How do you make outdoor family photos work with an early bedtime?

Sometimes photographing at golden hour (the hour before sunset), is just not reasonable with younger ones. Yes there are certain tips I would recommend such as pushing their last nap later, packing some special treats and even dressing kiddos in pajamas before saying good-bye to me. Sometimes, the stress on parents of whether or not their littles will be happy so close to their bedtime is not a stress any parent wants. Let's walk through a couple tricks used for this fun and successful outdoor family session, two hours before sunset.

I love Juanita Bay Park for outdoor family photos because it's such a large park (you'll have room to spread out), has lots of different backdrops and best of all, can work with an early bedtime. There's a willow tree, a boardwalk, a grassy field and everything is within a 5-10 minute walk from the parking lot.

Seattle family photographer captures family portrait in Kirkland under the willow tree.
Black and white posed family photo at Juanita Bay Park.
Father daughter smiling in Juanita Bay Park.
Black and white image of mother hugging and kissing her children.
Mother snuggling with her happy daughter in Kirkland.

Make a fun event out of your outdoor family photos.

Mom and dad showed up to Juanita Bay Park 30 minutes early and brought a simple picnic dinner. The kids wore clothes they could get messy in as they enjoyed quick and easy finger foods. Once everyone was done eating, mom and dad changed their girls in the car and wiped their faces. Everyone was fed and ready to explore! They made this outing an event, combining dinner and photos all in one. With an early bedtime, knowing your kiddos are well fed means they can just hop into the car afterwards and go straight to bed. You don't need to worry about feeding them, and delaying their bedtime even more.

Bellevue family photographer snaps family portrait by a willow tree in Juanita Bay Park.
Candid photo of mother snuggling with her daughters in Kirkland.
Family tickling their children in an outdoor family photo session.

Start the session in one of many shaded spots at Juanita Bay Park.

Two hours before sunset, the sun can still be pretty high in the sky and cast harsh shadows on family's faces. I tucked this family into a nicely shaded spot, where the light was soft, even and beautiful. There was a willow tree, a boardwalk and a evergreen tree lined many great options to choose from! Incorporating movement and walking from one location to the next kept the children excited and engaged for their outdoor family photos.

Summer family photos outdoors on a blanket.
Parents smiling with their children while seated on a blanket at a park.
Family photo on the boardwalk of Juanita Bay Park.
Daughter on the boardwalk gazing at the wildlife in Kirkland.

Finish the outdoor session in an open field.

When the sun is below the tree line, you will get gorgeous, warm light that illuminates your hair and body. This is magical light is my favorite type of light to work with! I moved my family into the open field and finished our outdoor photos there. We played games, sang songs and shared lots of cuddles. By this point, bedtime was coming in quick and that was OK because we knew we had captured a full, varied, joy-filled session together.

Family dancing at sunset.
Mother snuggling her daughter, backlit in golden hour light.
Black and white photo of mother daughter sharing a secret.
Black and white portrait of girl scrunching her nose.
Mother daughter smiling and holding hands in Juanita Bay Park.

Outdoor family photos don't need to be stressful.

I have a list of locations that are perfect for kiddos who have an early bedtime and this location is just one of many! Getting in the frame with your children doesn't have to be hard. Read my best tips on preparing for your session here. Imagine years from now, you can look back on these fleeting moments...the way their tiny hand fits perfectly in yours, their infectious laughter when you tickle them, their unabashed cuddles...let's bottle up these moments.

Mother with her daughters, backlit in Kirkland.
Little girl smiling joyfully while being flipped upside down.
Lifestyle outdoor family photo in golden hour light.