I’m probably in the minority amongst photographers, but I LOVE extended family sessions. There are decades of history and inside jokes. Friendly sibling rivalries. So many cute little kiddos! And most importantly, an opportunity to create portraits that are going to be loved by your entire family for generations.
As much as we all love the idea of a portrait of grandma snuggling all her grandbabies, the execution may seem a little daunting, right? It really doesn’t have to be! After photographing several extended families this fall, I thought I’d share a few helpful tips in case you’re dreaming of (or dreading!) an extended family session in 2019.
Before booking, we like to make sure everyone participating is on board. We offer a special promotional session fee for each family participating in the session. This ensures that everyone feels prepared and excited for the session, and also that we know what each family hopes to get out of our time together!
Each extended family session includes up to two hours of shooting time. During that time, we’ll photograph that iconic group portrait, as well as individual families, sibling groupings, and generational portraits. My assistant, Leigh, will be with me to ensure we don’t miss any crucial combinations, as we know how important all of these images are to you! After the session, we’ll take the time to meet with each family, together or individually, for a gallery reveal and ordering appointment.
A few weeks prior to the session, we’ll request a list of each each family, with names and ages of participants. This becomes our plan from which to deviate. The beauty of an extended family session is that with so many characters involved, it’s totally cool if a toddler has a meltdown! We’ll simply photograph another family grouping, working our way through all of the combinations organically.
We’re also on the lookout for those candid, unscripted moments: two little cousins holding hands, or a granddad ribbing playfully on his son-in-law. These are the little moments that really capture the bonds between family members, and we absolutely love them. Know that these sessions may feel like total chaos in the moment – but that there is beauty in it, and we embrace it.
You know these people better than we do! If your brother is ALWAYS late to everything – tell him the session starts 15 minutes earlier than it really does. And if he still arrives late, it’s okay! We never kick off the session with the full group portrait, and can totally start without him. Let him be who he is – we can work with it!
The same can apply for the entire family. Do you have six kids under five participating in the session? Bring lots of snacks and games for them to play with when it’s not their turn! Does grandma have mobility concerns? Let’s make sure we choose a location with little walking required and bring seating for her. We’ll help you with all of this to ensure the session is a fun memory for the entire family.
Want to know more? Let’s start planning your session today! Click here to send a note.