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Ultimate Guide to Summer Family Photos

June 29, 2022

Filed in: Tips

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!

summer family photos in portland with pink and blue outfits

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. 

champoeg state park summer photos location


Deepwood Estate

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. 

deepwood estates salem family photos


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!

rowena crest wildflower maternity photos in portland oregon


Weather Considerations

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.

summer family photos outfits in cream and tan


Soft Pastels

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. 


summer family photos outfits in pink and blue

summer family photos wardrobe guide example - girls in green and white dresses


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:

Summer Family Photos in Newberg

Hillsboro Family Photos in the Meadow

Summer Morning Family Session



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!

comments +

  1. […] for some summer family photos? Please check out my friend Samantha Shannon’s blog here for her Ultimate Guide to Summer Family […]

  2. Vanessa says:

    Great tip about scheduling it earlier in the summer time. Never would have considered wild fire season. Great guide for those summer family photos!

  3. Jasmyn says:

    This is such a wonderful guide. I LOVE all of your photos! I would definitely love to have a summer family session. There are so many beautiful locations listed, that it would be hard to choose where!

  4. Donna says:

    So much great information here!

  5. Julianna says:

    These are such great tips and your photos are gorgeous!! If i am ever in Portland you are the first i’ll be calling for photos!

  6. Rachel says:

    Your Gorge family photo is STUNNING! I’m so glad you mentioned early morning sessions to stay comfortable in the summer. Genius – as always!

  7. Nicole says:

    What a great summer photo guide! Your photos are so beautiful! I love all of your outfit color schemes.

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