A group of friends taking a selfie on a rooftop.

Photo Prompts for Portrait Photography to Get Reactions

Want to evoke genuine emotions in your subjects and capture fun candid moments? Try these photography prompts for portraits, couples, groups and more.

Photography prompts are your secret weapon to capturing amazing photos every time.

Whether you’re shooting portrait photography, family photos, or anything else with human subjects, you can shout out photo prompts to get people acting in fun and natural ways.

All that’s left to do is hit the shutter button!

Every professional photographer should keep a strong list of photography prompts up their sleeve.

So, to get you started, we’ve put together this massive list containing of 150 photography prompt ideas.

You’ll also find some tips on getting the most out of your prompts.

Ready? Buckle up, and let’s go!

What Are Photo Prompts?

Photographer taking a portrait with a message overlay

Credit: Tim Gouw

Photography is more than just a click of the shutter; it’s about capturing a moment, an emotion, a story. And sometimes, the difference between a flat photo and one that’s alive with emotion can come down to a simple word or phrase: a prompt.

So, what exactly are prompts in photography? Think of them as little nudges or cues, tossed out by the photographer to coax a genuine reaction or pose from their subject.

Instead of a rigid “Place your hand here” or “Tilt your head that way,” photography prompts evoke spontaneity. They help the subject relax, act naturally, and forget they’re in front of a camera.

Imagine photographing a couple and you say, “Whisper your favorite vegetable into her ear.” It’s unexpected, right?

That surprise can lead to a genuine laugh, a perplexed expression, or a playful nudge – all making for a fantastic photo.

Prompts are versatile. They can be used in portrait photography sessions, weddings, family shoots – practically anywhere.

They’re especially handy when working with people who aren’t professional models, helping them open up and show their true selves.

But even pros can benefit from photo prompts. After all, everyone appreciates a little spark of spontaneity now and then.

To sum it up: prompts are like a photographer’s secret spice. Sprinkle them in, and watch the magic unfold!

Photography Prompt Ideas to Capture Natural Moments with Portrait Photography

So, now you know why photography prompts are such a useful thing to keep up your sleeve, your next step is to collect some to test out at your next photo session.

Below you’ll find a whole bunch of photography prompts you can use to evoke natural reactions and capture some of the best portraits of your life.

Feel free to take them and adapt them based on the subject’s personality and the desired mood of the shot.

Photography Prompts for Individual Portraits

A man sitting on a bench with a smile on his face.

Credit: Craig McKay

Portraits can be daunting for many subjects, and photo prompts can help them to relax and be at ease in front of the camera. Here are some of my favourites for you to try in your next portrait session.

  • “Look away, then snap your head back towards me.”
  • “Show me your ‘I just conquered the world’ smirk.”
  • “Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and open them.”
  • “Pretend you see a unicorn in the distance.”
  • “Act like the camera isn’t here.”
  • “Pretend you’re feeling a raindrop for the first time.”
  • “Act as if you’re catching a feather falling from the sky.”
  • “Do your most confident power stance.”
  • “Imagine you’re the star of a movie poster. Action!”
  • “Give me that ‘end of a long day’ relaxed look.”
  • “Stretch up tall, then let yourself slump – like a marionette cut from its strings.”
  • “Show me the feeling of tasting a super sour candy.”
  • “Pretend you’re hearing your favorite song in the distance.”
  • “Act like you’re smelling fresh cookies out of the oven.”
  • “Imagine you’re feeling the first warmth of spring sun on your face.”
  • “Think of someone you admire. Now, pretend to be them.”

Posing Prompts for Groups

A group of people giving each other high fives in a library.

Credit: Yan Krukau

Navigating a group shot can be a fun puzzle, but with the right prompts, you can turn the chaos into a harmonious masterpiece. Give some of these a shot.

  • “Everyone lean in close, like you’re telling a secret.”
  • “Group high-five!”
  • “Act like you’re on a rollercoaster!”
  • “Everyone point to the person who’s most likely to be late.”
  • “Try to stand as tall as the tallest person here.”
  • “All join hands and make a human knot. Now… Untangle!”
  • “Show me your best group ‘victory’ pose.”
  • “Quick! Freeze! You’re all in a mannequin challenge.”
  • “Group hug – but make it look like a huddle before a big game!”
  • “Strike a pose from your favorite decade – 60s, 70s, 80s… Go!”
  • “Create a wave effect starting from the left to the right.”
  • “Everyone get their phone out and take a selfie.”
  • “Everyone pretend you’re in zero gravity.”
  • “Show off your best group ‘thinking’ pose.”
  • “Pretend you’re drunk and walk toward the camera doing a group huddle!”
  • “You’re all on a magazine cover. Make it iconic!”
  • “Laugh as if someone just told the world’s funniest joke.”
  • “On the count of 3, everyone trade places with someone else.”
  • “Give each other piggyback rides.”

Read more: How to Take a Group Photo

Funny Photography Posing Prompts

A woman covering her mouth with her hands.

