The thought of capturing pictures of a large extended family is terrifying for many, and I know lots of photographers who make it a policy to decline them.

I used to be one of the former, with a self-imposed rule to never capture extended families, the kind where you have Grandma and Grandpa, their four or so grown children, their respective partners, a dozen-ish grandchildren, and maybe even a dog or two.

But then a day came when I was asked to capture the extended family as a gift for their parents’ wedding anniversary.

Planning an Extended Family Photo Session

Planning a family photoshoot can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. As an experienced family photographer I always try to make your family photo session relaxed and enjoyable!

The Things You Need To Know When Choosing a Family Photographer?

I don’t believe you can shoot extended family pictures in a lifestyle manner. There are just too many people. It would also make it harder to get all the shots you need, as the family will have lots of combos they expect the photographer to get. Although this extended family photo session in Chiswick House and Gardens had a bit of both styles: posed and lifestyle.

Pick a photographer that has a style that resonates with you, explore the photographer’s portfolio.

Consider a local photographer because they will be familiar with ideal locations for an outdoor family photo session. A photographer near you will instantly know all local parks and unique places that would be perfect for your family photoshoot.

Entering key words to your google search will certainly help narrow down to the most relevant options. For example: family photographer in Barnes; children’s photography in Chelsea; best photographer in Chiswick; lifestyle photographer Primrose Hill; portrait photographer Kensington, or studio photographer in Richmond. Avoid large scale searches like portrait photographer in Surrey or family photographer in London.

Photographers are just like any other professional service. Each one has their own style, personality, and approach to capturing family photos. Take the time to research more than just their portfolio and pricing.

Google is a great place to research a photographer. Take some time to read the reviews and see if there are any trends. Are they known for being great with kids? Are they noted as being great at communication? Pick a photographer that is known for what you need.

From the first enquiry, you should get an idea of how responsive they are. Photos are an investment and you should feel well taken care of from the first enquiry through gallery delivery and beyond.

You want to feel confident that a photographer will be capable of reproducing the photos you see in their portfolio for your own family. Look through their portfolio and pay attention to how consistent their work is. You should notice a trend in the style of shooting, editing, and types of photographs they showcase.

Pricing and package structures can vary widely. Some photographers will include full rights and digital download of the entire gallery, while others will charge a session fee only and sell the prints separately (look out for hidden costs!). Aside from price, you must look at the full package to determine the value you will receive.

What To Wear For a Family Photoshoot?

The question I’m asked most often before a family photography session is “What should we wear for our family photos?”

The single most important consideration when you’re choosing your outfits is that you all feel comfortable and confident. You need to like how you all look in your pictures as you’ll be keeping them forever.

But think carefully about what you’d normally wear and then veer on the smarter side. In a nutshell, you want to look like you at your best when choosing what to wear on a family photo shoot.

Your Family, Your Personality

First of all, think about what kind of family you are, think about your style. If you’re a formal family, you might like some pictures in very smart attire. If you don’t, then t-shirt and jumper it is.

Plain Colours Work Best

Plain colours always work best for pictures. There’s nothing to distract the eye so the images become about the people rather than the clothes. This isn’t to say that clothes need to be boring as you can add texture into your images with fabrics such as linen, wool and lace.

Patterns are the enemy!

I love patterns, they can be fantastic in the right place but they can also steal the show quicker than a proposal at a wedding reception. They draw the eye away from the real subjects of the photographs- the people in them! Subtle, gentle patterns are okay but keep them to a minimum, just one person or things can get confusing.

Clear the Contrast

Like patterns, contrasting colours in your group will change the way the photograph is viewed. Too may colours or choosing colours which contrast with each other will make the image too busy and uncomfortable to look at. So choose a pallet of complementing shades to create a cohesive look. 

Leave the Logos at Home

Logos are designed to make you look at them, not the person wearing them.

Having discussed problems with patterns and how photographs can be dated by the clothing worn, it stands to reason that the same applies to T-shirts with logos, pictures and words on them. 

Colour Pallets

Depending on what style you are going for: light and airy, dark and moody you need to pick a colour pallet. I have given some examples here to help, obviously it depends on the number of people in the group whether you use all the tone in the pallet of just stick to a couple. The more people in the group you can use more of the tones but be sure to pull the tones through the group using accessories such as scarfs, headbands.

Think Long-Term

You’re going to keep these pictures forever so always think timeless rather than high fashion when choosing your outfits. Fashions come and go and the last thing you want is to look back on an image in ten years’ time and cringe at what you were wearing. Classic styles never go out of fashion and so are a good choice for what to wear on your family photo shoot.

Try Clothes on Before the Day

I always recommend you try on your outfit before the day. For adults this means checking that you can squat, sit on the ground and move around easily. We’ll be playing with the kids so beware of very short skirts or tops that gape open. 

It’s also no problem if you want to email me a picture and ask, “Will this work?” I know that sometimes it’s reassuring to know that your choice will be perfect. I’m on hand before your shoot, as well as after it, to help with any questions no matter how small so please reach out and we can make sure you have the ideal outfit for your photo shoot.

Wear Clothes That Fit

This sounds obvious but I’m as guilty as the next person of not checking that something fits until the day I need to wear it. And then finding it’s perhaps a little tighter than I would like… Clothes that are too tight or too loose tend to be less flattering. 

Very tight t-shirts, which often look great if you’re standing up, photograph less well if you’re sitting and snuggling with your child. It’s worth clearing your pockets as that will affect the way your clothes hang. If you can, put wallets and phones in a small bag which will look better in your pictures.

Make up, hair and accessories

Over the years I’ve had several clients reach out before their photo session to ask if they should wear makeup to their photo session if they do not wear makeup in their everyday life. My response is always this: even if you do not wear makeup in your everyday life, YES, you should still wear makeup in your photos.
I highly recommend styling your hair and please do not forget the nails. Hands are key in posing a family portrait.
Adding accessories like bracelets, necklaces or big funky earrings can really make your photos stand out.

It’s All About You

Ultimately, your pictures need to reflect who you are and your own unique memories, that is the most important consideration when deciding what to wear on your family photo shoot. You’ll keep these pictures forever and look at them daily on your walls as well as in decades to come. So choose clothes you feel confident in and which won’t date, and you can be sure you’ll love your family photos as much in fifty years’ time as you do today.