Documenting Generational Family Portraits

posted in: Photography | 7

I really love documenting family memories. And while it is fantastic to plan outdoor sessions with a relaxed feel, there’s something to be said for the more “formal” generational family portraits. Keep in mind, I don’t mean stiff and overly posed. I’m talking about extended family portraits which span generations.

For this generational family portrait session, I helped plan a lovely series of images in studio. Coordinating 16 people for a portrait can be complicated, but fortunately for my clients, it comes easily to me! This family was really a pleasure to work with and create portraits for. Everyone was so cheerful and laid back, I didn’t have much to do in terms of helping them relax for the portraits! It’s always great when personalities shine through — especially in photographs, don’t you think?

At the end of this post, I’ll share some tips for documenting generational family portraits and important milestones (like new additions to the family). First, let me share these lovely family portraits with you. Here’s the complete generational family portrait, with all the extended family groupings included. I love images like this that span multiple generations. Besides, they’re great for documenting a growing family as well (see the adorable new baby!!).

Generations Family Portrait in the Studio

Whenever I plan an extended family portrait, I ALWAYS recommend doing smaller family group portraits as well. Why? Well, because I have everyone in one place. That’s usually tricky to do, right? Everyone is in different places at the same time because of schedules. It’s best to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself. Plus, this way I can offer my clients a lovely portrait to pair with the main generational family portrait when it comes time to creating wall displays. These smaller family portraits are going to look great on the wall next to the generational family portrait!

Family Portrait in the Studio

Another portrait that I highly encourage is one of the grandparents, like this portrait below. In organizing my own personal family photographs, I’ve noticed that as a couple grows older together, they become more focused on having professional portraits to document their children and grandchildren rather than themselves. I totally get this.

But, all the same, kids and grandkids appreciate having the portraits to document how they remember their grandparents. So don’t forget to include this portrait in your next generational family portrait session. Another cute one along these lines, if you have reluctant grandparents is to do a portrait with grandparents and grandkids all together. What grandparent doesn’t want to have a portrait of them with their grandchildren, right?

Grandparent Portrait in the Studio

And here are some more portraits of the smaller family groupings. I don’t think I’ve mentioned clothing yet — but notice everyone is NOT wearing the same color. Sometimes my clients want matching outfits, and I’m happy to do so. But, choosing outfits in complimentary tones works really well visually while still preserving a sense of individuality. I love the shades of gray, white, and black in this image …and denim jeans usually go well with everything too.

Family Portrait in the Studio

Family Portrait in the Studio

Tips for Natural Looking Generational Family Portraits

As promised, here are some suggestions for when you plan your generational family portrait. I typically go over this sort of thing in more detail during the planning stage of a portrait session, so don’t get overwhelmed thinking you have to have all these things decided ahead of time. It’s my job to help guide my clients in the right direction.

Who are you going to include? Sometimes families will decide to do sibling portraits, grandkid portraits, and on rare occasion some families ask me to do a second shot of the portrait without significant others (“just in case”). If that’s important to you, please let me know. Generally, though, I always suggest including significant others and spouses in the images because I feel they help document that time in a family’s life. And no one likes being asked to step out of a photo ūüėČ because they’re “not family.”

Where will your family portrait be? I’ve planned portraits in the studio, at clients’ homes, or even at a location outdoors that has special meaning for that family. My favorite generational family portrait on location? It was done at the family’s farm house that had been passed down through generations.

What will you wear? Make sure to plan your attire so that it will work for your family. You don’t want people feeling uncomfortable or stiff because of the clothes they’re in. I’d much rather plan a more relaxed generational family portrait with casual clothing if it means that everyone will be relaxed and interact cheerfully for the the camera!

What about pets? Sometimes there are family pets that need to be included too. I’m happy to accommodate these requests, but it does help me to know ahead of time whether that pet is a lap dog …or a horse. So, don’t feel like you have to exclude your animals from the portraits — they’re a part of the family too, after all!

Resources for Documenting Family History + Genealogy

Here are some resources if you’re interested in documenting or researching for family’s history. It can be fun for kids to learn from their elders by “interviewing” them about what it was like growing up — whether it is 20 or 50 years ago, the differences are still amazing. Links will open in a new window for your convenience. (Also, check out my Family History + Genealogy Pinterest board).

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Family History + Genealogy on Pinterest.

What About You?

What are your favorite family memories? Are there photographs you treasure because they capture a moment in your family’s history as you remember it from childhood? Do you have generational family portraits that are special to you? Or maybe you don’t have many photographs from your family history… does this make you feel a more urgent need to document your own family’s milestones and memories?

As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts, ideas… and if you are looking to plan a professional family portrait, I would be more than happy to talk with you about how we can best document your family through photographs.

Extended Generational Family Portrait in the Studio

7 Responses

  1. Romi
    | Reply

    All these family portraits are amazing. The people look very natural in them. I especially like the third one, the portrait of the grandparents. It seems that a photograph can tell us a lot of stories about the people and the family.

    • Betsy Finn
      | Reply

      Thanks Romi. Your observation is really accurate… portraits can and *should* tell stories about the people in the photographs!

  2. Louisa
    | Reply

    Your photos are amazing. I especially like the one of the grandparents. Following your Pinterest board now, I love inspiration towards tracing my heritage.

  3. Jill
    | Reply

    Great tips for capturing a moment in time for a family.

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

    • Betsy Finn
      | Reply

      Thanks Jill! Glad to have you stop by here as well ūüôā

  4. Alecia
    | Reply

    Love your work and wish I had documented more of our generations before it was lost. Thank you for linking up to the Small Victories Sunday linky. I have pinned this to our board. Hope to see you again next week!

    • Betsy Finn
      | Reply

      That is so true, Alecia. I hear that regret quite often, and I know we personally have even had the same wish. Thanks for sharing.

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