Do you ever feel like you have a pretty good handle on this Photography thing, and then something comes along that you didn’t know and it’s got you questioning everything? Like, what else don’t I know?

I felt that way when I learned about prompts. For me, it was a total game-changer. We all know tricks to get littles to smile, or adults to lighten up and laugh, but there is this whole other way of getting people to interact and show genuine expressions in your portraits. Prompts have been a pretty hot topic in the Photography community for a while.



Prompts are anything you tell your clients to do or to say in order to get them to react or interact in a genuine way. A way for them to show a connection to you or to each other. I usually tell them before we start that I will tell them to do or say some ridiculous things, but to trust me that it will make great portraits. I like to start with fun or funny prompts to lighten them up before using super emotional prompts.



    • All hold hands in a row and jump in the air
    • Have a staring contest
    • Have the kids give the parents a bear hug
    • Tickle wars or thumb wars
    • Tell everyone to look at the person with the stinkiest feet
    • Walk towards you like they are walking on a catwalk
    • Sniff their shoulder
    • Look at their mom like she is their crush
    • Hug themselves
    • Ask what traits they hope baby gets from mom/dad, or what traits they hope baby doesn’t get (for laughs)
    • Ask the dad what he is most proud of his partner for during this pregnancy
    • Have the mom-to-be look at her bump and remember what it felt like to feel the baby kick for the first time
    • Have the dad sniff mom’s cheek
    • Have one person whisper in the other person’s ear different kinds of cereal using their sexiest voice
    • Draw something with their nose on the other person’s cheek and they try to guess what it is


I did not come up with these all on my own. There are many resources to check out for tons of other ideas. There are Facebook groups, cards you can buy, and plenty of Pinterest boards.


Do you already use prompts? What are some of your favorite prompts you find yourself using all the time?



Sarah Bartell is a family, senior, and maternity Photographer based in the North suburbs of Minneapolis. She specializes in creating a fun experience, beautiful wall art + products, and providing the best customer service.






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