You’ve booked your family photo session, but now you have to decide where your session should take place. The Seattle area has so much beauty, how can you possibly decide? While I am always open to suggestions on locations, I have a few favorite spots that I know are great for family portraits. These locations not only show off the beauty around us, they also offer variety within one location, have something for a family to do (such as throwing rocks into a river, exploring a trail, or dancing in a field), have good evening and/or sunrise light for photos, and are typically not too crowded.
Below you will find not only the names of these locations, but I provide you with a quick description, things you may want to consider about the location, and photos of past family or maternity sessions that have taken place there. My hope is this will give you a feel for each location to see if it is right for your family portraits this year!
These are in alphabetical order and by no means from most favorite to least.
Fall City River & Fall City Park – Fall City
I have grouped these two locations since they are just across the bridge from each other. The river has river rock, water, and at sunset even possible mountain views. Fall City Park is a field that gets great fall color. While I love both of these locations, they are not ideal in the summer as this area is overrun with people floating the river. I’d stick with this one for spring (hello cherry blossom trees that line the side of the river) and fall.
Gold Creek Pond – Snoqualmie Pass
This is a hidden gem a client introduced me to a few years back. A little bit of a drive as it is off I-90, exit 54 on the Snoqualmie Pass, it is completely worth it for the serene water and amazing mountain views. There are a few great spots around the pond too that are a short hike, and as it is a paved trail you can bring strollers for younger ones. A few things to note is that the water is off limits as there is no swimming aloud, and fall weekends can get pretty crowded with other family’s trying to have photos done. (Weekday evenings or doing it a tad earlier/later in the season helps). This is also a wonderful place for snow photos. Again, this has to be during the first snow or later in the season as the road back to the pond is not plowed (and it’s a mile hike from the main road).
Lake Sammamish State Park – Issaquah
This giant state park is a beautiful spot in Issaquah, WA. Not only is the lake itself beautiful, but the trees get amazing spring and fall color, and the trails offer great little spots for family photos. It is a great spot to have some variety, and even splash each other in the lake at the end of your session! There are a couple of important things to note for this park. First, a Discover Pass is required to park, otherwise there is a $10 parking fee as it is a state park. Second, it is a popular family attraction, so it can be very crowded during the summer. Sessions that take place early morning or later in the evening (at sunset) or are during spring and fall tend to be better to avoid having crowds of people in your background.
Lincoln Park – Seattle
This gorgeous Seattle park offers plenty of variety. From trees and trails that can filter sunlight, a more open area and a beach (where you can watch the ferry depart), this is a wonderful Seattle spot. The beach may be crowded on summer weekends, but towards sunset are usually tapering off anyways.
Luther Burbank Park – Mercer Island
This park is on the water, but also has some beautiful trees and trails. While many people frequent this park, it is large enough that we can usually easily find spots without other people. There can be a fair amount of walking around, so if someone doesn’t get around easily, or your kids won’t want to walk much, maybe avoid this park. However, it is a beautiful location with plenty to offer (including gorgeous fall color).
Rattlesnake Lake – North Bend
Rattlesnake Lake is a fun location with lots of variety. From a few trail spots, to wooded areas, a rocky beach, even some huge stumps for kids to climb on, there is something for everyone. There is also plenty of gorgeous fall color. Another popular spot for people to visit, summer weekends are not ideal for this location. Depending on how low the lake is in the fall/winter, it can get muddy by the water itself. Nothing that a pair of rain boots or a change of clothing for after the session can’t fix though.
Snoqualmie Community Park – Snoqualmie Ridge
This is a location that you wouldn’t expect for family photos walking up to it. However, it is a great spot that even offers some gorgeous views of Mount Si. After spending time in the trees at the top of the park, there are some pretty little trails around the park that offer nice color in the fall and spring. It is very crowded with soccer games and such, however, if this is a location you love, let’s chat about times that are best for your family session here! (If your children struggle not playing on a playground, this may not be the spot for you as the community playground is very visible from our mountain viewing spots!)
Tanner Landing Park – North Bend
This is one of my favorite locations period. It is usually the first spot I recommend to families who haven’t had a session with me, or who haven’t had one there in a few years. There is a ton of variety (fields, trails, the river) and it is rarely busy. The only downside is that google maps may try to tell you you’ve arrived when you’re not quite there! (Don’t worry I can help with that!).
Tolt McDonald Park – North Bend
This hidden gem in Carnation is actually part of a campground! Again, this location has plenty to offer with fields (when it isn’t camping season), trails, the river, and a suspension bridge. During the fall there is great color, but it is also gorgeous all year round with trees in deep greens. The river offers a great ending spot for throwing rocks or even dipping your feet (both of which are a fun way to end your family photos). Things to keep in mind? The suspension bridge does rock as you walk across, and there are slats. It is large and perfectly safe, of course, however, some kids (and parents, and dogs) may be nervous of the bridge. It is the way across to the river and trail spots, so it is hard to avoid. It can also be crowded during camping season (the summer), so we have to consider when we are planning your session.
In Case of Rain: Cedar River Watershed – North Bend
Sometimes rain is unavoidable and if you want to stick with your session because it was too crazy nailing down everyone’s schedule, or you’re just an outdoorsy family, I highly recommend the Cedar River Watershed. Technically an education center, located just above Rattlesnake Lake, this spot offers some trails, covered walkways, and even musical water drums to entertain the kids. It is a great place where you can still feel like you’re outdoors while staying dry (most of the time!).