August 20, 2021

The Importance of Documenting a Generational Family Portrait

You don’t have to be a genealogist to appreciate the importance of a multigenerational family portrait. Everyone should celebrate the importance of family particularly in these days and times. Documenting a family portrait is a time-honored tradition.  It is a way to honor the elders while highlighting the path ahead for the next generation. Families are constantly evolving, welcoming new members and saying goodbye to others.  

Some families are fortunate to own an heirloom family portrait tracing back four to five generations. These images provide a glimpse into our family’s past. Not only will you notice the style changes, but you’ll also identify and distinguish the characteristics or traits inherited from one generation to the next.

Most families have the “photographer” of the family. Although sometimes unappreciated this person documents your memorable milestones either on a smartphone or a point and shoot camera. Many family members don’t enjoy stopping in the moment for a photo but they are grateful when they come across that moment years later. My question to you is how many photos of that person, the “photographer”, do you have? This is one of the reasons to hire a professional photographer. A multigenerational family portrait includes everyone! If you are fortunate enough to have four or five living generations then you should make it a priority to book a session sooner than later.


Finding a day to come together can be the most challenging part of booking a generational family portrait.  To be honest it can be overwhelming but trust me it is so important. You will have to find a date that works with everyone’s schedule. Sometimes it’s good to set aside two dates in case of inclement weather.  Some of the common obstacles include: work, sports, vacations and younger generation’s naptime and bedtime schedule. Trust me it can be done.


It is always good to decide on a color scheme for your portrait session. You do not have to be “matchy matchy” but you should have colors that are harmonious amongst the group and setting. Staying away from busy and bright patterns are highly recommended. These tend to detract from the face. Solid colors or textures are a safe bet.


My focus during a generational family portrait is to highlight your family and who they are. It’s important to capture multiple poses of the family unit in a variety of settings. Some examples of the variety include: grandparents with the grandchildren, parents with their children, each family unit, couples, siblings, individual portraits and the family dog. I like to provide my clients with a mix of poses and lifestyle moments. My goal is to create happy tears when you see your memories come to life during our ordering appointment and to create joy when later shared with family and friends.


Always trust your photographer if they tell you the setting you have chosen is not ideal for the goals you have set. Think of places that are beautiful but also personal to your family. If my client wants a portrait taken in their backyard, I like to scout out the location prior to the session to ensure that it meets the expectations and requirements set in our pre-consultation phone call.


Many people think that keeping files on their phone or computer is safe. They do not understand how to archive these electronic negatives. It’s critical to remember files are not a permanent option for archiving your memories. Even backing them up multiple times does not guarantee they will survive. One of the best ways to archive your images is by having them professionally printed. Some families prefer their memories scattered throughout the home on their walls and tables while others prefer an album of images that tell a visual story.

Ordering/viewing appointment  

After the session is complete, decision makers attend the ordering/viewing appointment. This is when the images are first revealed to you. There are many samples to touch and feel. You will also view a variety of ways to display your memories with wall art and albums. Clients are able to view numerous custom frames and with our software actually see what it looks like on the walls of their own home in the size and medium they choose. This takes the guesswork out of it if something is too big or too small. Sometimes images are similar but there is a slight difference in the smile between them. Doing side by side comparisons up close provides my clients with the confidence that they have chosen the best image.

There is nothing like the love of a sibling.