bella wang photography

Where to have your Boston-area photoshoots

This has been a topic I’ve meant to do a big write-up on for the longest time. I guess it took a pandemic to make time for it! With people wanting to safely social distance during photoshoots, I recommend heading a bit out of the city for some reprieve from the crowds, joggers, dogs and bikers. Here is a list of some of my favourite locations photoshoots I’ve photographed in.

This is not a definitive list. I can honestly make any location work. I photograph in people’s homes 85% of the time and I have never set foot in their homes before the session, and I always have to make it work. That training over the past several years has helped me hone into what’s important to include in my frame of an image and what to crop out. If you stay until the end of the blog post I will show examples of some small parks and parking lot photo sessions. I keep forgetting to take more behind-the-scenes images, but when I get more, I will add them to this post. Just know you don’t have to go to the Public Gardens and that’s actually my least favourite place to photograph in the Boston area. Here’s my list for locations for photoshoots.

Locations are a personal preference

I had a PDF that I used to email to everyone when they asked for location suggestions. I tell them that they have to make sure they love it because a location is very much a personal preference. I love street art, derelict buildings, muddy puddles, splashing in the lake, and hikes up mountains. I can confidently say that 99% of my sessions do not include any of those items.

The things I tend to steer away from include iconic locations where you HAVE to photograph in this one spot from a specific location or there’s no point for that spot. Given the pandemic, I do not want to be lining up for a location, or having to cluster near a feature. Even if there wasn’t a pandemic, I follow the light and I love texture. When some landscape designers install a bridge or a gazebo, they don’t have the light in mind. Just because it’s there, I won’t necessarily use a bridge or gazebo unless the light is perfect. As a photographer, we see the world with light and shadow. It’s hard to convince someone unless they’ve had the training, but that’s why you’ve hired me – because you want me to make those choices and direct you to gorgeous backdrops.

If there is a location you have to have as a backdrop, please ask me during your consultation and make that abundantly clear so I can tell you how feasible it is. I want to make you happy, but that sometimes means changing the time of the session, bringing artificial lighting, or sacrificing the posed nature of the image captured there (because children will not hold a pose for a lighting setup). It’s a very technical decision sometimes, but I can make it work if that is the key image.

Summary of suggested locations for photoshoots

I provide examples for almost all of the following locations. I have been all across Boston and the greater Boston area. New locations don’t phase me. Under each location I give more tips on parking, things to consider, etc as well as the city these spots are located in.

  1. Boston Public Gardens
  2. Charles River Esplanade
  3. Boston Commons
  4. Christopher Columbus Park
  5. The Fens
  6. ICA / Seaport District
  7. Davis Square / Trolley Square/ Powderhouse Circle
  8. Tufts Campus
  9. Fresh Pond Reservation
  10. Alewife Brook Reservation
  11. Danehy Park
  12. Christian Herter Park
  13. North Point Park
  14. Menetomy Rocks Park
  15. Tobert MacDonald Park
  16. The Fells
  17. Beaver Brook Reservation
  18. Rock Meadow Conservation Land
  19. Minuteman National Park
  20. Wellesley College
  21. Lynn Woods
  22. Lower Commons, Wakefield
  23. Breakheart Reservation
  24. Larz Anderson Park
  25. Arnold Arboretum
  26. Fort Sewall, Marblehead
  27. Crane Beach, Ipswich
  28. North Shore Beach
  29. Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester
  30. Backyard
  31. Park near you

Downtown locations for photoshoots

I will no longer be photographing any locations downtown (this includes the Charles River, Boston Public Gardens, Boston Commons, Christopher Columbus Park, any South End park) unless the session ends by 7:30 am. The sessions last about 40 minutes, so we would need to start by 6:50am at the latest. If this is too early for you, please consider a location out of the city. Ending by 7:30am is what I consider a ‘sunrise’ session (“sunrise for safety and OK light”). True sunrise for beautiful light is when true sunrise is according to this website.

If you are willing to consider a sunrise session, these are some visual examples of those locations:

1. Boston Public Gardens Photoshoot

Sunset and dad, mom and child at Boston Public Gardens
Sunset lasted for 2 minutes so we did a sequence to make the most of it. (I will not longer be photographing sunset at the public gardens)

2. Charles River Esplanade Photo Session

Boston Maternity session by the Charles River with prudential center in background
They just pop against the skyline don’t they? (sunset)
He bent down on one knee to ask for her hand in marriage
Sunset over the Charles River with boats in the background and city skyline, the couple in the foregraound
The sunset that evening was surreal. If you’re a local to Boston, you know these sunsets aren’t a regular occurrence. (I will not be photographing sunsets at the Charles in 2020)

3. Boston Commons for a maternity session

Boston Commons Maternity session | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Boston Commons Maternity session (this is sunset)

4. Christopher Columbus Park

Christopher Columbus park family photography session | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Christopher Columbus Park (this is sunset)

5. The Fens

Near Fenway is another cute spot that has great landscaping. Please note that most of this land is made up of small patches of community gardens. I love it though!

Maternity photography Boston | locations for photoshoots
Maternity photography Boston | The Fens
Engagement Photos at The Fens in Boston
Engagement Photos at The Fens in Boston

6. ICA / Seaport District

Sunrise option available if you love the downtown landscape! If you want a city feel away from the crowds, I love the seaport district near the Childrens museum and the ICA. They recently renovated the waterfront to have some great new features.

Boston Childrens Museum
ICA Boston Downtown

The following images are more creative (so not available for sessions with younger children). It requires flash and posing so it would work really well for engagement and senior sessions.

Bella Wang Photography, LLC
The bottom photos on the set above are natural light (sunset).
Dancer in front of skyscrapers in Boston Seaport District Boston senior session
After the ICA we wanted some backdrop variety so we did an outfit change that matched the setting perfectly. | Seaport District
Dancer at the ICA in Boston
Senior session at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston’s Seaport District
Sunrise over the ICA Boston with dancer in foreground
The soft glow of light and the gentle outline of her dress really makes this shot come together
Dancer in front of skyscrapers in Boston Seaport District

Somerville / Cambridge for photo sessions

7. Davis Square Powderhouse Park / Trolley Square| Somerville, MA

Let’s say I live in Davis Square so I shoot at these locations ALL the time. I come almost weekly to these spots because of my Davis Square location discount. Many of my clients also live in the area!

Davis Square suggested Locations for photoshoots
Trolley Square. Caveat: It’s on the Minuteman path so there are bikers/joggers. This is a sunrise only location.

This is the same family! We have been seeing each other since she was still inside her mama’s belly. We haven’t left the square yet! So many choices and you don’t have to go far.

Tufts Powderhouse suggested Locations for photoshoots
Davis Square – Powderhouse park

8. Tufts Campus | Somerville MA

Lots of spots around campus. I should note that campus is reopening in the Fall so there may be some tents set up closer to the start of the Fall semester.

Bella Wang Photography, LLC
Tufts University campus | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Tufts Campus. Depending on the season, the campus has different features.

9. Fresh Pond Reservation| Cambridge, MA

This area is near the newly constructed playground.

