Two children hugging

5 Tips to help you get the best portraits of your kids

Here at Photos By Orion, we love working with children! They are so fun and spontaneous, and they can have such engaging smiles! But kids, like pets, have only a short amount of time and attention they are willing to give to a photographer, so here are a few tips for helping you get beautiful portraits of your child.

Baby portrait in the Photos By Orion studio

Being well rested and having a full tummy helps little ones create great photos.

 

  1. Have them well fed and rested 

No one does well in photos if they are hungry or tired, so the best time to do a photo session that will involve children is right after lunch and a nap. It is also best to keep the photo session short, so don’t plan on having your child involved for an entire hour. When we do photo shoots with small children (under the age of 5) they are regularly finished early so the child doesn’t have to be “on” for that whole time.

2) Bring a favorite toy

Often times a favorite toy or toys can make the process easier for a child. They feel safe when they have their “snuggy” with them or when they can see it, so bringing a few props like that can enhance the photo shoot. It is also important to remember that YOU are their most favorite, so helping your photographer out by standing right behind them to call out and play with your child can make a huge difference.

Child's portrait in the park in Salem, Oregon

The first photos tend to be the best when working with children

3) Location, location, location!

Choosing where to take photos is a very important decision. Some children do well indoors at a studio (especially the really young children as a studio can be more temperature controlled than an outdoor venue), while others need to be able to run. Whenever we are working with children I tend to recommend venues that are close to, or include, a playground. We use the park as an incentive to get through the “boring” first part of the session, which we try to limit to 30 minutes, and then get fun playing shots at the playground to round out the session and give the children a treat. During the really hot of the summer, three great parks we love to take clients with children are to Riverfront Park and West Bennett park in Salem, and to River Road park near Keizer because each of these parks not only has a playground, but it also has a splash pad where kids can cool off after all that work of looking cute (and it makes for great photo opportunities)!

Young boy plays at the park in Salem Oregon

Having somewhere fun to take photos can be a big hit!

4) Keep directions (and expectations) simple

Kids are good at following simple directions, so when it comes to posing them for photos, the simpler the directions they are given the better. For the photo on the left, all the direction we gave was to sit on the stool, look at the camera, and smile. He naturally posed himself into that adorable pose so we snapped fast and got that great shot. Children don’t always understand why we are getting photos, so to them, posing is weird! They get lost in multi-step directions like “sit up, put your hands here, your feet here, point your nose toward the camera, etc., and will forget to leave their bodies where we put them as they get each new direction. So with your kids, simpler is better. Letting them sit as they naturally do and then changing 1 or 2 things is the best way to get great photos and to set appropriate expectations for your portrait session.

 

5) Be relaxed and remember, this is fun!

Children will take their cues from their parents, so it is important for you to be relaxed and to have the attitude that this will be fun. I know that can be hard to get everyone dress and ready to go, but taking a moment to breath and re-center yourself you can help everyone to be in a better mood and therefore get better photos. These are your memories that will last well beyond your lifetime, but they are also a shared family experience. Whether that experience is good or bad is up to you. Getting family photos each year should be something that is fun for all, because having memories of each stage of your family’s life is so important!

5 of the best spots for senior and family portraits in the Salem area

The Willamette Valley is full of great outdoor locations for Fall family portraits or Senior shoots. Here are 5 of my favorite:

 

  • Minto-Brown Park

7B4A9722Minto-Brown park is located minutes from downtown Salem, Oregon. It is the largest park in Salem. Numerous fields and paved paths abound in Minto-Brown Park, providing a variety of locations to choose from which makes it a favorite location for me because it has a good variety of location types. There are old stumps with vibrant green foliage, grass fields  and river views that can be taken advantage for excellent backdrops. During a few weeks in the fall, there’s even a little-known road along the slew that has fall leaves everywhere. I tend to take clients to the first parking area near the entrance to the park. From here, there’s a paved pathway that leads around a large field of tall grass (which makes for a great backdrop), past a fallen tree and on towards a new bridge that connects Minto-Brown park with Salem’s Riverfront park. I really enjoy the lighting amongst some of the evenly spaced trees.

There’s a second parking lot that is reached by continuing past the first lot. Near the second lot is a small park with toys for kids to play on and a covered area. From here a path takes a turn towards the river with tranquil views of the water. Proceeding down an alternative path will lead to quiet lakes, some with small viewing platforms.

Any of these locations make for nice backdrops or quiet locations for photos.


  • Deepwood/Bush Park

IMG_9843Deepwood and Bush park are just south of the downtown area in Salem, Oregon.The parks are separated by a small stream, so I tend to stay

IMG_0300in one of the two locations during a single photoshoot. Both locations have numerous great locations to take photos. Deepwood is situated on a street corner and the original house for the property is a historic location featuring daytime tours for those interested. I often use the house as a backdrop for clients, especially family shoots. Surrounding the house are several gardens. The formal garden has nice gated sections that make for great locations. Continuing around the house there is a tennis court that is used for wedding receptions. Around the court are short trails that are quiet and not often walked. I enjoy taking photos along the creek or gather the giant leaves that fall in the Fall to use in portraits.  It’s not difficult to find shade on bright days or a quiet location beside the creek.

 

 


 

  • Keizer Rapids Park

_MG_3424Keizer Rapids park is located in Keizer, Oregon, which is north of Salem, Oregon. This park seems to be going through changes every year. They currently have a large playground called The Big Toy that can be used as an excellent opportunity for kids to play on. There is a boat down with a large field surrounding it. I’ve taken photos of families at the amphitheater that boarders a treed area. In the trees is a Frisbee golf course and if you want to explore further, a wide bend in the Willamette river has fields of rocks where the river floods in the winter. I’ve often seen small rivulets that would make excellent backdrops.

 

 

 

 

 


 

  • Riverfront Park

IMG_1015Salem’s Riverfront park has become an increasingly popular place for senior photos. Riverfront park is located along the Willamette River and is situated right next to downtown Salem. Many events and carnivals can be found here at various times of the year. As for photo locations, there are two walking bridges at each end of the park that cross over the river. The one to the north is an old train tressle made into a walking bridge. I’ve taken many photos here using the bridge pattern as a backdrop.  The park has nice grassy fields and a splash park that kids love, even when it’s not on. I find it a good place for photos featuring smaller kids. The main feature of the park is a carousel which can be used for photos. If your photoshoot is during the winter, the park also features a temporary ice skating rink!

For the seniors, I usually walk across the street from the park to capture those cool brick-walled backgrounds. It’s not uncommon to find someone has written on the wall the graduating year, which I like to take advantage of in pictures.

 

 

 


  • Downtown Salem

IMG_1700IMG_0031Downtown Salem, Oregon is ripe with old and new buildings. Between many of the streets are neat little alleys that people often use for photos. From arched alleys to wide steps to twisty trees, a short walk easily brings together a variety of brick locations and quiet spots available for your photo session.

 

 

 

Hopefully any of these locations spark your interest in outdoor photography locations. If you’re wanting outdoor photos but aren’t sure where to choose, we will work with you to take advantage of the best each location has to offer at the time of your photoshoot.