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April 20, 2020

Hawaii Family Reunion Portrait Planning Guide – What to Expect


Last Updated on August 17, 2022 by Karma Hill

Capturing Hawaii family reunion portraits is a fun-filled way to frame vacation memories that will last a lifetime! Planning them, on the other hand, can sometimes feel like anything but fun. With the dynamics of managing a large crew and the complexities of coordinating times as well as outfits, it’s a challenge just figuring out where to begin.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! The last thing we want you to feel during this magical time on the island is overwhelmed, so we’ve created this handy guide of portrait planning tips from our top professionals. All you need to do is follow along, indulge in your vacation, and let us do the legwork for you!!

hawaii family reunion portraits

What time of day is best?

The best timing for you really depends on the dynamic of the family and your preferences.

We offer both morning and sunset sessions. Our morning sessions start at 8:30 A.M. and are typically brighter and more colorful.

Our sunset sessions end with a magical splash of color and are often more subdued with softer colors and light. Take a look at the difference here:

morning and sunset maui portraits
Morning Portrait on the left with bright blue skies and ocean and a sunset session on the right with a softer more dreamy look.

If you have a good amount of small children in your group, we’d recommend the morning session. From experience, kids tend to do better in the early hours. They are rested and happy and smile big for pictures!

If your group consists of more adults or you think the kids would do well in the evening, then a sunset session could work wonderfully!

What to expect?

We’ll begin with the whole family then transition to grandparents and groups with small kids, followed by other family combinations and ending with candid “fun on the beach” shots!

For larger groups, we try to start with the whole family together. We’ll capture some photos in the shade with a lush greenery backdrop as well as some in front of the glistening ocean.

Then we’ll typically do grandparents with all the grandchildren, and follow it up with a break down of combinations: starting with the family with the youngest children first.

We always strive to allow a good amount of photography time for each family group, so once all the individual family portraits are captured, we’ll get started on your other prefered combinations.

We’ll usually spend the majority of the session snapping posed shots and then end with candids of the kids (or adults) playing near the ocean or in the sand. Often families leave it up to us and give creative freedom to the photographer. While that’s great, if you’re looking for anything specific (such as certain combinations or highlights of a recently engaged couple) don’t hesitate to let your photographer know! Communication is key.

hawaii family reunion photos
This beautiful family came together in Hawaii and wanted each smaller family group captured. We did different combinations and backdrops for each grouping and had so much fun getting to know them.

When there are a lot of small children or a really large amount of people, we will often send an extra photographer along with the lead shooter to your session. This person will help the lead photographer set up shots, get the attention of the children, and serve as a second set of eyes to check details and look for anything out of place. They will also work in tangent with their own camera to help capture candids, other groupings, or extra angles.

What should you bring to your session and what NOT to bring? 

  • SNACKS!! We all get a little grumpy when we’re hungry and kids are no different. If you bring a couple little things for them to snack on in case we catch a few tears then we’ll have a much happier session! 
  • Towels! You’re at the beach, and that means your feet are going to get wet in portraits (not to mention sandy!). Bring a towel to dry off after the session or simply to brush the sand off your feet before getting back into the car.
  • Water! Water is life! The drinkable kind. It’s hot and humid on the beaches in Maui, and we really don’t want anyone to be dehydrated!
  • Wear Sunscreen if you need it, but please rub it in really good so it doesn’t leave behind a shimmer or white streaks on your happy faces.
  • DO NOT BRING: cell phones and wallets. We realize it’s hard to part with the cell phone, but it can be a big eyesore if it’s bulging in your pockets. If you must have it nearby, please bring a little bag for everyone’s phones so they can all be set aside while we’re photographing. We promise you will get them back at the end of the session!
best maui photographer

How much time should I book?

Our 1.5 hour “Perfect Portrait Package” is ideal for 10 or more people, but if you have over 20, we suggest adding an extra 30 minutes.

We want your Hawaii Family Portraits to be a fun experience for you, so it’s key that you have enough time. We don’t want you to feel rushed and we want to be able to connect with you. This isn’t JUST a family portrait, this is a memory, one that will last a really long time!!

We want you to walk away saying “Wow, that was so much fun!!” We want this to be a highlight of your trip. We love what we do, and it’s not just creating pretty pictures, it’s creating beautiful moments.

That being said, we typically recommend the “Perfect Portrait Package” for anything over 10 people. This gives you 1.5 hours of photography time and is enough to capture the full group, smaller family groups, and candids. If you have small children (under 1 year), they tend to putter out fast on the beach, so you would want to have that family group photographed first. That way you can head out when the kids are done.