The caveat for the above location is that part of it is a playground. I am not sure if it will be closed or how comfortable your family is in a playground setting with regards to Coronavirus. Parking in this area is also tricky if you are not a Belmont or Cambridge permit holder.

The below area is also nearby but easier to access via parking near the Trader Joe’s at Alewife Brook Parkway.

Fresh Pond Reservation Family photography session | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Fresh Pond Reservation

10. Alewife Brook Reservation

Just around the bend from there is another park that I love. It’s a thoroughfare that connects Belmont to Cambridge. It’s called Alewife Brook Reservation. It’s just off the T line from Alewife station. Parking here is incredibly hard to find unless you park at the T.

suggested Locations for photoshoots | Alewife reservation
Alewife Brook Reservation

11. Danehy Park | Cambridge, MA

I shoot at Danehy park a lot! I love it there. There are a lot of choices in the massive city park. We can easily move from place to place when people come around. I actually convinced one family to stay close by last year for their family session and they were happy I talked them out of heading further out.

Danehy Park family photography session
Bella Wang Photography, LLC
suggested Locations for photoshoots
Danehy Park sunset session in the fall
Bella Wang Photography, LLC
Danehy Park family photography session: suggested Locations for photoshoots
Danehy Park family photography session

12. Christian Herter Park | Cambridge, MA

One of my favourite parks because it has easy parking! The water is steps away from the parking lot. I do have to note that this is a busier park because it’s by the Charles River. There are a lot of joggers and bikers along the water. If you are ok not being by the water, we can find a quieter patch to photograph in.

Locations for photoshoots : Christian Herter Park
Christian Herter Park
Christian Herter Park
Christina Herter Park Cambridge, MA | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Christian Herter Park Cambridge, MA
Christina Herter Park Cambridge, MA | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Christian Herter Park Cambridge, MA
Family session just after the rain with puddles | suggested Locations for photoshoots
puddles add a really great dimension to photos and check out that sky!

13. North Point Park | Cambridge, MA (sunrise only)

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, so if you want to see a whole bunch of photos taken at North Point, click HERE to see the blog post. I’m calling this a sunrise only session location because it’s right in the city and sometimes quite busy. Parking is also a huge pain here.

Trees in North Point Park in the Summer | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Trees in North Point Park in the Summer
Fall Foliage at North Point Park in Cambridge
North Point Park in the Fall
The girls are having so much fun!
Playground at North Point Park
North Point Park, Cambridge, MA
Locations for photoshoots : North Point Park

Arlington / Medford / Belmont / Concord for photo sessions

14. Menetomy Rocks Park | Arlington, MA (sunrise only)

I love this park in Arlington. Parking is found all around the park, so make sure we agree to meet in the right area. The most ‘iconic’ spot is the pond right in the center. I love this location for photoshoots. I am willing to do sunsets if you are flexible with location choices. We just have to dance around the many walkers/bikers/dog walkers. It’s pretty popular with off-leash dog walkers, unfortunately.

Menetomy Rocks Park arlington Family photography session
Menetomy Rocks Park Arlington Family photography session
Menetomy Rocks Park Arlington Family session
Menetomy Rocks Park Arlington Family session
Menetomy Rocks Park arlington Family photography session
Menetomy Rocks Park Arlington Family photography session

15. Tobert MacDonald Park| Medford, MA

The parking lot for this park is right by the Police station. Have you noticed how much I love easy logistics? It’s from years of running between back-to-back sessions and having families rush to a location because of a throw-up, I know how important it is to find easy parking. I always tell parents I can make any location work. The main thing is if they can get there easily and not be late. Sunrise is sunrise and sunset is unforgiving. We cannot argue with Mother Nature!

Tobert MacDonald Park in Medford, MA
Tobert MacDonald Park in Medford, MA

I photographed this family at another nearby park across from the Costco shopping center and LOVED how that turned out as well. There are so many options.

16. The Fells | Medford, MA

I adore the fells. I was actually there hiking this morning. When it has just rained you can smell the fresh wood. I have been going there for years. It’s for the more rugged families that are used to mud and muck. You have to dress properly and expect dirt and exploration. Basically, this isn’t a place for heels and dresses. If you love nature like me, this is a great suggested Location for photoshoots.

The Fells Family session photography
The Fells Family session photography
The Fells Family session photography
Time for exploration

17. Beaver Brook Reservation | Belmont, MA

The little guy below had almost his entire session at this one park. It was easy as it was just down the street from his house. They often walked their dog Hattie here so it was sentimental to them. Locations aren’t the focus for me. It’s all about the light, interaction, emotion and expression.

Beaver Brook Reservation Belmont
Beaver Brook Reservation Belmont

During his 6 month photo session, we really lucked out with the most stunning sunset in the PARKING LOT. Have I mentioned how many of my images are basically created by a parking lot?

Beaver Brook Reservation, Belmont
Belmont Family Photography

This was the epic parking lot photo we got after sunset as we were all walking back to our cars:

Belmont sunset during family photography session
Belmont sunset during family photography session

18. Rock Meadow Conservation area | Belmont, MA

I’ve done a blog set on this location, so again, I’ll direct you there to take a look at the landscape (BLOG POST)! I’ve photographed there often. I do have to make a note that it has become VERY popular. It’s more of a sunset location just because of the direction of the light/sun. This would not be suitable for a weekend location.

This session took place on an overcast and almost storming day:

Belmont Rock Meadows Reservation
Belmont Rock Meadows Conservation
Belmont Rock Meadows Conservation
Belmont Rock Meadows Conservation
Belmont Rock Meadows Conservation
Belmont Rock Meadows Conservation
Family play photography session in Belmont
My favourite image of the session. It captures the nature and essence of this family at this moment perfectly.

19. Minuteman National Park | Concord, MA

I wouldn’t expect us to get a bridge photo as it’s a main thoroughfare, but it’s a great sprawling park with a lot of scenery. Lots of things to climb on and explore! It’s massive and a place for the kids to run wild.

Minuteman National Park Concord Family photography Session
Minuteman National Park Concord Family photography Session
Minuteman National Park Concord Family photography Session
Minuteman National Park Concord Family photography Session
Bella Wang Photography, LLC
Minuteman National Park Family photoshoot photography
Bella Wang Photography, LLC

A bit further out / Wellesley, Lynn, Wakefield, Saugus for photo sessions

20. Wellesley College | Wellesley, MA

Wellesley College Family session
Wellesley College Family session
Wellesley College Family session
Wellesley College Family session
Wellesley College Family session sunset
sunset

21. Lynn Woods | Lynn, MA

I haven’t photographed or been here yet, but I do a lot of my scouting online before a session using just Google maps. If you want to read more about it, click on TripAdvisor.

22. Lower Commons, Wakefield MA

This was chosen by a Baby 1 Year family because they lived in Wakefield. It had a great green space, water and a gazebo for some interest. The parking lot was right there as well. I wouldn’t say this park is special, it’s merely an example that I can photograph any location and I don’t need to scout it out ahead of time. I just need cooperative subjects and good light.

