Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Family Photo Shoots with Grandparents


Seeing grandparents when lockdown is lifted

A family photo shoot with grandparents would be a wonderful thing to look forward to. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is desperate to see their wider family, to give their parents a hug to share a joke with a sibling. There’s nothing I want more right now than to visit mum, to chat in the kitchen and hug, I really want to hug. I’m hoping it wont be too long now though as the vaccinations are rolled out and the weather begins to warm up, it feels like we will be able to see our families again in the spring and summer.

While I haven’t seen family these past months, I have been comforted by photos. We’ve always been lucky to have a lot of family photographs. My dad took a lot of pictures of us when we were children and I’ve been a professional photographer for almost twenty years. I’ve always taken a lot of pictures on family occasions. These pictures are stuck on the wall around my desk so I can glance at them as I work, they are framed around the house and taped to the fridge. My family surrounds me in spirit. So, when lockdown is over, I know I’ll be carrying a camera when I visit my childhood home to see my mum, and when I visit my brothers. My nephews and nieces are top of my list to photograph. I’ll be updating my pictures and you might like to do the same.

Family photography with grandparents

Family photo shoots that include grandparents have always been popular, but I think this year they will be even more common. I wanted to put the thought out there, suggest it to you if it isn’t something you have considered, grandparents make an excellent addition to a family photo shoot.

There are two main ways that I approach family photo shoots with grandparents. Either they join us for a normal shoot, or we do a big extended family get together with siblings and cousins and all the wonderful chaos that brings. Both work really well.

Having grandparents join you on your family shoot

It’s always such a pleasure to have grandparents join us on family photo shoots. Often I’ll be chatting to clients before the session and hear that one of the reasons for the pictures is because a grandparent has asked for a shot of their grandchildren. But so often the idea of including the grandparents in the shoot hasn’t crossed anyone’s mind, when I suggest they join us it suddenly seems like the most obvious thing. These pictures are delightful for everyone. For you, it’s wonderful to have picture of your parents and your children. For grandparents to have pictures that capture the delight on their grandchildren’s faces as they play together is such a joy, and for the kids themselves; to look back on these images in the future will bring back so many happy memories. Who wouldn’t want a picture of themselves sharing a joke or a game with a beloved grandparent.

What I have found works brilliantly on family shoots is if grandparents join us halfway through the morning. My sessions start early, usually around 8am to get the kids at their best and brightest and to enjoy empty parks and the best light. To be ready at that time does require an early start, perfect if your kids wake at 5.30am, but less tempting for grandparents. So, what we do is start with just you, get out, run around, enjoy games and laughter…

Then grandparents can join us mid-morning, we can have a cup of tea and maybe a slice of cake to relax. Then we can enjoy the fact that the children will have their second wind and will be so excited to see, and play with, their grandparents. This is perfect for everyone and results in a fabulous set of pictures and a brilliant time being had by all. By lunchtime we’re finished, and you can all enjoy a lovely, relaxed lunch together knowing you have recorded memories that will be treasured forever.

What do grandparents want to remember?

I love to ask grandparents for particular things they would like to include in the photo shoot. We often think of specific things we do with the children or that they do or like to play, but grandparents will often have slightly different things, particularly if they do a lot of childcare for you. They might have games they play regularly that you didn’t know about. I love to find out – do they play chess with their grandchildren or read them storeis? Is there an epic Scrabble duel we can record in pictures? Or a particular way they sit together on the sofa? It’s so fun to ask, to find out and to record these things in beautiful family photos with grandparents.

I often find if grandparents ‘don’t like having their pictures taken’ but asking what their favourite thing to do with the children is the perfect way to break the ice. Once they realise that the photo shoot is about the fun stuff then I find that grandparents love being involved in a family photo shoot and often have wonderful ideas for pictures.


Extended family photo shoots

The other popular way to organise a family photo shoot with grandparents is to arrange a big family get together. Find a day that everyone can do (and summer months work best for this as the weather is less likely to be against us and big group photo shoots indoors are very tricky even if you have a huge house) and then we can spend a morning taking pictures and you can spend the afternoon enjoying a glass of wine while the kids run riot.

I have done many of these extended family photo shoots over the years and I really enjoy them. There’s always a level of chaos if you have three or four families together and age ranges of children from tiny babies through to teenagers and beyond. But they are marvellous too, such good fun and full of brilliant opportunities.

I always like to work in the mornings, particularly if there are young children involved, as this is when everyone is at their brightest and we have plenty of time before people get tired and hungry. We can take pictures in your home and garden or, what I often like to do, is start with a walk somewhere close by. A stroll in a nearby park or woodland is great to get everyone relaxed and used to the camera as well as giving us opportunities to find really beautiful and scenic backgrounds. Then we can return home towards the end of the morning for a cup of tea and some more relaxed pictures as everyone sits around together chatting and enjoying themselves.

This way you get the best of both worlds, some wonderful group shots of the whole family together and also fun shots of the kids playing.

I do, of course, always make sure to take individual portraits of the children and pictures of each individual family too so you have a full document of your time together.

Many clients choose to do shoots like this every three or four years so we can document the children growing up. It’s a great excuse for a get together and a wonderful gift for all involved.

Great gift ideas with your family photos

Once you have taken your family photos then printing them is always a joy, the final piece in the puzzle and the way you will enjoy your images for generations.

I love to produce pictures for your walls and often framed prints for the grandparents as well so you can all enjoy looking at the pictures every day. I’ve found that multi-aperture frames can make brilliant gifts. We often design these with a family shot in the middle and then a selection of smaller prints of individual portraits or relaxed fun playing shots around the outside. I work with you to come up with the perfect arrangement and we use bespoke framers, so everything is possible.

Albums are also hugely popular and most of my clients choose to buy albums alongside their framed prints. Albums show your full session in all its glory and tell the story of your day in a beautiful heirloom book. I also have the option for mini albums which can be the perfect gift for a grandparent or if you are having the shoot with extended family then perhaps an album for each family would make a brilliant keepsake.

Together we find the best way to present your pictures, to create wonderful gifts for grandparents, and to preserve them for your children.  Hanging your images on the wall or sitting down together to look through your album is the perfect result of a family photoshoot with grandparents.

Book now!

I hope that this has given you some new ideas for your next photo shoot and that you might want to include grandparents in the session. Do get in touch via the contact form or give me a call if you would like to chat some options through, I’d love to hear from you and I look forward to meeting you and your family soon.