Updated: Jul 1
Many photographers cringe at the mention of shooting an extended family session.
Because there are so many variables out of our control.
With more people involved, the danger of dummy spits, blinking, and clashing wardrobes increases dramatically! But whilst some artists refuse to photograph all the family gang together, I see it as a challenge. And really, they aren't that scary.
Just a heads up, I will be slightly bossier than what I would normally be. This is only to ensure the shoot goes smoothly and we manage to get all the shots. Occasionally the kids will challenge me on this one :)
I always start by capturing the more posed group photos straight up. This is because usually after about 15 minutes little kiddies have reached their limit and need a break. And sometimes this is all they can manage.
Next, I let the kids run and play whilst I photograph the adults. Children love that they get constant breaks, as it encourages them to come back and get a few more quality shots before they disappear again. However, sometimes kids will resist coming back to participate.
Parents can usually become quite upset if their child won't play along, but I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement. If your little one doesn't want to sit still, that's ok! I'm happy to work with kids in an activity they enjoy, which often creates more beautiful, natural photos anyway.
And once the kids are allowed to run mad and free, I'll grab a few of those shots too. I always try and make games out of the shoot, to keep them entertained. This helps the positive reinforcement as they are having fun!
At the end of the extended family session, I always congratulate the kids on how well they did (and the adults). Sometimes they will even let me take a few more photos once they know they are "officially" done.
I always check in with the parents to ensure they are happy with what we've achieved and capture any last-minute shots.
Yes, shooting an extended family session can be daunting due to impending chaos. But I just take one step at a time and let the family moments appear naturally. If that doesn't work, then I may drag out the bossy pants and lolly rewards!