What time are family pictures in the summer?

I photograph during "golden hour" - The last hour before sunset (if it's clear) if it is an overcast day, sometimes I will start two hours before sunset. This is because the light of golden hour is my absolute FAVORITE! It is a beautiful and flattering light, and it is easier to work with the moving subjects of playful kiddos so that I am able to be free to do less adjusting and formal posing of your children during the session.

Summer sunsets are typically between 8 and 9 pm in Minnesota, depending on what month it is.

Two little children lay on a blanket between their parents and laugh as they are tickled

Sunset is too late for my kids, can I still get family photos done outside?

While the "ideal" time for outdoor family photos is the last hour before sunset, I actually did this family session at 7:00 pm which was thirty minutes earlier than I would have typically planned it. This allowed us to have the session finished before their two year old's bedtime.

If your session will be near your toddler's bedtime, here are a few things to be aware of and to try:

Firstly, know that your child is more likely to be fussy, their normal will be messed up - Take a deep breath, it will be okay! We will work through it together. Plan on pretending that everything they do is adorable. During this family's session, their son did NOT want to take pictures - In fact, he had been crying miserably before they even left the house, they almost canceled their session because of it.

If YOU keep smiling and interacting, cuddling, playing, and not letting your face show that you are stressed, this gives me the ability to continue engaging your little one, creating little games, and ultimately to capture those cute moments when your child is happy and engaged.

It can feel like chaos to have pictures taken with little kids - But, I promise, if you keep smiling and trust the process, you will love the results!

Secondly, some things that you can do ahead of time for your child is to make sure they get proper rest throughout the day, keep the session as the main event of the day and don't try and cram in a lot of other tiring activities. Make sure to feed your little one before your family photo shoot so that they are not hungry, and maybe pack (secretly) a few little snacks for after the session or for a mid-session break.

If you are a client of mine, please let me know if you are concerned about the timing for your session and how it coincides with your child's bedtime, we can figure out what would be the best option for your family - Whether it is moving the session a little earlier, or figuring out a plan to help your child even when they are tired, I am here to help!

family of four sits in the sunshine during sunshine family pictures outdoors
Baby lays on blanket next to her mom while her mom holds her hand during summer family pictures
Parents sit on blanket and hold their two small children and play with them

What to wear for summer family photo outfits?

For this family session, mom and I had talked ahead of time and she wanted to use this rust colored dress from my client closet - I recommend that mom's choose their outfit first, and then plan the rest of the family around that outfit. Once mom picked the rust colored dress, we talked through the undergarments she should bring to her session and picked out neutral shirts for her husband and son, khakis for her toddler, and jeans for husband - The little bit of blue on her toddler's shirt tied in with the blue in her husband's jeans. Blue and orange look great together, and both colors work really well with the green of the park for their photoshoot. I suggested that her little girl wear the mustard yellow dress as an extra splash of color and mom was SO happy with how it all tied together.

When choosing outfits, you want to consider a few things:

•What colors do you like/dislike wearing?

•What are the colors in your home? (If you are printing photos to hang on your wall, you don't want the photos to clash with your home!)

•What is your location going to be like? (I wanted to avoid green entirely for this session because I knew we would be at a very green location.)

•Choose mom's outfit first (or choose the outfit for the person who is the most particular first) and then choose coordinating (NOT matching) outfits around that.

•Typically dad and sons don't like having their picture taken very much, I like to encourage their outfits to be more casual and comfortable to them (nice, but casual) - Think, a Henley t-shirt, Chino shorts, jeans, etc., then mom and the girls can dress it up by wearing long and flowy dresses, or ruffly rompers that add texture, movement, and just a dreamy vibe to the photos in general.

Summer family pictures color palette

I love color! BUT it can be visually overstimulating if there is too much of it.

Make sure to incorporate lots of neutrals like tans, cream, gray, ivory, beige, and brown to keep from being too busy .

Stark white is generally not a good idea as it can photograph almost blue and cause light reflections. You also will want to avoid logos, graphics, and neon colors - Navy also tends to photograph black, so I suggest choosing other shades of blue such as: peacock blue, turquoise, or teal.

When in a green location (almost any outdoor location during the summer in the midwest is going to be green) I recommend avoiding incorporating green at all and making sure to choose colors that will coordinate well with the green - Purple does not generally go well with green, and brown can be a bit dull.

