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5 Ways to Have a Great Family Photo Session Experience | Photographer Hillsboro Oregon

February 24, 2022

Filed in: Families

As a photographer in Hillsboro, Oregon and a mom myself, I know it can feel so impossible to get the family out the door, ready for a photo session. My kids’ moods could go either way! Today I’m sharing what happens if it’s family photo session time…and your goal this year is to have a GREAT family photo session experience! First, good goal, my friend. And, good news: a totally attainable goal. Let’s chat about the five steps you can take to make sure that your family has the very best time during your family photos this year!


1. No matter what else is going on–keep being engaged and smiling.

I always start family photo sessions by telling my clients this: you have one job. Literally the ONLY thing you need to do is look happy and excited to be here with your family. Kids are complaining? You’re smiling down lovingly at them. Baby is fussing? You’re giving them cuddles. Your only job is to show up and love on your family! There are always, I mean always, magical little in between moments in the midst of all the chaos and friends, that is my bread and butter. But parents, you have to be engaged with the family and looking happy to be there if the picture is going to make sense. We’ll get what we need, so long as you’ve got the right mindset. Let go of the worry, and enjoy this time with your family.

outdoor family photos by samantha shannon, photographer hillsboro oregon

2. Choose the Best Schedule for your Family

Yes, I adore that golden evening light. But I also love a good summer morning for its crisp, clean light, which is why I make sure to open up both morning and evening times on my calendar. For families with very young kids, mornings are often when the babies are their happiest, so why not schedule your session for a morning?

For families with older kids who might have busier schedules, the time of day might be less important to you, but I’d encourage you to not overbook your time on your session weekend. Not only will kids be overtired after a full day of sports, parties, or travel, but you’ll be stressed too from running from one thing to the next. That doesn’t sound like a great family photo session experience! Instead, choose a relatively calm weekend for your session so that you can soak up the extra family time without worrying about the next thing on the schedule.


3. Go for Comfort

As you’re deciding what to wear for family photos, keep comfort in mind. This is especially true for younger kids–if their outfits are making them too cold, too hot, are itchy, or too tight, they’re going to be grumpy! So make sure that everyone’s outfits are weather-appropriate. This might be as easy as bringing a coordinating cardigan with you so that you can use layers if the weather changes. Tights can help keep little legs warm if you’ve chosen a dress for a spring or fall family photo session.

Having everyone try on and wear their outfits for a while way in advance of your session can help head off any wardrobe issues you might not have considered (do your kids hate tags in their clothes as much as mine do? A try-on session well in advance will help remind you to snip those tags before photo day).

photographer hillsboro oregon photo of mom and daughter in blue dress


4. Keep it Fun and Light

Whenever you’re talking to your kids about the session, make sure you have a relaxed, positive attitude! I know it can be super tempting to over-prepare them for exactly what you want as far as smiles and looking at the camera for pictures, but in my experience, that can result in nervous kids with really stiff smiles and cranky attitudes! The best way to make sure you’ll get genuine smiles out of the kids is to actually be having a super fun day with them! We’ll be at a fun park or natural area that your family gets to explore together, so take the time to really get everyone pumped up to explore the new place and spend time together. Make that the focus, rather than putting expectations for perfect smiles out there, and your kids will naturally be their adorable little selves.

Speaking of a super fun day…


5. Have a Super Fun Treat Planned for After the Session

This is one of my favorite ways to gain the cooperation of kids of any age. It might be a stop for a cupcake from Decadent Creations (my fave!) on the way home, a favorite dinner choice (Mod Pizza is a great family-friendly restaurant in Hillsboro), or a movie night. Whatever the big treat is that will motivate your kid to enjoy the session, I’m all for it! Mention it during the session and I’ll help you talk it up when we need a boost! Just remember that any food during the session might leave crumbs or smears that could show in the photos, so if at all possible, save the treats for the end of the session.

photographer hillsboro oregon family photo of four in oak grove

Okay, and one last bonus tip…if this seems like all too much to remember, you have my permission to forget all of it! Just like I said at the beginning, really, truly, the ONLY rule here is that you show up and love on your family. These little tips for a great session will help, but if it is at all overwhelming, just show up and have fun! We’ll get genuine photos of your family loving each other, and that’s our goal!



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