parents.  Tell mom and dad they get to have a break and take the kids a wee bit down the trail.  I like to keep parents in visual view, so everyone feels comfortable.  But once kids are out of earshot of parents, they will often light up in a whole different way.  My kids would often feel so self-conscious with me watching on that all they would do was give cheesy smiles with teeth clamped together.  Some of the best shots I had of my children when they were young were the ones where my photographer got them a little bit away from me.

Safety Note

Now is the perfect time to say that you should never force this.  If mom and dad are uncomfortable with you walking away with their child, even a little bit, then don’t do it. It’s just that simple. Everyone must feel comfortable at your session. 

  • Find your child’s most ticklish spot
  • Twirl yourself in a circle
  • Who’s your favorite actor or actress? Smile for them
  • Give Eskimo kisses (or rub noses)
  • The swing (swing child from mom and dad’s hands)
  • Show me your best princess face
  • Show me your best monster face
  • Now show me your surprised face
  • Tell a knock-knock joke, then ask them to tell you one
  • Would you rather eat a worm or a peanut butter and pickle sandwich
  • Spin around twice and then sit down as fast as you can.
  • Show me your best dance move
  • Try not to smile
  • Tell me about the funniest thing that happened today
  • Sing me your favorite song
  • Toss the child gently while looking up at them
  • Let me hear your best airplane noises (or fart noises, or animal noises)
  • Give mommy a snuggle
  • Kiss daddy’s cheek
  • Play peek-a-boo together
  • Bring a bubble machine and set it off nearby.  Chase the bubbles and pop them.
a mom and daughter rub noses in front of a fall tree showing how a photo prompt works

Photography Prompts for Tweens or Teens

Tweens and teens can be tricky.  Adolescence is a very emotionally sensitive time for most kids. Don’t be surprised if you have a tough time getting your tween subject to make eye contact or give you genuine smiles.  Prompting is a fantastic tool to combat some of that natural self-consciousness during a teen/tween photo shoot.  Instead of worrying about getting the perfect pose, work with what this subject will give you.  One of the best ways to do this is to talk to your subject.  You can ask questions and get them talking about themselves.  Ask about their hobbies and their genuine likes and dislikes.  If you can connect with them, they will be much more comfortable around you and more receptive to your suggestions.

  • Tell me about your favorite video game
  • Pose like your favorite musician
  • Pose like your favorite actor/actress
  • Strike a pose!  Every time I say BOOM, you pose differently
  • Tell me about your secret crush
  • Show me the latest TikTok dance
  • Try to look bored, then happy, then sad.  Rapid-fire call out emotions
  • Laugh like Santa Clause
  • Tell me a really lame joke
  • Ask if they think mom or dad or grandma loves them
  • Tell me about the last thing your mom did to embarrass you
  • What’s the last TV show that made you laugh out loud
  • Tell me about the last TV show that made you cry
  • Pose like you’re in your favorite place doing your favorite thing
  • Tell me something you’re really proud of

Photography Prompts for Siblings

I love photographing siblings.  They have a unique way about them, don’t they?  Kids raised in the same household just have an understanding of how it is.  I love to celebrate that with them.

  • Give each other the biggest bear hug you can
  • Tell me a secret about your mom or dad
  • Hold hands and look at each other. Now, look at me
  • Blow kisses at mom (have mom stand behind you)
  • Can you whisper a secret in your sister’s ear

Photography Prompts for Groups

Photography prompts are a great way to get a group of people having a great time in photos.  Of course, you may have to begin by getting your group of people corralled and lined up a bit, but once they are in general position, let the photo prompts begin!  I’ve done some work for you by showing you how a group photo session comes together using prompts in Use these 11 Photography Prompts for Groups to Achieve Amazing Group Poses.  While you’re thinking about groups, now is a great time to check out my Ultimate Guide to Photographing Big Groups of People, which will help you hone in on some excellent group photo portrait poses and photo prompts.

