Mom's Guide: Planning Extended Family Photos in Winter

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I know why you’re here. And I know it’s overwhelming.

With the holidays come some tender moments- all the family is in the house. Loved ones come from all over to gather for Christmas and Winter holidays.

With all the traditions, come some special moments. A lot of people call me with tons of questions about having extended family photos.

I’m specifically tailoring this to winter photos, because they tend to be the most stressful- with weather, the cold, and the light getting dark, it can be tricky! Summer sessions are a little different, a little more relaxed.

Here are some of the things they want to know about:

  1. How do you coordinate outfits for 20 people?

  2. How do we get our 80 year old grandparents into photos without them getting too cold or tired?

  3. How do we take pictures with little ones?

  4. Where are the best spots to take pictures?

  5. Should we do indoor sessions or outdoor sessions?

  6. How does pricing work for extended families?

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Okay, let’s do this.

How do you coordinate outfits for 20+ people?

Here’s a simple answer: Pick 2-3 complimentary colors and tell everyone that they can wear THOSE colors.

For example: Navy, Maroon and White. Everyone should have something in that color and it should work pretty flawlessly.

Make sure to specify whether your family is dressing formal, dressy, or casual. Just stating those simple words and delegating it out to everyone helps a lot.


What about our Grandparents?
How do you capture them?

I always try to have our photos located in spots where grandparents can simply get out of the car, walk into the group photo, take any pictures that they are in, and then get them back into the warm car.

When you’re doing a shoot with a photographer, make sure to let them know about any needs your grandparents have (mobility, patience, etc) and they can then know how to accommodate you.

These are my usual shots for Grandparents. I try to keep them out for 10 minutes or less.

  • Group Photo

  • Grandparents and grandkids

  • Grandparents with each other

  • An individual of each one

Grandparents with their kids

And then I send them off back into the warm car! (I also do this with weddings as well.)

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How do we take pictures with little ones?

The secret, friends—- is a warm car, splitting into groups…. and fruit snacks.
Make sure your little ones are fed and napped before hand. After the group photo, I’ll split into family groups. We’ll work quickly, making sure that each family gets a few photos. Before your turn, you can wait in the car, have a movie on the tablet, etc. I’ll probably spend about 5-10 minutes per family, so you can go in the car when you’re done!

PRO TIP:

Winter weather means runny noses and chapped lips, so come prepared for those guys!

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Where are the best spots to take pictures?

With big families, it’s okay to have a wider spot to take pictures- like a field, a mountain vista, or a forest with lots of room. Your photographer (or me) will have lots of ideas, so trust them! Also…. be prepared to shoot in the evening. You can get dinner afterwards as a big family! Fun!

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INDOOR v. OUTDOOR

Indoor spots in winter are AMAZING. However, shooting in a dark living room or cabin can be really hard and complicated. There are tons of studios you can shoot in with LOTS of space. In the Rexburg area, I recommend The Venue, The Avenues, and for smaller families, The White Space Studio. You just have to pay the studio fee, which isn’t too bad!

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How does pricing work for extended families?

Here’s some facts about extended family sessions. They can range from 1.5 hours - 3 hours. You’re working with lots of different moving pieces- lots of different needs and lots of different wants. In order to please everyone, it takes time, effort, and more photoshop then you’d think. For me, I’m spending about 4-6 hours on editing alone, plus the session time and travel. When shooting multiple families and groups, that adds up a lot of work. But the images are priceless and so valuable— you only have your family together at these ages once! So it’s worth it.

My price ranges depending on the group! 20 people is $600-700, 30 is $750-800, and so on.
(Also, if it’s within a couple of days from Christmas or Thanksgiving, there is holiday pricing!)


But a great way to lift the burden of a cost is to divide it by each family! So each family is only spending around a hundred dollars- which is even cheaper than my mini sessions!


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EXTRA HACKS:

  • Bring extra blankets to keep family members warm between takes. (My assistant is a great holder of blankets!)

  • Hot chocolate afterwards or going out to dinner is a fun thing to look forward to for ALL AGES.

  • Make sure that NO ONE has glasses or extra random things hanging off them in the photo. As a photographer, it becomes a little difficult to check 30 people and each of their items every single time I take a shot. It helps a ton to have an eagle eyed mom helping out!

  • FIND FUN IN IT.

  • Get it printed! Get a big canvas and hang it on your wall forever! So fun.

Work with a photographer who has done this before and that you can trust. You only get this chance once, so make sure you’re safe with an experienced photographer!


I’d love to know what tips you’ve got! Comment below. And if you’d like to book an extended family session with me, shoot me an email!