Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Groups of People

Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Groups of People

Previously in the posing guide series articles we looked at posing female subjects, posing male subjects, posing children and posing couples. It is now time for posing groups of people.

There are usually three kinds of group shots. First are just formal shots with a large number of people. Second are more informal shots with a group of friends. And finally, photographing a group or family members. In this order, let’s look at some sample poses and posing ideas.

1. When working with a large group of people you won’t be able to control each individual’s pose or expression. This is fine as long as you pay attention to the overall composition. Imagine the whole group to be a single object. Principally, make sure that all people in the group are visible.


2. When photographing large groups, quite often the only possible composition in order to get everyone into the frame will be to compose in full height. These kind of shots are usually formal and documentary so again, your primary objective here would be to get everyone in the group clearly visible.


3. If possible, search for ways to shoot from an elevated angle. Using a balcony or climbing on a car to get a higher viewpoint could work perfectly. It will definitely be worth the effort, because instead of an ordinary and common group shot you will get more interesting and inviting perspective.


4. There are occasions when standing separately for the members of a group will be more appropriate than “keeping heads together”. Maybe it’s not the best way to take a “friendly group”, but might work very well for a small team shot, e.g. music band or co-workers in a project. If a group has a known leader, put him or her in front for even stronger composition.


5. This is pretty much a standard way to photograph a group of friends. Yes, it’s easy, ordinary and common way to pose for snapshots, but it really works, so – why not?


6. This is a fun composition which comes across as a quite friendly pose. Ask everyone to stand very close together. Then make them lean their heads slightly closer to each other and towards the camera.


7. Ask the group to form a circle while lying in the grass outdoors or on the ground indoors while you shoot from above.


8. Very fun and rewarding way to set up a small group of people. Choose a “group leader” and put him or her in front. The others should then join one by one. Each of them is supposed to stand behind the previous person peeking towards the camera over the shoulder etc. Supporting themselves a little on the person directly in front adds to the cordiality of the composition.


9. A slight variation of the previous one. Put a “group leader” in front and the others to appear behind each other. Take shots with different aperture settings and choose later if you prefer only the first one or all of the group members to be in focus.


10. Very fun way for informal picture of group of friends. For the best results, ask a group to make a jump after a short run.


11. Very rewarding and interesting composition is to shoot group of people in a row. Check that everybody is clearly visible and shoot from a close distance with a wide aperture and focus on the first person. Yes, people farther away will be blurred, but they will still agree that a result is a very interesting and unusual looking group shot.


12. Now, let’s look at some family samples. The most common way to photograph all the family members is sitting on a couch in the living room. It is not the most creative way for a family shot, but it can be done quite fine. The easiest way to improve these standard compositions is simply to crop real tight. Don’t include that lovely couch and room’s furniture in the shot. Fill the frame with and only with all the family members.


13. Another good idea for family shots is to simply get outside. Sitting in the lawn, in a local park or on a beach – all of these are excellent places to take some family shots. Just remember – when subjects are sitting, don’t remain standing – get low and shoot from your subjects’ eye level.


14. A family lying close together on the ground. Make them lift their upper bodies a bit by using their arms as supports. Shoot from a low angle.


15. A beautiful composition for a family shot. Might be done outdoors on the ground or indoors in a bed. Works absolutely fine with any number of kids.


16. Cozy pose with a family sitting comfortably on their favorite couch.


17. For an unusual and interesting family picture, turn the traditional couch photo setting around. Simply take your shots from the back side and see what a huge difference it can make.


18. Just a slight variation when taking a picture from the couch’s back side.


19. Absolutely beautiful way to make shots of a group of family members. Just ask the kids to hang onto the adults’ backs.


20. Very easy pose for a full height shot. As you can imagine, works well with any number of persons.


21. Take shots with the family walking hand in hand. Shoot in continuous mode and select the photos with the best leg movement and positioning. Keep in mind to control a focus, while subjects are approaching from a distance.


And finally, be creative and come up with different variants on your own. Think of ways you can transform the corresponding pose for your particular shooting scenario and subjects. Use these initial sample poses as a source for your own creativity!

Check out our other Posing Guides:

Grab Our Guide to Portrait Posing

Kaspars Grinvalds is a photographer working and living in Riga, Latvia. He is the author of Posing App where more poses and tips about people photography are available.