  • Everyone put an arm around one another
  • On the count of 3, everyone jump
  • Walk away from the camera while holding hands
  • Walk like you’re drunk with arms around your neighbor’s shoulder
  • Someone tell a funny story about someone else here
  • Walk toward the camera while bumping hips
  • Everyone get their phone out and take a selfie
  • Giant group hug
  • Piggyback rides
  • Genuinely compliment your neighbor
  • Have the couples in the group smooch while others eye-roll or gag
  • Group telephone game from one end to the other
  • Everyone look at the person who sneezes the loudest
  • When I say “go,” everyone trade places with someone else
  • Everyone strike their favorite pose
  • You’re on the cover of a music album, give me your best musician pose
  • Everyone look at the person who took the longest to get ready
  • Everyone look at the tallest (or shortest) person

Photography Prompts for Individuals

Individual photo requests come in all shapes and sizes.  Maybe your client needs some business headshots?  Perhaps she is looking for some new photos for her singles profile.  You might have a student who needs a series of shots for his college admittance letter or school bio.  No matter what the photo challenge, these photo prompts are great for single subjects; Think of senior portraits or some amazing headshots after you’ve taken the stiff pro photographs.  Here’s a peek at one of my favorite senior photoshoots, all taken in one location:  How to Get the Most of a Location for Private Senior Portraits.

  • Think about your most embarrassing moment as you were growing up
  • Pretend to be the person who inspires you the most
  • Take three steps forward and three steps back
  • Look at the nearest sign and give it your best smile
  • Walk toward the camera
  • Walk away from the camera
  • Take out your phone and take a selfie
  • Hold your collar up around your ears
  • Run your fingers through your hair
  • Imagine you have just gotten to your first vacation destination after you graduated
a Teen giving a subtle smile demonstrating a photo prompt

Photography Prompts for Men

Here are some great ideas to use with the manliest men clients!  I know we’ve talked about teens and tweens, but don’t be afraid to add these prompts to a session with a younger client.  These poses are great on little guys and manly men and everything in between!

  • Pretend to adjust your shirt
  • Adjust your watch or cufflinks
  • Tip Your sunglasses down and look at me over the top
  • Show me your muscless
  • Tip your chin down, look at me out of the top of your eyes, and smolder

Photography Prompts for Women

And now, some very feminine photo prompts for the loveliest ladies!  Again, be sure and use some of these with little girls and big girls.  Femininity is timeless, right? 

  • Twirl yourself in a circle
  • Who’s your favorite actor or actress? Smile for them
  • Touch your collarbone and give me your flirtiest smile
  • Pretend you’re a queen relaxing back on her throne
  • Reach out to me like you’re going to take me on an adventure
  • Play with your hair
  • Your crush walks past you – give me your flirtiest half-smile

A Word About Curvy Women

Do you have a client concerned about looking slim in her photos?  A photographer’s first job is to reassure her how beautiful she is, from the inside to the outside.  Your next job is to assure her that you will show her inner beauty through her personality that will shine through in her images.  And finally, reassure her that you know a few tricks to help make her look and feel beautiful physically.

What tips!?  Don’t panic.  I’ve put together this fantastic guide with 5 Insanely Simple Ways to Make Your Subject Look Thinner.  These simple tips make a huge difference in your photos! I promise! After all, I’m a curvy girl and I posed for all the before and after examples. You don’t want to miss that post!

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Psalm 139:14

A few final notes

Before you arrive at your session, make sure you’ve written down a few prompts to use.  You will know what might work best after you’ve had a couple of conversations before meeting.  You can make yourself a few photography prompt cards to reference during the shoot.  Or, if you’d like to avoid dealing with a sheet of paper during the shoot, go ahead and make your list on your phone or your smartwatch so you can have easy access without fumbling for a paper list.

Conclusion

Wow!  That was an excellent list.  And long!  I bet you’re feeling excited to get out there and try some prompting for yourself!  I don’t blame you.  Just writing it all out makes me want to get out shooting so I can see all those genuine expressions!

Still nervous?  At the end of the day challenge yourself to try something new.  Keeping your sessions fresh and fun will keep you inspired.  When you are inspired, it will show in your images. When your images are inspired, people are inspired to hire you!

I would love to hear from you!  Do you have any prompts that are tried and true and work in your photoshoots?  I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

I would love to know how I can improve this blog for my readers.  Would you be willing to fill out THIS ANONYMOUS SURVEY?  I sure do appreciate your help!

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