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What to Expect from an Extended Family Session

Starting to think about maybe getting some photos taken of the whole family this year? Like, the WHOLE family? Extended family sessions have been gaining in popularity over the past couple of years. Maybe it's because we've been spending so much time apart because of covid restrictions that we want to have some nice photos of everyone together? Whatever the reason, I welcome it, but there's some differences between having a family session of just your family vs. an extended family session where there are a lot more people and groups to get in the frame. Read on to find out what to expect from an extended family photo session!

I'm a lifestyle photographer, which means that I focus on capturing photos of a more candid nature rather than the "everyone look at me and smile!" kind of photos. I love details, when my subjects are interacting with one another, moving and playing, and I want my clients to book me because THEY love those kinds of photos as well. But, with an extended family session, I've found that we're kind of forced into way more of those 'look at my camera' photos than what I would normally do in a regular family session. There isn't time to grab all of the different combinations of people AND encourage the playful interactions while making sure we don't lose the light, so I have to focus on the simplest set ups, which means more formal photos of everyone looking at me.

We also still only have an hour (unless you book me for longer), so we do have to be attentive to the time to be sure we get in all of the combinations of people that you want. To help with this, I suggest making a list to send to me a few days prior to your session of all the groups of people that you want in photos, and list their priority. That way, I can go through and organize the session in a way that will make the most of our time together. And if we have a little bit of time left over at the end, I might be able to sneak in a few of those more candid photos to include in your gallery!

Typically in a normal family session, I'll try to use several different spots within our location so that there's a variety of backdrops and light in your final gallery. In an extended family session, this will likely get cut way back to one or two different spots, depending on how many people you have involved in the session and how crowded our location is. Getting 15 people from one spot to the next and set up for the next shots takes some time, and if you have young kids or older adults who need help navigating uneven terrain, it can take even longer, cutting into the time we're photographing, so I like to keep it simple to get the most out of our time!

Just like in a regular family session, you can of course expect to need some extra patience for kids and dogs, so bring some snacks for the people, treats for the dogs and a general bribe on standby just in case it's needed. Know that it's 100% normal and even expected for kids to lose interest and make it known to the whole group, especially with extended family photos because the session isn't based in play like my regular family sessions are. It's a lot more, sit here, look here, stand up, smile, than I'd normally ask of kids, and I don't take it personally or get annoyed! I have some tricks for all ages to keep them engaged, and as long as the adults stay calm and goes with the flow, it won't impact the photos at all.

I hope that helps explain what to expect when you book an extended family session with me! As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out!

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