I love warm and earthy tones (mustard, rust, terracotta, caramel, burgundy, ruby red, etc.,) with some cooler tones (like dusty blue, teal, peacock blue or jeans) to add some variety and balance out the warmth.

For this family of four, I suggested having two pops of color - The rust color of mom's dress, and the yellow in her daughter's dress, and then to have dad and their little boy wear more neutrals that coordinated well with each other and the girls.

A few of my favorite colors for summer family pictures are:

Rust - Mustard - Neutrals (as shown in this family's session!)

Teal - Mustard - Neutrals

Ruby Red - Dusty Blue -Creams

Blue/Sage - Rust - Cream

For summer pictures, you can also consider incorporating floral patterns (these don't always fit so well for fall or winter sessions, so it is fun to take advantage of spring and summer for adding in florals.)

Just be careful when using patterns to use patterns sparingly so as to not become too overstimulating and busy - For a family of three to four, I'd try to stick to one pattern, two patterns for families of 5, so on and so forth.

Dad holds toddler's hand and walks in front of mom, mom follows behind holding baby
Family of four stands and smiles at the camera during summer sunshine family photos
Mom and dad share a moment during family pictures outdoors in the summer

Choose outfits and shoes that are comfortable and suited for the weather

Aim for flattering but comfortable outfits - Maxi dresses or skirts can be great because they add lots of flowy material to help keep you cool, and to add movement to your photos. A simple pair of brown sandals (I love brown shoes and sandals in general) can be a perfect final touch to pull your summer outfit together in a beautiful and practical way.

Make sure shoes for your kids fit as well! If they find that their shoes are too tight, we can always switch things up and go barefoot, but if that is not your vision for the session, it is best to check before leaving home to make sure no little toes are getting pinched.

Parents lay on a blanket with toddlers between them

What about bugs?

Mosquitoes, gnats, ticks, and flies are an (unfortunate) part of summer life - I often bring a can of bug spray to have on hand at the session that you are welcome to use, or you can totally bring your preferred brand of bug repellant and I can carry it in my bag for you. Even though I bring blankets to sessions so that your family is not lying directly in the grass, because my sessions typically involve being in fields or grassy areas, I highly encourage you to check your children and yourselves for ticks after the session so you don't bring any new little friends home with you.

Where do summer photo session take place?

Most of my family session locations are within 30 miles of Saint Cloud, I love grassy/field areas, but lakeside beaches are also a really fun vibe for summer photos - Especially if you are okay with your kids getting wet by the end of the session! It can be a fun way to end the session and cool off. In fact, I would recommend this! Not only will your kids get to play and engage during the session, but ending with such a playful and out of the ordinary activity (playing in the water with mom and dad) will cement family pictures as a special memory full of laughter and playfulness!

How do I book with you?

I'd love to work with your family! You can use the "Book Now" button below or click on the Contact page on my website's menu to initiate the booking process. I can't wait to meet you guys!







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Susannah Ray Photography

A meaningful and fun photo experience with your spouse and kiddos in one of the beautiful outdoor locations near St. Cloud, MN: Whether it is a field, lake-side beach, or wooded area, I am always on the search for more beautiful places to recommend for my clients.




work with me
Susannah Ray Photography

Intentional photos of the expectant mother in a beautiful outdoor location. Her significant other and other children are included in the session as well. Flowy dresses to highlight your beautiful bump and make you feel as stunning as you are highly recommended!




work with me
Susannah Ray Photography

Intentional and stress-free photos of your beautiful newborn (and his or her immediate family) in either the comfort of your own home where baby's memories begin, or in a beautiful outdoor location near St. Cloud.

St. Cloud, MN
family + newborn photographer

Hi, my name is


St. Cloud MN family and newborn photographer

On a mission to create and capture poetic + love-filled moments for families like yours.

I am wife to my hardworking hubby, mama to two sweet little boys, lover of photographs, and family photographer in Saint Cloud, Minnesota.

I have always been a feeler, lover of words, language, music, and emotion. Telling the beautiful story of family through photography as a lifestyle photographer resonates with me on a deeply personal level.

The way a mother holds her child, the loving glances between husband and wife over the head of their tiny newborn, the toddler clutching his mother's hand and peering up at her from beneath his tousled curls - These are such precious moments that help tell the story of each family and their love for one another.

I love to get to know you, the things that are special to you, the things that you want to remember, and tailoring sessions to each family to tell your story in an intentional and meaningful way.