Read more from our category

Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to dPS.
Please see their details in the post above.

Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community.

Some Older Comments

  • ayeen May 30, 2013 01:36 pm

    hi! any suggestions on how to take a picture for a group of 70 (seventy) people? it’ll be features in our corporate annual report. thanks! the size will be 8 1/2 x 11. :)

  • michael January 7, 2013 09:49 am

    @Steve from May 25th.

    I have to side with others like Kaspars who disagree with the arms being folded giving an "arrogant" appearance. I have been shooting people for decades and I can tell you, people don't know what to do with their hands and OFTEN feel and look more comfortable (and natural) with their arms crossed. Yes, If they lean back and look down their nose at the camera like some puffy-chested rapper, the attitude changes. But this is the exception. If they are heavy, it often looks forced as they can not comfortably cross their arms, but I shoot people A LOT with folded arms, and I don't think they ever look arrogant.

    Take a look at these and let me know if you think anyone looks arrogant.



  • David Wahlman January 5, 2013 05:38 am

    Thanks for the article! It came in really handy and gave me great ideas right before doing a family session. Thanks

  • Simran December 20, 2012 03:33 am

    The series that has been most helpful for me. Great

  • cpando June 19, 2012 05:37 am

    Great series of articles, just wanted to let you know we are out here, keep posting we will keep reading!
    (I also hope the comment help the site numbers, not that they need it)

  • Teri W. June 1, 2012 01:34 am

    I also found this article VERY helpful! PLEASE consider creating a printable version for each of the posing guides that have been outlined on DPS, it would be extremely helpful. If you create a pdf, some of the drawings are cut-off, while still helpful a more desirable version would be a smooth transition from drawing to drawing. :)

  • Scott May 31, 2012 04:13 am

    I don't like being the negative Nancy of the form but I'm going to be anyways. I enjoy the poses the author is sharing, they are all great. BUT DO NOT BUY THIS APP IN THE APP STORE! Yes it is convenient to have them on your iDevice, but the author is sharing more poses on DPS than they are sharing for PAYING CUSTOMERS. I have had the app for over a months now and yet to receive an update with new poses. Props to the author for great poses and drawings, but greatly dissatisfied and borderline angry no updates when in app description says, "### We are currently working hard on bringing you a lot more poses soon!###

  • Eric May 31, 2012 03:25 am

    Love to use this in a class I teach. What's needed for permissions etc.

  • Kaspars Grinvalds May 30, 2012 11:35 pm

    @karen - you are absolutely right, not all of these sample poses are appropriate for families with seniors. But, for example, adjusting accordingly #5, #6, #12, #13 might work very well.

  • Kaspars Grinvalds May 30, 2012 11:21 pm

    @dick - thanks for a very good question! Well, first of all, let's keep in mind, there are no absolutes - no dos or donts. Look at all these "rules" as suggestions "try this and that". As in your example with subjects sitting on the ground, try all three shooting angles - from the sitting position, standing and elevated from above. And then simply choose one, which works the best for your scenario.
    I personally have found that slightly unusual angle or perspective for me usually is more engaging and those pictures somehow tend to stand out. But really, it's up to you!

  • Karen Souther May 29, 2012 01:05 pm

    Question for you, we are a family of 5. I have had such a hard time getting good shots of us, especially since my children are not babies anymore. Any suggestions on doing odd number of people (greater than 3)? :-)

  • James McDonald May 29, 2012 09:20 am

    I am a professional photographer and also teach high school digital photography and find these templates great to help students get the basics and then they can create from there. I always teach the students to get the "bread and butter" poses first when working with clients and then they can work on the creative ideas they have. These are an excellent resource!

  • Jenny May 28, 2012 11:16 pm

    i love the suggetions. Especially the group row picture. I'll try it next time. Thansk :)

  • nes sunglao May 28, 2012 11:06 pm

    This is very informative. Great suggestion. I can use this for my lesson (I teach CCA-Photography to grade 6 and high school students who wish to learn how to use their camera, be it handphone, pocket, or slr).

  • Alex May 28, 2012 07:10 pm

    Another great article. I have to shoot a large group at the end of next month, I think I will try some of these out. Thanks!

