Extended family photography sessions are a perfect way to capture memories and create a visual record of your family’s history. Whether it’s a special occasion or an everyday gathering, bringing loved ones together for a photoshoot creates truly memorable images you won’t regret having.
As a kid, I remember pouring through photo albums of family gatherings and looking at cousins, grandparents, and friends I didn’t get to see often. These images sparked more memories, like a visual bookmark. Sitting on the floor and looking at albums was a core memory of my childhood.
However, now we live in a very digital age, and often these precious extended family photos don’t get taken anymore, or they never make it to print. What’s the most recent family album you have?
I’ve been photographing families in Spokane and the Inland NW for eight years, and some of my favorite sessions have been with extended families. Read on to find out how they come together and what to expect. I hope I can convince you to gather all your favorite people for some photos.
What exactly is an Extended Family Photography Session?
First, let’s define what we mean by “extended family.”
Typically, this refers to family members beyond the immediate family, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even close friends. But if you’ve followed my photography before, you know I use the term “family photography” loosely.
My standard family sessions are the immediate group of people (or animals) you do life with regularly. For extended family photo shoots, we start combing multiple family units—so more than one group of people who do life with on the regular.
These photoshoots can be a great way to capture multiple generations of your family in one place, which can be especially meaningful as time passes and family members age or move away.
Things To Consider Before Booking A Session
One of the biggest challenges of extended family photoshoots is coordinating everyone’s schedules and ensuring everyone can be there on the same day. Scheduling can be complicated if you have family members who live far away or have busy schedules. And even more complicated when you remember to include the photographer’s timetable, too.
However, with careful planning and communication, it’s usually possible to find a day and time that works for everyone. Just make sure you check with your photographer, too. Often, photographers will book out 4-5 months in advance. Before you choose a date, loop in whoever is taking the photos too.
- Where will you take the photos? Make sure you choose a location accessible to everyone in the group.
- Will you hire a professional photographer or take them yourself?
- What kind of outfits should everyone wear?
These are all important considerations that can affect the final outcome of your photos.
If you decide to hire a professional photographer, do your research and find someone with experience working with extended families.
What to Expect During Your Extended Family Photoshoot
During my extended family photos, I often stagger people. I’ll have each family unit arrive spaced out, so it gives time to do individual family photos as well. Staggering also helps, as you don’t have to pull your kids out of a big group of their favorite people to get separate images.
Another benefit of timing the arrival of people is making sure the littlest kids get done first, and those that don’t want to wait around can show up later.
The big extended family photos and groupings happen towards the end.
While I always try to get individual family photos and shots of all the young children, these are more condensed mini-sessions than my full family photography experience. Typically, I spend about 10-15 minutes with each family unit as most of the time is focused on everyone together.
If you’re looking for a larger grouping of individual family unit photos, read about my family sessions here.
Tips For Going Through Your Photos After a Session
After the shoot, it’s time to review the photos and choose your favorites. Depending on your group size, you may have dozens or even hundreds of prints to choose from, so be prepared to spend some time sorting through them all. I love to give big galleries.
Every family will get their own log-in to the gallery to make downloading, favoriting, and ordering easier.
There are many great ways to display your photos. But to get you started, every extended family session comes with two albums. As I said at the top of this post, that love of flipping through family albums drove me to offer this service.
Beyond albums, in your gallery, you can order canvas, metal prints, framed prints, and more. Anything 8 x 10 or larger even comes with advanced editing, so it looks perfect in your chosen format.
Overall, extended family photo sessions are an excellent way to capture memories and create a lasting record of your family’s history. With careful planning and a little patience, you can make some extraordinary images that you and your family will treasure for years to come.
So, if you’re considering organizing an extended family photo shoot, go for it – you won’t regret it!
Check out this link for more information on my Extended Family Photo Sessions for Northwest Families.