Some photographers shy away from large, extended family sessions. They can be difficult to manage when lots of opinions are present, require energy and finesse with all ages and demographics, and often call for very specific criteria such as time or location in which to accommodate everyone in the group regardless of photographic preferences.
But you realize I said some photographers-- not me!! I LOVE extended family shoots for exactly all those reasons listed above. In most cases, I also don't meet these clients until the day of the shoot because they're coming from out of town, which is unlike my typical experience. But I see all these factors as positive challenges and think it is so much fun to engage with all the family personalities and dynamics.
I was contacted by Deborah, the daughter-in-law of this crew, to photograph their family while everyone was visiting her father-in-law's property for a reunion. Upon learning of recent health issues, the birth of a new baby girl, and the rarity in which all of them can get together in a year, they felt it was especially important to capture this momentous season of their lives.
I met them at the home in Scottsville where I was greeted by the oldest daughter who was ever so excited to show me her beautiful dress and tell me all the things they'd been up to. I immediately discovered that this was a lively group and we set off to the backyard to kick things off.
Deborah noted that they were especially interested in simple, candid moments of joy between one another so I made it my mission to bring out their goofy side and help them all relax. What I didn't anticipate was finding myself in stitches from start to finish as well.
I also love that we were able to incorporate a location that held significance - the fire pit their dad built, the tree in the backyard that they wouldn't let builders tear down, and other little stories that are tied to the nooks of this home. It makes their images even more special.
You can always tell when a family has a special bond and this group certainly does. It was such an honor to photograph them in this special place and hope the images bring them joy and happy memories for many years.