Tips for Taking Multigenerational Photos

I absolutely LOVE when my clients want to bring their parents to their newborn photography session or when a client contacts me about having an extended family session. There is something so sweet about photographing grandparents with their grandkids – and if you can get all three generations (or more!) in the photo then it’s really the icing on the cake. But these multigenerational photo opportunities also have their own unique challenges. Here are a few tips to help your session run smoothly and ensure that you will have picture perfect photos!

Tips for grandparent and grandchild photos

1. Make sure the grandparents are comfortable.
If the grandparents are elderly or have physical limitations, making sure they are comfortable should be your first priority. If they are uncomfortable you will be able to see it in the pictures and they won’t look relaxed. You don’t want them to get hurt or, even worse, have one of the children get hurt. My favorite way to do this is to have them sit on a comfortable chair. It looks great in a photo and they are usually instantly more comfortable (and don’t have to worry about standing for a long period of time). This is especially important if they will be holding a newborn or baby.

Taking photos with grandparents - Give plenty of direction!

2. Give lots of direction.
A lot of people tend to be uncomfortable in front of the camera and grandparents are no different. Prepare before your session with lots of different poses and ideas so that you can easily direct them into the next shot, without any time for them to get awkward or uncomfortable. The great thing with working with large/extended families is that you can play around with lots of interesting groupings and poses. Have one side of the family stand together, have just the women in the family pose together, and on and on. I find that the more direction you give the easier the session goes!

Tips for taking multigenerational photos - Catch the candid moments too!

3. Step back – and get some candid moments
To slightly contradict my previous tip, try and get some candid moments as well. These are the shots where grandma gives her grandson an unscripted hug or grandpa sneaks his brand new granddaughter a kiss. The easiest way to do this is to have a zoom lens on hand and take a few steps back (85mm or 100mm would be perfect). That way you aren’t in their face and they won’t feel like they need to be “on” for the camera. Another one of my favorite tricks is to take a few photos and then break and tell them that we got the shot. Almost instantly you can see them relax and change their body language. THIS is when I get the really good, candid shots – when they think the camera is off!

Tips for taking multigenerational photos - Get Close!

4. Get everyone nice and close.
Ever see a photo and notice big gaps in between the subjects and wonder why they are standing so far apart, as if they don’t like each other? You want to avoid this as much as possible! It makes the photos look a very posed and a little uncomfortable, even if everyone has a smile on their face. This tip is especially great for extended family sessions. Have them all get together (or place them where you want each person to stand/sit) and then tell them to get closer. And then tell them a second time to get even closer (and repeat one more time if you need to!) You don’t want everyone sitting on top of each other but chances are there is some extra space that can be squeezed out. The closer they are in the photos the nicer the photo!

Tips for taking multigenerational photos - Have fun!

5. Have fun!
At the end of the day you want the photos to be full of love, smiles and laughter. If the kids aren’t cooperating or older family members are getting fidgety, take a break. Bring some bubbles or toys for the kids to play with and let the adults take a breather and then regroup. Sometimes you need to let the kids or baby run the show for a bit. It depends on your situation but if you sense people are getting bored or fidgety or cranky, it never hurts to take a break. You want everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves, so make sure you do your best to make it that way!

*all photos taken by Tracy Cepelak of Tracy Lynn Photography

Avatar About Tracy

Tracy is a children's photographer at Tracy Lynn Photography ( in Houston, TX. When she isn't behind the camera you can find her chasing around her one year old daughter, baking something sweet in the kitchen, and traveling as much as she can. She writes about her life as a mom at the mini traveling cupcake and traveling adventures at The Traveling Cupcake. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

What do you think?



  1. 1

    These are some great tips! Great flow to the photos!