Because I, too, have three children (the youngest still just four years old), I find that I have a lot in common with many of my clients. While we have different careers or live in different areas of Boston, we’re also somewhere within a 15 year age range of just starting to build a family and sending one (or more) off to college.
One thing we all agree on: Time flies. Fast.
One characteristic that differs between many, however, is the location of extended family. Many of my clients do not have grandparents and cousins down the street or within a quick drive. And many families make a commitment every year to get together for a holiday, celebration or vacation, which creates connections between individuals of all ages.
For these moments, I encourage you to consider an extended family photo session.
Boston Extended Family Photographer
Just over a year ago I had the pleasure of photographing an extended family at the Arnold Arboretum. The mother and her husband had both recently lost their fathers and they realized how important it was to get some photos with their children and their grandmothers.
The images of that session are lovely, of course, but they’re more than just pretty pictures. Images of your extended family provide your children with context of their family beyond themselves. In this age of fast-and-furious iPhone snaps that rarely get printed, images from a family session become precious visible and tangible items that help tell a story of many generations.
Consider these two images below. No, they are not cliche posed images of a grandchild with grandparents (or, dad and grandad). They are moments between family members who love each other. An extended family session can be more than simple posed photos. Let it be a chance to capture your relationships. Someday your children will look at these images and literally feel the love in them.
Images from an extended family session are a gift, really.
Whether your children’s grandparents and extended family live close by or not, everyone’s lives can be busy. Taking an hour to photograph your children with their family is a gift they didn’t even realize they wanted.
And that’s my point. While a traditional family photo session consists of parents with a child or siblings, the resulting images are a treasure for the parents, true?
Consider extended family photos a gift for your children. The reality is that the family in those photos may not be as consistently present as parents. The cousins might not be at every birthday or holiday. In thirty years when your child starts to reflect on life, finding images of early childhood – complete with faces of many family members – will be a treasure.
I love extended family sessions because it’s fantastic and fun to see the energy that other family members bring to each other. Capturing joy and relationships between family members of all ages is an opportunity not to miss, but it does require advance planning.
Preparation is Key
I always schedule a phone consultation so I can be sure to understand the ultimate goal of the session and any family dynamics. A family member can be aging and unsteady, or ill, or a child is “a runner”. Keeping a large group organized – but relaxed and happy – during an extended session is my priority.
I also ask families for a list of “must have” images ahead of time so I can plan accordingly. It’s good to know it’s important for a family to have a picture of Dad and Grandchild #3, because he is his namesake.
I scout the location ahead of time so I understand the light at the time of day. It’s also important that I make sure there is somewhere to sit so we can create images that bring each person close vs. all standing in one line. (I have been known to bring my own chairs to ensure everyone is comfortable!).
On the day of the session, we have some fun and we do some work. Yes, I will make sure to take many full family photos, but I’m also aiming to capture a lot of in-between moments of joy.
And of course, I won’t forget the cousins…
Or some images of just your parents. You’ll be glad I did.
Cara Soulia is a Boston Extended Family Photographer who loves capturing the creative, sweet and fun side of every family. Get in touch to find out about scheduling a Boston Extended Family Session in 2020.