Extended Family Session – Identifying Priorities

Extended family session with Grandparents at Sarah Benson Park

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.

Large Family Photo Session in Franklin, TN

Large family photo session in Franklin, TN

When I photograph large family photo sessions, I can’t help but get a little jealous of all the fun that big families seem to have. It’s like a party anytime they get together. I adored this family before I had even met them, thanks to the beautiful things that their dad and grandpa said about them in my client questionnaire.

One of my favorite things is reading what my clients write about their families in that questionnaire. The simple question of “Tell me a little about each of you” can reveal so much. It’s an oddly personal job to capture someone’s portrait, and in a way I can’t quite explain, I like to know something about them before I begin. For example, I knew that the older granddaughter was very serious about taking care of her baby doll. So I definitely wanted to include the doll in photos. And when I saw her squeezing the doll and her cousin at the same time, giving them both all her love, I had to capture that.

The only challenge with such a large group is balancing getting all the different combinations of shots you need and still trying to capture a little of that personality simultaneously. I often leave wishing I could have gotten to know them even better.

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 to book a session from my online calendar. I would love it if you would consider following me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Large Family Photo Session at Marcella Vivrette Park

Cousins at a large family photo session at Marcella Vivrette Park

I’m going to tell y’all a little secret. I don’t usually love large family sessions. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE that clients want to do them. I think it’s so great to capture that beautiful relationship with extended family. Getting grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles together for photos is a great idea.

It’s just that having SO many people at a session can make it hard to do what I really love, which is to capture candid moments of connection. Sometimes, just capturing the more posed large group photo along with every combination of smaller families within the larger family can be pretty stressful.

I know what you are thinking – just make the sessions longer. I could, but I find that going much more than an hour has diminishing returns. That’s about the optimal time to keep the kids (and adults) engaged and focused. But also, sometimes it takes clients a while to warm up and become relaxed. This is fine when I’m photographing a family of four, for example. I tend to like the photos at the end the most, once the kids have gotten used to me. At a large family session, there isn’t much time to waste in “warming up.”

But I’ve been photographing this family for several years now, and they are like magic. Somehow, even with so many kids, they make it easy. They are used to me and my style by now, which helps (but also were a great fit, to begin with). I’m always super impressed with their clothing and accessory collection (isn’t this pop of animal print amazing?).

But mostly, I think it’s just that they have fun and I have fun with them. They make me love large family sessions.

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 to book a session from my online calendar. I would love it if you would consider following me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Spring Hill Family Photographer – Perfect Session to finish the Season

Spring Hill TN Family Photographer extended family session

I am so happy that we FINALLY got to shoot this beautiful family portrait session. This family is one of my favorite clients. It had been way too long since I’d seen them. We had originally scheduled this Spring Hill Family photo session for last fall. I don’t even remember why we had to reschedule. I think someone was sick. Take two was supposed to be in the Spring, but then COVID happened and everything was shut down. We decided to reschedule for this fall, which then turned to winter. But I think things turned out for the best because I am in love with the portrait session we finally ended up shooting.

Nana and Pop Pop’s backyard was a perfect spot for the photo session. I LOVE the pops of red in the clothing. It was so festive and colorful. And the sun set just behind their backyard, which was the perfect backdrop. To me, light is always the most important part of a photo location, and the light here was beautiful. But more than anything, I loved capturing the sweet interactions between family members. Aren’t these cousins just the cutest?

This was the perfect way to end the portrait season. I absolutely love my job, but I am honestly ready for a break, particularly from the constant editing that comes with the fall photographer busy season. This was the perfect family session to end that season.

For those of you who have been asking, I am sorry but I am all done with Santa Mini Sessions this year. I did love doing them outside, so I will be thinking about what to do next year. Also, I am ready to start booking 2021 photo sessions, so contact me if you are interested. If you are concerned about booking a winter session, please know that I’m quite flexible in the winter. So if were to book a session in January for example, and it turns out to be really cold and unbearable, I can usually reschedule. You know how the weather is in Tennessee – if you don’t like it, just wait a few days and it could change.

I would love it if you could follow me on Instagram. That’s a great place to keep up to date on future openings. Also, you can book a session directly from my online booking calendar, or contact me if you have questions.

Summer Family Portrait Session by the Creek | Spring Hill, TN Photographer

“Then followed that beautiful season… Summer…. Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape. Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I had so much fun at this family portrait session in Spring Hill last night. There is something about summer photos that I find magical, despite the heat. I think the quote from Longfellow above sums up why….I love the magical light and the wonder of childhood that you don’t get in the other seasons.

Backyard Portrait Session with Grandparents | Franklin Family Photographer

Little boy sliding on pool slide in Nashville

Memories are being made in this backyard. Summer fun with cousins splashing in the pool, jumping on the trampoline, and creating art with chalk…is there anything better? I love being able to photograph families in locations that are special to them, and this home is certainly special and full of love.

It’s been five years since I first photographed this beautiful family as they gathered together for summer fun. I last photographed them around this time three years ago. It was so great to see them again and see how much the kids had grown.

Just like at their very first family session, we started out with more formal portraits, but then let the kids play in the back yard as I shot fun lifestyle pictures. Then they got to change to have fun in the pool. I even brought my GoPro along for a few underwater shots.

Christmas Memories – Giant Extended Family Session

Merry Christmas everyone! This beautiful family isn’t able to get together often since some of them live in different parts of the country. Since they were all in town for their Christmas celebration, they wanted to be able to capture those memories in photographs, and I am so glad they did. It was such an honor to be a part of such love and laughter. I felt so at home with them that I could have easily slipped in and pretended to be another sibling. It was so much fun.

We had hoped to be able to take at least some of the photos outside, but the weather didn’t cooperate. But with the help of a large covered deck and a gorgeous red umbrella, we made it work.

I hope that the photos mean something special to them and that they can be treasured for years to come.

And I hope all of you have a very wonderful holiday season filled with lots of magical moments, laughter and love.