It is only fitting that the very first extended family session I would photograph would be of my own family. This summer we gathered at Lake Panorama in Iowa for a weekend of fun–plenty of games, plenty of water sports, plenty of chaos and laughter. It was a special treat for all of us that my sister was able to be there…and she definitely got the prize–AGAIN–for being the one to travel the furthest to make the occasion! Of course, it was a bit of a trick right off the bat to pull off this session, as I was supposed to be the photographer as well as in the picture! Thankfully I have learned a thing or two this past year and am getting some practice in with compositing images. I think all in all the extended family portrait was a composite of about eight different pictures! But I’m so glad we pulled this off, as I think extended family sessions are especially important on so many levels.
You know, things can quickly change in life. And it is often at big changes or big events–births, weddings, deployments, funerals, illnesses, holidays–that we find extended families making it a priority to get together. And when families gather together, there brings with it a fresh clarity of how quickly time passes and how precious relationships are. Even in difficulties, there is something priceless about the bond of family.
Is it a simple thing to pull everyone together to have a family portrait taken? No, not usually. But is it important? Yes. Yes it is.
Because for my family, after three short days, everyone left. The next time we all get together Frank and Bethy won’t be five anymore. The youngest will be out of diapers–I hope anyway! The oldest grandchild will have graduated from high school. But the moments of this season of life have been captured, and soon will be beautifully displayed in our homes–a daily reminder to all of us of some of the greatest blessings we have been given.
So whether you schedule a professional photographer or you grab a next-door neighbor and hand him your cell phone camera…
Gather your family together. Take the picture. Hang it on your wall. Then enjoy.
Happy birthday, Mom. Thank you for loving all of us crazies and letting us capture it!
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