Lower Commons Wakefield, MA family photography session
Lower Commons Wakefield, MA family photography session
Lower Commons Wakefield, MA family photography session
sunset
Lower Commons Wakefield, MA family photography session
Lower Commons Wakefield, MA family photography session

23. Breakheart Reservation | Saugus, MA

This is another location that looks great on Google Maps. Check out the town website for details. I would definitely put this on a list of photogenic locations to check out.

OK so I checked it out on July 5th and it’s a beautiful place. I don’t know if I would recommend it for little children, but definitely for older kids, maternity or engagement sessions. The space is beautiful and if I can control where people stand and how they pose, I’ll likely be able to create epic images. With toddlers, I likely wouldn’t think it’s ideal unless parents are OK with purely documentary/exploration style. I would need to employ flash/lighting techniques to really bring out this location and unfortunately, with little ones, there’s no way that will happen.

breakheart reservation location photos
Breakheart reservation location photos

It was a beautiful, foggy, overcast day when I went. These are just some iphone snaps I took, so the finished ‘real photo’ effect will be very different.

24. Larz Anderson (sunrise only)

Classic Family Photo in Brookline
The money shot in my opinion. This was the last 5 minutes of the session when the toddlers were worn out and I had a moment to create this. I never know when this moment will happen. It could be the first 5 minutes, or the final 5 minutes. I am so pleased with the outcome!

I’ve covered Larz Anderson park extensively. I was bored of the Public Gardens a few years ago and suggested this park as an alternative. It’s located in Brookline. I will direct you to some full blog posts on this suggested location for photoshoots.

Boston family photographer Fall foliage
Larz Anderson Park on a rainy day

Family Session at Larz Anderson Blog Post # 1

Family Session at Larz Anderson Blog Post # 2

Family Session at Larz Anderson Blog Post #3

Larz Anderson Family photography session
Larz Anderson Family photography session 2019

25. Arnold Arboretum (sunrise/sunset only)

Parking is tricky here because people tend to not expect the parking is just along the side of the road. Then they are usually late and roar right past it and then it’s about 15 minutes to circle back and park. I send parking instructions with every session here, but each time it’s still a fiasco for the uninitiated. If it’s your first time, I would recommend going once beforehand or leave an extra 20 minutes for parking. The Arboretum is one of my favourite locations for photoshoots.

Arnold Arboretum Family photography Session
Arnold Arboretum Family photography Session

I love this grand park in Jamaica Plain. There are so many spots to photograph here and we can avoid crowds by going off to the side.

Arnold Arboretum engagement photography Session
Photography by Bella Wang Photography
Arnold Arboretum Family photography Session
Arnold Arboretum Family photography Session
Arnold Arboretum Family photography Session
Arnold Arboretum Family photography Session
Arnold Arboretum maternity photography Session
Arnold Arboretum maternity photography Session
Arnold Arboretum engagement photography Session
Arnold Arboretum engagement photography Session

By the Coast / North Shore for photo sessions

26. Fort Sewall| Marblehead, MA

Boats coming into the harbor in Marblehead, MA
Boats coming into the harbor in Marblehead, MA because the tide was coming in and the sun was setting.
Sunset engagement photos on the ocean
But I am opportunistic so I stole a couple of minutes to get these dramatic photos before we ran off.

I’ve been here 3 times and each time it looks different! For the full engagement session, please click HERE.

27. Crane Beach | Ipswich, MA

There’s paid parking at this beach so fees do apply, but you won’t find a more beautiful beach on the North Shore. We can easily social distance from people at sunset/sunrise on the weekdays. It’s that massive. I do not recommend weekends as it’s an absolute madhouse. Please also note greenhead season in July/August. We don’t want to be eaten alive there.

I should point out that there are restrictions currently at Crane Beach and that you have to secure a spot. Please reach out to them directly for the latest information about a sunset/sunrise session. I want you to feel confident you got the info right from the source. Online info HERE.

Crane Beach Family session photography | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Crane Beach Family session photography
Crane Beach engagement session | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Crane Beach engagement session
Crane Beach engagement session | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Photography by Bella Wang Photography
Crane Beach engagement session | suggested Locations for photoshoots
Crane Beach engagement session

28. North Shore Beach

Somewhere along the North Shore is another rocky beach where these elopement wedding images were taken. It was empty when we went. I forget where it was, but if you are interested, reach out to me.

North Shore beach elopement wedding photography | suggested Locations for photoshoots
North Shore beach elopement wedding photography

29. Wingaersheek Beach | Gloucester, MA

These were photographed at 8:30am when the parking lot opened. The beach is very tricky for photography and I highly recommend sunset or sunrise because you will have a warmth to the images and it won’t make you squint in all of your photos. If you know yourself and know you wear sunglasses at the beach, please plan to have a sunset/sunrise session. If we can figure out a weekday sunset or sunrise without parking issues, this is one of the great beach locations for photoshoots. Keep in mind, greenheads are also an issue here besides at Crane from around Mid-July to Mid-August. I will point out that many beaches are closed to non-locals on weekends. Please verify.

Wingaersheek Beach family photo
Bella Wang Photography, LLC
Wingaersheek Beach family photo boy running through water black and white
Wingaersheek beach
Wingaersheek Beach family photo
Wingaersheek Beach family photo

I still remember losing my 85mm lens to the ocean during this session!

Also, consider nearby for photo sessions

30. Backyard or Apartment Common Area | Locations for photoshoots near you

I can make a simple location look beautiful just through choosing the lens, knowing the light and cropping intentionally. I just need to know what the space looks like that I will be working with so I can consult with you whether or not it will work.

Newborn session in apartment backyard pool area

More suggestions to make your backyard work in this BLOG POST.

sprinkler at home family photography
I love sprinklers in the backyard
At home family photography session Newton
At home family photography session Newton
At home family photography session Newton
At home family photography session Newton

Families are always shocked when I can make a simple space they may have overlooked into something magical. The following was taken in their apartment parking lot.

family photos at home in a parking lot. Unexpected Locations for photoshoots
family photos at home in a parking lot

31. Nearby Park | near you

I can make a small patch of greenery or florals look lush. You don’t have to travel far. I can do an entire session within 40 feet of the parking lot. I do a lot of scouting using Google maps. The only thing I cannot tell is if there is seasonal foliage or florals or construction. Those need to be verified closer to the date.

Photography session in nearby park Waltham. Unexpected Locations for photoshoots
Photography session in nearby park Waltham

They go walking here all the time with their baby girl, so we had our session here. These images were taken back to back (one with my camera, and the other with the phone- ha! Guess which is which?). What you see and what I see may be quite different.

watertown dam
watertown dam

If you have some place in mind

Send me a pin and send me some panoramic photos! I prefer you take the photos when you plan to have the session, but just let me know what time you took the photos and if it’s a pano, I can extrapolate the information I need. If you just take a snap, I cannot tell where the sun is in relation to the landscape. The pin on google is important so I know where to go!

