How to get ready for your extended family photos? A complete guide

I. Introduction: Importance of Extended Family Photos, Capturing Memories That Last

Hello, if you don’t know me already, I am Albalone, I’m a family photographer based in North London.
Something that we often forget to include extended members of our families, like the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and nieces or nephews. Because of geographical reasons, or just because we don’t see them that often. And the main reason why I don’t have group family photos with them is because they all live in France and most of them are sadly divorced so it creates small groups, which is hard to gather together. Nonetheless, I would absolutely love to have photos with everyone together, and I think you should do too! In this blog post, I will tell you everything you need to know to get ready for your family photo session.

II. Get ready for your extended family session

A. Planning Ahead: Scheduling the Photoshoot and Choosing a Location

In order to have everything running smoothly, it is important to plan the event ahead of time with your photographer. Once you have chosen a photographer with a style that you love (don’t go any further eh eh!), select a location and a time that works for you.

The Location

For my session, I like to plan somewhere that has a few background options, but also a shaded area in case of strong sun, wind or rain. I love using Kenwood House or The Pergola in Hampstead Heath, they offer beautiful gardens in spring and summer, some shaded areas and lots of spots to sit to create variety and dimension in the photos.

However, if you prefer shooting indoors in your family home, this is also an option. Long-lived family houses always bring a sense of comfort and tradition into the photos and can help create sentimental and heartfelt photographs.

Best day and time

In order to get the most beautiful light, I mostly shoot at golden hour. What is golden hour? It’s the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset. It creates a golden and soft light that enhances photos beautifully. Golden hour is usually very early or late but so worth it to have beautiful light for your photo shoot.

Time-wise, it’s perfect for family photos as it’s usually quieter than during the day, so we have clear backgrounds.

If you choose to have your photos done indoors in your home, the time will differ as we will need to plan for enough sunlight entering the location. This usually happens around the middle of the day or early afternoon, depending on the exposition.

B. Create a shot list with your photographer to avoid missing important photos

Creating a list of shots you want with your photographer is a great way to organise the session and release some of the stress and pressure, especially if there is a big group. Leave it to the professional. Here are some examples of the best combo to get:

Grandparents and grandchildren
Women of the family
Men of the Family
Immediate Family members
Entire Family Together 

Once that is done, you can sit back and enjoy the moment with your loved one. I usually prefer to get those shots done first before getting on to the less posed photos.

C. What to wear at my extended family photoshoot?

What you wear is really important so make sure to follow the photographer’s guidelines. I have written below my dos and don’t to help you choose outfits but I advise read my full guides. You can read the full what-to-wear guides for autumn, winter and spring on my blog.

To do:

  • Pick a colour scheme

  • Warm and neutral tones work well for my editing. I prefer warm earthy colours with some cool colours mixed in is okay.

  • Select a timeless piece that you won’t laugh at 15 years later

  • Lond dresses for woman

  • Kids with shorts or under-the-knee dresses or shorts

  • Cute hats or beanies are welcomed for babies and young children

  • Hats are welcomed for adults but no more than 1 or 2

  • Pick comfortable clothes and shoes that you can move, dance and perhaps even jump in!

  • Bring a pair of boots if you think it could be muddy

  • Fresh shaves and haircuts

  • Bring a picnic or cosy blanket to sit on and cuddle up in

  • Don’t leave it to the last minute to avoid panic shopping the night before

To avoid:

  • NO to Matching outfits as I find them too festive and cheesy

  • No logos or crazy patterns

  • Not too casual (ripped jeans) and not too dressed up (no blazers and ties guys!)

  • As little as possible black or white clothing

  • Cold tones clothing doesn’t work well with my editing style. Avoid cold blues, electric and especially not neon colours

  • No small stripes as it creates a weird effect on the photos when you zoom out

If you are unsure about what to wear, I offer personalised styling to all my clients. I also have a small client wardrobe with a few dresses that you can wear at the session at no extra cost!

D. Should I bring props and accessories?

I truly believe that family photography should only focus on the beautiful connection and love you have between family members so for me props are not necessary. However, if you have a special item (like an old teddy bear) that means something to your family, I am open to including it for a few shots.

If we shoot outdoors, I always encourage my clients to bring, if they own one, a picnic blanket to sit on or warp up with. It always creates a beautiful and cosy vibe.

