It is summer time and that means there are lots of family reunions and reasons to travel and visit Grandma and Grandpa. My husband’s side of the family gets all 12 of his siblings and their families together every three years. It is a week long adventure of about 50 people. Every reunion is a little different, but getting a whole group photo is something that happens every single time. It isn’t without hiccups and frustrations and uncooperative children (and adults) but they are always pictures that are cherished by everyone as years pass.
So how does a generational family photo session work?
The thought of trying to coordinate a normal session can seem daunting enough. Between outfit coordination, finding a day that works with everyone’s schedule and the inconvenient timing of good light with little kids can make it seem almost not worth attempting. Orchestrating an extended family session with more than just your immediate family may seem borderline insane. I’m here to tell you 7 reasons why you really should consider scheduling an extended family session this year.
REASON 1: GRANDPARENTS
How many pictures do you have of your parents? Your grandparents? I would venture to bet there aren’t very many. And even fewer of them with YOU in them. I am not talking iphone pics or quick snapshots of grandma with your son at his piano recital. How much would they love an updated heirloom quality portrait of just them or better yet them with all of their children and grandchildren!
Something I include in these sessions is a short video slideshow set to music. This music license has been purchased so you can share it on vimeo or youtube without getting booted! Here is a sample of a recent film I made for the Densley family:
There will be a questionnaire that asks for names and ages of all members of the group. This helps me to get to know the individual families a little better as well as for organizing the gallery after the session is complete. I will specifically need to know Grandparents and who belongs to who.
If there are specific groupings or special relationships that you want captured, that needs to be included on the questionnaire. These generational photos are a little chaotic and sometimes emotional for moms of uncooperative kids, dads who don’t want to be there, grandmas who are taking it very seriously, etc. The only way to successfully navigate it all without missing a critical grouping is to decide on these details ahead of time.
REASON 2: COUPLES’ PORTRAITS
When was the last time you had a few portraits of you and your significant other? I always try to snap a few at the end of every individual family session, but extended family photo sessions give you the added benefit of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. who can watch your littles for a minute so you can give you a relaxed moment in front of the lens.
REASON 3: LIFE CHANGES
LDS missions, babies being born, college bound kids and even death are part of the story of extended family photos. My kids love to see themselves as babies and often the exclamation: “Caden wasn’t even born yet!” seems to bring a smile to everyone’s face as you reminisce on life’s rapid speed. My husband’s mom died last year, and despite the Herculean efforts required to get those enormous group photos, they are cherished even more now as we see her and her legacy of children and grandchildren!
REASON 4: COUSINS
There is something extra special about cousin relationships. In so many ways, cousins can be some of the best relationships kids can have growing up. There is something extra because you are blood, that makes Cousins take things up a notch. Not only will you get individual portraits of your children during an extended family session, but you get to take advantage of all the cousins being together which is always a treat!
REASON 5: GIFTS FOR GRANDPARENTS
Extended family sessions allow for time to photograph the entire family plus each immediate family, the result is a year’s worth of easy gifts! Family Album or framed portrait for the grandparents, photo fridge magnet sets for your toddler. Christmas cards? Done! I know I am always happy to check off a few gift ideas for the more challenging family members. Photo gifts are easy and always well loved and appreciated!
REASON 6: FUN!
What? You don’t think family photo sessions are FUN? I promise you they are. Yes, there will be some tears and darting toddlers and frazzled moments…but snuggling with your adult siblings; watching uncles throw your kids up in the air; listening to the giggles as grandkids are tickled by grandpa; pausing for a moment to watch your sister as she balances on one foot and croons like a monkey to get your toddler to smile for the photo…it is all part of the FUN experience of generational family photos.
REASON 7: COMPARE SHARED TRAITS
One of the things I love about these huge group sessions is seeing how siblings as adults look alike or have a shared characteristic with grandpa or how one of your kids looks like Uncle John, etc. Do all the men in the family have the same build? Is there a certain eye color or nose shape that has been passed down through the generations? Do all the sisters share similar hair color? Lining up multiple generations all at once allows you to see the physical traits that identify your family. This is a fun way to make comparisons and celebrate your family’s uniqueness especially if you get photos done consistently over time.
Whether you are scheduling your family reunion, or just want to get the family together for one big picture, the benefits to making the effort to get these pictures will be well worth it for your immediate family and future generations.