How To Photograph A Large Group

I love large family sessions!! It’s priceless to have your entire family together, make memories, and have the photographs as family heirlooms forever. You can’t get that back.

Shooting an extended family session can be REALLY daunting. I get questions from other photographers all the time about how to handle one. Here’s one of my favorites of all time (because this family is AMAZING loads of fun!!), and I’ll break it down into easy tips for photographers. Two birds with one stone! Awesome!

First of all, you need one heck of a patient, amazing person coordinating everything. Anna Crew was that person for me. She coordinated her entire family’s schedules, and baby was that ever a hard job – it took us three months and several unsuccessful dates to finally get it together! Crew was awesome, patient, and so amazing to work with.

She also handled styling her family. Which was probably not nearly as hard as scheduling, because they all have fabulous style to start with. They went with a palette of cool blues and yellow – perfect for a light summery session. Seriously gorgeous to photograph.

Once the day of the session rolls around, here’s how I handle things.

I start by putting the family in a spot with a unique, simple background in open shade.

(I love this shot. It tickles me. Totally an outtake, but priceless.)

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Be sure to get lots of frames once everything is set up — someone will inevitably be blinking, and if you can save yourself a headswap in Photoshop, do. 🙂 For this set up, I used a giant reflector (a DIY project made mostly of insulation board from Lowe’s and costing approximately $12 as opposed to the “professional” reflectors that retail for $80+). It takes some fiddling around with the reflector to not totally blind your clients (sorry, Kinney family!!!), so make sure to find the sweet spot.

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There are a ton of ways to pose/group everyone for the shots of everyone together. In the shots above, I put Peggy and Eddie in the middle (since they started it all!) and their six kids surrounding them, grouped by family units.

Then come the shots of each individual family alone.

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Then the grandparents with their grandchildren….

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And just the parents with their kids.

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Mix it up. Use your surroundings. This location had a couple of grain silos (Silo Kinney, right Crew?!), a wagon, and some really random other fun stuff that we used. You’ll see. 😉

Just the girls:

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Just the men:

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And a random tractor with cow cars?! Don’t mind if I do! This shot was totally their idea, and I ADORE them.

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Don’t wear out your clients with a ton of posed shots. Nobody likes to pose for long (if at all!), especially if there are small children involved. S-t-r-e-s-s-f-u-l-l. The kids were total troopers for the posed stuff; they totally earned the right to go nuts and play. …The grownups did too.

So as soon as you get all the combinations of posed shots that you set out to do, let ’em loose and try to keep up. A million fun moments will happen – you just have to be watching for them.

Rubber duck racing (who knew it was a sport??):

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I’m a sucker for baby toes.

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…and sisters (um, HELLO GORGEOUSNESS):

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…And babies…

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…AND GIANT SLIDE TUNNELS BUILT INTO HILLS!!!!! WHAT THE WHAT?!?!

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This series makes me cackle. A lot.

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All they needed were little numbered judge’s signs.

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The end!!

Get your extended family together and give me a call! I LOVE shooting these precious sessions. To book yours, call the studio at 704-615-1311. 

*this post was originally published Jun 11, 2013

 

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