Every summer I look forward to family session season. But most of all, its the extended families that I adore. And this Chesterfield Extended Family Session was my first one of the year, it felt so good to be back to what I love.
Every year growing up I remember my parents throwing these big elaborate pig roasts in our backyard. If you know my mom, you know she loves to host a party. The bigger the better. She spent the entire week leading up to the party cleaning and prepping food. And when the big day arrived, our house buzzed with excitement. I loved being surrounded by my family. We have a large amount of cousins, my mom is one of six kids and my grandpa was one of eleven! So family isn’t something we’re short on. I can still remember stories I heard every year, over and over, being told by the same people. I could recite them by heart. But I loved hearing them. I just enjoyed having my relatives over.
I think some of that party related enjoyment plays into my extended family sessions. While its not a huge group of cousins (though I have done one of those, 40+ people, but that’s another blog). I love watching siblings interact, parents with their kids, grandparents and grandchildren, aunts or uncles with their nieces and nephews. I love hearing stories get told, jokes being laughed at. I love asking questions, who talks the most, who has the messiest room, who makes you late to every party. It’s so funny to watch your family dynamic unfold, and the best part is capturing those laughs and stories.
Extended family sessions take about an hour. Even that huge group of 40+ I photographed once only ran about 15 minutes over. I was pretty proud of that one, we were on fire.
I do a combination of traditionally posed as well as candid. It’s interesting how often I get asked “what do you mean by candid”. I guess I don’t realize how strange it seems in a session. But basically, I will pose you in what I call “the grandparent shot” because they always love those images where every member of their family is standing nice and tall and smiling at the camera. But after we get that great shot, I tell everyone, I’m going to count to 5, and you have to look at someone new with every number, and you can never look at me. Ironically someone always looks at me. But that’s ok, it adds character. Here is an example of a traditional image, and then a candid image.
And most important is that we always start with the biggest grouping. I have a pretty good workflow I do with every extended family, so we don’t miss a photo opportunity. But I do on occasion get a request for one not on my list. Sometimes its an aunt/uncle with a niece/nephew because that might be a godparent. I’ve even had a few families where cousins shared birthdays, and we photographed them together. The best way is to plan out images that you feel you want, so at least we can refer back to that at the end and make sure there wasn’t anything on your list that I don’t normally do.
Enjoy these images of my time as the Dowd Family’s Chesterfield Extended Family Photographer!