Over the last several months I've had the privilege of photographing extended families and as I've said before, it's been SO fun! One of the questions I see often from fellow photographers in the online groups I'm a part of, is how do you manage a session with that many people? Today, I want to share with you my session flow for extended family sessions so you know exactly what to expect when you gather all of your people together to take family photos.
Capture the Entire Extended Family FIRST
It takes a lot of effort to get extended family members together. I've been on the other side of the camera in this scenario and I know how much coordinating goes into booking an extended family session, figuring out wardrobe and location, and trying your best to show up on time. I want to honor my families' efforts to make this session happen, by using our time efficiently and keeping everyone as engaged as possible.
If the extended family includes little kiddos, I know that they are going to need breaks to run and get their wiggles out. For this reason I like to pose the entire extended family and capture them altogether FIRST before capturing anything else. This is the main thing they have come to me for-that photo with everyone in it to capture their time together. I try to get another shot with a different backdrop with all of the family members together, but if I start out with this pose first, then I know I've at least gotten one good extended family picture!
Capture Grandparents With Grandchildren
This is one of my FAVORITE parts of extended family sessions-capturing grandparents with their grandchildren. I have yet to meet a grandparent who isn't completely smitten by their grandchildren, so allowing them to have sweet photos with just their grandkids is such a wonderful gift to them and way to bless them.
Capture Family Units
Once I've shot the entire family, I like to capture family units separately. I typically choose whichever family has kiddos that are doing fairly well, to give the other families a little break to get their wiggles out, nurse a babe, fix their toddler's hair, etc. Extended family sessions are a great way to get those family Christmas cards in, because I always make sure to capture family units alone as well as individual shots of each kiddo.
Capture Moms & Dads Alone
Almost every time I pull mom and dad aside to have their photo taken, I hear "we haven't done this since our wedding." I absolutely love treating mom and dad to some solo photos of the two of them, while their kiddos take a break from the camera. This is also a good time to sneak in those lifestyle shots that are signature to my work, when their kids are playing right next to them as mom and dad are snuggling.
Play & Have Fun!
My family sessions aren't complete if I haven't had parents play with their kids. I love ending my sessions with games, tickles, and laughter. This is a great way to keep the session upbeat and ending on a light note.