The key to a successful extended family session | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I may be biased, but I'm still going to say it. A documentary-style session is the way to go if you're looking to get beautiful images of real moments with your extended family. We had the perfect park setting, pretty light, and fairly warm December temps during this recent session in Northern Virginia, with three generations of family celebrating their newest addition’s christening.

Big family session in the park
Toddler boy holding his grandparent's hands

It's not often that extended family gets together for a photo session. Getting everyone in the same place and looking at the camera at the same time can be a nightmare. Family members can sometimes be reluctant to undertake what is usually an awkward process of posing and smiling for photos where they don't feel like themselves.

Dad playfully kissing son
Son shyly holding on to father's hand
Mom holding hand out to toddler son

But the casual and flexible nature of a documentary session has a way of putting everyone at ease, even family members who usually don't like being in front of the camera. Here’s why:

Children tend to be the center of attention.

When we feel like the spotlight is on someone else, it's easier to let our guard down and be ourselves. Children are usually the center of family sessions (and they enjoy it!). So it's natural to engage with them and follow their lead, which results in beautiful, real moments. It is so heartwarming to see and capture the love and affection showered on children by their family.

Large family following child in park
Grandmother holding bundled up baby
Aunt playing with nephew on monkey bars

Low pressure. Low stress. Real smiles.

Even in challenging moments (we all need a break sometimes), there's no pressure to force smiles or rush through a session to get a few good shots before meltdowns happen. A casual session means taking the time necessary to help everyone feel comfortable. And the benefit of a greater number is people means it's easy to Just enjoy hanging out with each other and forget about the camera.

Aunt chasing nephew on playground
Toddler boy sliding backward down slide on playground
Toddler saying goodbye and closing gate

Family is such an important pillar in our lives and being able to document relationships like these, across generations, is a joy and the reason I take pictures at all.  

Have a celebration with extended family coming up?  Contact me today to start planning a session that's perfect for your family.