Why Cousins Matter in a Family | Outtakes & First Communion Portraits

I grew up with cousins, and I am talking, LOTS of cousins!  It was only when I was older that I realized we are all second- and third- and cousins of cousins.  We all got together over various seasons and holidays, and our social life as a large Italian family pretty much revolved around this.  I thought everyone’s family dinners were a minimum of 30 people with guests dropping in unexpectedly.

This past May when I was photographing First Communion portraits, one mom asked if it was okay if a cousin joined for the session. My reaction?  YES!

You see, while I always encourage siblings, parents, and even grandparents to come join a First Communion portrait session, I am not often asked about cousins joining.  And, quite frankly, I loved the idea!

We can have a special relationship with our cousins.  There’s a closeness because of the people you share in your life.  Cousins – like siblings – are usually the first friends we have in life.  No one will ever understand the dynamics of our family like your cousins do.  Amiright?

I have a cousin who calls me every year on my birthday.  Even when our lives get so busy that we don’t talk all year long – our birthdays roll around, and we can chat and catch up like no time has passed at all.  (It’s kind of my favorite thing.)

So when I met this group of children – cousins by birth and friends by choice – I was immediately drawn to them!  Their smiles, their laughter, and their joy lit up their faces.  I snapped the shutter, and they played in front of my lens.  Portraits of Cousins | Barbara Bell Photography near Chapel Hill, NCIt was Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist known for his work on child development, who said, “Play is the work of children.”  Play is not a substitute for serious learning, it is the learning. Children learn survival skills through play.  What cousins get from playing together is the understanding that they have backup; they have someone who ‘gets’ them and their family.

When the dad told me that these two had a special relationship, I could totally see it.  While one is bold with laugh-out-loud antics, the other is subtle and just as funny.

When we make time for play in a family portrait, we have the most fun at Barbara Bell Photography in Chapel Hill, NC

Dad also told me that these two, although cousins, had such a close relationship they were more like brothers…and voila!…the family coined the term ‘brosins’ to describe these two.  (It really does suit them, doesn’t it?)

Extended family portraits matter so we can see all our people in a portrait together with Barbara Bell Photography near Chapel Hill, NC

Make no mistake, though, it’s not just these two guys having all the fun. This little miss on the right may be small, but she was fierce.  She can hold her own with the big kids, smile her own unique smile, and laugh like nobody’s business.

Head over to Instagram to see what she did when I asked her to smile.  (It killed me!)

Barbara Bell Photography creates heirloom photographs to inspire families to share their memories near Chapel Hill, NC.