REYNOLDS EXTENDED FAMILY || Montecito, CA || Let's be honest. When Lundy, the matriarch of this family, first asked if I'd be available the day after Thanksgiving to photograph her four adult children, their spouses and children, and then all 15 of them {including she and her husband} together, I immediately thought No. I'd shot an extended family once and hated it. Obviously, people want these types of shoots to capture rare moments of togetherness. It makes perfect sense. But the challenge for me is in the word rare. Rare can mean unusual, out-of-the-ordinary, awkward, and the one that makes me cringe the most . . . unnatural.

It's not always natural for extended families to come together, let alone for pictures. And for no reason other than the infrequency of their visits. It takes time to warm up, to get past the small-talk, for cousins to reconnect, for the distance between your last visit and this one to slip away. So for me, who {probably foolishly} expects intimate connections to be right there for my taking whenever I wield my camera, extended family sessions just don't work. That being said, I'm not sure why the idea of this one didn't elicit my knee-jerk reaction; I'm not sure why I didn't just say no. And in looking back, I'm so glad I didn't. 

Lundy and I structured our afternoon for the best possible results, beginning with me bringing my sister to shoot alongside me. Corey and I were able to photograph each of the four immediate families independently, allowing a foundation of comfort and familiarity to spread throughout the rest of our time together. We got the cousins, the adult siblings, the aunts and uncles, the in-laws, Grandma, Grandpa and all the grandkids. In the end, only one thing didn't happen: the staged, rigid, contrived and unnatural moments I'd always feared {now I know mistakenly} with extended family shoots. I truly enjoyed my time with the Reynolds clan, as well as the incredibly special opportunity to work with my sister, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

In addition to our pictures, Corey shot a beautiful video of our afternoon with these guys. You can find it HERE.