3 Best Reasons Why You Must Do an Extended Family Photoshoot

Extended Family Photoshoot - Best Location for extended families. Large family with kids on the beach

Extended Family Photoshoots are worth the coordination effort, especially if you’re staying VA Beach with family – you’ve already done the hard part! Getting everyone together in the same place at the same time!

C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E! No, seriously I think that’s the hardest part and I can’t help you with any of it.

That is no small feat! As a military family, my little clan is the wildcard in our beach week trips with my one extended family photoshoot!

3 Reasons For An Extended Family Photoshoot:

  1. Its several sessions in one (huge value)
  2. You’re not guaranteed another year together (this is morbid but hear me out)
  3. The candid shots

Its several sessions in one!

Not only will you get the large group shot, and some photos of the grandkids together, but every nuclear family will get their own family photo too. And depending on how many people there are, I usually get every couple, and every group of siblings too! Here’s the standard shot list:

  • Large group
  • Just Cousins
  • Grandparents & grandkids
  • Adult kids & spouses
  • Adult kids & Grandparents
  • Grandparents alone
  • Family 1 altogether
  • Family 1 just kids
  • Family 1 Mom & Dad alone
  • Family 2 altogether
  • Family 2 just kids
  • Family 2 Mom & Dad alone
  • Family 3 altogether
  • Family 3 just kids
  • Family 3 Mom & Dad alone
  • Candids
Extended Family Photoshoot - Best Location for extended families. Large family with kids on the beach
Grandparents and grandkids photos, extended family photoshoot on the beach by alison bell photographer
Alison Bell, Photographer

You’re not guaranteed next year

Ok this is admittedly morbid, but even if you do beach week every year, there’s just no guarantee it will happen.

And to go a step further… you don’t know what photos will be the last. This actually happened to me

I photographed a friend’s family one summer when the visited us in Okinawa, Japan.

That fall, just a few months later, his mom was diagnosed with an advanced stage ovarian cancer. It was sudden and fast. The photos we took that summer were the last ones they ever did with his parents. The photos of just the grandparents his dad’s favorite images of him and his wife, and used for the funeral.

The Candid Shots

The photos of everyone enjoying each other – and not just the kids playing – are invaluable. Don’t get me wrong, photos of the cousins playing together are everyone’s favorite and will be cherished photos they eventually recreate at teens and adults…


When was the last time just the adults had a photo together? What about just the parents?

When was the last time y’all played together, as adults?

Imma guess its been a decade or more.

I get the “everyone look at me” Grandma shot of every group but I’ll also give everyone something to DO so they forget I’m there and genuinely have a good time with their people. Even if that requires a shot of tequila.

Extended Family Photoshoot Sandbridge VA Photographers for large extended families by Alison Bell, Photographer
Extended family photoshoot what to wear by Alison Bell, Photographer

How Extended Family Photoshoots Work

I help at every step – from what to wear to printed in your hands!

I’ll send you all my helpful tips on what to wear, how to pack it so you and your crew is as stress free as possible. We’ll work together to create a list of prioritized shots that will be our game plan for shoot day.

I come to you wherever you’re staying. Its FAR easier than trying to transport a crowd even a mile away. The only caveat is that I do not shoot at the Oceanfront for several reasons. But North End is just a mile of up Atlantic Avenue and is one of my faves!

I run the session like a party! Chances are the men in the group have already had an adult beverage or two – and that is welcomed!

We’ll start with the giant group and get the “everyone look at me” Grandma shot. Then we work down the list of prioritized shots. Usually the grandparents and cousins is next.

Then we work on the nuclear families from youngest to oldest – this is strategic in case there’s any super young kids or infants in the group that may be less cooperative later. Wink, wink.

After all the nuclear families get their lil mini session of family, kids and/or Mom & Dad alone, and the grandparents get their turn we go for fun!

If time allows I like to end every session in the water! Kids jumping waves, splashes and even a second whole group shot walking or in the surf.

Extended family photographer on Croatan Beach in Virginia Beach, VA by Alison Bell, Photographer. Alisonbellphotographer.com

Each Nuclear Family Gets a Mini Session

After the most important group shots, every nuclear family gets a small mini session. How much we do all depends on time, but in general we get:

  • Nuclear family
  • Family candids
  • Just the kids
  • Mom & Dad alone

Location Ideas for Extended Family Photoshoots

When it comes to photographing a lot of faces in an extended family photoshoot, you want a location that is simple and not distracting. A location with a lot going on will distract from the key subject: YOU!

My favorite location for an extended family photoshoot is always the beach for a few reasons:

  • Neutral colors in the sand
  • Wide open spaces for kids to be kids
  • Wide Space for a group
  • Simple colors of sand, water and sky make it easy to style wardrobe
Extended Family Photoshoot on Isle of Palms, South Carolina
extended family beach photographers alison bell, photographer in Okinawa Japan

What to Wear for Extended Family Photoshoots

I provide all my clients with Style & Select – a specialized tool for styling families specifically for family photography. Real photographers have vetted all kinds of clothing options for every size and gender and curated a list that you can sort by style and by color! If Pinterest and Stitch Fix had a baby, this would be it!

My advice for extended families on the beach is pinks and blues. Everyone has some shade of pink or blue. Add in neutrals like khaki, jeans, white, light grey or charcoal, and navy and you’re set!

More Extended Family Photoshoots

An extended family photoshoot is a great way to capture and preserve precious memories with your people. It’s an opportunity to bring together multiple generations, from grandparents to grandchildren, and create a lasting visual record of your family’s history.

In today’s fast-paced world, where everyone is busy with their own lives, it’s not always easy to find time to gather the whole family in one place. A photoshoot can be a great excuse to do just that and create a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone involved because you’re never guaranteed next year.

Having professional photos taken of your extended family can also be a source of pride and joy. The images can be shared with friends and family, displayed in your home, and passed down through the generations. In short, an extended family photoshoot is an investment in creating lasting memories and strengthening family bonds!

Extended family photoshoot beach by Alison Bell, Photographer

I'm a USMC spouse, South Carolina native, recovering homeschool mama of a 4 boy circus. They've taught me the most important facet of family photography: KEEP IT FUN!

Alison's Process

contact Alison


I find joy in chaos. The louder, the better!

I'm a USMC spouse, South Carolina native, recovering homeschool mama of a 4 boy circus.

They've taught me the most important facet of family photography: KEEP IT FUN!

hey, I'm Alison!


Traveling to 

You can Google until your eyes bleed OOOR I can tell you everything I know.