5 helpful tips
The more the merrier, I say! Large families are a JOY to photograph. Although these sessions don't go without challenges. Here are some tips that I have consistently stuck with for large family sessions that have always worked for me.
1. I CALL A FAMILY MEETING!!
In my home, whenever there is an announcement about to be made that is a need-to-know for everyone, we call a....FAMILY MEETING!! It's literally yelled through every hall and room of the house. Doing the same for your larger family sessions will help you (and everyone) out a ton. You've had your consult. Corresponded back and forth with your primary client about location, outfits, and other session details. However, it is very important that each family member is on the same page as far as how the session will progress. They need to feel like they know what's going to happen, like they won't be caught off guard in order to feel completely relaxed and comfortable in front of your camera. Explain to them your step by step process. Have an order of shooting. "Grandma and Grandpa, I am going to shoot you guys first. Then Mom and Dad are next, and then the Grandkids." So on and so forth. Also, the family meeting will give them an opportunity to ask questions and make any personal requests.....they'll feel informed, included and confident enough to give you their best smiles!
2. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Location is key. You have a large group of folks photograph and you need a wide open space to work in. Working with 1 to 2 clients may not require as big of a space as it would when you are shooting a group of 9-12 people together. Everyone needs to fit in the frame nicely and that requires room. Be selective and give yourself plenty of space to work in as well as different options for your one on one shots with each family member. Have fun and go scouting!
3. FAMILY REUNION STYLE!
Get to know your family. Become a part of their family for the time you're with them. Ask about special memories. Compliment them on the way they love each other. Ask about inside jokes and who is the worst driver. Where did your son graduate from? Who is the best cook? Make your time with them like a family reunion. A time that they get to put their busy lives on pause and appreciate each other. This also lends very much to them being authentic in front of your camera and yields amazing candid portraits. By the end of your session, they will have gained one new family member, greet you with open arms and say "Welcome to the family!"
4. "OK, BUT WHERE DO YOU WANT ME?"
You have a big group. They all look wonderful. They got all cleaned up for these portraits. Putting them just anywhere in the lineup just will not fly. Some colors and patterns don't compliment each other as much as others do. So placement is important. They worked so hard at looking good, and they depend on your artistic eye to know how to best present them in their family photos. When placing a big group in position, make sure you have patterns and colors next to each other that compliment the next. For instance, you don't want Uncle Bob, who is wearing a blue and yellow plaid shirt, standing next to Grandpa, who is wearing a yellow and green stripped shirt. Let Uncle Bob stand next to Aunt Betty, who is in a lovely lemon yellow blouse. Ahhh yes. That's better. Before you take your shot, check the line-up!
5. EVERYONE DESERVES A MOMENT IN THE SPOTLIGHT!
You are just about to wrap up. You've gotten your big group shots. They look fab! Now it's time for individuals. Ask each singular group of the family if they would like their photos taken. Chances are they do! Especially small kiddos. Grandma and Grandpa will be purchasing an 8x10 of all 6 of their grandkids. I guarantee they will! So give each family member a time in front of your camera. Because you had so much fun with the group shots, they will be all warmed up and ready to fly solo for you. Chances are, with some families, this is the only time in a long while everyone has gotten together for a family portrait and it will be a long while before they do it again. Make it worth their while and let everyone have a chance at having a wonderful high quality portrait done, and also, give yourself a better chance at an increase in product sales! It's a win-win!
Large family sessions don't have to be intimidating. Try these tips out, be confident in yourself and your abilities. If they worked for you, I'd love to hear about it! Comment below if you have any tips that I didn't mention for large family sessions.