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio

Want to bring on the chuckles, giggles, and full-on belly laughs? Get ready – these photo prompts will make your photo sessions a hilariously unforgettable experience.

  • “Act like you just stepped on a Lego!”
  • “Pretend you’re in a shampoo commercial!”
  • “Show me your best robot dance!”
  • “You just won the lottery, but only $5.”
  • “Laugh like a supervillain!”
  • “You’ve been given an invisible magic wand. Cast a spell!”
  • “Imagine you’re on a hot lava floor – tiptoe!”
  • “Do your most dramatic soap opera reaction!”
  • “Pretend the ground is tickling your feet.”
  • “React as if you’ve just found out unicorns are real.”
  • “Try to balance imaginary books on your head.”
  • “Shout out the first joke that comes to mind.”

Photography Prompts for Couples

A couple embracing in front of blue flowers.

Credit: Helena Lopes

When you’re faced with two lovebirds eager to showcase their bond, it’s time to get creative. Use these prompts to inspire intimate moments and playful interactions between any couple.

  • “Whisper the last thing you ate in their ear.”
  • “Try to make each other laugh without touching.”
  • “Act like you just shared an inside joke.”
  • “Pretend it’s your first date again.”
  • “Give them a sneaky pinch!”
  • “Give each other an Eskimo kiss (aka rub noses).”
  • “Dance like no one’s watching.”
  • “Take turns leading each other around with closed eyes.”
  • “Tell your partner your favorite thing about them, without words.”
  • “Try to give a joint ‘model’ pose.”
  • “Make up a secret handshake right now.”
  • “Look into each other’s eyes and think of your first kiss.”
  • “Act out a slow-motion scene from a dramatic movie.”
  • “Recreate the ‘lift’ scene from Dirty Dancing (only if safe!)”
  • “Tickle fight in 3, 2, 1…”
  • “Take a moment to just appreciate each other. Really soak it in.”
  • “One draws a picture on the other’s cheek using their nose. The other has to guess what it is.”
  • “Imagine you both are in a silent movie.”
  • “Both of you strike your best ‘vogue’ pose.”
  • “One of you proposes using a flower or leaf. The other, react!”
  • “Put on a sexy voice and whisper the name of your favourite food in their ear.”
  • “Give your partner a piggyback ride.”
  • “Pretend you’re both age 5 on a playground. Go!”
  • “Hold each other like it’s the last time you’re seeing each other for a month.”
  • “Imagine you’re in the snow. Now wrap up all cosy together.”

Read more: 48 Natural Couple Poses for Every Situation

Posing Prompts for Families

A family laying in bed with a dog.

Credit: Ketut Subiyanto

When you’ve got a bunch of family members in front of your lens and you’re aiming for that perfect shot, sometimes you need a little inspiration.

Here are some posing prompts tailored to help you bring out the best in every family photo session.

  • “On the count of 3 – everyone jump!”
  • “Make a family pyramid.”
  • “Parents kiss, kids react!”
  • “Try to fit everyone under dad’s arm.”
  • “Everyone pull a funny face!”
  • “Mimic the person on your right.”
  • “Who can give the biggest bear hug?”
  • “All kids pile on top of the parents!”
  • “Everyone do your best impression of a family member.”
  • “Let’s see who can stretch the tallest and who can squat the shortest.”
  • “Hold hands in a line and lean back. Trust exercise!”
  • “Show me your ‘woke up on Monday’ faces.”
  • “Quick! Everyone act like your favorite animal!”
  • “Pretend you’re on a rollercoaster hitting the big drop!”
  • “Each of you point to the most mischievous one in the family.”

Read more: 16 Family Photoshoot Poses: Natural Ways to Pose a Family

Photography Prompts for Students

A young girl standing in front of a bookcase.

Credit: Rdne Project

Students are at a stage filled with ambition, dreams, and just a pinch of rebellion. You’re going to want prompts that resonate with them and make their photo sessions truly memorable.

  • “Show me your ‘just before finals’ face.”
  • “Pose like your favorite superhero.”
  • “Act like you just aced that test.”
  • “Group hug!”
  • “Show me your ‘Friday evening’ excitement.”
  • “Imagine the “you” of 5 years from now.”
  • “Show me your ‘just aced that exam’ victory pose!”
  • “Grab your backpack or bag and sling it over one shoulder like you’re in a campus ad.”
  • “Mimic the face you make when you realize there’s surprise homework.”
  • “Act out a ‘we did it!’ high-five with an imaginary friend, celebrating a group project victory.”

Photography Prompts for Children

A young girl wearing bunny ears and holding an easter egg.

Credit: Rdne Stock Project

Kids are some of the most fun subjects you can possibly have! To capture that perfect candid moment, try some of these photography prompts.

