Natural Family Photography in Portland

October 12, 2023

I am a wife, mother, and photographer who is determined to give you and your loved ones timeless and organic keepsake images that will captivate your heart forever.
EPP serves women and families by offering Maternity, Newborn, and Family Photography in the Portland, Oregon Metro Area. Our photography produces personal, relationship focused, film and film-like images.

There is always a debate on which is better when it comes to posing vs. Candid Family Photo Sessions so I’m going to break down what you can expect from me as your Portland Photographer who specializes in working with families!

Shooting candid moments vs. posed photos, what’s my philosophy when it comes to family sessions? Do I direct my clients, or do I wait for moments to unfold? Will I tell you what to do you do with your hands?

Honestly, I believe the perfect family photo session is a mix of both candid shots and thoughtful posing.

Everyone wants to look their best in photos, and nearly everyone is nervous or shy in front of the camera at first. Everyone needs a little help getting into their groove. That’s where the posing aspect is key! I also want to capture those important moments that unfold naturally, the ones that truly represent your family. I feel it’s the mix… setting you up and leaving space for the moments to happen is where the magic is!

My $0.02

I want both to help you look and feel your best and those candid moments from every session I shoot, here are a few things you can expect (or not expect) from me during our session for your Portland Family Photography needs!

Two images of family of three people of parents holding one year old boy between them standing in lush garden space by Portland Family Photographer Emilie Phillipson Photography.

During our Portland family photography session

During our Portland family photography session, you can expect that I will put you in beautiful light, with a beautiful background, and a general base pose, and we’ll stay there for a bit!

The way we hold our bodies, shift our weight, and how close we stand to one another in real life does not typically translate well into still photographs. That’s normal for everyone on the planet! During my sessions I like to provide enough coaching to help you look and feel your best and pose you in a way that the photo will actually communicate the feelings and emotions that you feel for one another in real life!

During my Portland Family Photography sessions, you can expect that I’ll coach you through a lot of variation and movement.

It works like a coloring book: I provide the outline, and you color it in. I’ll remind you to interact with and focus on each other, stay in the moment, and give you lots of suggestions, especially what to do with your hands… I know how important that is! 🙂 Constantly moving our upper bodies (think waist up) is such a beautiful way to add natural movement, connection, and emotion to our photos, and also keep little ones entertained and happy! I always come equipped with a few different base poses that I think will work great for your family, but your family and relationships provide the color!

What you can also expect is a moment with your family.

You can also expect me to be calm, and give you a bit of space, too.

While I’ll give you plenty of suggestions so that I’m leaving you hanging (because that is the worst, like, hello? Are you still there? Should we still be doing this?), you can expect that for moments, I’m going to take a step back, be calm, and let you do your thing. Think of me as your guide, not your dictator. In order for those actual moments to unfold, we have to give space to let them. That means me giving some quiet space, and you, as parents, interacting with your children and just letting them be.

Image of two parents looking at child while child smiles and claps at the camera image by Portland Family Photographer Emilie Phillipson Photography.

Are we a good match?

If you are expecting a dozen, perfectly staged group/family shots, in front of 27 different backgrounds, with each person looking and smiling at the camera, with perfectly crisp focus in each shot, I may not be the best photographer for you.

This does not mean that I won’t grab at least a few shots with everyone looking and smiling, aka, the Christmas Card Photo. But overall, those photos do not have much real emotion behind them (except for maybe the toddler’s tears, haha), and they’re generally filled with forced, fake smiles. Aka, they’re boring and stressful for all of us! I do think it’s very important to have beautiful portraits of the family together and all kids, just not in the 90’s Olan Mills sort of way!

Images side by side of mom with baby and of dad with baby standing and sitting in lush garden space image by Portland Family Photographer Emilie Phillipson Photography.

Another thing, as your Portland Family Photographer…

And while we’re on the topic, did you know that asking your child to look at the camera and smile is the surest way to stress them out, get tears, and meltdowns? It might be a tactic that works alright at home for a quick casual cell phone snap, but when your family is with me: a new person, in a new place, doing weird things, kids KNOW something is up and trying to force them into smiles is just asking for a battle to happen. Instead: play, hold hands, tell them what you love about them, and follow their lead.

I’ve never had a session where I didn’t get at least one, beautiful “framer” portrait of each child with an authentic gaze or smile. But we have to let them happen naturally, photo sessions are not the time for discipline or attempted force. Which brings me to my last point for today….

You can expect me to let your kids lead the way.

We prep, we plan, I set you up in a pose, but when I can sense (and you, too) that what we’re doing isn’t working for your kids, we will change it up! Maybe that means changing the pose, playing a new game, moving to a new location, taking a break to just photograph mom & dad, or a snack break. My goal is always to make a potentially very stressful event be the most fun and fulfilling session AND memory it can be for your family, and a big part of that is paying close attention to the kiddo barometer!

I hope this was helpful for you in what to expect when you work with me as your Portland Family Photographer! I truly love family sessions, photographing my own kids and family was what got me into photography and inspires me to keep going every day, so I’m passionate about giving families the best experience possible from inquiry to delivered galleries and artwork!

Hey, I’m Emilie and I create soft, dreamy, and naturally inspired art for nostalgic mothers who desire a luxury experience and physical heirlooms in their hands and homes. I serve families all over the Portland Metro Area, from Hillsboro to Camas and Corbett, and everywhere in between! If you’re looking to book your family, maternity, or newborn session, send me an inquiry here and let’s get the conversation started! I can’t wait to chat!

Emilie Phillipson Photography, Portland Maternity Newborn Family Photographer

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I am a wife, mother, and photographer who is determined to give you and your loved ones timeless and organic keepsake images that will captivate your heart forever.

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