How many people can I bring to my photo shoot?

I often receive questions from my clients about how many people they can invite to participate in a photo shoot.  Sometimes the request is to include Grandma and Grandpa or aunts, uncles and cousins in a family picture. Posed whole group family photos Sometimes the request is for me to take pictures of all of the guests at a birthday party.  Including a number of guests in a group photo is not a problem, but it is something we’ll have to plan well.  (For this blog post, all images were taken from Leah Smith’s photo shoot.  Leah’s mom did all of the things I recommend before this shoot.)

For this reason, I encourage phone consultations prior to the day of your shoot to make sure we’re on the same page.  I try come to every shoot with a plan in mind for the general order of pictures.  With family photos, the order tends to go like this:

  1. Posed whole group family photos
  2. Candid shots of family interacting, children playing, etc.
  3. Youngest child individual shots
  4. Candid shots of sibling groups/family sub-groups
  5. Posed sibling groups or other family “sub-groups”
  6. Next youngest child individual shots
  7. Older child individual shots
  8. Candid shots of family interacting, children playing, etc.

Candid shots of family interactingYou’ll notice that the goal is to get the most important shots of the youngest child done as early in the process as possible.  If there are more people involved, I change the order up to allow for snack and play breaks.  If you bring extra people, we will just have to plan for more time for the shoot.  Sometimes, that means that a 90 minute shoot will take two hours or more. Generally, I will block off a half day if I know the shoot involves a very large group, just in case we need extra time.

When there are more than 6-8 people involved, that phone consultation beforehand becomes really important, and here’s why:

It’s very, very difficult to get cute picture after cute picture of any child interacting with more than eight people individually in a two-hour window. 

Careful planning pays offThink about it.  What are the odds that any child under the age of four will give you a happy, cute expression over and over again for eight or more different poses/shots in a row?  Pretty slim, right?  So, if you really, really want a picture of dear little Jane kissing her Aunt Mae, I need to know in advance so I can plan for it.  For larger shoots, I like receiving lists of specific shots that my clients would like to see.  I’ll still do some posed shots and plenty of my own candid shots as well, but if there are images that are very important to you, tell me in advance.  I prioritize the most important images first so we have the best chance of getting the images you want before we move on to different poses/activities.

The answer to “how many people can I bring to my shoot” is always “as many as you want,” as long as we can put in the extra planning necessary in advance to make the actual shoot as productive as possible.