Ahhhh, the generations of a family…can anything be more beautiful? And an extended family session certainly should be on your list of things to do if your extended family is getting together. But I have to be honest with you, an extended family session sounds completely overwhelming, doesn’t it? Yes, it does! And that is why I’m writing this, to share with you how I run an extended family session and assure you I would love to help you pull of such a crazy but incredibly beautiful and rewarding task. So let’s get started!
When you book an extended family session with me, I will jump into the planning details with you. I have a few of these sessions under my belt, and so I have a few tips and tricks to share with you as your family prepares for the big day.
Yes, I help with that! I find that some wardrobe information and prep will go a long way in easing the stress of planning AND in producing gorgeous portraits. So I love to get involved. I have a membership to a styling service that I use for my sessions, and I’ve even been known to swing by my client’s homes to help with outfit and color choices, and I love all of it! So don’t hesitate to ask!
Location and session time
Let’s chat, as I can’t wait to hear about more about your family. Once we have a chance to visit, we can pick a location that will not only look beautiful, but will also work great for your family’s needs.
Session day schedule
After all the planning is finished and all my prep information is in everyone’s hands, the big day will arrive. This is generally how it plays out…
- Meet and greet…everyone arrives, and I usually bring along my daughter to be my assistant. Your kids or grandkids will LOVE her, and that is why I bring her. So relax and let everyone say their hellos, we will get to our “spot” and I will give a few light instructions to get us started.
- The LARGE family picture, the one the grandparents will hang on their wall and the one you’re not sure how we will ever pull off? Well, let me tell you how that works! While every extended family is hoping to get that ONE incredible portrait, that ONE portrait often takes SEVERAL snaps of the shutter to make happen. I usually always begin the session with the large group shot, and often try to make it so we have a couple of different large group pictures to choose from. I like to begin with this large group image first, as usually everyone is fresh and ready for pictures–especially the littlest ones in your crew. While I will be taking several clicks on my camera, this only just takes a couple of minutes once everyone is in place. If Uncle Harry happens to blink, or baby Mary decides to not look at the camera for most of the shots, don’t stress. Because of the incredible power of Photoshop, and the ten million takes I have on my camera (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration), I will go back and spend the time it takes to work magic during the editing process so that your family will certainly have that ONE INCREDIBLE portrait. And who am I kidding? You will have more than one, trust me.
- Next up is the grandparents with the grandkids picture. Remember that part about capitalizing on the little ones being fresh? Yes, that is why this picture is next. Whether you have one grandchild or eighteen, this is one EVERYONE will love…
- Grandkids only, this is usually always in the number three spot on my list. I’m sure your catching on, but that whole keeping the little ones happy is no joke…
- Ahhhhh…time to take a deep breath. Why? Because we just accomplished the three above tasks, and that is no small thing! We will all pat ourselves on the back and then move into the rest of the session, which will feel like a breeze. How the rest plays out generally depends on one thing…how those kiddos are doing. With extended family sessions, I will pull out each individual family for their own family pictures. Think of it as a family mini session within the larger extended family session. It’s wonderful because you’ve already gone to all the work of getting ready and getting to the location. Now each family will have their own family pictures, and the grandparents will have coordinating family pictures to pair with that large extended family portrait they will soon have displayed on their wall. Usually I begin with the family who has the youngest kids first…unless one of those kids is having a hard time. And guess what? Meltdowns will probably happen at some point in the session and I will roll with it. They key is always this: don’t stress! If this happens, I’ll move on to a different family unit and circle back around.
- Portraits, lifestyle and candid images. I go after all of them. What does this mean? You will have the posed pictures where everyone is looking at the camera. And you will have some fun images where you are interacting with each other, not looking at the camera. (These are my favorites, by the way.) And I will also grab candid shots of whatever might be fun going on behind the scenes whenever I have the chance. Let’s just say, it will be a rather large gallery when we are finished.
Will you have a picture with just your spouse? Yes, more than one, actually!
Will there be an individual picture of each child? Of course!
Will I work with your child’s personality and still get a beautiful family portrait? Absolutely!
Do I have time to capture a special image that is important to you? Of course!
Time with Great-Grandparents
This is an important one. If there is a great-grandparent involved with the session, I do everything I can to capture something that will be treasured for generations. The great with their greats, the picture that speaks of the legacy of generations and captures the beauty that is so often missed. If a great-grandparent will be a part of your session, let’s talk through the details. I make special considerations when choosing locations so that it is comfortable for the most senior members of the family.
Post Session Details
After the session is over, I will give you some post session information and send you on your way. Generally it takes me about four to five weeks to edit an extended family gallery, as this will be a large gallery and I’m a pretty detailed editor. Once I have finished editing the session, we will set up a time to meet in person to go over all your edited images together. Usually this appointment takes place at my home office. With extended families, it is not always possible for everyone to be at this appointment. But it certainly is a fun time and I always love watching you sort through your favorite portraits!
Because of the nature and scope of these sessions, I do have a minimum purchase requirement. To book an extended family session, there is a session retainer fee of $250 to lock in your spot. This fee covers some of my upfront costs and time for photographing the session, access to my styling service, as well as a $100 print credit that can be applied towards a print purchase during your ordering appointment. (Please note, this is a PRINT credit, not a credit than can be applied towards the digital gallery purchase. This credit can only be applied for print product orders made during the ordering appointment.)
During the viewing and ordering appointment time will be when you make your purchase selections. My minimum purchase requirement is the current cost of the final gallery of edited digital images which is $700 (for the first family unit) plus $200 per each additional family unit/household in the extended family.
For example, if an extended family has two grandparents with two adult children and their spouses/significant others and their kids (who live in their household, it would be a total of 3 family units:
$700 base + $200 + $200 = $1100 (plus Missouri sales tax)
While this is an investment, it is one I believe will be treasured for generations to come. Most extended families choose to purchase both artwork and digital images, as the quality of professional prints/canvases/metals and other products are incredible. I have a wonderful system for helping you decide what will look best in your home and would love to visit more if you have any questions about anything in this process.
Let me close by saying again that these extended family sessions are priceless and worth the effort. And do you know what? Most of my extended families leave the session saying they are surprised and how well it went…and dare I say, even how much fun it was? Yes, it’s true! What’s even better is knowing that just a few short weeks later, your family will have a incredible gallery of portraits to show the beauty and legacy of YOUR family. Worth it? YES!! Absolutely it is!
Let’s talk soon,