Guide to a Successful Multigenerational Portrait Session

extended family portrait

With the holidays approaching, it’s a great time to get the everyone together for a big family portrait. As someone that comes from a big family, I know this is easier said than done.  Today, I’m going to share with you a few tips to make your multigeneration family portrait session a big success.

The List

The most important part of an extended family portrait session is The List.  On this list, you’ll write every grouping you could possibly want. For example, your list may include:

  • Everyone
  • Grandparents with grandchildren
  • The siblings
  • Each sibling with their spouse and children
  • All the grandchildren
  • Just the grandparents

Your photographer will use this as a guide to make sure they don’t miss any photos you may want.

Coordinating outfits made easy
To make coordinating outfits easy, choose a color palette of three colors. To avoid clashing patters, solids look best but small patterns like a plaid or calico print can work. To avoid drawing attention to one person, don’t wear bold stripes, polka dots, graphics, or large logos.

Discuss family dynamics and other details with your photographer

Have the photographer refer to grandma as “Nana” or “G-ma” or “Grammy” so the little kids know who they are referring to. If there’s a blended family, let the photographer know how the relationship is between the child and stepparent so they don’t make it awkward with posing requests. If there are mobility issues, your photographer can suggest a wheelchair or walker-friendly location. It’s important that your photographer know all the facts before the session.

A few quick tips to remind your family:

  • If the baby won’t smile unless looking at a family member, ask the family member to stand right by the camera.
  • Instead of “say cheese” tell a funny joke, make a silly sound, or just act natural.
  • Ask your family to put away their cell phones during the session.
  • Choose a location that is simple and won’t be crowded such as a backyard or park.
  • If family is coming in from out of town, plan the session for the beginning part of the trip so you can reschedule in case of bad weather.

With some pre-planning and plenty of communication between you, the photographer, and the rest of the family, your family portrait experience will be amazing!

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