How a Prompting and Posing Photoshoot Will Capture Natural Photo Poses of Anyone

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How a Prompting and Posing Photoshoot Will Capture Natural Photo Poses of Anyone

Using prompting during a posing photoshoot will help you capture natural photo poses of clients as you’ve never imagined!  When you feel the thick layer of awkwardness hanging over you in the air, it’s time to rethink traditional posing and consider some natural photoshoot ideas.  I mean, portrait photography and posing people can be tricky.  The last thing you or your client wants is an awkward family photo like one of these

Have you ever looked at another photographer’s work and wondered how they got such amazing, emotion-filled shots?  Consider adding prompts to your workflow.  When you learn how to add prompting to your session, not only will you see your clients come alive, but you will add a whole new vibe to your photo sessions!

Lucky you – you don’t have to do all the research on creating natural poses for pictures.  I’ve done all the hard work for you in this guide!

What is Prompting?

Let’s start by talking about prompting for natural poses for your photoshoot.  You may wonder what the hype is around prompting.  What the heck is it, and how do I use it?  During a posed photoshoot, a common photographer’s mistake is to get people posing and then smiling by saying something like, “say cheese!” or “Smile!”  But be careful what you ask for.

If you ask for a cheesy smile, you’ll likely get one.  By prompting your clients for real interactions, you’ll get genuine smiles and interesting expressions that a simple “say cheese” will never give you.

When you’re prompting, you set your clients up to have a natural interaction with one another rather than putting them into a particular pose.  You set the stage, be ready with your camera, and let them do the rest by simply having a good time capturing natural photo poses!

There is no need to follow your clients around on a romantic date or at a group party, waiting for the right moment to get the look you’re after.  You can direct them like a great artist and create your own magic click after click. I’ve put together a giant list of prompts for you to use for every occasion. Click on the image below to see the list.

a mom and child touching noses AD image for a photo prompt list

Preparing For Natural Photo Poses with Prompts

Much of the work of a photoshoot begins before you even arrive at your location.  It helps to get to know the person you’re photographing and what makes them tick to achieve the most natural photo poses.  What are your favorite photos of yourself?  I bet they are natural poses with authentic, joyful smiles.  Your clients will feel the same way!

Pink background with "Hip Grandma Merch" available on front

You can put your client at ease by building a friendly relationship.  Not only for this photoshoot but also in the long run, wouldn’t you love to build a relationship with your clients that brings them back to you again and again?  There’s no time like the present to get started building that relationship.

Take some time to have a couple of conversations before you meet for your shoot.  Let them know that you like to shoot very natural poses for photography, and then get to know your client by asking some questions.  Then actually listen to their answers.  Dial into learning about them.  Maybe take a note or two.

The more they feel you are investing in them, the more comfortable they will be in front of the camera.  Establishing a friendly relationship will help you to get a feel for their camera presence.  Are they excited?  Nervous?  It doesn’t take much to get an idea of how comfortable your client will be in front of the camera, and a professional friendship will help set them at ease.

At the Shoot

Once your clients arrive, be sure and greet them warmly and chat a little more before pointing the camera at them.  Let them know you’re happy to be there and ready to capture some great memories together.  I like to tell them they’ve done all their hard work to get here, and now they get to relax while I do the work!

Begin your shoot with a basic standing pose.  Make sure your camera settings are on-point and the lighting is just right, then give them some basic guidelines for what to do with their hands and how to stand before moving into verbal prompts.  Continue to talk to your subjects while shooting to keep them comfortable.  This truly will lead to the most natural photo poses.

Prompting Poses for Photography For Couples

Let’s talk about posing couples for photography!  Natural posing for couples that shows your couple holding hands and sharing a kiss or a giggle is so much fun!  There are limitless possibilities for prompting your subjects into natural poses.  I’ve done the work for you in researching those possibilities and have put together a few guides to get you started.

When you are shooting a couple, maybe for engagement photos or a couple’s maternity shoot, check out Unposed Photography Prompts Instead of Poses for Natural Photos by clicking on the image below.

Ad image with unposed couple smiling and dancing

Natural couple poses become so much easier with prompts.  Using natural photography poses, you can showcase the genuine connection between two people.  Most people don’t enjoy posing in photos or with photographers, but posing for photographs becomes easy when you guide them into natural couple poses with fun prompts.

