Posing Guidelines

Published on July 12, 2017

Capture their Personality!

Your goal is to capture each child’s personality. We all know that children are going to do what they want to do.  However, as a guideline try to get each of the following shots:

  • Head/shoulder portrait (smiling and looking at the camera) – These are the photos that parents have a tendency to purchase.  Therefore, make sure you
    obtain at least one of these traditional poses.  If possible, try to acquire three four of these poses, each with different expressions.  Most parents like to see their children happy & smiling.

smiling looking at camera

NOTE:  Statistics show that 95% of parents purchase the smiling/looking at the camera head-shot.

  • Standing full-length portraits — Try to obtain two different shots
  • 419_1030 419_1029
  • Sitting full length portraits — Try to obtain two different shots
  • sitting3 sitting4
  • Sitting three-quarter length portraits — Try to obtain two different shots
  • 419_1041 419_1042
  • Standing three-quarter length portraits — Try to obtain two different shots
  • standing 34 standing 34-2
  • Close-up
  • closeup1 closeup2
  • Drama
  • drama1
  • Looking away
  • drama2
  • Action shot
  • action action2 action3
  • If they brought any props with them, show them interacting with the prop
  • prop1 prop2


IMPORTANT!  Communicate with your assistant!  Once you get the shot… move on!  As a general rule, photograph 3 or 4 different images of varying focal lengths (full length, three quarters, close up, turn) and expressions each time the child is posed.


Give parents 15-20 images of multiple poses and expressions!  Here are some ideas… vary each pose 3 ways!

  • Hands Under Chin… Any seated pose can be changed in an instant by asking the child to pull their hands up to their chin.

Hands under chin

  • Think of a million things to do with their props…
    • Hug it, Kiss it, Look at it!

hug kiss look at plush

  • Put it on your head!

put it on your head

  • Look Cool, Hands on your head, Circus, and Jump
    • Variations of the standing pose…
      • Standing- notice how his feet are a little apart to give a triangle configuration…
      • Hands on your head…
      • Circus … works best by having them follow your assistant… tell them to  put their hands up and one foot out.
      • The  SRP jump.  Works best if you turn them to the light, and have them kick their feet up (a demonstration usually does the trick)… if they jump straight on, then they look like they are a double-amputee.

Stand, Hands on head and up and Jump

  • Baby Doll Love
  • This child brought her own baby doll! I LOVE when parents send their own things, but you can do this with the studio plush for the set too…

baby doll love

  • Fun with Hair
    • If the girls come with one pony, we always have them hold one side up, and to balance the pose the other arm goes on the hip… super sassy!
    • SRP Classic Hair Flip… have the child look at the back drop, and on the count of 3, turn and look at the camera… it usually takes 2 or 3 shots to get them turning and looking into the camera.
    • Pony Tails… this pose is a must for every girl with double pony tails!

fun with hair

  • Show off their bows and necklaces

neck wear

  • A favorite book!

a favorite book

  • Babies!


BRIGHT IDEA:  Watch posing videos from past sets to get ideas on things to do in the future.  


  • Bottoms of shoes… NO… We never want to see the bottoms of shoes, so if shoes stay on, turn or position feet in a way that naturally hides the soles.  The first pose with the boy is called the “boy pose” but it works for girls too.  Notice the legs are placed where we do not see the sole.  An easy way to get this pose is to ask the kids to sit “criss-cross-applesauce” and then bring the one leg up.  The second is also a shoe sole away from the camera, we call this the “mermaid” pose.

shoes boy pose     mermaid

  • Skirts – Fluff skirts when girls sit or lay down.  Try not to have them straight on their bottoms… fluffed and round is always better.

skirt round

  • Pockets – tuck in pockets
  • Collars – make sure they are straight
  • Zipper and Buttons –  zipped and buttoned.
  • Rolled pants – If pants are too long, roll them up 2 times or so.
  • Sleeves -If too long, roll them up to forearm or elbow length.  Kids should never be missing a hand due to long sleeves!
  • If a girl’s blouse or sweater is too long in the sleeves, roll once or twice if necessary. We want to see their hands!
  • There will be times when a child arrives with a graphic-laden shirt or even a suitable shirt that has been paired with faded Miami Dolphins sweatpants.  Be creative and work with the outfit.
  • If a shirt has a lot of graphics or is otherwise unsuitable, work to minimize visibility of the shirt.  You can also lay the child down on a prop, such as a trunk, or lay the child down on the floor and cross his/her arms in front.  If there is a chair on the set, another idea is to turn the chair backwards so that the back of the chair is blocking most of the front of the child’s shirt.  Have the child cross his/her arms on the chair back.
  • Similar workarounds are possible when the child is wearing a suitable top paired with inappropriate pants.  Work to hide the bottom of the child behind a prop or have the child stand or kneel in a chair that has been turned around backwards.
  • Watch Video: Creative Posing (for the wrong clothing)

Creative Posing (for the wrong clothing) from MelissaTash on Vimeo.


  • Temporary Tattoos – Tattoos, stamps and markers can often be hidden just by hand arrangement, but make sure it looks natural and not awkward.  These can also can be edited out in post-production
  • If the tattoo is cute and says something about the child’s personality, USE IT! – after the traditional poses have been done, play a little – Show me your muscles, Peek a Boo, Point to muscle, etc…
  • Scrapes and Scratches – We usually don’t worry about these.  They can be edited out in post-production.  If a scratch is near the hairline, try to cover with hair, but make sure the hair looks natural!


  • Non-Glare – If a child is wearing non-glare glasses, then you can continue with the shoot as normal.  Test the glasses in the first couple of images by having the child look at the light.  If there is not a glare on the glasses, chances are they are non-glare glasses (yea!)
  • Glare – If the child is wearing glasses that reflect the flash, raise the main until their glasses are not on the same plane as their glasses. This adjustment will cause the lighting on the set to change, so you will need to increase the ISO setting to make up for the light being farther away.  You may also lose catchlights, but losing catchlights is preferable to glass glare.
    • If you can not get rid of the glare by repositioning the light, make sure you take several images (at the same angles) with their glasses off.   You can later composite in their eyes without the glasses.  (This is not preferred, but it can work)
  •  REMEMBER to re-adjust your settings when the next child is being photographed!

Eliminating Glare from Glasses

  • The photos below demonstrate how it is possible to eliminate glare on glasses by having the child tilt their head in a different direction. Here, the subject simply needed to lower her chin.

Glass Glare1

  • The key is putting the surface of the glasses on a different plane than the surface of the lights.

Glass Glare2