Some examples of photos that I’ve taken as ‘research’ photos to give me a sense of the space:

mystic-valley-parkway
mystic-valley-parkway

The way I photograph a location for my own reference is different than how I would want images from you. Panoramic photos will give me context. I cannot always shoot with the lake as a background. I will have to use artificial lighting to make you pop otherwise it will be a silhouette. These flash photos will only work with adults or kids over 10.

If you can also send me the information on direction of the sunset/sunrise that would be optimal. Otherwise, tell me what time the photo was taken (taking a photo between 11-1 will not give me any information since it’s just overhead). I use an app on location to give me a sense of the lighting of a location as well. These are just the everyday little things I do for planning and why you hired a professional, so please take my advice for planning purposes. Again, I ask for photos and timing so that I can help with information and planning. Sending photos randomly without context at noon will not give me any information. I really just have to make that clear so that I don’t come back to ask additional questions. I want this to be as easy as possible!

Search Results Web results  The Photographer's Ephemeris
This app is called TPE: The Photographer’s Ephemeris

You don’t have to take any of these photoshoot location suggestions. These are merely a jumping-off point. I hope they will help you plan your socially distanced photo session. There’s no need to stress about finding the ‘perfect’ spot.

You can always just let me choose a location, but I do want families to know themselves. If you are easy-going then any location I pick will be great. If you know you only like manicured gardens then please don’t ‘trust me’ and be disappointed when I choose someplace more natural. I always ask people to verify the location is to their expectations before a session because I don’t want them to hate it. I love abandoned buildings, alleyways with graffiti, climbs up mountains, giant mud puddles. I also love modern architecture, clean lines and harsh shadow/light play. I would say that I typically only work 99% of the time in places NOT as described above (I’m at the Public Gardens 5 times a week typically). So be honest with yourself. I can make any place work.

When I first started, parents cared so much about locations and drove 45 minutes to a spot only to have their toddler meltdown because of the distance traveled. The session isn’t up to us. If you have older children, then we can head further out of town. Just know your children.

Things to keep in mind include parking, when parking lots open, permits and fees related to shooting locations and closures due to construction, COVID-19 or pests (such as horseflies at Crane beach). Washrooms are also something to keep in mind as many places are closed and personally I am avoiding public washrooms.

For at home sessions, I ask for panoramic photos and a questionnaire to be filled out asking what your favourite aspects are of your yard (and areas to avoid). This will all be sent to you when you book your photo session.

There are a tonne of other locations I’ve photographed at, but this blog post is getting a bit lengthy. If there’s some place else you’d like me to cover in this post please reach out and I’ll dig up some examples.

I hope this list helps you find the best locations for your photoshoots

If this resource is helpful, sign up for my newsletter. I’ll be adding more tips and advice for planning sessions in the coming months. Once those blog entries are available, I’ll send you a notification right to your inbox. You can unsubscribe any time. I won’t spam you. My goal is to gather a couple of entries before I send off a newsletter maybe once every 1-3 weeks depending on the season. You can sign up below.

Best Boston photoshoot locations | where to have your photography session
Arnold Arboretum engagement photography Session

Focus on play

I’ve always wanted to transition my photography style into a more documentary style of family photography. This is the push I guess I always needed to make this dream a reality! My sessions this year will be child-led. Since I cannot come closer than 6′, my usual directing style will take a backseat to more prompts of play and discovery. This will be the driving force behind family photography in 2020.

Child playing with bubbles in backyard
Bubbles in the apartment complex BBQ area. Can you tell?

Personally, I would love to move to this style of photography as it is very relaxing. We may not have control over the outcome, but it will be true to who your child and family is today. I always found that in directing, some poses and suggestions didn’t work for certain families because that wasn’t how they played. I want to understand and see how YOUR family plays and loves each other.

Locations

Sessions for 2020 will not be taking place in the city, but the focus will shift to parks, conservation lands and backyards. Everyone knows how much I love a great city backdrop, but unless you are willing to do a sunrise session, I will not be doing any city-based sessions. For the definition of sunrise, please check google or click here. Unfortunately, that is earlier than most of us would like. Be realistic and honest. Please do not book a sunrise city session and then ask to change the session to 8:00am. If the timing does not work, please consider a location out of the city or in your backyard.

Locations best suited for 2020:

  • Your backyard/front yard
  • A field/conservation land/out in nature
  • Avoid sunset in the city

Nature allows for kids to be in their element, which is exploring. Their discovery of new things and sights can bring about signature expressions that you’ll want to capture. Yes, sometimes they can stare at a rock or a stick for 15 minutes, but you only need a handful of gorgeous keepsake images to frame and remember this crazy time in our world. It’s not about quantity, but instead about quality. It’s something I am taking more to heart every day. In our materialistic world that we live in, I’m starting to really take a deeper look at what I truly need. Having my family healthy and happy is what’s important to me; not another cute dress, or another pair of shoes that I’ll stash away and never find until I clean out my closet 3 years from now.

When choosing a location, keep in mind your child’s unique temperament. Will they do well after a 2-hour car ride where you’re likely rushing because you are running late? Or is it more relaxing for you to just keep things close to home so you don’t have to worry about getting gas, getting out on time, and not forgetting anything along the way. I always like to suggest to keep things simple.

Ideas for play

If you are concerned about the pace, there are ways to engage a child and have them move on. Lots of hugs, cuddles, a piggyback ride, lifts into the air are all ways to reset their focus. I don’t know what your family typically does and I don’t know how willing you are to allow things to flow naturally, so I will take your lead on how these sessions will evolve. If you are at home, babies LOVE the following:

  • bubbles
  • tents
  • pillow fights outdoors on a nice cream throw
  • playing in the water
  • FOOD

You can have a sprinkler going, set up an inflatable pool with a rainbow. Go nuts. You are only limited by your imagination. If you want to brainstorm together, I am more than happy to!

Ideas for home

Simple beige throw, some pillows and VOILA. For the top-down photo below, I would need a step ladder, but at this time, I don’t want to complicate things.

family session at home 2020 pillow fight

The images on the page are all taken in backyards or common areas (like BBQ areas) of apartment complexes. Things do not have to get complicated.

at home lifestyle session in Cambridge, MA
1 year old baby eating watermelon
Babies and food… no easier way to get a smile than to feed them their favourite food.
baby eating watermelon
The mom originally wanted her in a dress with shoes on, decorations and a monogrammed quilt, but I just told her simple is better. She loved the idea and was so happy we kept things simple and unadorned.
Baby and watermelon in family session at home
It’s just a watermelon, but I was able to create 9 adorable images. Things don’t have to get complicated.

I also shot some video for the following family, but I haven’t had a chance to edit it together yet. I will post that when it’s ready. Basically, your backyard can be a place to have a socially distant and safe session. If something goes wrong, you are at home and have access to anything you need. You can get snacks when baby is hungry, or run inside if you’ve forgotten something. These sessions can be relaxed and beautiful. It’s also a great way to document your family… your home…right now. It’s where you raised your children and you should be proud to show it off.

family at home session in New England
Lots of options when you’re at home.
sprinkler at home family photography
sprinkler at home family photography
LOVE this capture.

