Tips for Quality Family Reunion Photos


Nothing says summer like family reunion pictures. After the corn-on-the-cob has been eaten, the water balloons tossed, and the sunburns faded, it’s the family reunion photos that remain.  And life gives just one chance to capture these important moments. That’s why trusting your family reunion photography to a professional photographer makes sense.

The most obvious advantages to hiring a professional photographer for family reunion photos are inclusion of all family members in the photos and easing the burden on event planners. But there are other benefits to consider as well.

A professional photographer is an objective outsider. They notice details, interactions, and moments that might be overlooked by family members. Whether those moments are cousins swimming or grandma and grandpa holding hands under the table, the professional comes into the family with the purpose of watching and documenting the action of family life.


Clint Thayer, photographer and owner of Focal Flame Photography, recently shared a few thoughts on family reunion photography. He said, “Those tender moments last only seconds. Being ready to see those moments and capture them effectively using light does not come when you buy an expensive camera. It comes from studying your subjects and environment and crafting an effective photo. One that tells a story rather than being a snapshot of a scene.”

Approaching family reunion photographing from a background in sports photography, Thayer brings a unique perspective on how quickly the right moment passes and the shot is lost. “When you deal with a large group - time is golden. Everyone has places to go, things to do. For posed group shots, you have 45 seconds to get everyone adjusted, smiling and ready to show their stuff. Any longer and smiles fade, eyes roll, kids dart - trust is lost. Effective image capturing happens in the tightest time constraints. In those moments, it’s the photographer’s ability to connect with the subject that makes the difference.”

When the moment is right, it’s too late to wonder if Uncle Sid’s cell phone camera will get the job done.  A professional photographer has the necessary equipment for taking the photos and for editing afterwards.  An amateur simply cannot duplicate the photographer’s investment in gear and experience capturing both posed and candid family reunion photographs.


Transitioning between the posed photos and a photojournalistic style of shooting is where an understanding of lighting is especially critical. When discussing lighting, Thayer returned to the importance he feels trust is between photographer and the family. “What I bring as a professional is a hardened, practical knowledge of both natural and artificial light as well as a mindset that trust is everything. You would be surprised how quickly the lack of trust shows on people's faces.”

The photographer's expertise continues to be valuable after the reunion when families want photos. The professional has systems in place for sharing photos with a large number of people.  Many photographers make photos available online and through social media.  Individuals and families have the freedom to purchase products that meet their preferences and budget. One family might select just a few prints while another might work with the photographer to create a custom book to commemorate the event.


Family reunion photos no longer need to be left to chance. Hiring a professional to join the celebration for a few hours allows everyone the opportunity to enjoy the reunion and have fantastic photos afterwards. The following tips will help ensure a positive experience for all:

5 Tips for Working with a Professional to Capture Quality Family Reunion Photos

  • Assign one family member to work with the photographer prior to and on the day of the reunion photo shoot.
  • Communicate early with photographer about type of photos desired, the number of people at your family gathering, and any other special information that will aid in understanding your family.
  • Designate preferences between posed or photojournalistic style by assigning a percentage of time you want the photographer to spend on each.
  • Offer the photographer a list of any specific photos desired – even candid shots.
  • Schedule fun activities while the photographer is with your family - a squirt gun fight between the cousins, Grandpa playing checkers with a grandson, or Grandma showing her wedding dress to the girls. 

Focal Flame Photography specializes in capturing life’s action. We are uniquely prepared to cover your family reunion or family gathering because we value what you value: the story of intertwined lives told through quality images.

Do you have stories to share from family reunions? Join the conversation with other Focal Flame Photography fans on FacebookTwitter, or Google+!