  • ccting May 28, 2012 10:04 am

    holly good, i am waiting for this article.. Thanks very very very much.

  • Jason May 28, 2012 09:34 am

    Steve - I have never gotten upset with anyone posting on DPS, until now. Constructive criticism is one thing, but you basically talked down to the author in front of everyone. Its inappropriate. The author put himself out there and gave you an article that you didn't pay for I might add, and while you have the legal right to say whats on your mind, there is the issue of common decency. Perhaps you were just having a bad day - or maybe you just are just a really rude guy... or maybe you like the negative attention (like a three year old temper tantrum). I really don't care who you are - and what you have accomplished in your life... i don't care if you were Ansel Adams reincarnate - Its rude. Please don't call people out again - as you can see for yourself - no matter what you say in your next post - it doesn't feel good!

    As for "rules". Look, it really wouldn't be ART if you just color inside the lines. As much as you may not want to cross your arms during an interview, because Zig Ziglar, and the rest of the business self help folks told you it was a bad idea to do so, or to have facial hair, or not to wear red white and blue in your attire.... when a subject is taking fun photos he is NOT applying for a job at a fortune 500 company. Heck, if every picture we took was supposed to be scrutinized by corporate america - it would be a horrific existence. One of the reasons I am a photographer is so that I don't have to conform.. I do that at my day job as an airline captain... there is no need to add such structure to family, fun, heck even corporate photographs.

    If the CEO of GE refuses to cross his arms in my portrait session - so be it. But when the rest of the HUMANS out there, if they like the look, so be it. Im not looking to win friends and influence people, or become a wealthy barber - or rich dad poor dad all the time... Picasso would have been fired by HR for sexual harassment, and god knows what kind of lawsuit leanardo da vinci would have encountered for all those nude images he created!!! WHO CARES

    Like I said, I don't care if you have the worlds largest commercial portrait studio and earn a billion dollars a year... just as Kaspars told you in his post TO EACH THEIR OWN.

    Please do not attack an author again - its rude. And I don't like calling people out either - but someone has got to stand up for the author. He obviously has too much class to respond to you in kind.

    Susan Wood - you misunderstood #7, they aren't looking down on the camera, they are looking up while laying on the grass.

  • paul docktor May 28, 2012 03:33 am

    Great ideas for groups. I do lots of fund raising golf tournaments and these will be great poses to add to my armamentarium

  • Dick May 27, 2012 05:08 am

    Just curious. You stated earlier that pix of groups from a higher elevation, like a balcony, were good. So why wouldn't this work for groups sitting down, i.e., with you as the photographer standing up? Thanks.

    >>>13. Another good idea for family shots is to simply get outside. Sitting in the lawn, in a local park or on a beach – all of these are excellent places to take some family shots. Just remember – when subjects are sitting, don’t remain standing – get low and shoot from your subjects’ eye level.

    Read more: https://digital-photography-school.com/posing-guide-21-sample-poses-to-get-you-started-with-photographing-groups-of-people#ixzz1w0JW9T6T

  • Amir May 26, 2012 10:27 pm

    Great Article

    i find the greatet captures are the spontanious ones :)

    try some from behind, they make very funy pictures :)


  • dee May 26, 2012 01:10 pm

    I have purchased the app and I want more poses out of these given away.

  • Kaspars Grinvalds May 25, 2012 05:57 pm

    @steve - You refer to those indeed popular and commonly exploited body language "rules" that says crossing arms and legs means putting up some barriers etc. Even if such beliefs are widespread, it doesn't mean they are correct. In pictures crossed arms on the chest don't send any subconscious signs or warnings. That's all a complete nonsense. Or at least very superficial generalization of body language.
    Crossing arms and legs in all different ways is absolutely fine for people photography. Of course, we may leave this to our own personal taste, but I just want you to encourage not limit yourself and try some crossed arms poses with your subjects. You might surprisingly find that such a pose may as well indicate kindness and tenderness.

  • Michael Walsh May 25, 2012 08:48 am

    Another take on tip #7 is to place the camera on the ground and use the timer function, and have the group circle the camera and lean in over it. It creates a great 360 degree photo.

  • DG May 25, 2012 08:42 am

    Great tips! I really like number 9...very creative.

