There are many reasons to have family portraits taken. Maybe there is a new Little Addition to the family, maybe the kids keep growing and changing SO FAST (they tend to do that), maybe a family member received a diagnosis that reminds us all we will not be here forever. Whatever your reasons for thinking about having family portraits taken, there are a few factors to keep in mind when you’re looking at your calendar deciding when to schedule your portrait session.
As an outdoor family photographer, the backdrop of my portraits is always the beautiful Colorado landscape that surrounds us. The rich textures of cottonwoods, rabbitbrush, tall wild grasses and wildflowers change dramatically from season to season. When you’re thinking about your portraits and their final place in your home, you’ll want to consider what you are wearing, of course (and you can read some tips about that here), but you’ll also want to consider what colors are featured in a particular season and what portrait experience is right for your family.
Starting from the top of the calendar year, our Colorado winter wonderland can be a beautiful backdrop, especially if we can both be flexible with our schedules and hit the snow when it has freshly fallen or even during a softly falling snow. It provides a very simple backdrop with minimalist lines created by bare trees and exposed rocks.
Winter presents some challenges, though. The sun goes down very early in the winter, so your shoot will likely be mid-afternoon and could be quite cold. Also, in the foothills of Lakewood, we may have a beautiful snow-covered meadow, or we may have a bare brownish field, depending on the type of winter we are having. In addition, if you have Littles who are intolerant to the cold, winter shoots can very challenging. You’ll want to wear lots of layers because a cold baby is just not a happy baby (or mama, for that matter!).
Heading toward spring on our journey through the year—before we get the bright green shoots of April and May—we’ll see colors similar to fall portrait sessions. If the tall grasses of the previous fall have not been trampled down too much by wildlife or heavy snows, they can lend a beautiful golden hue to your portraits. There are also fun textures provided by seed pods that have survived the winter and are lingering before the new green shoots of late spring come to replace them.
Spring can be a great time for portrait sessions with babies because we can catch beautiful evening light around five or six, before they get too fussy in the late evening. Also the blossoms of late spring can add a lovely texture to images of mamas with their babies.
As summer arrives, we’ll see more wildflowers that can add a pop of color to your portraits. There will also be very vibrant greens as new leaves unfurl on the trees and the fresh grasses in the meadows get taller. Sadly, in our current Colorado reality, it’s worth acknowledging that wildfires are more of a factor in the summer (and are starting to happen in almost any season). Smoke filled skies can greatly affect the light of your portrait session, creating an orange-ish glow and very muted light. Also keep in mind, the sun goes down much later in the summer, and hitting that golden light might mean keeping the Littles up way past their normal bedtime.
Finally, we get to fall, which everyone assumes is the best time to have your portrait taken. The light is indeed very lovely in the fall as it filters through orange leaves and makes the tall, dried grasses in the meadows sparkle like diamonds. However, there are factors outside of the backdrop worth taking into consideration. Scheduling is more difficult in the fall because of its popularity which means photographers are busier. Sickness can be more of a factor as kids head back to school and are exposed to germs they weren’t exposed to over the summer. Finally, families themselves are much busier in the fall and it can be hard to coordinate everyone’s schedules.
Clearly, each season has its perks and its challenges. Which season is right for your family portrait depends on the ages of your kids, the colors you are looking for and the experience you want to have. If you have questions about the family portraits you'd like to create, reach out! Your pre-consultation includes a thorough discussion of all the details of your portrait experience; we'll find that perfect season for your family’s portraits.
Holly Freeman is a lifestyle family photographer from Lakewood, Colorado. She love, love loves Colorado in all its different seasons and loves it most when she is helping families create stunning images to capture their memories for the future. If you are interested in your own portrait experience, please reach out to learn more.