family guide

Family is why we do the things we do - work, play, and just about everything in-between. We do it all for our kids, husbands, wives, parents, grandkids - we do it for the ones we treasure most in life. Life gets so busy, and all to soon, we realize how quickly everything changes. Kids grow up so fast. As a father myself, I've seen this firsthand. One day you realize your little ones are not so little any more. And that is why it is so incredibly important to take time for family photographs - to capture the joy, the connections, the sweet smiles, the laughter, the tender moments when they feel so safe in your arms, and all the fun in between. Capture them because one day very soon, those moments will be gone forever.

family photography guide

From when to book, when to have your session, what to wear, what to bring, how I engage the kiddos, and more, this guide will help get you well on your way towards having an absolutely amazing family session experience with me! 

Contact me to get started!

Contact me to get started!

I hope you find this guide useful as you plan your next family photography session. If you would like to receive more information about my unique family sessions or have questions, please feel free to email or use the contact link below. I would love to hear from you!

5. how long are sessions?

Wearing clothing that fits the setting and allows you to freely move and interact with your kids is important! You can still wear a dress and cute shoes, but you’ll generally want to avoid shorter dresses and heels. You’ll also want to coordinate your clothing with other members of the family to help make your family look like a cohesive group. I’m happy to offer suggestions to help you make sure that the styles you are all wearing reflect how amazing your family is. Use textures, colors, and layers to add beautiful depth and dimension to your images. For layering, you can use sweaters, vests, ruffles, scarves, rouge, lace, tulle, a jean jacket, a crocheted dress, and accessories such as bows, necklaces, funky shoes, and cute hats or headbands. For colors, avoid dressing everyone in white or navy, don’t be afraid to incorporate some color, and try to keep everyone within the same three accenting colors. I’ll help you coordinate colors, layers, textures, and the like, keeping in mind that the most important thing about what you wear for your session is that you love it! The same goes for kids too!

1. book early!

I recommend booking at least 1-2 months in advance to give you time to plan and because space fills up quickly. If you would like to have the session on a weekend during the busiest time of year (August – October), then I recommend booking even earlier, such as 2-3 months in advance. My sessions are always held in the last hours of daylight to ensure all of my clients have the best lighting possible. This means that I never hold back-to-back sessions and my full attention for that day is devoted to you and ensuring that your family has the best experience possible. You are all going to shine!!!

I know so many great locations and I'm always up for trying new spots too! I know how to find beautiful light anywhere, but we do want to make sure we choose a location that is right for you, taking into consideration what you like most about our beautiful Pacific Northwest, as well as safety and comfort factors (especially for babies and toddlers). To help narrow things down, I recommend that you first select the general type of setting you prefer. Then, depending on what you and your kids are up for, we’ll narrow it down further from there. For example, If you have a baby or toddler just beginning to walk, often a traditional park is the best choice. And we know so many beautiful traditional parks, including many with scenic mountain views, water, etc.! For older kids, nature parks, beaches, and mountain sessions (Mount Rainier, for example!) can provide a more quintessential “Pacific Northwest” setting. Here are the basic types of locations (we'll want to select one of these first and then narrow it down from there):

  1. Traditional Park (landscaped or at least cut grass). Best for children 2 and under
  2. Nature Park (wild, not very landscaped at all, will likely involve some hiking, trails, rough terrain). Best for families with kids 3 and up.
  3. Beach.
  4. Urban/Other (involves buildings as background elements).

With the exception of winter sessions (when the sun is generally never out), you can plan to have your session during the last few hours of daylight. Because the lighting is by far the best when the sun is low in the sky, I only book one session on a given day and we always have it during this time. I just would not feel good about offering "less than ideal" lighting for some clients just so that I could squeeze in a few more sessions at one location. So yours will be my ONLY session that day! It's going to be all about you!

We call this beautiful lighting situation at the end of the day the "golden hour" as it is that time when the light becomes softer, more flattering, and of course, beautifully golden because the lower sun angle means more blue/violet and shorter wavelength light gets refracted since it passes through more of the atmosphere on its way toward us on the ground. The result is that warmer, longer wavelengths reach us in greater quantity. Hence, golden light! In the summertime, this typically means starting at around 6pm or 7pm and then ending right around sunset. The other advantage of this is that we end at the best light of the day, typically coinciding with when your senior will feel most relaxed, dialed into posing naturally, and having fun!

2. choosing a location

3. what should we wear for our family session?