Don’t forget to bring plenty of snacks and water for your session. I usually allow a bit of time in the middle of my session for a snack break if you have babies or toddlers.

E. Lighting and Location: Maximizing Natural Light and Choosing the Right Backgrounds

If we shoot outdoors and at golden hour, I like to have to backlight my subject and have this beautiful orange glow in the background. During the session, we will choose an area with clear background and move around the sun.

F. Preparing the Kids: Getting Younger Members of the Family Photo Ready

It’s important that everyone is in a good mood for the session so make sure you approach the subject with fun and enthusiasm, especially with the little ones, as they will copy the adult behaviour. Tell them you are going to do a fun photo activity with lots of games.

Make sure that the time of the session is working with the nap schedule if you have a little one. If golden hour doesn’t work for your family schedule, reach out to me and we could schedule a session at your home or during easier hours.

III. During the photo session

A. Posing Like a Pro: Tips for Natural and Authentic Family Poses

Is Dad awkward in front of the camera? Do not stress! I consider my posing style as relaxed and children-led. Apart from the “Christmas card shot” I don’t expect you to smile or look at the camera. I find it a lot more natural and candid. During the session, I will direct you into different poses, but the main things to know are:

  • Always touch, cuddle, hold hands or reach out to the person next to you

  • No gaps between family members, I want you to squeeze in

  • Rested faces are okay, no forced smile, instead deeply connect with your loved ones

  • Laughing and giggling are most welcome, so don’t hold back!

  • If you are uncomfortable in a pose, speak up and I will modify the pose to your comfort

  • You can close your eyes and smell the person next to you

C. Dealing with Difficult Family Dynamics: Keeping Everyone Happy and Comfortable

Every family is different so make sure to inform your photographer if there is anything I should be aware of. For example, one person is not a dad but a stepdad, etc… Let me know what I should call them to the children to avoid awkward moments.

Please also don’t forget to tell me if anyone has injuries or disabilities so I can prepare accordingly and select adapting poses for your family.

III. After the Extended Family Photo Session

A. Preserving and Displaying Your Photographs: Creating Albums, Prints, and Digital Copies

Once the session is over, I will edit your photos. You should expect to receive your private gallery 2 to 3 weeks after the session. Your images are safe as they will be saved in two different devices if one were to break.

On the gallery, you will have the choice to select from an “A la Carte” menu, with options from digital packages, signature prints and albums. I strongly suggest getting some prints and a few albums ordered. Printing your photo is so important, especially for the grandparents who don’t care so much about seeing the photos on a hard drive or a small screen. Instead, think big and print family heirlooms to be displayed in your living room. 

Albums are also great to display on coffee tables. My signature album prices start at £299 for the small album, and any additional albums ordered get a 40% discount off the original price. Which makes it ideal for large families, everyone can have one. No jealousy here! Albums are real treasures for a lifetime.

B. Leaving your photographer a kind review on Google

If you have enjoyed your session, why not leave a kind review (along with your favourite photos) on your photographer’s Google Business page? Those reviews are super helpful to the community and will help your photographer get more bookings. Share how you felt during the session, how much you love your photos and also how was the communication, etc…

If you are curious, can hear about my previous client on this link.

IV. Conclusion: You are now ready to tackle your Extended Family Photoshoot 

You are now ready to attack this fun experience. Family portraits are a great opportunity to deepen the bond between family members and get everyone together. Group photos don’t have to be boring, they can be fun and light-hearted. I love big family clients as they are fun to work with and create a nice diversity in my portfolio.

I’d love to be your photographer for this occasion so I invite you now to book your portrait session with me. My session fee starts at £379 and I still have availability in the next few months. If you like my style and approach, you can fill out the contact form on my booking page, linked below. 


Related Blog Posts:
How to be unapologetically yourself and rock your family photo shoot?
How to include your furry friend in your family photos?

Tags: family photography north london, photoshoot tips, posing, outfits, professional photographer, candid moments, memories, preserving photos, stress-free, large family photoshoot, large groups.


If you’re after a candid, relaxed and intimate photography experience, you’ve come to the right place. 
My work focus on emotions, no stiff poses and forced smile; only gentle love and embraces. I offer a very hands-on experience, connecting over a video consultation with each family beforehand ; we explore their stories of love, loss and wins and turn it into a beautiful, meaningful session. Each family and session are unique and crafted with patience, love and understanding. 

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