Getting Candid About Posed vs Prompted Photos

May 19, 2021

Ready to get out of a family photo rut? Let’s break down candid vs. posed photos, and talk about how to prepare for your most memorable photo session yet!


But first, a flashback…


Remember those awful school photos they used to make us take? The ones with world globes, lasers, or American flags in the background? Or the ones where they had us prop our heads on our hands or stare off into the middle distance? The idea that we paid for these photos adds to their kitschiness, but I, for one, am sure glad that photos now have a bit more of life and personality to them!


When you are looking for a photographer to capture photos that look and feel like your personality, you’re looking for something beyond posed photos. These photos have many different names, which can be confusing; lifestyle photos, candid photos, prompted photos, documentary photos.


So what do they mean? Between candid vs. posed photos, which one is right for you? Keep reading to find out!


Candid vs. Posed Photos


Posed Photos


So before you think I’m picking on posed photos, I’m not. I appreciate the art of a classically lit portrait, and there are many (many) photographers do it well here in Phoenix. It’s not my jam, and asking me to do a very posed photo would be like asking a pastry chef to make sushi. Could they do it? Probably, but it wouldn’t be their best work.

Posed photos are constructed by the photographer and are often controlled 100%, down to the pinky. Tilt your head this way, move your leg this way; it’s a deliberate act to capture the subject in a specific manner.

It’s a very rigid style that I feel highlights a photographer’s skill and doesn’t tell the story of the person behind in front of the camera. Kids, in particular, are not a fan of this style. To be honest, most adults are not either!

Posed photos are not part of my in home family photo sessions, but if that’s your style I will happily to refer you to some great local pose perfecting photographers!

Prompted Photos


On the spectrum of candid vs. posed photos, prompted photos fall in the middle. With prompted photos, a photographer will use prompts to get the subject to react to the camera in a more natural way. It might be something like “Hold hands and walk down the path” or “Whisper something funny in her ear”. The hope is that this prompt will help the subject loosen up a bit and then be able to capture more candid moments after the prompt.

Prompts can sometimes be helpful, especially at the beginning of a session, if people are nervous or unsure of what to do in front of the camera. But relying on them for the whole session results in not staged photos, but not natural, either. It’s a forced photo-ready version of you.

Who wants a photo where all you can think is, “our photographer told us to do that?” when they look at it years later?


Candid Photos


Do you know the way your kiddo snuggles against you? The way they asked to be picked up and held? That’s the stuff, right there. Imagine you had photos of that, captured in the most natural way possible. 

These moments cannot be created by a photographer; they can only be captured by a photographer who lives and breathes for these images. Hi, you just met her!

Candid photos happen naturally when people are willing to just be themselves. While it can take some time to ease into such an unposed, unprompted session, the resulting photos are unmistakably you. These are the photos you’re going to want in your hands years from now.

What you Can Expect During an In Home Candid Photography Session


Lucky for you, being completely yourself makes for great photographs.

All my photo sessions start a pre-session consultation, where I actually get to know you, and your kids get to know me. No stranger danger here!

We’ll come up with some ideas for activities to do, based on the interests and hobbies you already enjoy together as a family.

Then on session day, I’ll simply tag along taking photos! While I may suggest a certain area of your home, you won’t have to deal with any awkward poses that don’t feel like you.

Best of all, I’ll be 100% focused not on the next pose on the list, but on bottling up all the goodness and beauty of this season of life.

See what I mean?



If after learning about candid vs. posed photos, you find yourself on team candid, be sure to hire a photographer who specializes in them!


Ready to start planning your session together? Get in touch!




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