4. my unique style of family photography

When I photograph families, I want to show those beautiful, loving connections between family members, whether it’s Mom holding her daughter, gently brushing the hair out of her face, Dad’s arms around his family maintaining that circle of connection…

I’ll use an organic approach to posing your family so that we can show those connections in the best way possible, walking you and your family through the session with directions on hand/body placement when needed to set the stage to let the magic unfold. Throughout the session, I’ll use my eye for lighting and composition to create images that show the love you have for each other in a stunningly artistic way, whether it’s from up close or farther away to include a beautiful setting as well. I’ll capture those sweet, tender moments of your family snuggling together and I’ll also capture you and your family having fun, whether it’s playing a game of follow-the-leader, hoisting the kids in the air, or taking a stroll and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Every season in the Pacific Northwest is beautiful, so we can have your session any time of year! My favorite season of all is winter, because I love the snow and also because with all the leaves gone on the deciduous trees, the pine trees really stand out in all their glory, creating very dramatic Northwest backdrops. And I LOVE pine trees! Late Summer and Fall is a beautiful time (generally from late September through mid November in the Seattle area) as all the colors come out, but it is also the busiest time of year, so if you’d like a Fall session, be sure to book early! If you’re a last-minute planner, winter is the easiest time to schedule spur-of-the-moment sessions to accommodate snow, winter frost, fog, or other winter season beauty. For example, just book your session and let us know you’d like to have a snow session and we’ll have it when the snow comes to the lowlands or we’ll go the short distance into the mountains to find the white stuff! Scheduling a session for a beautifully frosty morning can also be amazing too! Spring is lovely here and capturing the new blossoms and greenery in late March and April is a beautiful time of year! It really gets green in the Spring here in Snoqualmie and the Seattle area in general! Summer is usually a convenient time for the kiddos and with the warm weather, it is also a great time to wear dresses, go barefoot in the grass, or wade in a stream or lake. Summer (especially late Summer) can get pretty busy, so book early if you can. Summer is not the most spectacular season in the lowlands, but it can be amazing at places like Mount Rainier when the wildflowers bloom (usually starting around mid-July).

8. what is the best time of day for my session?

Outdoor sessions are two hours. I love photographing families and I want to spend the time with your family to ensure we capture a whole collection of beautiful images that will highlight how amazing your family is! I’ve found over the years that the magic number is about two hours. Spending two hours at our location provides so many benefits over a shortened or “mini-session.” For starters, some children (especially younger toddlers and babies, and sometimes even adults!) might need a little more time to warm up to someone new. Having that extra time ensures that we will be able to capture you and your kids in a natural and authentic way, creating images that would not be possible in a mini session. Longer sessions also allow time explore our location or hike to some new spots, as well as a wardrobe change and/or a snack break for the kids. Would you like to climb up to the top of that nearby hill at the end of your session? No problem – we’ll have time! My clients are always amazed with the variety of beautiful images they see from their session. For these reasons, I do not offer mini-sessions.

6. What is the best time of year for family photography?

7. dress 'em up!!!

Got a few up-and-coming new superheroes in the family? Bring it! Capes and all! Or, is there a young Amelia Earhart literally flying through your house these days? Awesome! Bring her pilot goggles or aviator sunglasses! My sessions allow time for a clothing change or two, so feel free to bring some fun dress-up attire for the kiddos in addition to your coordinating outfits. If you need help with ideas, just let me know – I have a number of stylized clothing, props, etc. on hand and I’m happy to help you plan your unique session. Dress-up, theme, and adventure sessions are a fantastic way to capture the whimsy of childhood or the adventurous spirit of your family. Moms and Dads are welcome to bring dress-up attire too!

It's all about family...
...because family is everything!

10. what happens after i book?

We will have your pre-session consultation a few weeks before your shoot, or whenever you’re ready to start planning. During your consultation, we’ll choose a spectacular location (there are so many in the Seattle area)! We’ll also go over things like clothing selection to ensure your clothing not only looks good on you and keeps your family coordinated, but also so that your clothing fits the setting or landscape that we’ll be in in terms of color and style. That last one is super important and I’ll help you through the process! In addition, we’ll talk about your goals for the session, props/themes/costumes, and any other questions you have to ensure you are ready to have an absolutely amazing session!

9. What if it rains?

I love shooting in the rain! But if it’s really nasty out there, we’ll reschedule or have it indoors at your home. If you’re up for it, however, shooting when everything is wet and glistening can be absolutely amazing! Rain creates beautiful reflections and just imagine how much fun your kids will have stomping around in puddles and twirling their umbrellas! After all, it’s just water and when did a little water stop anyone in the Pacific Northwest from having some outdoor fun??!! I say bring it on!