  • “Can you touch your nose with your tongue?”
  • “Pretend you’re a roaring lion!”
  • “Jump as high as the clouds!”
  • “Twirl around like you’re dancing in a fairy tale.”
  • “Show me your superhero landing.”
  • “Pretend you’re a superhero about to take off into the sky!”
  • “Can you show me how a lion roars or a bunny hops?”
  • “Imagine you’re a detective with a magnifying glass, looking for clues.”
  • “Hold your hands out as if you’re catching magical fireflies.”
  • “Show me your best ‘just got caught eating cookies’ face!”
  • “Act like you’re floating in space among the stars.”
  • “Pretend you’re a dragon, blowing out a gentle puff of smoke.”
  • “Give me your most mysterious pirate searching for treasure look.”
  • “How would you pose if you were the king or queen of a castle?”
  • “Act out the excitement of opening the best birthday present ever!”
  • “Can you dance as if you’re in a field surrounded by butterflies?”
  • “Pretend you’re a chef, tasting your delicious creation.”
  • “Show me your ‘just found a secret passage’ face!”
  • “Imagine you’re on a wild rollercoaster ride, hands up!”
  • “Act like you’re a wizard or witch casting a gentle spell.”

Read more: How to Photograph Kids

Posing Prompts for Men

A man in a white t - shirt and jeans standing against a white wall.

Credit: Samad Ismayilov

Most photography prompts work for any gender, but there are certain prompts that are particularly useful when your subject posing is male.

These are great for men of any age. I sometimes even use these on kids and the results can be really fun!

  • “Flex like you’re on the cover of a fitness magazine.”
  • “Show me your ‘James Bond’ cool.”
  • “Pretend you’re in a rock band.”
  • “Pretend to adjust your collar/watch/cufflinks.”
  • “Lean against this wall like it owes you money.”
  • “Give me your most confident smirk.”
  • “Adjust your tie as if you’re prepping for an important meeting.”
  • “Roll up your sleeves like you’re about to get to work.”
  • “Place one hand inside your jacket pocket and stand tall.”
  • “Loosen up your tie and give me that ‘just off work’ relaxed look.”
  • “Run your fingers through your hair, looking slightly away.”
  • “Button (or unbutton) the top button of your shirt – make it deliberate.”
  • “Hold onto the lapels of your jacket and pull it open slightly.”
  • “Cross your arms with a slight smirk, confident but approachable.”

Posing Prompts for Women

A young woman is smiling while sitting on a bench.

Credit: Matthias Cooper

Just as men can use some of their own specific prompts, so too can your feminine clients. Here are some photo prompts tailored for girls and women.

  • “Twirl your hair like you’re in a romantic movie.”
  • “Laugh like you just heard the funniest joke.”
  • “Look up and away, like you’re daydreaming.”
  • “Rest your chin on your hand and think of a happy memory.”
  • “Strike a pose like you’re on the runway.”
  • “Play with a strand of your hair, lost in thought.”
  • “Hold the edge of your dress/skirt and give it a slight twirl.”
  • “Rest your hand gracefully on your collarbone.”
  • “Adjust your necklace as if it’s a cherished gift.”
  • “Drape your jacket or shawl over one shoulder elegantly.”
  • “Lean slightly back, hands on hips, exuding confidence.”
  • “Look down and brush your fingers against your cheek.”
  • “Pull your hair back into an impromptu ponytail or bun.”
  • “Hold onto your hat or head accessory, gazing into the distance.”
  • “Touch the edges of your earrings lightly.”
  • “Wrap your arms around yourself, like you’re in a cozy blanket.”
  • “Lift the heel of one shoe, poised and playful.”
  • “Zip or unzip your jacket partway, adding a dynamic touch.”
  • “Rest one hand on the curve of your waist, showcasing your silhouette.”

Tips for Using Photography Posing Prompts

  1. Read the Room: Before shouting out any prompts, gauge the mood and comfort level of your subjects. What might work for one group or individual might not be the best fit for another. Always be adaptable!
  2. Keep It Light: Don’t be too rigid. Posing prompts are meant to evoke genuine reactions, so keeping the atmosphere light and fun will often lead to the most authentic shots.
  3. Be Ready: Make sure your camera settings are right and your gear is ready to shoot so you can hit that shutter button as soon as you shout out your prompt. You don’t want to miss that initial genuine response!
  4. Demo When Necessary: Sometimes, words aren’t enough. If a subject is struggling to understand a pose or expression, don’t hesitate to demonstrate it yourself. This can also help break the ice and elicit some genuine smiles!
  5. Layer Your Prompts: Start with a base pose, then build on it with minor adjustments or added expressions. This method ensures you get multiple shots out of a single setup, offering variety without completely changing the scene.
  6. Feedback is Gold: After delivering a prompt, give feedback. If a pose is looking great, let your subject(s) know! Positive reinforcement can boost confidence and lead to even better shots.
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Content Manager

As the Content Manager of Shotkit, India Mantle brings with her a lifelong love for photography that she developed during her childhood, watching her father document their family moments with his Nikon EM. In her free time, you find her enjoying the awe-inspiring natural beauty of her home, Northern Rivers, Australia.

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