Family photography, portraiture, is important for a lot of reasons–the formal history of the family; the aesthetic sensibilities of the family; the encouragement and emphasis of family bonds. But what about extended family photography? The importance of our brothers and our sisters, parents, grandparents and children is apparent, so the importance of containing some aspect of those relationships within images is also apparent. But the meaning of the extended relatives in our lives isn’t always so clear. We have relationships with extended relatives that range from critically close, like an aunt who acts like a second mom–to totally unaware of each other, like a distant cousin you don’t know you have.

So family reunions are not only an excellent opportunity to develop and strengthen bonds among extended family members, they’re also a crucial opportunity to create photographs that will otherwise never exist.

Family reunions are unique gatherings for most people. Most of us don’t find ourselves in big groups, surrounded only by relatives, on any regular basis. The events are fun, and enlightening–remembering family resemblances like they were new. Reunions have the potential to bring family together in numbers few other events can hope to–and more importantly, they’re usually happy affairs.

Other events bring family from far and wide to the same place also. Notably, weddings and funerals. But weddings naturally focus on the brand new blending of two different families, and funerals are moments full of grief. Neither of these is an ideal time to focus on family portrait photography.

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Nowhere else are so many family photography opportunities in one place

You probably see some of your extended family throughout the year. Some relatives you probably don’t see except once or twice a year, and some you haven’t seen since you were 10–or ever. So there are members of your family who will probably never appear in a photograph together at all. But family reunions provide an exception, since even the most distant relatives are invited.

The family centric nature of the event also allows people to mingle and interact in a natural manner, not influenced by any other focus of the event. This means a photographer has a lot of flexibility and space to focus on the family, and create images of personal significance.

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You can start with an experience

The family reunion, or in the hour or two beforehand, is an excellent time to plan for formal family portraits. Given the time, a professional photographer can spend 15-30 minutes with each individual family group. This is a benefit to each family on its own, but the photographer will also create special groupings of extended relatives, such as siblings from each generation, grandparents and grandchildren, or nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.

Beginning the gathering with family portraits comes with its own benefits for the event as well. Some of the people attending will not have seen each other in quite some time, or maybe ever, so it allows them to start off with a shared experience. Working together to pose for family photos will produce fresh memories and foster some measure of closeness that will translate into an even more positive event.

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It’s a great time for candid photographs

Spending time on formal photographs will take some energy and once done, everyone will be feeling lighter and more relaxed than usual. This makes it a great time to capture candid images as family members as they mingle with each other and share stories. Once the pressure is off, the shared experience will help everyone relax around each other a bit.

This is time when images can be created that are likely to one day become very important, but in completely unpredictable ways. Perhaps distant cousins start talking about a new business venture for the first time which will one day become very successful. Or maybe aunts are talking to each other, both pregnant, but only one of them aware of it. Or, maybe three great-grandchildren from distant families all fall asleep at the same time. These are the kinds of moments your photographer is looking out for and the family reunion, for some people, is just once in a lifetime.

Consider hiring a professional photographer for your family reunion event. By the way, we’re available. Get in touch with us today!