A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of capturing images for a family of eight. Mom and Dad plus 6 children. I met the three youngest at our consultation earlier in the day and they were very well behaved. I looked forward to our session and when the time came that evening, I was not disappointed. This lovely family of eight, was well organized and came to the session well prepared and arrived on time, even a bit early.
We got some great shots that night with three clothing changes for all and were done within 1.5 hours, including the clothing changes. You may say, well, that sounds easy. Trust me when I say, it was not. I have had family sessions in which I had to remind them that they only had me for an hour and that we needed to get started. The session that comes to mind took place a few years back with 15 people and was staged at the family’s home. Let’s just say that it did not go smoothly and made me change the way I approach family sessions.
So let’s look at what makes a large family session successful:
- I have a consultation with the respective family before we have our session. This may be over the phone or in person, though I prefer in person.
- One of the first questions I ask is: “How many people are in your family and what are the ages of the children?”
- We discuss how much time I have allotted and what they should expect from me and the session.
- We discuss the color schemes they have in mind and I make recommendations based on the skin tone of my clients.
- I ask if they would like to have different groupings, i.e. the whole group, just the girls, just the boys, the kids by themselves, etc. You get the idea.
- If clothing changes are involved, I show the area they will change in and where they can park purses and bags.
When little ones are in the family, I remain conscious of how rapidly they run out of steam and patience and I work quickly and remind all of the big kids and the parents that they need to remember that they are in the picture as well. It seems obvious , but I often have at least a few shots in which mom is too busy to make the littlest one happy to remember to look up and smile. I catch it and help her remember.
My best advise to you is: Ask me about what to expect, agree to an in person consultation to see the studio and know what space we will be working with both for clothing changes and the session itself. If we meet on location, be prepared to walk a bit, I will find several spots to get pictures at to give you variety.
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