Prompting for Groups

I love a good group photo!  Doesn’t everyone?  There is so much room for great fun when shooting a bunch of people together.  Everyone loves a good time, from business photos to family reunions or wedding shots.  When your group sees you coming, you’d like to let them know you’re going to have a great time and then continue to put them at ease throughout the shoot.  Prompts are a great way to do just that!  I’ve put together a handy guide that walks you through the basics of photographing big groups of people.  Check it out!

AD Image for Photographing Large Groups

And here is a list of photography prompts that work wonderfully with groups.

Ad image for Photography Prompts for Groups showing a crowd of people on the beach jumping in the air

Poses for photographing Families

Families can bring about a whole new challenge when posing for photography.  Don’t let small kids, stressed-out parents or moody teens get you nervous.  Prompts work especially well with families.  It’s important to bring a sense of movement and emotion into a family shoot, especially with young children.  Directing them through natural interactions will show a snapshot of their life in action. 

Once again, I’ve done the heavy lifting by putting together a premade list of prompts that will take you efficiently through an entire family shoot.

Ad image for Photography Prompt for Families

If you’re looking for that competitive edge, then using prompts is the way to go.  You will surely get a leg up on other photographers in your area by using prompts to get natural photo poses instead of stiff, awkward family photos with cheesy smiles or, even worse, no smiles.  Everyone would rather see a photo of their loved ones laughing, smiling, and having a good time than a stiff, posed image.

For basic tips on working with families at your next shoot, check out this guide for family photography.  It covers much more than just prompting and also gives you some great tips for general family photography.

Ad image showing a family at an outdoor family photo shoot

Prompting for Individuals

Prompting for individuals can be just the ticket to avoiding awkwardness, and I find it one of the easiest ways to photograph people independently.  It’s as simple as talking and asking questions while letting their true personalities emerge.

Here is an amazing guide to help you get some amazing girls’ natural images.

Ad image for cute girl poses

And if you’re looking for a little insight into how to make the most of a small, private location, take a look at this amazing photoshoot featuring a high school senior graduate who requested a super private location where no one would be looking at her.  This was so much fun, and you can’t even tell that we captured all these images in the backyard of a local church.

Ad image for Hanna Senior Portrait Location

Prompting at the Holidays!

It may not be holiday season when you’re reading this, but alas – the holidays will arrive and you’ll be so glad for this holiday guide for prompting!

AD image of kids hands holding cups of hot cocoa shown from above in a Christmas photo shoot

Special Considerations

A final note about the client who is worried about how she looks in front of the camera: many people, especially women, don’t like taking photos and are extremely body-conscious.  As photographers in today’s culture, we are responsible for encouraging a healthy self-image with our clients.  Of course, it’s essential to assure your client how beautiful she is and how much she’s gonna love her photos.

And you can also employ a few tricks that will boost her confidence in your ability to make her look and feel slender.  I’ve made it easy for you by putting together some great tips to help your client feel slimmer.  And I used my own curvaceous self as a model, so I know these tips work!  These are some great photo poses for girls to look and feel great about themselves.  Finally, these tips are great for natural poses for Instagram if you’re into selfies!

Ad image for Slimmer Subject

No matter who your subject is, don’t forget to reassure them as you shoot.  Everyone could use a little positive reinforcement, especially when they’re in front of the camera.  It can also be fun to give your client a little sneak peek at what you’re shooting throughout the session.  Please make sure you tell them what a great job they’re doing when you show them a peek at the back of your camera.  The more comfortable they feel, the more likely they will work together with you and be willing to try new and different poses.


The more you use prompting with your clients, the more confident you will become.  As you get used to building client relationships and feel at ease with prompting for genuine emotions, you will soon find yourself looking forward to client shoots like you never have. 

Using the prompting technique to draw out genuine emotion gives you more natural results than a posed photo shoot.  Instead of trying so hard to look natural by using unnatural positioning, your photos will look and feel so much more relaxed.  Everyone will look like they’re feeling happy and having fun because they actually are!  This is groundbreaking stuff. 

If you are still unsure about where to begin with prompts, don’t worry!  I put together this great big list of prompts for all different scenarios.  Have fun!

a mom and child touching noses AD image for a photo prompt list

Summing It All Up

1.    Make friends with your client.  Take time to get to know them before your session.

2.    Pick some amazing prompts and be ready to use them!

3.    Prep your camera settings and be ready to capture amazing natural images!

4.    Be ready to book them for their next shoot and be ready for referral calls!

Pin image of a woman with a megaphone with the title prompting and posing photoshoot

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