How to get the most out of a small-group family session | Merideth’s Crew

Family pictures are challenging. Usually, I’m fighting against time to squish 14 people, into a pleasing composition before a three-year-old melts down. It’s stressful but I love puzzling people together to document a family. Large groups are usually just grateful I was able to wrangle everyone into the same picture. 👈 That’s usually where the value is created.

Merideth’s crew presents a different challenge. Getting her and her two sons into one frame is simple. I don’t have to create layers of humans or convince stubborn children and adults to look at the camera. There’s zero human wrangling with Meredith’s family. So, the challenge became: how do I create value when the task seems so easy?


If a group is less work to pose I need get them in a larger variety of poses by the end of a session. But, those poses need to different and interesting. There’s not a ton of ways to reorder three people when they are standing around in the mountains. Thankfully this crew was down for an urban setting. Walls, steps, benches, and bars make it a lot easier to create variation. Being able to have family members sit, stand, and lean brings a ton of variety to the session. When you’re picking a location for a setting you have to think about flexibility along with the aesthetic factor.


The term “individuals” has some baggage in my photographic world. It makes me think of cringey school portraits of myself or that somewhat stressful time I photographed an entire T-ball league (work I’m still not too good for😉). Baggage aside It’s good for everyone to have a quality photo of themselves. For huge multigenerational sessions, I’ll wait till the end. Run everyone who’s interested through like a crowded DMV. For sessions with fewer people, I can take my time. Instead of one solid photo, we get a few damn good pictures of each person, along with some duo shots.


Don’t look at the camera…

“Oh, you want to take a silly picture?” I’m happy to snap it, but I’m not gonna initiate one. With large groups, I’m all business. I want everyone looking at the camera and smiling. An efficient photographer is a good photographer. Since this session was less rushed we all had plenty of patience left for some photos that seem a little more candid. So when you have an extra moment or two break from traditional notions of what a family photo is.

Bonus Photos…

You should never feel afraid to ask when you’re needing something extra from your photographer. (If your session is likely to be Chill AF I recommend it). The older son, John, was about to need a professional profile shot. So they asked… It was an easy request to fill. It was just one more thing that helped me feel like I produced a session full of value.


I’m gonna toot my own horn: Because of my experience, we were able to make the right choices that stacked up into a deck of dope photos. I’ve learned good sessions don’t result from an ability to take good pictures. Good, well rounded, sessions require thoughtful decisions.


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