Basically what I’m saying is don’t eliminate a perfectly good option right in your backyard. It doesn’t have to be the public gardens, you don’t have to clean your backyard and plant some trees. Just let go of perfection and enjoy your life and loves around you. It’s the little things in the every day that define who we are. This is your story.

Ideas for newborns and the outdoors

Newborn session in apartment backyard pool area
The BBQ area in an apartment complex can be beautiful. If it’s not, I don’t need to draw attention to it. I only include location/surroundings when it adds to the story.

Outdoor spaces are a great spot for newborn photos as well. This baby girl had both her newborn and 1 year photos taken in their apartment complex BBQ area (she’s the watermelon baby!). Have I ever mentioned how much I like BBQ areas and often photograph in them without drawing attention to the fact they are simple locations steps from your front door? Some of my families choose to have all of their sessions at home and I have seen them for YEARS. To me, it’s always been about the family and the baby; not the location.

Why sunset or sunrise?

The best light is always SUNRISE and SUNSET. However, sunrise may not be when you think it is! In June, sunrise is 5:15AM: LINK.

Since these sessions are less pressure and more about play, your baby doesn’t have to be at their happiest point of the day (which is generally in the morning). But you know your child. If they are a complete mess by sunset, please schedule a sunrise session. If sunrise or sunset doesn’t work, the session has to take place on your private property to ensure we don’t run into crowds.

The reason why sunset or sunrise is best is better outlined in this blog post. Since I cannot control where your child may lead us, I need to have constant good light to work with. During midday, a bad patch of light will not give you the images I’m known for.

How sunset/sunrise will affect your backyard session

To prepare for your session, please send me a 360 video or panoramic photo of your outdoor spaces. If you want a sunrise session, please take the photos at that time on a CLOUDLESS day. This will be the worst-case scenario of light I will be dealing with and that information is important so I can tell you what direction I will be likely shooting in so that you can decide if the background is what you envisioned. You can also remove any unnecessary/unsightly objects so that the backdrop is clean. If you send me photos at a random time of day and not the whole backyard, I won’t have a full picture and the exercise will be ineffective.

Early morning family session in backyard
This was an 8:30am session in the backyard with a new puppy! We were able to have a later start because it was Fall (sunrise is later) and they had very tall trees in their yard to break up the direct light.

If you have a specific part of your outdoor space to be the backdrop, I need to see a photo of it and know the time of day you took the photo so I can tell you when is the best time to take photos given the backdrop restriction. Basically I want to ensure there isn’t full sun in your eyes during the session. You will squint. I want the sun to your back. The background will always be where the sun is.

Steps for a successful backyard/front yard session:

  • send me 360 videos/panoramic photos of your house taken during early morning and sunset.
  • tell me what time those images were taken
  • the direction of the sun will be your background (the sun will be to your back when I photograph you)
  • decide if there’s a part of your yard you want to highlight and what parts you want to avoid
  • communicate these considerations to me

Examples of directional light

Below you can see the sun in the photo. I am staying in the same position as the flower girl also passes. This is the ideal lighting situation.

The recessional after wedding during fall 2019

Below: Sun to their back. This rims the hair with beautiful light.

Boston family outdoors in the fall with sweaters

Same Concept:

Surprise proposal idea in Boston

Again… beautiful sun behind them.

Sunset and dad, mom and child at Boston Public Gardens

That’s not to say I always shoot with the suns to your back, but this is how I shoot 90% of the time. If it’s overcast, there is no direction to the light and I am fine with photographing ANYTIME basically. If it’s stormy and overcast, this is what that would look like (post). Another overcast day would look like this (post). Both sessions called for 40% chance of rain or more. I don’t need a sunny day to make gorgeous images. Working in New England you have to deal with the temperamental weather, otherwise, you have no business being a photographer here! I WISH we were blessed with gorgeous sunsets and light like they have constantly in California.

Family session just after the rain with puddles
Puddles add a really great dimension to photos and check out that sky! Forget about the muddy outfits and shoes and just play.

For more information on lighting, please see this blog post.

Unfortunately, I cannot argue with mother nature. Sunrise is sunrise and sunset is sunset. Rain may come and it may go. Again, the goal is to capture your family. I love splashes in the rain with rainboots. I love kids rolling in the mud. The story is up to you. If you want a no rain session, then we can reschedule as I’ve always had, but I am telling you it will not affect my images.

Rainy wedding day photo of bride and groom
A rain photo during a wedding day.

Session length

My sessions will be shorter this year to minimize exposure. That’s why I need your help to really hone in on your goals. Sessions will be about 40 minutes. For younger babies, I only need about 20 minutes to get some incredible images and the rest of the time I can give you space to allow for feeding, soothing, and whatever your baby needs. I’ve done this for a long time and it’s all about maximizing the time we have together to get some quality images. Sensing a theme? It’s all about quality over quantity. If things are going well and I can easily stay far away, I will be flexible with this timeline. That decision will be up to me, but discussed with you during our consultation.

Video Consults

Going forward for the rest of the sessions this year, I will be having video consults with all families the day of or the day before the session. This way we know we are all healthy and we can get the jitters out of the way. We can talk about your goals for the session and what the plan is / what are your prompts for play. I want to understand what you want and ensure I set your expectations about what is possible. I want to make sure we are all on the same page so that we can just start photographing when we meet in person. This is all about building trust and making everyone calmer about the session. I do not want this to be a stressful experience. Family photography should be fun and playful. These consults don’t have to be lengthy, but they have to happen.

Take away

Please only schedule a session if you’re willing to communicate with me during a video call and have a child-led session that has no direction from me. We can make small modifications based on your first inquiry, so please be as forthcoming as possible when inquiring about a session so I can tell you if it’s possible. My goal is to keep things fun, stress-free and all about communication so we can keep healthy. If I cannot guarantee a safe session, I run the risk of passing a sickness onto another family. I cannot have that happen and this is my plan for making it safe for everyone.

For information on further procedures and precautions I’m taking, please read the following posts to help ease your mind. I am taking this virus very seriously as I am sure you all are as well.

Phased Reopening Blog Post

Safety measures from March

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’m here for you.

I hope this post was informative. Again, my goal is to let loose and have fun during our sessions in 2020-2021. Thanks for making it through to the end!

Baby eating watermelon during family session 2020

Concerns about Covid-19

I am sure many of you are as concerned about Coronavirus as I am. I have been following it on the news and seen it impact so many people around the world. Call me naive, as I never saw it impacting our world as much as it did. I have closed my business since the 3rd week of March and have been staying at home to do my part to flatten the curve. By limiting my activities outdoors I am hoping to decrease my exposure and risk. Only in recent weeks have I ventured outdoors for quick walks around the neighborhood. My main concern since the beginning of this was to figure out what was a safe balance between my small business and the pandemic. How can I ensure my photography business is safe during Coronavirus?

I may be more cautious than most, but I would rather be safe than sorry. I have been ordering grocery delivery/curbside pickup from a nearby grocer (As a side note: If you’re in need of a local fish monger, check out Hooked fish shop. They deliver to many areas around the greater Boston area, including: Cambridge, Somerville, Charlestown, Belmont, Brookline, Chestnut Hill and Newton!) and I am not getting takeout either just in case. Though I will admit to having really intense cravings for Korean, Middle Eastern and Japanese food as of late!

