I grew up in a big family. Four siblings, four first cousins who lived close, and everyone piling into one house every Christmas Eve. It was mass chaos, and has honestly been one of the best things for learning how to work with large family groups.
People often come to be a bit frazzled in the planning stages of getting their whole family together for photos, so here’s a quick-reference checklist to make it a bit easier:
Choose a date and a back-up date. This is definitely the hardest part! But planning far enough ahead allows for everyone to plan with their jobs. Sometimes a weekday in the summer works best because of the last sunset. A weekend morning is also generally an easier time to get everyone together. Choose your location based on the lighting. If you’re able to do the session an hour before sunset, you have nearly unlimited options, but if you’re session needs to be in the morning or mid-day to make schedules work, then you definitely want to find a nice place with lots of shade (like the one in this post!).
Decide on a color scheme. If you’re a stylish family, then work it! But if you’re totally stumped and everyone generally wears hoodies, then I recommend giving everyone a color palette to work with. Choose some inspiration pictures that include the colors you love, and send them out to the family. I generally recommend blues and earth tones, like the family in this post!
Bring a list. Have a general list of what photo groupings you want. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive– just hit the highlights. We generally start with the large group, then break off into family groups, and then random groups and generational photos.
Bring snacks for the kids, and stay calm. Specifically, bring snacks that won’t dye your tongue or get messy. Staying calm is probably the most important thing to remember while at your session. You set the pace for your family and if you’re calm, they’ll be calm. And the photos always turn out better when everyone is calm and happy!