Tips for extended family sessions

I’ve been booking quite a few of these extended family sessions and let me tell you a secret that you may not expect. They are the hardest session. Not for me, but for you. Yup, you heard me. Big groups of people and getting them posed, is not a problem for me. I shoot weddings and photograph extended family groups at every wedding. But for you? It is so much harder. I will explain why and then list some tips for extended family sessions and making it easier.

First, you have to coordinate a time between several families who all have crazy different schedules. One family may not live close by. Another may have a hectic sports schedule for one or two kids that may be hard to schedule around. Some adults may not have a 9 to 5 job, so booking in the evening when it is convenient for everyone else, makes it extra hard.

Second, everyone has to agree to some extent on outfits and coordinating them. Some people are great at this, others may not think it is a priority. You have to figure out what colors you want to focus on and then possibly even help other family members pick out their clothing. Picking clothing doesn’t sound stressful until you have to do it. Trust me, as a person who has to get her own photos taken once in a while, it becomes stressful very quickly.

There have been so many times where we schedule an extended family session and it has to move, reschedule or it just gets canceled due to schedules not allowing it.

So I have some tips for scheduling.
Before contacting your photographer about available dates, figure out which season in the year works the best. Some seasons are less busy for some families than others. Summers may be easier for kids, since they are out of school and may not have that sports schedule. Also, summer sunsets are much later in the evening, which may work better for work schedules.

The month of May is almost always super crazy for everyone. School years are ending, graduation ceremonies and parties are commencing and people like to plan weddings during that month.

July and August seem to be popular times for extended family sessions. School hasn’t quite started yet and people have most likely done all of their traveling earlier in the summer.

Maybe you will all be together for a holiday. This may seem like a great time for getting your photos done. But photographers will most likely also be spending time with their families at those times. So if you can add some days before and after the holiday, it may work better for everyone’s availability.

After you decide on a time of the year, then decide on a day or days of the week that works the best for everyone. Some families have days of the week that is always busy. Youth groups on Wednesdays, game nights on Fridays, etc. If you are able to settle on a day or two of the week that may work best for everyone, you can then go to your photographer with a better idea of availability and may save everyone some time going back and forth with dates and times.

I see many family members, who are in charge of booking the session, give up, because they can’t find a date that works for everyone. I am hoping these tips for extended family sessions help with the booking part!

The second struggle that I see many families have are the outfits. Lucky for you, when you book a session with me, you will get a portrait style guide that goes through many aspects of picking outfits for each person. It goes through what colors to pick and why!

Generally, my advice for picking clothing is to coordinate and not match. Picking 2 to 3 colors and staying within those hues will work great. The only thing I will recommend NOT doing is wearing neon colors. So neon pinks, yellows, or greens normally just don’t photograph well and will distract from your session.

Soft colors like blues, dusty blues, soft pinks, ivories, browns, yellows, sage, and colors similar will always look great. These work great for spring and summer. I also love jewel colors. Like sapphire blue, ruby red, amethyst, yellow, and emeralds. These jewel colors are great for summer, fall and winter. These colors are deep vibrant colors that pop so well with my style of editing. These colors are also power colors for many people. Deeper tones work great for fall and winter, such as maroon, burnt orange, mustard yellows, and olive greens.

Luckily, you can figure out the colors and outfits after you book your session. So it doesn’t have to be decided right away.

I hope that these tips for extended family sessions help and let me know if you have more questions in the comments below!

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wedding and portrait photography