Multi-Family Photo Sessions
In the fall, I tend to do a lot of sessions with the whole family. When I say, the whole family, I mean multi-family and multi-generational. Multi-generational photo sessions are when several family units all gather together to get an entire family photo. These sessions can be a lot of fun, and can turn out really nice with the proper planning. In multi-family sessions, you can get a variety of different family combinations. These sessions tend to be slightly more formal than smaller sessions, usually because the family wants portraits of their entire group, but they don’t have to be!
For a successful multi-generational session, here are a few things to consider.
What to Wear
First off, you want to coordinate your wardrobe. I emphasize coordinate and not match. You do not need a matching wardrobe to look nice. If you would like to match, that is completely fine, but just know this is optional. But, what you really want is colors and patterns that COMPLIMENT each other. The family featured in this session did a really nice job with the complimentary colors. What I mean by complementary colors, is creating a pallet of colors that look good together.
This family went with deep blues, dark grays, and a pop or yellow and maroon. The colors go beautifully together and the yellows and red really help draw attention to the eye and make everything flow. There are many different color pallets that go well together and I suggest going on to Pinterest and searching family photography color scheme to get some great ideas.
The next important thing to be equipped with on these sessions is PATIENCE. I kid not. Here is the thing, you have a large group of people and usually quite a few children, so patience is required. I have to take multiple images of the entire group because undoubtedly, someones eyes will be closed, someone will have an in between expression, one person will not be looking, and child could be acting out, etc., etc. So, it is important not to rush the process. Hold still as long as you can and encourage the kids to do the same. If a child doesn’t want to stand, maybe try picking them up or vis-versa.
Another thing you can do is TAKE BREAKS. Kids get tired and irritable. Pack some snacks and have a little break time. Chances are, I will have some sub-groups to photograph as well. So, while the kids break, I can do some of the family groups that do not require the kids. Or, you can take a break and I can photograph the kids in a more candid way. These photo sessions often have less candid moments, so it is good to just relax and let the family run wild. These candid moments are often my most favorite and I encourage families to enjoy this time together and be goofy and have fun.
Don’t rush it! I know having family photos done can be stressful, especially for the adults. It is hard being in front of a camera and having your family on display. Just remember, I have a family too and have seen it all. Your kids being goofy doesn’t bother me one bit, I totally understand, I am a mom. I guess this goes hand in hand with patience, but don’t throw in the towel before I have gotten adequate photos. Just sit back and relax and as mentioned above, take breaks.
HAVE FUN and PLAY! I cannot emphasize this enough, if you are having fun, your kids will have fun. Play some chase, have a cookie party, tackle your uncle, do whatever you can to make this experience a fun one. I cannot emphasize this one enough. My favorite sessions are the ones where everyone cuts loose and has a great time.
Have a game plan
Have a game plan, know which photographs are must haves. Sometimes it is best to knock the formal family photos out of the way first while the kids are still fresh. Sometimes, it is best to do them later in the session when the kids are warmed up. But, know which groupings you most want to get done and make sure to check those off the list. I will not end your session prematurely without getting the photographs you are wanting. Examples of this is: the whole family, grandparents with grandkids, original siblings, grandkids, etc. (just like you would have at a wedding).
Location and time of day
Never is location and time of day as important as it is in these big group photos. Perfect lighting is essentially and there has to be a lot of space to get it right. One thing that will ruin a large family photo fast is bad lighting or inconsistent lighting. We will need to start either very early in the morning, close to sunset OR pick a location with ample open shade. I have a few spots I particularly like to do these big groups at and that tend to work at less desirable hours (because I know how hard it is to get 15 people some where at 7:30 am).
Now sometimes, due to special circumstances or just as a personal preference, families like to do their sessions at their homes. This can be a great option too. What I suggest for this option is to really pay attention to the time of day. Because I will be working in an unfamiliar setting, we want all the things going for us that we can. Being in control of the light is a great start. My suggestion is to plan your session abut 1.5 hours from sunset, giving us plenty of time to work and great light. In the late fall and winter, this can be as early as 4:00pm, but in the spring and summer it is a later start closer to 6:30.
Remember to get some portraits of the kids! Why not? I’m here, you are here, we should get some portraits done.
Big multi-family photography sessions can be a lot of fun and rewarding. Make sure to do the proper planning and coordination to make sure your session is a success.