The Number 1 Location for Extended Family Photos

Virginia Beach Photos - Best Location for extended families. Large family with kids on the beach

The Number 1 Location for Extended Family Photos

Some people come to me looking for it, some want to stay the heck away. But when it comes to extended family photos with anywhere from 10 to 27 individual faces, you need just one simple location to do your photo session.

As a photographer, light is always first.

But as a mom, I have some requirements:

  1. Kids can be kids
    • We need a space where the gaggle of young kids isn’t distracting or disturbing other people. We’ll be asking the kids to be still and smile enough, when they’re not in front of the camera, let them be free!
  2. Easy access
    • We’re not hiking to a great spot. We’re just not. Even if there’s a stroller, or Dad carries the baby, its not happening. We’re not going to break mom into a sweat in full make up and hair, or ask the kids to walk a distance and then expect them to be cheerfully compliant during the session. That’s a recipe for disaster. Leave the adventure trails for the couples!
  3. Space for a crowd
    • Its obvious but a narrow wooded path wont fit 10 people. We need space enough not to be crowded.

As a photographer, I’m also want light & beauty:

  1. Light is right
    • None of us want dark circles under your eyes. Between direction of the sun, time of the year, and time of day, light must be right if there’s no shade.
  2. Simplicity doesn’t distract
    • With a dozen or more faces in a single frame, the background becomes more important. We want simplicity that doesn’t distract from the faces or compete. We want the final photos to be easy to look at, not jarring or tough to find the focus.

The Number 1 Location for extended family photos is:


It ticks off all my requirements as a mama and a photographer.

  • Kids can be kids, run, scream and play
  • Easy access with no hiking – there are some access points we can drive onto for elder parents
  • Space for a crowd
  • Light is right although at different times of the year this gets tricky for babies
  • Simple background that doesn’t compete or distract

Keep scrolling and you’ll see gobs of examples of large family photo sessions I’ve taken on the beach!

Tips for Extended Family Photos

Nothing is easy about extended family photos, but its always worth it and I’m here to support you every step! But the hardest part is done: Everyone will be in one place at the same time!

Date: I always start as early in the week as possible – before anyone gets a sunburn, and several options for weather back ups.

What to wear: Use Style & Select for a custom curated idea list (All my clients get free access!)

  • When in doubt, pinks and blues are easy and look good on everyone at the beach

Photographer: There’s so many to choose from! Tick of these basic requirements:

  • Has experience with familiesa wedding photog will not work here bc bridal parties are not the same as a gaggle of kids.
  • Is FAST This can make or break your experience! A slow photog will make for a painful session with kids begging to be done. I’ve experienced it myself!
  • Is flexible in your travel dates. You have a short window and weather is real. Make sure there’s a back up plan if the first date doesn’t work.
  • Will come to you. Make it easy on yourself and make sure you don’t have to transport your crowd further than absolutely necessary. Less stress!

My Favorite Locations In Virginia Beach

My favorite outdoor place to do family photos in VA Beach is the North End Beach. But I’ve got a list of options and and what makes them work:

Alison bell family photographer

Hi, I’m Alison, your chaos coordinator.

As the ringleader of my own 4 boy circus, I know how hard getting family photos can be.

If I could dress your kids and literally hang your family photos on your walls, I would.

…but I can’t, so I do just about everything else in between.

That’s why I take the time to hold your hand from start to finish.

Because what good are family photos if your kids never see them?

Our active duty USMC family is currently stationed in Virginia Beach near Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Hampton in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. I call Charleston SC home and go back as often as I can! I shoot families and weddings as travel permits. Check out more of my work in Charleston here.

Extended family photo session on the beach by Alison Bell, Photographer
Extended family photo session on the beach by Alison Bell, Photographer
Extended family photo session on the beach by Alison Bell, Photographer
Extended family photo session on the beach by Alison Bell, Photographer
Extended family photo session on the beach by Alison Bell, Photographer
Extended family photo session on the beach by Alison Bell, Photographer
HEY! I'm Alison, Your Fun And Hilarious Family & Newborn Photographer!

I'm a South Carolina native, USMC spouse, and recovering homeschool mama of a four boy circus. Bring me your crazy!

After 11 years of photographing families all over the world, I've realized my clients aren't printing their images. We go through all this work to get dressed, coordinated and then let those photos die on the hard drive.

No more!

There's nothing easy about family photos but I'm here to help you with every step from what to wear to printed in your hands whether thats an album or wall art. I want you to Make your people the rock star of your house!

You'll be reminded of what really matters every day when you see the giant prints of your crew laughing on your walls every. single. day.

Currently stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia photographing families all over the Hampton Roads area from Suffolk, Norfolk, Chesapeake and the Eastern Shore all the way to Portsmouth and Elizabeth City!

Follow along on the Gram at @alisonbellphotog or reach out today!

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!

about Alison

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