For mask purchases, information and resource links, scroll down to the bottom of the post. You can purchase these items for your family and the research so far sounds very promising!

I have just updated this post with my reviews of each mask and my recommendation below.

Precautions Undertaken

Coronavirus Covid-19 Prevention for photography sessions
For a longer blog post on safety, see here: BLOG POST

In order to minimize any possibility of me getting Coronavirus, I pledge to not grocery shop or head into public service areas (stores, restaurants, cafes, etc.) for the foreseeable future. I will delete this line if I change my mind. However, I do not foresee me changing my outlook on things. The only reason I would head out now is to pickup curbside groceries, get gas for my car to get to sessions, or go for walks. I don’t get completely out of shape and forget how to walk! I will not be taking public transportation, going on any trips or otherwise doing unnecessary travel. The current sessions I am booking are pre-screened with video chats and safety releases/affirmations.

To lighten the mood of this post, I’d love to tell you about my fancy new bread machine! I used to have an old one, but just never bothered to use it for YEARS. I ended up donating it last year. When the pandemic hit, I of course had to jump on the bread-making bandwagon. Along came this handsome fella. I’ll try to do a photoshoot for him later, but I highly recommend this for easy bread-making at home. I have made 3 types of bread, pizza dough and next I’m going to be making cinnamon buns. When this pandemic ends and it’s safe to head out again, I am immediately heading out to get SUSHI at my fave local joint, EBI. If you haven’t tried them, you NEED to.

Safety releases for photography

In order to ensure I do not Coronavirus during any of my photography sessions, I am asking all of my clients to be as cooperative and communicative of their health status as they can. I am requesting a release form related to Coronavirus to be signed prior to each session affirming no one in the family is/has been sick for the past 14 days with the typical symptoms of Covid-19 listed below:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry Cough
  • Runny Nose
  • Sore Throat
  • Sudden loss of taste or smell
  • Pink eye

I am also asking people to affirm they have not traveled domestically or internationally in the past 14 days prior to their session.

There is a long list of requests included in my documentation that I am going to send out to everyone. I will be adding another blog post on planning and considerations regarding the session itself. That post is now LIVE. On top of this, I am scheduling preparation video calls with families so that we can develop a plan for the session. This way, we will be prepared before the session and be on the same page. My preference is to just allow kids to be kids and for the sessions to take place away from city parks.

The measures I will take to try and minimize Coronavirus contamination during our photography sessions are also outlined in a post I made in March. Please have a read through this BLOG POST. Clients have the right to cancel / postpone their sessions if they feel they may be sick. I also retain the right to cancel if I feel sick so that I don’t get anyone else sick.

Location Limitations due to Coronavirus

Willows at Boston Public Gardens and family
The ever beautiful, and busy, Boston Public Gardens

For the foreseeable future, I will not be photographing in the Boston Public Gardens, or any other high-traffic parks. Likely I will be avoiding most downtown locations unless they are done at sunrise. I will be putting together a list of recommended locations with samples. This list will be posted on my blog for easy access by everyone. Anyone on my mailing list will also get a notification once this item is published. I highly recommend a sunrise, weekday location if you want to keep your session closer to town. If you are interested in something specific, please reach out and I can let you know. Each location may be a unique decision.

I should also note that I intend to only do outdoor photography sessions for the rest of 2020 and into early 2021.

Sunset over the Charles River with boats in the background and city skyline, the couple in the foregraound
The sunset that evening was surreal. If you’re a local to Boston, you know these sunsets aren’t a regular occurrence.

Mailing List First Access Notification

I am also putting together a mailing list to get all of the planning information to you in the easiest manner possible. With the current state of the world and social media, it no longer has the reach it used to have in order to keep everyone informed. If you would like to receive the most up to date information, location information, preparation information, please sign up for my mailing list. I will add a link below.

Please check spam if you don’t get instant notification for mailing list confirmation.

You can also always subscribe from my homepage. Sessions will be booked on a first-come first-served basis. I will have very limited weekend dates available. Those dates will likely only be opened to families that have a yard that they want to use for their session. If there was something very isolated that you had in mind, please reach out. Weekends tend to be very busy now that many stores and typical forms of entertainment are closed.

Phased reopening plan for Coronavirus

I am currently accepting bookings for my Baby 1 Year families. I was very torn about closing and reopening knowing that my choice would impact those families that trusted me to document their baby’s very first year of life. My June calendar is now open to those families. I have sent out emails as well as posted on social media. If I somehow missed you, please reach out. I am taking Coronavirus VERY seriously during my photography sessions.

After those families are booked, I will be opening my calendar to families that reached out since March when I officially closed. Those on my waitlist are welcome to book a session in June.

The post on my reopening plan can be found HERE.

Mailing list first access

Starting June 10, my calendar will open to Mailing List subscribers. This will be more organized than my current scribble in my notebook. This way I won’t miss anyone and the mailing will go out to everyone at the same time. I will make an announcement June 9 on social media to that affect. I want to reach as many eyes as possible. Again, since the reach is so low these days, the most reliable way for me to inform everyone of my phased opening plan would be to notify everyone via a direct email.

I will be closed for the month of July to assess how the sessions in June went. I plan to put in new measures to ensure sessions are as successful as I can possibly make them. The announcement for my August dates for bookings will go out early- to mid-July via the mailing list. If my June sessions go off without a hitch, I’ll open up August for my mailing list clients. I just want to ensure that the families that I will be working for are “screened”. By reading my posts and being knowledgeable of my goals for each session and safety measures, I believe we can work together to make this safe.

I will be taking one month at a time, seeing how well I can photograph people while socially distanced. I will also be taking in the new health data as well as seeing if and how schools will be reopening to determine if I will be open in September. Right now I cannot guarantee I will be open for September. I will have to wait for the numbers and the decisions by our government regarding safety measures. If no one in your household will be in a higher-risk position by September, then please let me know when reaching out to book.

Planning for your photography session

I will be making another post about the necessary planning for sessions going forward as well as describing how 2020/2021 sessions will be going forward. [UPDATE: The post is now LIVE] I firmly believe that by planning, we can make the session fun and less stressful for everyone. Since I want everyone to be on the same page, it’s best to determine your goals ahead of time. I will be sending over a questionnaire to all of my families as well as scheduling a 10-20 minute video chat the day of/day before our session on top of my usual emailing back and forth for planning purposes. The new contracts will have specific verbiage regarding safety measures. Thank you for understanding my need for information and communication during these strange times of photography during Coronavirus.

Thank you again for reading through this entire post. I hope I haven’t scared you away, but instead built a stronger bond of trust based on shared values. Be well and I hope to meet soon.

Mask Resoures

One of my doctor families has been so kind in sharing some resources with me. Currently, Halyard 600 fabric is the gold standard for making your own masks at home. The link to a homemade tutorial can be found on the University of Florida mask website HERE.

