Family reunions are so important. They hold a special place in our hearts, particularly for families that live far from each other. It is challenging to get families together with some of its members having travel restrictions or health issues. However, prioritizing a time to do so is so crucial. Certainly, I have learned this on a personal note as well. Being a part of my own family reunions has taught me the importance of these precious moments.
My experience with family reunions
During the time when my wife and I worked on cruise ships, I organized to have my parents from Macedonia come to visit and cruise with us. My brother’s family was living in Canada at the time and they came down as well so that all of the family could be together in one place. Our next family reunion was a few years later when we settled back in Canada. Again, my parents flew over from from Macedonia. However, this time my brother and his family were living in Miami. They arranged to fly up so that we could all be together in Brampton.
Being a photographer, it goes without saying that I made sure to bring out my camera during these events. And those memories I was able to capture and document them for us all. The photos I took during the last family reunion are the last ones I have of my mom as she passed away only 5 months after we got together. From these moments, I have photos that I’ll always cherish and remember vividly. Of course, these images would not have been complete without being able to showcase the entire family together. Looking back, I feel incredibly blessed that I was able to freeze these precious memories. I’m so thankful that I have them on paper, even though I would trade it all to have the opportunity for one more family reunion.
Connect to your photographer(s) from anywhere
Being a witness to the joy and sorrow of family reunions, I’m a firm believer in organizing a photo session for your next one. Just because I happened to be a photographer, I was able to take some photos of the moments during my own reunion. However, in almost every single image, I am not in it. Therefore, I strong suggest to hire a professional photographer for your get-together. You absolutely need to be part of your family photos.
Weddings and their events have the potential to be pretty stressful to organize. I can tell you from experience that family reunions can be pretty much the same. For that reason, it’s important to choose a photographer that can give you the best value, quality and experience. Nowadays, it is very rare to have all of your family living near each other. I have traveled to reunions all across Ontario, outside of the province and even have been flown to an event in the United States.
Nadine’s family reunion planning process
When Nadine first reached out to me, I was a bit dubious for a moment. Her phone number was from Las Vegas. I’m sure we’ve all received those phishing phone calls from an out of country number, right? Being a Toronto area photographer, it is not everyday that I receive a call for a photo session from Vegas, for sure. However, I soon began to understand that it was a family reunion inquiry. Knowing that the majority of these are planned from outside the area, I quickly connected the pieces to the puzzle and began establishing a connection with Nadine.
Interestingly, in my experience almost all of the organizers for family reunion photos have been the family members living the furthest away from the session. I have had bookings created from California, Nevada, British Columbia to UAE and so on. The people initiating these really understand how important those special photos are in order to keep seeing their missed family members when they are away.
It usually starts with a Google search for a local family photographer as they begin looking for the best option. For them, it is not a matter of the cheapest options or being frugal. The price isn’t a deal breaker. These clients are instead looking for value of service, experience and trustworthiness of the photographer-client connection. They sound like they are talking my language, right?
Nadine was absolutely one of these clients. My client. Born in Canada, she later moved down to Las Vegas. Presently, Nadine was planning to come back with her husband to visit her mom and two sisters here who live in Brampton.
Plan and get ready to stick with it
Nadine started planning for the photo session around the same time she booked her flight tickets. This meant that we had more than enough time to start planning her family reunion photos. We set a date and I suggested a location. She already had an idea for the family outfits and with that the session was organized. We acted quickly and worked together to make their family reunion action plan happen seamlessly. Now, the only thing left was for me to capture their perfectly designed photo session.
For the location of the family reunion, Nadine liked my suggestion and chose to go to Heart Lake Conservation area. This location was ideal because it was close to other members in her family. Heart Lake can offer so much in terms of photography, if you just know where to look for it. On the day of the session, the weather started to get interesting as I was en route to the location. Dark clouds were forming and the smell of rain was in the air.
