Guide to Best Friend Photoshoots (Poses & Ideas)

friend-photoshoots

Best friend photoshoots are a great way to formally capture the beauty of one’s closest friendships.

As a genre, best friend photography derives from portrait photography. Of course, you’re not just looking to photograph the subjects, but also their relationship – how they interact with each other, their emotions, shared moments, and so on.

Even if the main focus is friendship, people always like to look good in photos, so you have to consider the lighting and poses just as you would when approaching any other portrait.

That’s why, in this article, you’ll find 28 best friend photoshoot ideas for you to produce some amazing BFF pictures.

So grab your buddies and let’s get started!

How to Pose Best Friend Photoshoots

Best friend photoshoots can be about a single ‘BFF’ relationship (i.e, two best friends) or a large group of close friends; that’s why you have to be prepared with poses and ideas to keep things fun and dynamic.

Here are a few tips and examples to get you inspired on your next best friend photo shoot.

1. Go on location

Two girls laughing sitting on tree branch

Credit: Dương Nhân

Finding a beautiful backdrop for a friend photoshoot can go a long way to improving your photos.

Depending on your subjects’ age and personality, you can go to an urban or a natural location. Aim for something that inspires them to interact and captures who they are.

2. Look for shapes

Group BFF pictures

Credit: Junior Reis (left); Shazmyn Ali

Sometimes posing a group of friends is difficult. Try to create shapes for a better composition that will make your photo pleasing and powerful.

Triangles are the easiest shapes to form with a group of friends. However, you can get creative and find different ways to structure your group friend pictures, especially if you have a drone or can get a high point of view.

This tip works for family portraits too.

3. Capture friendly hugs

Two best friends hugging

Credit: Tani Eisenstein

Hugs are one of the most sincere expressions of affection. When a friend hugs you, you feel safe and loved. That’s why one of the best friend photoshoot ideas is to have the subjects hug each other.

You want the hug to be as natural as possible; it should look like it happened spontaneously. To achieve that, try to give as few instructions as possible and just let the friends do their thing.

Remember – you’re not couple posing here, but rather, letting the friends be themselves and embrace each other in whatever way feels most natural and spontaneous.

4. Suggest activities

Two young men breakdancing

Credit: Allan Mas

Whenever you’re running out of best friend poses, one great idea is to suggest activities. If the friends have an activity that binds them together, such as soccer or playing cards – have them do it.

If there isn’t a particularly creative thing that they do on their own, make up something for the photoshoot. Ask them to come running towards the camera (or away from it).

Keep in mind that capturing moving subjects requires a fast shutter speed. Unless you want to introduce some creative motion blur, then you need to use a slow shutter speed and a tripod.

5. Consider your client’s age

Two elderly women looking out to sea

Credit: Pixabay

Friendship has no age limit, so best friend pictures can be done with all types of clients. You need to consider this when planning the location, poses, and activities you want to do.

If you’re looking for some picture ideas no matter your subjects’ age, check out this post.

6. Nothing says friendship more than laughter

Photo of two girl friends sitting and laughing

Credit: Elle Hughes

Best friends will always look better in photos when they have a significant and sincere smile on their faces. Sometimes laughter with your BFF is a given, but consider that these aren’t professional models you’re working with.

For most people, having a stranger pointing a camera at them and telling them how to act makes them feel shy or awkward. So, even best friends might have a difficult time offering a natural smile. It’s your job to make them feel comfortable and relaxed.

7. Change perspective

Photo of best friends lying down smiling

Credit: Asya Cusima

Taking all the pictures in the photoshoot at eye level can make for boring images. To mix things up, try changing your perspective. Get low on the ground or capture your models from the top down – just be careful not to drop your camera!

Portrait photography can be made 10x more interesting when you vary the angles, so get busy and start experiementing.

8. Ask for funny faces

Three girls posing on grass making funny faces

Credit: Jessica Ticozzelli

Asking your models to make funny faces can be a great way to break the ice and make them relax. Normally you wouldn’t do this with other types of portraits, but in this case, they’re besties – it’s OK to be silly!

Sometimes these pictures are just a way to warm up for better and more natural expressions; other times they make the perfect best friend photo.

9. Shoot during the evening

Low light photography of older men playing chess in the park

Credit: Egor Myznik

Shooting when it’s dark can be a challenge, but it can lead to great friend photoshoot ideas. The ambience is completely different, and the light can help you direct the attention towards the subject.

You can even try doing some best friend photoshoots when your subjects are heading out on the town together – that way they’re already dressed up and in a fun mood.

Keep in mind that photographing in low light can be tricky. You’ll have to raise the ISO, which will create some noise. You’ll probably have to use a slow shutter speed, so use a tripod to avoid camera shake – see more tips of low light photography here.