Another incredible doctor has shared information on KN95 masks. They are not certified N95 masks, but they are the Chinese-standard. You can read more about the mask differences HERE. She also shared some wonderful resources that I am linking to as well. THIS MASK is certified to be N95 and has an excellent ‘gel’ seal. I have ordered some to see if they are comfortable and I will report back once I try them out. The difference between a surgical and non-surgical N95 is explained HERE. Basically, surgical masks are built to withstand squirting liquids, whereas regular N95s do not. By purchasing these you will not take away from medical professionals since they cannot use them as a medical mask. Another option is this N93 (not certified by the FDA, but tested by Nelson Labs. You can see their certification HERE and the link to purchase can be found HERE. I have also purchased double-sided tape to get a better seal around the edges of the mask.

UPDATE: I have now tested all masks for a few weeks now. My favourite mask is the N93 mask because the fit is very good. It is thick but I feel protected. Cons include it’s hard to breathe in, gets hot, and muffles your voice. None of that really will make me not highly recommend it. The N95 is great, but made for people with high-bridged noses. As a flat-nosed Asian, there is quite a big gap in the nose area for me. If you have a bridge, then it’s a great choice. KN95s are easiest to breathe in. The cons are that they slide more than the N93 mask and the ear gets a bit irritated as does under my chin area because the fit isn’t perfect for my face shape. Again, everyone will have differing experiences. This is my experience with the mask usage based on my face shape. Hope this helps!

I hope you can find these resources helpful! Please feel free to share this information with friends and family.

Latest Posts

Coronavirus Covid-19 Prevention

Things to consider

Spring time in Boston and New England is basically like living with someone with multiple personalities. One day it’s warm and sunny, and the next could be cold and dreary. As a full time Boston family and newborn photographer I have had my share of trying to predict this crazy weather. The main thing to keep in mind is that the weather is unpredictable and you have to select an adaptable wardrobe. Another important thing is not to just look at the temperature of the day, but rather look deeper into the details. Here are things to keep in mind when planning what to wear for your Boston spring photo session.

Highs and Lows

Boston can be quite frigid in the mornings. For sunrise sessions and even early morning sessions do keep this in mind and check for the predicted temperatures for this time of day. When you check the overall temperature of the day, it will only list the highs for the day (this usually hits around 2pm in the afternoon). By relying solely on the highs of the day, you are going be be woefully under-dressed and we may have to deal with a frozen baby.

The key to preparing for a session in Boston is to have layers. I wouldn’t recommend bare limbs unless the forecast is confident about warmer temperatures. That said, a lot of babies are indifferent to the cold. So just know your baby and see what’s reasonable for them.

Sample Outfits

Here are some sample outfits that basically scream “spring is here!”.

New England Family photos what to wear for spring photo session
Newborn session but we were able to duck outside because it was HOT. Look at the colours of the palette: blue for the sea, violets for the blossoming flowers and white always signals a warmer time of year.
engaged couple walking with dog what to wear for boston photo session
Casual outfits with legs covered to keep warm
bride to be changes into new outfit for engagement photos
She rocked two great outfits, so why not share both
Dad holding son. Mother holding daughter Arnold Arboretum Family session
These little ones are nicely covered up but there is still a short sleeve shirt on mom.
Family walking in Boston Public Gardens what to wear
Pinks and blues for this Spring palette. The romper is the most adorable blend of her parents’ colours.
Adorable boys wearing royal family inspired outfits
What to wear inspired by the Royal Family

And I never get tired of outfits inspired by Princess Kate and her adorable family. Featuring Rachel Riley.

Spring Boston Engagement Session
I love flowy maxi dresses that match or set off the surroundings. Her yellow matches the gorgeous sunset light
What to wear for Boston photo session
See how the yellow goes so well with the flowers?
Boston City Hall wedding
City Chic always works
Boston Engagement session in Tufts
Layers created two unique looks. This one is with the jacket
Boston Engagement session in Tufts
And without
Family session with baby in rainbow dress
How cute is this nugget?
Boston Family session with baby in rainbow dress
This sure is a perfect outfit for spring if I do say so myself
Boy in button down shirt and skinny leg jeans in Boston Commons
How sharp does he look in this adorable button down shirt and skinny leg jeans?
Family in boston commons family photography session
This is what the rest of the family wore to coordinate. LOVE
Boston Maternity session by the Charles River
Love the rich deep colours of this Boston Maternity session by the Charles River
Boston Maternity session by the Charles River with prudential center in background
They just pop against the skyline don’t they?

Vendors and Outfit Planning Tools

Hope these tips can help. I’ll add a few more additional suggestions and tips in the future so stay tuned. I wanted to have a baseline of sample images of outfits for those with sessions with me in the coming weeks.

My favourite shops online are H&M, Zara, Hanna Anderson and Rylee + Cru . I also just found this adorable onesie shop called KyteBaby. I LOVE the simple, classic look of a onesie/romper. If you want to learn about an adorable local shop that I just love, check out Kodomo in Boston for cute kids wear. If you book your session with me you also will get an outfit planning tool. It will link you to a lot of online retailers so you can mix and match based on a colour scheme with confidence and guidance. Hope these suggestions help answer the question of what to wear for a photo session in the Spring in Boston!

Alternately if you are looking for fall Boston wardrobe suggestions, click on my blog link HERE

Boston Family session with baby in rainbow dress

What to wear for outdoor family pictures can be a nerve-racking thought. In my work as a professional photographer, diversity and individuality are what I love to emphasize to families. You should be yourselves in your family photoshoot! A lot of the information out there on how to dress for success is pretty dated. They emphasize matching from head to toe. I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking. Each family and each person should build towards a larger picture. Matching exactly creates sterility that can be quite jarring. Building a wardrobe can be tricky. But, read on for advice on how to dress for your outdoor family pictures. When you sign your contracts with me, my clients will also receive access to a wardrobe planning portal new for 2019. To make best use of the tool, please ensure you access it a couple of weeks before your session because shipping times vary for different online purveyors.

If you’re on Pinterest, follow me under Bella Wang Photography.

families dressed for fall family sessions

Boston Family Photographer tips on how to dress for outdoor family fall session

1. Dress for the season

Cooler temperatures are on the horizon. It’s best to plan to layer the young ones in outfits that will keep them warm. A cold baby is a cranky baby. Pinterest misleads us all with their mild winters photographed in Charleston, South Carolina. New England gets cold as many of you have noticed. Mornings are much colder than the forecasted highs of the day. Check the weather by hour if you want to get a sense of actual temperatures for your session.

If you aren’t a fan of chunky winter coats (and I am not a fan of fluorescent ski jackets), then layering is your friend. Build from the ground up with long underwear, shirts, sweaters and vests. The weather in New England is what I would call unpredictable. It could be balmy and warm one day in October, and really cold the next. Have the pieces ready to build your outfit! If we luck out with a warm spell, return any unused items you may have purchased for the session. You don’t want to run out to buy things last minute.

