February 3, 2023

How to Not Look Awkward in Family Photos

Oftentimes, a huge reason that people put off having family photos done is that they are convinced they will be so awkward in the photos. I regularly have potential clients give me a ‘warning’ along the lines of “we are no models!” Guess what? Almost none of my clients are real models! You can have beautiful, natural, candid family photos no matter who you are or what you look like. Here are some tips on how to look and feel less awkward in your family photos. Make sure to read all the way through because I saved the most important one for last!

worcester family photographer


During my family portrait sessions, I give gentle direction and guide you into poses that encourage connection. I’ll get you set up in a way that reads nicely in camera, but don’t feel like you have to stay cemented in place! Move around, loosen up, you aren’t meant to be frozen in that spot and I’m not going to yell at you if you move around in the pose I set up. This is the intention, and letting yourself move will encourage natural interactions to create lovely authentic images! So change it up, lean into your partner, then reach down ruffle your kiddos’ hair, then crouch down to tell them you love them and give them a big squeeze. The next set of pictures directly below are a great example of how I will set you up in one way, and you can let it be a guide rather than a strict pose.

how to look less awkward in family photos
lifestyle family photography
how to look natural in photos

Soak in the moments

How often do you get to spend quality time together as family, just enjoying each other’s company? This is a perfect time to take a mental step back and soak in all the wonder of your family. The way your baby fits so perfectly into your arms, the funny way your toddler crinkles their nose when they don’t want to do what you say, the way your partner is able to soothe baby’s sadness in the blink of an eye.

Focus on your family instead of the photographer. This is obviously easier said than done, but do your best to be in the moment and forget about the camera. Love on your family and the emotions will shine right through in the final images. This day is so you can never forget the feel of your baby’s perfectly chunky cheeks, the smell of their wispy little hair. So lean in, soak it up, and be amazed at what your life has created.

massachusetts newborn photographer

Imagine you’re in a movie

Think about the movies you’ve seen where people are in love. The intense eye contact, the slow kisses, the being as close as humanly possible. This is obviously not our all-the-time behavior, but there is a reason why this stuff looks good on screen and your family photo session is the perfect time to let your feelings shine through.

So, there are two outcomes of this movie pretending thing. One, you embrace those romantic moments– grab your partner’s chin and pull them in while you kiss them, rest your face on their chest, snuggle together and look lovingly into the sunset. Or two, you feel absolutely absurd doing this and you laugh about the ridiculousness. Laughter is just as beautiful as romance, so either way, pretending you’re in a movie about your family’s love is a win win.

emotive family photos
lifestyle family photography

Touch Touch Touch

Touch is everything! Physical contact is what brings a photo from blah to WOW. Have you noticed a trend through all the example photos in this post? Lots of touching and physical connection! Your family photo session should be a time for all hands on deck! Don’t let your arm dangle at your side, you’ve got a whole gaggle of humans you love around you. Here are some examples of things to do:

  • hold their hand
  • rest your hand on their chest
  • twirl their hair in your finger
  • gently grab their chin
  • snuggle them into a bear hug
  • rest your chin on their head
  • lean your forehead into them
  • delicately trace lines along their head/arms/belly with your fingertip
  • tickle their belly
  • kiss their temple
  • whisper you love them in their ear
  • ruffle their hair

The options are endless, and this adds so much connection to your images. And when you’re combining this with my first tip of movement (don’t stay frozen in place!) you’re creating a whole variety of perfectly emotive memories to keep forever. Mostly, just be inspired by those you love and let your feelings for them show!

how to get amazing family photos
how to pose in family photos

I hope this helps you feel less awkward going into your family photos! At the very least, even if you still feel fully awkward, let yourself laugh at the feeling as it will relax you and make for happy photos. You got this!