Family climbing logs during photography in Portland Oregon

The Secret to Gorgeous, Magazine-Worthy Family Photos | Portland, Oregon Photography

How to Have the BEST Portland, Oregon Family Photos Ever

You know how you see some family photography sessions and you just think, “How?!?” How do they all look so happy and relaxed and beautiful?? Well, I’ve got all the secrets for you today. The secrets behind the clothing, the carefree feeling, the laughter, the cuddles. Your family can definitely have these kinds of photos and I’m going to tell you how. And bonus: if you’re in Portland, Oregon then I can be the one to help make it happen!

Collaborate with your photographer on styling

Styling is half the battle. When you book your family photos with me, I will send you a styling tool to help you find coordinating outfits, as well as help you find items in my client closet that will look amazing (so you don’t even have to buy anything if you don’t want to!). I will give you lots of tips along the way and we will work together to find the best outfits for your family. 

Some people might choose to do the styling themselves but the very best sessions are a collaboration between us both. I have created tons of outfits for families and I have learned what photographs well and what doesn’t, and I’m happy to use that knowledge to create awesome outfits for you!

family in portland oregon running from the camera in field of grass

Show up with a carefree attitude

I know this is difficult. I really do. I have been there! But the very best family photography sessions come from parents going with the flow and not stressing over their kids’ behavior. Basically, just pretend like everything your children do during your session is THE CUTEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN. If you can do that, then your photos will turn out awesome. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken photos where the kids are all laughing and happy (possibly over something a little naughty) and the shot is ruined by parents scolding their kids and having mad or annoyed faces. But imagine if those parents were gazing at their kids like they were doing THE CUTEST THING THEY’VE EVER SEEN! See what I mean? Lol. 

I send an email before my Portland, Oregon family photography sessions telling parents that they get to be the cool parents on their photo day. That means that their kids don’t get in trouble for anything. Discipline is not allowed just for this hour or so, but redirection works wonders. You can do it. I believe in you!

Special note to families with older kids: Please don’t say anything to your child about their smile. The only thing it will do is make them feel self-conscious. Most of the session, I want them to interact with their family and not smile at the camera, anyway. And if you see that I’m working on photographing your child alone, maybe take a step back and try not to pay attention because sometimes that’s all it takes for an older child to relax.I will say things to make them laugh and loosen up, so please don’t worry if there are some stiff smiles or funny faces at first. I’ll take those photos probably to make them feel confident that they are doing amazing, and once they feel they are doing well, that is when the real smiles will happen. Or you can step in with some funny stuff you know will make them laugh. Whatever you think your child will respond to best.

Family with boys dancing together at sunset and being silly in Oregon

Be affectionate during your photography session

During your session, I want you to pick up your children and wrap your arms around them tight. Run your fingers through their hair. Smell your baby’s head (why do baby heads smell so good?). Give your partner a sweet kiss on the cheek or put your arms around them and cuddle in while the kids explore. Gaze at your family and remember where you all started. Embrace. Kiss. Snuggle. Doing these things will allow me to capture the emotion and true beauty of your family. The photos will turn out so much better when sweet things like these are happening. And it will be that much more special to you if you do these things naturally without me needing to tell you exactly what to do. Do them in a way that is authentic to you.

I photographed this mama below and she started to rub her son’s face while they cuddled. She saw this image and said, “I have brushed their cheeks with my thumb since the moments they were first placed on my chest. Little by little they aren’t so much into that kind of affection… but now I have it documented forever—so I guess that’s kind of okay now.”

If you ever aren’t sure what to do, just get close to someone and snuggle on them. You can’t go wrong. 

Mom touching her sons face

Think of things that make your kids laugh

Be thinking of things that your kids find funny and write them down ahead of time. Study the list and then during your session, do or say those things! Yes, your photographer has tricks to make them laugh, too. But parents know their kids and the little inside jokes or funny memories so if you can use those, it will make the experience so much more fun for the kids. And that will show in the photos. So make a note on your phone and keep adding as funny things happen!

Dad playing with his son and making him laugh

Choose a fun and patient family photographer

Obviously, that’s me 😉😆. When you select a photographer who is able to go with the flow and let your kids be themselves, your images will reflect that. I will never get frustrated with your kids and will laugh off any of their silly or naughty behavior. That’s seriously the trick to relaxed photos. Actually being relaxed. If I am telling you to do it, then you can bet that I’m listening to my own advice! Lol.

Family snuggling on a blanket during photography session in portland
Mom sitting on grass cuddling son while other two boys play with sticks in portland oregon
Dad bear hugging his three boys
Family of five walking together in a park in portland

If you’re in the Portland, Oregon area and would like to learn more info about booking your family photography session with me, you can see my pricing and experience page, or book your session by messaging me!

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  1. Tonya Teran says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Great post with sO many great tips! Your clients are so lucky to havE you 🙂
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