Last Fall, I had the opportunity to capture my first extended family session in a nearby studio located in Pioneer Square. This was one of my favorite family sessions that I've ever captured because of how warm and truly funny this family was. I honestly don't think I've ever spent time photographing anyone that made me laugh this much - besides kids and children.
The weather was sadly predicted to be cold and rainy on this October day, so I suggested that we switch our outdoor session to a studio to ensure that we would be able to continue with their planned date and time. When family members or clients are traveling from out of town, I definitely like to make sure that we have solid backup plans in case we have rain on their chosen day. This was also a session that would include their grandmother, so I truly wanted to make sure we had a comfortable scenario for everyone involved!
Extended family sessions like can be a challenge, but I don't shy away from them! It's such good practice for weddings, and elopements when you have a variety of outfits, and personalities, and group combinations. It's an excellent way to practice posing family members. This particular family had so much personality, they kept me laughing the entire time - especially grandma! Also, please note what an amazing job this family did in coordinating their outfit colors. Photographers will thank you for this effort because it ensures that everyone's outfits flow well and it cuts down our editing time by about half. At least for me it does. I can't speak for other family photographers. A neutral color palette always wins! Think blacks, grays, denim blues, browns, and cream colors.
I like to treat larger family sessions similar to an intimate ceremony or a small wedding. Filling out my questionnaire beforehand is a great way to ensure that I have a simple "shot list" of what combinations my client is requesting for their session. For example: pictures of Mom and Dad together, just the kids, the kids with grandma (a must!), etc. I treat these sessions sort of like mini sessions broken up into smaller increments of time to build a story and then paste it all together. It's kind of like watching a family reunion come together and that's basically what this session was. They were all in town to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving!
I always tell my clients that I truly don't prefer to pose people. Rather, I set them up for success to allow their personalities to shine through. We find a good spot for lighting, we chat a bit about what this "scene" is all about, and sometimes I make some funny remarks that will hopefully spark a natural laugh. I wait for clients to relax and that's when I capture truly candid moments that I'm always searching for to deliver classic portraits. I sort of treat it like stills of a sitcom - raise your hand if you were a latchkey kid who grew up watching too much television!
I consider myself a photographer who likes to keep it moving and work quickly with my clients, but still create a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Photos shouldn't be difficult or uncomfortable for anyone. I consider a session a success if everyone surprisingly proclaims afterwards how "easy that was" or "that was fun." I know many people, myself included, that have had not so great experiences with other photographers (I hear these stories all the time), so I want to help change that for them. That makes me smile! That being said, a thorough family story can only be achieved in an hour. I encourage any family or future client to consider booking an hour session to truly enjoy the experience of having your picture taken. Most of my couples, and family sessions happen outdoors, so it's really about enjoying the environment. It really goes faster than you think and it allows your photographer to be more relaxed throughout your session. Summer dates are now filling up on my calendar for 2022. Book online to reserve your ideal timeslot!