If you have closer to 20 in your group, we might even recommend adding another 30 minutes to that 1.5-hour session.

family photos in hawaii

What do we wear?

We’ve put together some examples and tips to make this process easier for you!

This is by far the hardest part of the whole session, but we’re here to help!! Sometimes families are flying in from different states across the country and don’t have the luxury of shopping together. But don’t fret, just share this easy to follow guide with your whole crew! 

Tips for what to wear:

  1. You don’t have to all wear white! White isn’t actually the most flattering color. There are different shades of white that often don’t look different until they’re out in the bright sun. When the whole group is in white you can end up looking like one big white blob. If you do choose to wear white, definitely mix it up with different styles and a splash of color.
  2. Try to coordinate instead of match! You don’t have to all wear the same color. Choose a color palette with a couple of colors that work well together and have the families all pick from that palette. That way each person can show off their personality and choose something they are comfortable in while still coordinating with the entire crew.
  3. Patterns are great, especially when you use a favorite pattern as a guide for choosing a color palette. However, try not to have too many patterns going on since they can easily begin to clash.
  4. Don’t worry about shoes! We usually have you take your shoes off during a Hawaii Family Reunion Portrait, so don’t get too caught up in picking out the perfect pair of shoes.


maui family reunion portraits
maui family portraits
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family photos in hawaii
hawaii family reunion portrait

What do we do if it rains?

We can almost always chase the sun to a different location, but if it’s raining across the whole island, don’t worry, we’ll reschedule.

From time to time, we do face some funky weather, but we don’t usually let it rain on our parade. Often when it’s raining here, it’s not raining across the entire island. We can usually find another spot that’s drier and have the session there instead.

On rare occasions, if it is raining everywhere, we will happily reschedule to another day with a better chance of sunshine. However, we try not to make any rain calls until a few hours before the session just because the weather does change pretty quickly here and the forecast is rarely accurate.

We’ll be in touch if we do need to make any changes, but as always feel free to reach out with any concerns.

What happens after the session?

There’s a lot of love that continues on our end even after your Hawaii Family Reunion Portrait session! We want to make sure our clients LOVE their family pictures and look back on them in the years to come and reminisce about their amazing trip to Hawaii!!

We will go through every image captured at your session and choose only the best to present to you. We will toss out any bad expressions or unflattering angles and spend an abundance of time editing our favorites, which we’re sure you will love!

Here’s a quick breakdown of how you’ll receive your images: 

  • In 1 week you will receive a preview of the pictures including anywhere from 15-25 of our favorites. These will either be posted publically on our blog or via a private link.
    • These pictures are just for sharing and enjoying, not for printing.
  • The high-resolution files will be ready in 3-4 weeks after the session. They will be fully edited* and delivered through your own private proofing site.
    • This link can be shared with all the members of the family for them to view at their own convenience.
  • Each package comes with a certain number of images and we’ll provide you with a promo code and instructions to get those downloaded to your computer.
    • You can either split these up between the family groups (giving each family their own code) or you can get together and decide which ones to keep.
  • Another option (if you want the least amount of hassle) is to purchase the full collection of images.
    • This is the best and easiest option and allows everyone to get the pics they want rather than having to compromise which ones to keep. Once purchased, we will turn on “unlimited downloads” so every visitor to the gallery can log in and download all the edited pictures from the session.
  • You can also order merch through a special proofing website. We offer high-quality prints, canvases, and metals as well as an array of other products!

*Editing includes things like color correction, exposure, cropping and removing people from the background. We offer extensive editing for $75 per hour, which includes but isn’t limited to things like slimming, skin fixes or removing Spanx when they show LOL.

maui family reunion portrait

With these tips, planning your Hawaii family reunion portrait will be a breeze! If at any time you catch a snare, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We look forward to capturing your unique personalities and beautiful smiles! And we can’t wait to meet all of your amazing family!

While you’re planning, come check out one of our recent beach portraits in Kauai: Kauai Family Photographers

Owner | Website | + posts

Karma Hill is the owner of Karma Hill Photography, Simple Maui Wedding, Simple Oahu Wedding, and Simple Hawaii Wedding, marking a significant presence in the Hawaii wedding community since 2007. With a wealth of experience and a vast collection of informative posts on weddings and photography in Hawaii, Karma Hill offers unparalleled expertise. Explore the world of photography and wedding planning across Hawaii by visiting Karma's websites.

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