Mother Nature had her own plans
Ignoring the sky for the moment, it was time to meet the family. Their amazing energy was so contagious. The entire family was so excited to be photographed. Harnessing this enthusiasm, I started to immediately take some photos. The clouds may have been rolling towards us, but we remained focused on the task at hand. We were having fun so much fun and keeping up with the amazing atmosphere that nobody noticed the weather changing.
Nadine asked me to replicate a family photo that they take whenever they get together. Of course, I made sure to take the photo and in addition I also took another with my own twist on it. For this, I used their energy to remember the moment and bring this photo experience to whole other level.
We visited and changed a couple of locations within Heart Lake Conservation area. We took family photos with the small family groups, siblings, couples, cousins and other combinations. A few times someone would ask if it was important to take that many photos. With that, I would smile and say, “Not really, but we’re here so why not have a bit of fun and document it. Maybe you might like it!”
No obstacle too big for this family to overcome
Then, the darkest clouds began to arrive and the rain started to pour down hard! As this had been building for some time, I knew to bring the session to be closer to the public washrooms in case of a rain emergency. At the first drops of the downpour, Nadine’s family went inside to shelter from the much needed summer rain. It was perfect because they also had a chance to retouch their hair and make-up as well as take a bit of a break too. Without this shelter available, our session would inevitably be over. Honestly, we would be wet beyond repair! Instead, the break saw us rejuvenated and ready to continue with the second part of the session.
When the rain stopped, we set out again for the tail end of the session. Once I had earned their trust as a true professional and “saved” them from the storm, our new and improved connection was next level!
They laughed, smile, danced and enjoyed their happy, family fun. I was so pleased to witness how they thoroughly enjoyed their session. It was satisfying to be able to document another set of amazing family reunion photos. Nadine’s was thrilled that her plan worked and that she was able to organize this year’s group photos. After such a great time, they were off to have an early dinner before Nadine and her husband’s flight was leaving in the late afternoon.
Act fast, select your photos
Once I had these beautiful images documented, I made sure to move quickly to provide the images to the family. The amazing feelings we left the session with would be diminished with too much time in between taking and viewing the images. That is not a feeling I want my clients to associate with my services. This also helps the family get together yet again to view the images together. While sometimes they can do this in person, there is also the opportunity to view them together online to select their favourites.
When the selection process is complete, I always leave them with one word of advice. Print, print and print some more. (That’s probably considered more than one word?) While living in a world of the online instant gratification of photo moments, we sometimes lose the sense of a printed photo’s power. I’m here to remind you how important it is and am a huge advocate of it. For this reason, I always offer prints of the images my clients purchase. In my collections, these prints are my gift to you.
Digital images often become victims to our ever-changing digital world. Computers, storage devices, phones, etc hold so much information and pictures that we don’t take the time to revisit and reflect on these memories. On the other hand, printed photos are tangible moments that can be brought out and cherished for many generations to come. I am reminded of this every time I see my own photos of our family reunions of 2007 and 2011. I wouldn’t loose these for anything!
My connection with couples outside my local community
The immeasurable value of family is something that I innately understand. Offering photography services that centre around this, I am able to build an incredible bond and connection with my clients based on this core value. I am a father, husband, son and brother first and use this experience to guide my approach when capturing my clients and their families moments together. This authentic human connection is crucial to the level of family photography that I provide.
I’m looking forward to continuing to provide many other families with documenting their family reunion moments. When these challenging times are behind us, we will be able to reunite with the loved ones we are missing so much. When the countries’ borders open and travel is an option, I’ll be here to capture your family reunions while giving you a one of a kind experience.
If you like to get in touch with me contact me here and I’ll be happy to document your family fun and happiness.
My passion and biggest asset is taking the time to make every client comfortable and relaxed before I even pick up the camera. The result? Photos of you that actually look like you at your best! I can prove to you how much you can enjoy having your picture taken. Lifestyle photography is about the experience that happens to be served up along side of some great photos.
Family Photography for families that like to move around and enjoy their photo time, Wedding Photography for couples looking for a mixture of photojournalistic, contemporary and traditional images and Professional Corporate headshots that are far from cheesy and stiff.