Over the summer I had the privilege of photographing a large, extended family, some of whom I've photographed in the past. But this time it was all seventeen (17!) family members. Allow me to introduce you to the Keenan family. But truthfully, if you live in Wisconsin, odds are pretty good that you already know at least one of them.
Five Lessons from an Extended Family Session
1. It never hurts to ask.
All 17 members of the family were scheduled to be in the same place at the same time. They were doubtful if their favorite photographer (echem, ME!) would be available on that particular day, at that exact time. They asked anyway -- you know, just in case. And you guessed it - I was free! Moral of the story: just ask.
2. I am a terrible, horrible, not very good gardener.
I arrived to the grandparents' beautiful home and was floored by what I saw. Judy is a Gardener. And I'm not talking a row of tulips under the front window. Their backyard was an absolute WONDERLAND! There were actual botanical ZONES! There was the under-the-tree-and-down-the-path zone. The between-the-evergreens-and-down-a-different-path zone. The grassy knoll zone. The shed-that-looks-like-a-cute-barn zone. The secret-hidden-bench zone. And then there was the POND ZONE. For real. And here I am, I can't barely keep a tomato plant alive. Moral of the story: I may be compelled to relocate my studio to the Keenan family backyard.
3. You don't have to matchy-match your outfits.
I try to suggest to my clients that the era of everyone wearing white shirts and khakis in their family portraits has been long gone. Nowadays (um, a word that needs to go for a long walk with the white shirts and khakis), families are coordinating colors and tones. I told this to Judy and she went with it. This family hit the clothing bullseye with dashes of black, white, navy and yellow. Gor-geous. Moral of the story: match something, not everything.
4. Sometimes the best shots happen when you least expect it.
As a photographer, my job is to see... and sometimes to foresee. Anything and everything a little kid does can be cute. Little Nyo wanted so badly to help me hold my reflector while I photographed the grownups that he passed up playing with his cousins. So there he stood next to me with this giant fabric circle in front of his face. I turned to look at him and this happened...
Moral of the story: I don't put my camera away until I leave. Your kids don't stop being cute. Ever.
5. I am now a proud, card-carrying member of the Keenan family (surprise!). I absolutely fell in love with this family. So much that I might just move in and become one of them. From the youngest kiddos - who, coincidentally, were born in matching years - to the matriarch and patriarch (let's call them King and Queen) and everyone in between. I adore and admire them all. I look forward to many years of family photographs and watching their children grow. Moral of the story: I hope they don't mind when I crash their family Christmas party...
If you, too, would like to adopt me - or at least have me photograph your family and extended family - contact me today. As we move into October, the autumn colors are literally falling from the sky, begging for you to gather for a family portrait. Let's get your session on the calendar before.... well.... before white stuff starts falling from the sky. Email me right now.