Multigenerational Photo Shoots

Have you ever been at some multigenerational event, like a wedding or a funeral, and some cousin, whom you actually really like, says “why do we only ever get together for weddings and funerals?!” And then you all make plans to see each other more but … don’t?

Yeah. We think this is probably really common. Even if multigenerations of your family live in the same town, people are just so freaking busy, right? How could you possibly coordinate a multigenerational photo shoot?

But think about this: people are living longer than ever. How many generations are currently alive and well in your own family? (The world record is seven! And it happened in the U.S. We would have guessed something like Japan.)

Imagine getting them all together and capturing this family history. Also? Weird but wonderful fact? Kids who see themselves in family portraits have better self-esteem. (There was an actual study of this in the 1970s.)

There are all kinds of ways that having multigenerational photos around the home helps children. You can read more about it here. (They also talk about how these photos support the mental health of seniors. Good stuff.)

Multigenerational family in a playground.

The mental benefits of multigenerational photos can also be kinda obvious, right? For example, they:

  • Remind us of our shared history;
  • Give us a sense of belonging to something larger; and
  • Make us feel like there’s a foundation under our feet even when things are difficult.

You could just get together and take random shots, of course, but elevating to an actual professional photo shoot has its benefits, including:

  • everyone can take the time to look and feel their best;
  • you can pick a great environment or activity that creates easy and fun interactions;
  • each nuclear family can have their time in the limelight so these shoots can be multi-purpose.

Let’s start with reasons to do this photo shoot:

  • at the top of the list would be the seniors in our extended families. Capturing moments with them does become more precious as time passes.
  • another one at the top: cousins.
  • history. You’re preserving it for future generations, which is a good reason to think about how you keep these photos. Notes on the back will be appreciated in years to come
  • shared traits. It’s so fun to sit around and see who looks like who! It can be surprising to see that you look more like a cousin than your own sibling. But hey! Genetics are funny like that!
  • it’s a gift in so many ways: you have the photos that you can gift through a variety of products, from framed to albums to t-shirts or mugs! Imagine drinking your morning coffee with the whole gang every day even if you don’t live near them.

Grandparents, parents, and baby in a park.

Ideas for multigenerational photo shoots: timing and clothing:

  • Timing might feel like the hardest part of this so look at calendars and consider the really busy times of year, like the few weeks before school starts, as off the table. Look for those times when things feel more settled and quiet. Or plan it around a yearly family picnic or something else that is already regularly on the books.
  • What to wear can be tricksy. Do you really want to match with a dozen other people? Maybe. But maybe not. (Really… if we’re being super honest here, just don’t.) Instead of having A COLOR, try thinking in terms of a color palette, and try to think beyond 3 or 4 colors to a larger range. Here’s a color palette generator where you can play with creating your own or explore others that are already made.
  • Continuing with what to wear: you want everyone to be comfortable and to look like themselves so be openminded. Especially with the teenagers amongst you ((ha)).
  • You can, though, have a couple of helpful rules, like: no logos or big words on clothes (they take away from the actual subject); no glitter or sequins (they mess with the lighting); be careful with prints like stripes and checkers (cameras are not crazy about them); and perhaps just watch out for too much pattern in general.
  • Also be aware of accessories. Less is usually more.

Grandparents, parents, and baby outside.

Ideas for multigenerational photo shoots: locations and posing:

  • Locations are pretty easy in Erie, since we are lucky enough to have the lake and the peninsula and all the different bioregions that that includes.
  • Beyond the lake, there’s still so much to choose from, whether you want an indoor or outdoor photo shoot.
  • Indoor photo shoots could be arranged at historical locations, for example.
  • Outdoor photos shoots could happen just about anywhere, including Frontier Park (lovely little bridges), the park/cliff areas over the bay, lighthouses, Asbury, Behrend campus has a lot of gorgeous spots, and speaking of gorgeous, Wintergreen. (We could go on and on, but we’re sure you probably have somewhere in mind.)
  • With a large group like this, we can get really fun and creative with the combination of locations and posing.
  • Above all, we don’t want to do too much posing but rather set up conditions where natural interactions happen that create beautiful photos.
  • If you’re family is into a specific sport, we could integrate that in a way that allows the older and younger members of the family to be included in fun and gentle ways.
  • If you love to play games, those make for lots of laughter. (We’re thinking especially of things like corn hole or croquet.)
  • If you love the water, again, there are endless ways to incorporate everyone in the extended family, no matter their age or abilities.
  • And if you’re a family that loves music or makes music … BONUS! Singing and dancing makes for very happy faces.

If you’ve never done a shoot like this, we think you’ll be surprised by how fun it is and how much it feels necessary. After you do this once, we think you’ll want to do it regularly to keep that capturing of history going. We can’t wait to help!