Extended Family Session – Identifying Priorities

I have a love/hate relationship with extended family sessions. I love being able to capture the love and joy in big family groups. I think it is a fantastic idea to capture all of these beautiful relationships. I especially love photographing grandparents with their grandbabies.

What I do not like is that there is never enough time to do what I want. I carry around a list in my head of all the shots I want to try to get at a family portrait session. This includes things like family standing looking at the camera, family standing hugging, family sitting, individuals of each child looking at the camera, candids of each child, siblings, etc. For a typical family session with 2 or 3 children, there is generally time to get all of those photos and have some time to relax and capture candid fun shots.

But when you bring in a large group with multiple individual families, I’ve learned that prioritization is the key. So on my session intake questions, I ask that clients booking a session for a large group let me know what they most want out of a session. That helps me understand what photographs to focus on because we just can’t normally get to everything I’d love to include. And it’s generally not a matter of just extending the session time, particularly if there are small children (and Dads). I find that people generally lose focus after about an hour so making session times longer doesn’t always help.

Prioritization was definitely important for this session. Even though all five children were under five years old, these kids did an amazing job and were such troopers. But it was so cold. The day before had been in the 70s, but that’s Tennessee weather for you. Rescheduling wasn’t an option because one of the families was visiting from out of town. We ended up having to hurry through and finish earlier than normal because it was so uncomfortable. But thankfully we had already discussed what the priorities were.

For this session, the most important thing the family wanted was a large group shot with everyone. Secondly, they wanted to focus on the grandchildren together with their grandparents. After that, I was able to get some other photos before everyone became too cold to continue. I am really glad I knew ahead of time what was most important to them. So if you are booking a photo session with lots of people, it’s a good idea to be clear about what you want most out of the session.

These beautiful children had me smiling the moment they got out of the car. I am so happy I got to capture this big, beautiful family.

Looking for a photographer in Spring Hill, Franklin, and Columbia in Middle Tennessee? I photograph families at all stages, from newborns to seniors. See my website for more information or book a session from my online calendar. I would love it if you considered following me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

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