Hey Portland, it’s summertime! So you’ve gone berry picking, ventured out on a few hikes, and checked off basically everything on your summer bucket list. What are you missing? You know what’s always on my family’s bucket list? Summer family photos! Summer is my preferred season for family photos—you can read more about why that is here—but I’m going to be covering the best tips for family photos in each season so you can choose the one that’s juuuuuuust right for your family. If you’re here, you’re probably considering summer family photos here in Oregon. So let’s chat about everything you need to know about choosing summer for your portrait session!
Is a summer family photo session right for us?
The great thing about summertime is that everyone’s schedule slows down a little if the kids aren’t in school. Bedtimes might have a little more flexibility since there’s no school to get up for in the morning. It stays light later, meaning after work sessions are a possibility. We’re also less likely to have to reschedule due to rain, snow, or winter flu season.
Before booking, take a minute to consider your family’s summer schedule. Do you have vacations coming up? You’ll probably want to leave a week after a vacation to regroup (and heal any sunburns!) before having your family photos. If you have birthday parties, family reunions, or other big events scheduled this summer, plan your family photos for a different weekend so that kids aren’t overtired
Best summer family photo shoot locations in Portland
Oregon is full of incredible PNW gems of locations, but a few of my favorite photo shoot locations particularly shine in the summertime. I adore tall grass, neutral tones, and leafy trees that filter light just perfectly, so my favorite locations all have some combination of those things! Here are my top five best summer family session locations in Portland
Champoeg State Park
Okay, I’m OBSESSED with this place and you know it! In the summer time you can find tall grass, flower fields, and oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. I’m all in on this one, friends.
Technically Salem, but the beautiful manicured garden here can give us some much needed shade during hot summer days. I love that it’s just next door to a natural area, so you can have both a garden setting and a natural field.
Graham Oaks Nature Park
Another favorite field for photos in the Portland area! Just south of Portland in Wilsonville, this nature park winds through a field that gets just lovely in the summertime. An old oak tree in the center of the park filters light beautiful to get that glow that I love!
Canemah Bluffs Nature Park
Alright, so there’s a pattern here—Canemah Bluffs has a field that has beautiful neutral tones in the summertime, backed by lovely light filtering oak trees. Plus, there’s a bit of a view over the river and the hills of West Linn in the distance. So lovely!
Columbia River Gorge
Summer’s the perfect time to escape out to the Gorge! There’s usually a bit of a breeze through my favorite locations here that can cool you down in the summer and give your hair that casual windblown look. Make a daytrip or a weekend trip out of it…or even a weeklong vacation!
Avoiding the Heat
Heat sensitive individuals might steer away from summer sessions, but keep in mind that summer mornings, especially here in Oregon, are often fairly mild. We’re generally done before the heat of the day, so if you don’t mind getting up a little early, you can still get all the benefits of a summer session without feeling too warm.
Schedule Early to Avoid Potential Wildfire Season
A newer consideration to keep in mind is wildfire season. Unfortunately, we’ve had wildfires on the west coast more frequently in recent years, which can effect the air quality of late summer sessions. While this may not be an issue at all some years, if it’s important to you to get your session done during the summer, try to book earlier in the summer rather than later, just in case.
What to wear for summer family photos
Just like any other season, for a look that matches what you see in my portfolio, you’ll want to keep it light and neutral so that the focus is on your faces. To keep cool but still photo-ready, look for lighter weight and natural fabrics like linen and double-weight gauze. If it suits the location, consider going barefoot—not only does it look so timeless, it will keep you even cooler in the heat!
What color schemes look best for outdoor summer family photos?
Cream, Khaki, and Grey
These light color neutrals always look classic! Don’t go too matchy with everyone in a stark white shirt, instead give your photos some depth by mixing khaki and grey tones with a softer cream or ivory color.
The great thing about pastels is that you can basically mix and match and it all just works as long as the colors are all about the same softness. Baby blue and soft pink are a great combination that mix well with cream, tan, or light grey as your neutrals. I also love light pinks and soft greens together with cream and tan. Whichever colors you choose, just avoid any bright colors, which can reflect back onto your face in bright sun.
What time will my photo session be in summer?
Summer means longer days, with crisp clean morning light early in the day and warm glowy light in the evenings. Morning sessions typically start around 8:30am, and evening sessions starting about 7pm.
How far in advance should I book a summer family photo session?
Summer is one of my busiest seasons, so it’s best to book at least three months in advance, particularly if you’re hoping for a weekend session. Weekend sessions are limited, so contact me as soon as you know you’d like a summer family photo session. However, since it stays light so much later during the summer, weekday evenings might be an option for you as well—don’t rule it out if you’re trying to book a summer session and it’s already June.
Can I see more examples of summer family photos?
Of course! Here are three of my favorite recent summer sessions:
PS, If you happen to be in Scottsdale and you’re looking for a Scottsdale newborn photographer, my sweet friend Jasmyn is sharing some tips today on her blog about her work! Head over and take a peek!