Several years ago, an excellent photographer in the area, Jen Bailey, reached out to book me for her extended family photos. I was totally flattered! She’d heard I was a fantastic large group photographer. Wait, what? I am?! Cool! I hadn’t really done that many large family sessions at that time. But, I felt perfectly at ease taking lead, talking louder, and getting the typically wide age range of people all laughing. I’ve certainly got plenty of experience now! And honestly, I think what makes me stand out is that I’m great at getting the little ones giggling.
I probably photograph half a dozen or so extended family sessions each year. I’ve also covered several weddings and other events, which of course include lots of group pictures. I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more inquiries around the holidays when families tend to get together. That wasn’t the case in 2021, though! I had 3 extended family photo sessions just during the week of Christmas. I’m usually in town during the holidays, so don’t hesitate to contact me.
Editing tends to take significantly longer for those perfect, large group shots, so I do charge a small one-time fee of $25 for each person after the first 6 participating in your shoot. Your online proofing album will be available to everyone. So, you are still only paying for the pictures you love. And once an image is purchased for editing by anyone, everyone gets to download that high resolution digital file.
An extended family photo shoot typically includes the following people combinations. But, I’m happy to take whatever pictures you like for your proofing album.
Coordinating an extended family photo session can be stressful, especially if any of the families are needing to travel. For a smaller family shoot, I do my best to stay flexible. The weather may not be cooperating or, especially for younger families, a child may be sick. I want my clients to contact me if they think a reschedule might make the session more fun for everyone.
For an extended family shoot, rescheduling is rarely an option. It’s important that I suggest locations where even Grandma and Grandpa can get around easily and where young children are safe to run around. I like to have a backup indoor location in case of bad weather. Here are some of my indoor locations in and around Manhattan, KS.
Select one person to communicate directly with your photographer. Ideally, this person will be local to the area, but it’s okay if that is not possible. That person should make sure to pass any instructions on to all of the families. They will also be responsible for making sure everyone has access to the online photos.
Plan for longer than an hour. Extended family photo shoots often take more time, but fortunately, that will include plenty of breaks as we rotate through individual families. I like to get the large group photos out of the way first. That allows older family members to head back to the cars quickly. Next, I like to focus on individual family photos for the family with the youngest children. We’ll switch things up if needed to make sure everyone is present for those full group shots. We also will change things up if the younger kiddos aren’t quite ready to get their cheese on.
Coordinate your outfits. I recommend picking two neutral colors and a third color for pop. For instance, tan, grey, and green. Or white, beige, and blue. You want to avoid any one person or family standing out from the rest. And having everyone dress too similarly can be either boring or overwhelming if outfits are too busy. You can find some coordinating outfit ideas on my Pinterest board and you can find more outfit tips from your photographer here.
Make a list of important people combinations. It’s a good idea to designate one person to work with the photographer during your photo session to smoothly get through that list of posed portraits.
Let your photographer take lead. Too many people talking can cause confusion and make it difficult for the photographer to be heard. When little children are in the pictures, don’t compete for who can get those smiles! That can be very overwhelming to little ones. Let the photographer do her thing. She’ll let you know if she needs your help. The quicker she can get through the posed pictures, the better. There are lots of fun pictures to take, too!
Connect. These pictures are all about love and connections. The most important thing about the poses are that you are all connected. Avoid hands hanging at sides or space between people. Squish in and put your arm around someone.
Suggest extra poses! Don’t be shy if you want to get a picture alone with Grandma. Jump on in there! We can take couples photos, individual photos (including head shots), etc. I’m happy to take whatever pictures you like and then you can choose your favorites from a robust proofing album.
Let’s get those important posed portraits, but then let’s have some fun! Feel free to suggest creative poses or props. Mix things up, dance around, love, and laugh! Before showing up, think about if there are any fun family traditions that we can recreate and photograph. Got some big news to share with the family? Make it a surprise at the photo session!
During an extended family photo shoot, you will often hear me shout out, “Okay, nobody look at the camera! Laugh at the person next to you!”
This will feel pretty silly at first, but I promise we’re getting great pictures. Those fake laughs usually turn into real laughter pretty quickly. This gets everyone to relax and also gets everyone listening to the photographer.
“Okay! Everyone look right here!”
Enjoy these fun extended family photos! I’ll include a few cousin pictures. These are probably the most difficult posed shots I ever take!