10. Try experimenting with flares

Group of people running through the desert

Credit: Jed Villejo

If you’re looking for best friend picture ideas, you should consider doing some creative camera lens flare.

Lens fllares can be a subtle way of adding warmth to your image – which is the feeling that you’re after when you’re photographing good friends.

To do this, you need to be shooting into the sun and move around until you cover just enough of the light to create the flare. You can experiment with different apertures until you find the best effect.

11. Photograph friends looking at the horizon

Group of young people looking out across the ocean

Credit: Duy Pham

If the location is good for it, ask your models to turn around and look at the horizon. This picture is great for best friends as well as couples because it represents them looking towards a future together.

If they do some creative poses, such as raising their hands to make heart shapes, it can be a fun photo for their social media too.

12. Posing doesn’t have to be stiff

Female friend group posing and laughing

Credit: Mentatdgt

Keep in mind that your subjects are not professional models. When regular people think of posing, they’re probably thinking about the headshots they take for their school yearbook – it goes without saying that you don’t want that.

Either way, they might be a little stiff and thinking about looking their best instead of looking natural. To take better portraits, you have to capture friends being friends.

Suggest a pose that makes them interact with each other, make them laugh, and be ready to capture candid photos. If you wait until everybody is posing and count down, you’ll be less likely to capture the friendship between them.

13. Do a no-face portrait

Faceless portrait of three people's legs and feet

Credit: Cottonbro

When people think of portraits, they immediately think about the face. Instead, consider some faceless photos during your photoshoots. Our body language is as powerful as our facial expressions, so use it.

For some pose ideas regardless of whether the face is shown or not, check out our guides to posing men and posing women.

14. Make it personal

Two girls sitting on top of a car

Credit: Elijah O’donnell

Organizing best friend photoshoots in their favourite places or a location with a backstory helps the photos become more personal.

Encourage the friends to use objects that have meaning for them as props. Maybe it’s something they gave to each other on a special occasion or the car they used for a road trip.

Talk to them before the session to come up with personalised friend photoshoot ideas together.

15. Get best friends in a huddle

Photo of a group of best friends huddling together

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio

Nothing says team like a huddle, and what are best friends if not a team? Pose them in a huddle to make some fun photos.

You can do the photos from the bottom, placing yourself in the centre, or stay outside and photograph them from the top. Just be sure to use a wide-angle lens to capture all the subjects’ faces.

16. Choose the right light

Friend photos in bright light and shade

Credit: Roman Odintsov (left); Wendy Wei (right)

Lighting is crucial in portraits. Natural light is great for best friends photography because it gives a warm and natural look.

Shooting during the blue and golden hour will give your images a fantastic tone, but it’s not always possible to schedule your sessions at this time. So, if you can’t do it close to sunrise or sunset, find some shade where your models will have soft light on them.

17. Do it photo-booth style

Girl friends new years snaps photobooth style

Credit: Julia Larson

Photo-booths have become increasingly popular at weddings, concerts, and all sorts of events because they’re extremely fun.

Friends like to go in with silly props and bring all sorts of photo ideas to life so they can share them on social media.

So, why not dedicate a part of your best friend photo session to this style? Provide some props and a neutral background and photograph them without interfering – let them have fun, interact and create their own BFF photos.

This can be in the middle of the session when they need a break to relax, or at the end. If you do it at the beginning, it’s more likely that they’ll feel self-conscious by having you there. After all, it’s easier to do silly things if nobody is watching, that’s the point of the booth.

Here are some DIY backdrops ideas for photo booths.

18. Ask them to jump

Three friends jumping in the air at the beach

Credit: Artem Beliaikin

Add this one to your list of best friend picture ideas: ‘the jump’!

If you browse through Instagram, you’ll find an enormous amount of people captured in mid-air. It’s a popular photo idea for a reason: it’s fun to photograph and fun to do.

To nail the jump shot, you need to use a fast shutter speed, enough to freeze your models. Usually, something about 1/400 should be enough if they’re jumping without any aids, such as a trampoline.

Here’s the trick: you need to have a wide enough aperture to have everyone in focus. People don’t usually jump in a straight line; they move a little bit forward or backwards. Then, when you photograph two or more friends, each one will move differently. This results in a wider space you need to consider for a sharp image.

The area in focus is determined by the aperture, the focal length, and the distance between you and your models. You can use a DoF calculator to be more accurate.

So, if you’re not ready to shoot in manual, don’t go directly to shutter speed priority. Instead, use aperture priority and use the Auto ISO to fix a minimum shutter speed. This way you’ll have everything under control even if you’re shooting semi-automatic.

19. Don’t forget the tilted head

Two girls in beanies and ponchos

Credit: Genessa Panainte

A bestie is someone that you can lean on, and this is something that can be physically represented by tilting the heads. As a viewer, you’ll perceive this as a sign of reliance, trust and comfort between the models.

