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.
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.
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.
“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.