I loved meeting the Hale family and taking their photos at Dimple Dell Park! I had previously worked with Nikelle and done her maternity and birth photos with her adorable daughter Lydia. I was so grateful when she referred me to the rest of her family! After working with this great extended family group and many others, I wanted to share some tips I’ve learned and ways that you as a photographer can do a great job shooting extended families.
Extended Family sessions can be chaotic if your photographer doesn’t take charge and give you direction, so I make sure to communicate expectations very clearly (send emails with timelines, specific locations, your posing system, etc) I kindly tell them what to do and where to go during the session, and be just bossy enough so that nobody feels lost or confused. If you can balance that good amount of bossiness with kindness and remember to be open to their suggestions as well (remember you’re there to serve them!), you can not only give your families a beautiful gallery, but a wonderful experience they will treasure!
When working with a big extended family, I have a posing system that I usually use to help me work efficiently! Here’s a little bit about the approach I take and some tips to help you rock an extended family session give everyone in the family a wonderful experience.
Of course I’m always flexible if there are reasons why we might need to do things in a different order, but in general, this system works great to give a good variety of photos and not miss any important shots!
I also always try to help families with kids prepare by sending a photo of myself to show the kids so they can introduce me and asking them to let me know which songs, characters, or funny things they like to help me get genuine smiles! Not all families respond with information before the session so I go in prepared to be silly and always bring a feather duster so I can tickle kids and bring it right up to my camera so their eyes go there too.
The last thing I do is tell the families to bring whatever they want but not to worry. I bring little toys, snacks for the kids if they need something, and stools for families to use if they want! I try to make things as easy and stress-free on my families as possible so they know I’m going to take care of them.
Let me know if this was helpful as you prepare to photograph extended family groups!