It can be both friends tilting the head and touching, or just one who leans towards the shoulder of their bestie.

20. Photograph best friend silhouettes

Silhouette of three women with arms in the air

Credit: Levi Guzman

Silhouettes are beautiful and eye-catching images that can easily be incorporated into a best friend photoshoot.

The first thing you need to do is to place your models in front of a light source. If you want to use the sun, you’re better off working in the early morning or late afternoon, since the sun is closer to the horizon.

Then, decide if they will be jumping or doing any other friends poses and place them in position. Now, measure the light from the background, not from the subject – since you want it underexposed.

That’s it; you’re ready to make a silhouette. If you don’t manage to lose all the details from the models in-camera, you can always raise the blacks and shadows in post-processing.

21. Prioritize one person

Group of young friends drinking and playing music

Credit: Emma Paillex

Not all best friends pictures need to have everyone in focus. You can have a more dynamic session if you make one of the friends the star once in a while.

To do this, you can make use of composition techniques and shallow depth of field. Of course, you need to keep things balanced and make sure everyone gets their chance in the spotlight.

22. Get close

Best friend photo of two friends closeup

Credit: Omar Lopez

Doing a close-up is a great way to photograph best friends. Firstly, you’ll have to get them physically close. Secondly, it’s a great way to show emotions because you can emphasize their eyes and smiles.

The best lenses for close-up portraits are telephotos. With these, you can have the subject fill the frame without causing any distortions.

Also, telephoto lenses are better for creating bokeh – in other words, blurring the background. This makes the models stand out. To enhance the bokeh effect, you should also use a wide aperture.

23. Try their profile

Three friends sitting in side profile

Credit: Jovaughn Stephens

A side profile is not the best angle for everybody, so choose wisely if you want to use this angle for your models. If you can pull it off though, it can make a very powerful image.

Also keep in mind that we all have a ‘better side’, so ideally you should be photographing that one. However, you should also consider the viewer’s perception.

In western cultures, facing to the right communicates moving forward – this is known as spatial agency bias. Meanwhile, cultures whose script direction is right to left have the opposite perception.

If the profile isn’t working out, ask the friends to turn a bit towards the camera, in a 3/4 position.

24. Use stairs for a dynamic composition

Three young people sitting on steps

Credit: William Fortunato

Using stairs as a location gives you the possibility to play with different levels, thus giving depth to your composition.

It’s also helpful to photograph from different camera angles. Try going a few steps higher than your subjects to highlight their faces, especially the eyes.

Then try doing the opposite; step down and angle the camera up. See how the resulting image is completely different when you change perspectives.

25. Pose them sitting and standing

Portrait of a friend group

Credit: Tim Mossholder

Another way to create different levels in your picture is by posing some of the best friends standing up and others sitting down.

This will create a dynamic composition that will draw the viewer’s gaze up and down through the photo, making it more interesting.

When you’re deciding who should be sitting or standing, consider the various relationships between friends and how they interact. Try different setups for variety.

Also, consider combining this technique with other composition guidelines such as using shapes, or the rule of odds.

26. Step away

Two guys sitting in a skate park

Credit: Budgeron Bach

Sometimes you can get so caught up in checking the best friend poses, expressions and interactions that you forget about the surroundings. Maybe a full body is as far as you go, but have you ever tried to capture friends pictures from afar?

When you have a beautiful location, you should integrate that into the frame and make your subjects smaller. They are still the main subject, though, so make sure the background isn’t too distracting.

This is a great idea to capture their friendship in a more natural way because you’re giving them the space to be more ‘intimate’, without the feel of a stranger pointing a camera at them.

27. Make a shot list

Two girls looking over their shoulders at camera

Credit: Alexandra Lammerink

Like any other photoshoot, you should prepare a simple shot list template to make sure you have all you need by the end of it.

You can include some of the best friend photography ideas in this article. For example, one close-up shot, one silhouette shot, one shot hugging, and so on.

28. Understand their expectations

Group of people sitting on rocks

Credit: Chad Witbooi

Before the session, make sure you and your clients are on the same page. Discuss how many people will be included, where the photo shoot will happen, what mood they want, etc.

Sometimes a questionnaire can help. You can also ask them to do a Pinterest board to express what they would like to get visually.

Final Words

I hope these friend photography ideas sparked your creativity. Implement some of them and I’m sure that the next time you’re called to do a best friend photoshoot, you can make it a big success.

Let us know if you have any questions, comments, or best friend photoshoot ideas of your own.

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Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

1 Comment

  1. Ana on March 1, 2021 at 8:10 pm

    Thanks for reading my article – let me know if you have any questions.

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