Outer Banks Extended Family Session

Extended Family Session at the Outer Banks

I will always say YES to an extended family session at the Outer Banks! I loved seeing how much fun these cousins have together and knowing they will have these photos of their aunts, uncles and grandparents to look back on when they grow up.

Family at beach
How to Shoot Beautiful Extended Family Photos

These sessions require a different approach from single-family sessions. You will likely have more posed group photos and less in-between lifestyle moments because of the number of people involved. Here are some tips to get a beautiful, cohesive gallery that the family will love!

Styling and colors

Ask your point of contact to choose a palette with 3-4 colors, and ask everyone in the group to choose a mix of these colors. There should be one pattern/floral in each family, along with solid colors in different hues. Do not match and do not choose all white or all black. Also take into consideration the environment – the muted colors that Mandy chose for the beach location were stunning with the blue ocean background.

Create a shot list
  1. Ask ahead of time what groupings they would like. Here was my list for this family of 14:
    1. Grandparents with grandkids
    2. Grandparents and parents with kids
    3. Cousins
    4. Each family
    5. Couples
    6. Big group shot
    7. Adult siblings
    8. Additional photos as time allows – with my son Cam’s help we ran through the list so fast we were able to get individual photos of the kids, plus all the men together and all the women together. We also got additional photos of the couples under the pier and they turned out to be some of my favorites.

Play some games with the kids to get some movement and fun moments. I use a lot of games from Chubby Cheek Photography’s Family Fun Guide video. Trust me, these make a big difference in the outcome of your final gallery!

Kids running on beach under pier

Camera Settings

I used my Canon 50mm 1.2 lens for this entire session. It is the first lens I purchased and it is still my favorite. I started with the ISO at 100 but adjusted as necessary as the sun got lower and we lost a little light. Don’t forget to adjust the aperture when it’s time to take the big group shot – my settings for 14 people were ISO 400, f 2.5 and 1/400. I also like a creamy background so for many of the couples’ shots I used f/1.8 or 2.0.

We wrapped up this gorgeous shoot in just over an hour! I hope this has been helpful to you and that you are able to use some of these tips in your next large family session!

Close up of boy at beach

Couple under pier

Grandparents with grandkids on beach


Hello, I’m Sarah! Nothing would make me happier than documenting your authentic, real moments in beautiful evening light in the Virginia mountains.