Boston family outdoors in the fall with sweaters

coordinating fall outfits for Boston family outdoor sessions

2. Define your color palette

Often times we’re given inspiration by the places we’re photographing in. It’s pretty obvious when you have some fun street art. The family below nails it with the reds and blues seen in the mural. When in nature, try to choose colours you would find in nature. New England’s signature colours are also red, white and blue if all else fails. In the layered outfits above, you can see tones of jewels and autumn peppered throughout. Nothing is artificial and jarring such as a misplaced coral, fluorescent orange, fuchsia, or bright teal.

The issue as well with fluorescent colours such as coral is they reflect tones into the skin that are very unflattering. To test, stand by the window and put the fabric by your child’s face. If you are seeing ghastly shades of hot pink on their cheeks, it’s best to avoid that article of clothing. My favourite colours for fall are colors like crimson. Aubergine (eggplant), emerald, navies, yellows, and rusty oranges work as well! Especially when they’re mixed with neutrals such as greys and creams. Pick up to two colours unless you’re an expert, and mix with neutrals for a put together look.

families dressed for fall family sessions

Changing The Mood with Colours

As you can see in the gallery above and below, families aren’t too matching. They have a colour that runs through their outfits. This brings a coherent look to the final product. Each outfit has its own unique spin and interpretation. This unique element is key to pulling off the look. Something as simple as your child’s favourite toy can define the look of your session. We can see it with the Elmo doll above.

If your colour is blue, you can express that in a sweater, a pair of long socks, or jeans. If red is your defining colour, then a bright bow on the baby’s head can tie into a bright sweater of the exact same tone. Or, you can have the red of the father’s plaid shirt. Make sure your reds match and your whites/creams match. There is a large difference between a warm/gold white and a cool/silver white. That is key to taking an outfit from 80% to the final 100% session ready status. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a photo of your outfits! It makes it easy if they’re laid out on the bed/floor taken using natural daylight and I can give you feedback.

Families dressed to match their backgrounds

An outdated tip: Black is minimizing. This is especially untrue if you’ve dressed the entire family in brighter colours and you’re the only one in black. Your eye will go directly to the person that is different. Black works in that it hides shadows and highlights that show our shape. You can, however, use it to your advantage if you’re self-conscious about your core. Add something fun and bright like a scarf or fun boots that will pull the look of the family all together. It will also draw the eye away from the wigglier bits.

The same location with different outfits will give completely different final looks to the session. These three sessions were basically within a few days of each other at the very same park. You could never tell that because each family expresses themselves in their own way. My sessions are always child led and are always evolving based on what children do.

What to Wear for Outdoor Family Pictures


Classic Family Photo in Brookline

The money shot in my opinion. This was the last 5 minutes of the session when the toddlers were worn out and I had a moment to create this. I never know when this moment will happen. It could be the first 5 minutes, or the final 5 minutes. I am so pleased with the outcome!


Fall Family Photos in Larz Anderson Park

Classic family portrait for the holiday card is what I strive for in the first 5-10 minutes of a session when everyone is focused.

3. Texture + Shape

Texture is very important it’s often overlooked. It communicates feeling through sensing. You want your family to be in matching textures in that one member cannot be in say a summery linen and the other members in warm flannel. Knits can easily pair with plaids and velvets because they all communicate warmth in their similarity of textures. Fabric textures also lend to draping and shape. If everyone is in something quite structured and one member goes for a bohemian and flowy vibe, then it won’t look like a family unit. If you ever have issues with this, take a look at how mannequins are styled in front of stores when they’re placed next to one another. Window displays are coordinated by professional stylists at the top of their game. Use it as inspiration to build your own coordinated outfits.

4. Know your child

If your daughter hates bows and won’t leave them in her hair, then plan an outfit that doesn’t need the bow. Let go of “perfection”. Let her be who she is. 10 years from now, will you care she had the bow and spent half the session trying to rip it out?Or will you remember her smiling face looking at you? Make sure her hair is tidy and neat like how you want it to be. Same goes for stockings – will she immediately run for the dirt and turn them brown and black? Then, white stockings aren’t a good foundation for her outfit.

5. Know yourself

Don’t get your face done full of makeup if you’ve never done a test run. Make sure you love the final look because you want to be able to recognize yourself. If you are self conscious about any body parts, feel free to ask me about what would be flattering. This will also give me a heads-up when posing you for the session. I don’t hide moms as I think everyone is beautiful and should be featured equally. But, if this is important to you, please say something so I will work this into our posing. There are simple things to think about. Like if you don’t like your arms but love your legs, sleeveless is not a good option, but a dress with a slit is. It’d be awesome to draw attention to you and can make all the difference in how you feel.

6. Find Inspiration Online

Pinterest isn’t just for finding poses or cute ideas for props. It can be a great resource as well for planning outfits and picking out themes. Some Instagram accounts I suggest following for children’s wear include the following brands: @adenandanais , @tinycottons , @rocketsofawesome , @gapkids , @picklesnroses , @freshlypicked , @oeufnyc , @zarakids , @hm_kids , @mangokids , @cottononkidsua , @janieandjack , @mimiandlula  . If you want to shop local, Kodomo has a couple of locations in town and worth checking out. I’m a sucker for a good TJ Maxx find, so it’s worth digging through there as well. If you pick a big brand like Zara  or H&M, there is a matching adult’s line that will be easy to match. Try to find all outfits at one store or brand and it’ll be that much easier.  For adults there are cheaper lines out there, like ASOS or Lulu’s  where you can find statement pieces for under $50 that might be similar to beautiful gowns you may find at other popular stores like Free People or Anthropologie. There’s a wealth of knowledge and inspiration out there. Happy hunting!

7. The Basics

1) Clean nails
2) Booger-free faces
3) Food smears cleaned
4) Hair managed (whether that means up, in a barrette, styling products, blowout and flowing free.)
5) No late nights the night before
6) Shirts + pants should be tested for mobility. (No flashing, no diapers showing. Also, no shirts that get untucked every 3 seconds, no pants that keep falling off.)
7) No shoes that are too big and trip your child, no shoes that are too small that make them angry.
8) Make sure your skirts aren’t too short. (Covered knees are generally a good length. Unless, the child knows how to cross legs and keep knees together.) 9) Avoid giant logos.
10) Avoid fluorescent colours/coral/hot pink. Have shorts under skirts.
11) There should be no bulky items in your pockets. 12) Avoid collars that block your child’s face.
13) No short haircuts the day before the session.
14) No experimental makeup or false eyelashes unless you’ve done a test run.
The best thing to do is to put outfits on your child at least a week in advance. With a full-length mirror in front of you, hold them on your hip, lift them in the air and have them scuttle about. If you are struggling to fix collars, tucking in shirts, consider a change. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Know the limits of your expertise and know when to ask for help. I’m here to answer any questions you might have.

The preparation is what allows the success to happen naturally.

-Jake Arrieta

families dressed for fall family sessions

Bella Wang Photography

For links to successful fall family sessions, please click through these posts to see What to Wear for Outdoor Family Pictures:

Family 1 <blog link

Family 2 <blog link

Family 3 <blog link

Updated for 2020

For additional tips, head over to my new post about coordinating and planning your family’s outfits. The most important tip may not be what you thought! BLOG POST

Boston family photographer Fall foliage

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