Every client you will ever have will say, “I prefer candid photos, not posed photos.” And we get that: We understand that they want pictures that look like a moment captured instead of faces lined up in a row. But we also know that they don’t mean it.

Candid … but not

They mean they want natural-looking expressions and natural-feeling backdrops. But they don’t initially understand that they still need significant posing help to have flattering pictures — pictures with hair that not’s flying in faces, pictures that still help them look their best. Truly candid pictures rarely end up in a frame on the wall.

Pose, then un-pose

And that’s your job. You’ve got to perfect your un-posing. You’ve got to get folks posed in a way that is flattering and interesting, then let them free for a few moments of giggles or laughs, or gently looking away. Put them in a place with great light, group them so the composition is pleasing and give them something to do.

Have a vision and be ready

For instance, group a family on a pathway in a park with great light. Maybe dad is tallest and goes in the center, mom on his left, oldest kid on his right, the youngest kid running ahead. You need to know that this will look good in this light and this composition with the pathway and trees. Lay down on the ground and have them walk toward you (use AF-C focus mode!). Have them do it again. And again. Once more like they’re rock stars. Last one … bam. You’ve totally posed them and totally created an un-posed photo.

Maybe put a guy in his dream car with terrific sunlight coming through the trees, place a white reflector on the ground in front of him, zoom in and lay on your stomach so all the other cars and people at the car show are out of the frame. Tell him to look cool. Tell him to look like Steve McQueen. Tell him to wave at the person walking by. Just be ready for him to crack up.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.