  • Ukalady May 25, 2012 08:36 am

    The Posing App is even better than making PDFs of these and printing them out. The artwork is the same, the poses are grouped by subject type. Tap on a pose you like and it opens another screen with even more tips for that particular pose. Definitely worth the $1.99!

  • Chris Vansant May 25, 2012 06:48 am

    Love this series. I haven't done much portrait photography, but when I do, I'm alwaysstruggling for ideas. These are great. Have you considered doing another on one on casual relationships (not romantic couples), such as two or more girl/guy friends? How to pose in a non-romantic way?

  • Olga Rosi May 25, 2012 05:06 am

    The most useful posing guide series I've ever seen! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience! Cheers from Ukraine :)

  • Joe Bartoszek May 25, 2012 04:07 am

    This is a great article. Being a wheelchair user, how about adding a segment on photographing people in wheelchairs

  • Suzan Wood-Young May 25, 2012 03:25 am

    Love these ideas but I can't help comment on number 7 with people in a circle looking down at the camera. Gravity is not your friend in this for anyone with extra weight on their face. On the other hand, number 8 is very forgiving...gravity can take off pound and years!

  • Colleen May 25, 2012 02:47 am

    I found this and the other posing articles very helpful and I went on to purchase the app for my iPhone and iPad. Excellent field guide and always with me!

  • Steve May 25, 2012 02:07 am

    The first three poses suffer a major flaw. Unless you are deliberately making your model(s) out to be arrogant, self-comforting (nervous), close-minded or out-right adversarial, DO NOT HAVE THEM CROSS THEIR ARMS.
    You wouldn't present yourself at job interview with this pose,(unless you don't want the job), so why would you pose your friends and or clients in this manner. Especially when you are committing them to a still image.
    Crossed arms is still powerful (negative) body language, even if you belong to the "gangster wanna be generation" and it is consistently used by photographers who can't come up with more creative solutions.
    ( if your subject naturally crosses their arms, its a sign either they really don't enjoy being photographed or
    they might want to convey something that in the end isn't the message you are attempting to achieve)

  • Dina May 25, 2012 01:59 am

    Great article thanks

  • Donnie May 25, 2012 01:43 am

    All of these poses are available in an app on the Google Play store, Posing App. It is an awesome app, and I highly recommend it. Another way to get these conveniantly on your mobile device, is to download the app Readability. This app will convert web pages into uncluttered decuments which are easy to read on cell phones.

  • josh May 25, 2012 01:14 am

    great article and examples. i'm bookmarking this for sure. thanks.

  • Lisa May 25, 2012 01:03 am

    This article appeared at just the right time. I have a huge photo shoot this weekend with 10 groups from the same family. They've gathered everyone for a family reunion and photo shoot with their Great-grandparents. Although I use most of these poses in my work, tThis posing guide is a great quick reference ! Thanks for posting!!

  • Amara May 25, 2012 01:02 am

    Thank you for these guides!!! I printed them to have handy at photoshoots. For myself as quick reference to have a new posing idea while the client is changing clothes. Also it is easy to show them, it this case the saying is ' a drawing says more than a 1.000 words' - as they can see what I mean. Without the intimidation of a cover glossy model photo as example! THANKS!!!

  • Harry May 25, 2012 12:56 am

    Great series I printed all of them out and take them with me whenever I need to shoot weddings, or individual and group portraits. I added some favorites that I accumulated throughout the years but this completes the set. These are much better than those so-called posing books whose subjects are all movie stars or fashion models. thanks

  • John Cunnell May 25, 2012 12:55 am

    Great tool. Do you have any suitable poses for grumpy old people?

  • Judy May 24, 2012 11:05 pm

    I'm wondering why I even bought the app. He seems to be giving away all the images anyway.

  • Martina May 24, 2012 05:12 pm

    I love this series too!! Thanks :)

  • Marcus S Davis May 24, 2012 12:41 pm

    I absolutely love this series. Is there any chance you could put all these into a printable format? That would be great.

  • Gabrielle C. May 24, 2012 11:07 am

    Great article! This will really come in handy! now if only I had a "field guide" and could take it with me! :)

  • Scottc May 24, 2012 10:14 am

    Great guide, thanks for sharing this!


  • steve slater May 24, 2012 04:35 am

    A good article. I still love the more natural scene with a group of people doing what comes naturally.