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.
I remember when my first son turned one, friends, family and even strangers suddenly started asking me when I would have another. Apparently, the first birthday is a milestone after which it is socially acceptable to start bugging parents about getting pregnant again! Personally, I couldn’t imagine having another baby right away. I was too exhausted from stressing out over every detail of my son’s life ( can you say helicopter parent?) to consider having another!! But over the years, I have photographed numerous families with two babies under two, and there are definitely some positives to this scenario!
- They are both in diapers. Wait, is that good thing? Well, in my humble opinion, it is. I was scared to have two babies under two and we waited until my son was almost 3 before having #2. I distinctly remember my son decided to start potty training basically the minute I came home from the hospital with my daughter and it was not fun. I think it is a blessing in disguise to have both kids in diapers for the first few months. My 2 cents: focus on potty training once your second gets a little older and has a routine. It’s so much less stressful that way!
- They both NAP! – Hallelujah, your toddler still needs a nap! And after a couple of months you should be able to figure out a way to get them both sleeping at the exact same time so you can get some solid down time during the afternoon to catch up on Top Chef or This is Us. I know they all say to sleep when the baby sleeps, but seriously, what fun is that?
- Your children learn to share and be considerate at an early age – Having a sibling so close in age will force your children to learn to share whether they like it or not. They will also grow up being more considerate of others and they will realize the world does not revolve around them.
- Your first child will learn to be more independent – Let’s face it, if you have two under two, someone is going to get ignored some of the time. And that’s not a bad thing. I think most parents can admit spending too much time focusing on every move their first child made. Breaking the cycle of dependence might involve a little whining and crying, but is definitely for the best in the end.
- Your kids might just end up being friends. While there are obviously no guarantees in life, having babies so close together provides a fantastic opportunity for them to become good friends. Your kids will go through the phases of life at relatively the same time and, over the years, they will mostly enjoy the same kinds of toys, activities and family trips, etc. Having them close together affords them the opportunity to become besties and that is a wonderful gift!
The last time I saw this beautiful family, they were just welcoming their first baby girl Maya into the family. I was excited (and surprised!) to hear from them again, just 15 months later, when they emailed to tell me they were expecting another baby girl! It was so much fun to see how much Maya has grown ( even though she is kind of still a baby, too). She was not jealous of her baby sister at all, rather just mildly curious about her. Grandma was visiting and helping out and I love that we were able to capture her in some of the images too.
Full arms, full heart!
Being a big sister is so exciting!!
Sisters, and hopefully BFF for life….
V+P = Sonya!
See those pictures on the wall in the background?? That’s baby Maya when she was just a week old!
Cara Soulia is a Dover Massachusetts Newborn Photographer who specializes in capturing natural and beautiful images of babies, children & their families on location in and around the Boston area. See more newborn sessions, read 9 things you should know about hiring Cara as your photographer or get in touch if you are expecting and would like to schedule as session!
The forecast did not look good the morning of this family’s photo session, but grandma was visiting from Canada and we really wanted to include her in the photos so we did not reschedule. At the last second, I told Mom, “Worst case scenario: bring the umbrellas!” And boy, am I glad I did.
Everything started out clear and we were lucky to have the gorgeous orange flowers blossoming in the background. I love how all these (more…)
A new baby is always a great reason to have a family photo session. But it’s even better when the grandparents are visiting from Ireland and you turn your newborn session into an extended family session. I had such an awesome time with this lovable family of five and their grandparents. Typically newborn sessions take place in your home, but since (more…)
A few weeks ago I photographed a very special extended family session at Elm Bank in Wellesley, MA. The session was a gift from Grandma ( aka Mimi ) for her two children and her three grandchildren. She and her husband were just about the sweetest pair of grandparents I’ve ever seen. So proud of their children and so much love for their grandchildren. They also happen to be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary this year, which is (more…)