It's the EVOLUTION of the Family Photo Session

Blending lifestyle + documentary photography with plenty of play and storytelling, the STORYTELLER EXPERIENCE is a whole new way to document your family's adventures together.

Combining a super-FUN day-in-the-life photo experience with quotes pulled directly from guided questionnaires sent your way, you'll end up with a one-of-a-kind keepsake magazine or album, hundreds of photos from the day, and a video to watch on repeat, too. 


It's like the BEST kind of time capsule... containing all your favorite family stories (and some you might not even know... yet), photos to show off the amazingly authentic and incredibly important connections you all have with one another, and a FINISHED photo album (so that you finally get to check this one off your to-do list)! 

You even walk away with your own mobile app, so that you can carry those stories with you everywhere you go, reliving all your favorite moments ANY TIME you need a little pick-me-up! 

Watch to learn more about the Storyteller Experience:


Because REAL LIFE doesn't have
to be perfect to be beautiful

father and daughter sharing a moment in a documentary photo session with the suitcase studio

why a storyteller experience?

If I were to ask you to tell me a bit about yourself, would you even know what to say? But if I asked your husband to tell me about the first time he ever laid eyes on you, or asked your kids to tell me about their favorite family vacation ever... the stories would start tumbling out. Probably some of the sweetest things you've never even heard... yet.   

Utilizing my artistic skill set + background in psychology, I've created a brand new way to not only capture the most authentic photos of your family, but also to help you all come together + connect in a way you'll never forget.


Sometimes the stories are bigger than life, with days filled with rollercoaster rides of action and romance, and happily-ever-afters. And sometimes the stories are more of a whisper, filled with in-between moments of holding hands, sipping from a favorite coffee mug, or sitting side-by-side on the sofa.

I want to help you discover your everyday stories. Even the quiet ones.

And I want to help YOU tell them, so that your family stories will be remembered for the rest of your lives, as well as for generations to come.


family documentary photographer The Suitcase Studio in Portland Oregon

think of it as a family time capsule.

We'll spend the day (or half-day) together. And of course I'll be taking pictures. But it's so much MORE than that. 

I've always been an observer of people and a collector of stories. And I'll be able to see things from my outsider's perspective that you otherwise might have missed. You'll also get to be in FRONT of the camera for a change, so you'll actually be able to play a visual part in your own story.  

And since this is YOUR story, you get to be the author. It's a choose-your-own-adventure kind of thing. So we can capture a day-in-your-life, starting with breakfast in jammies and ending with bedtime stories. Or we can hit the town, stopping at all your favorite hangouts. We can wander your local farmer's market to pack some own picnic lunches for later.  We can toast s'mores over a campfire, strumming the guitar and snuggling under the stars. 

This day can be whatever YOU choose to make of it. 

father and son bonding moment during a family day in the life photo session with The Suitcase Studio

But the photos are only HALF the story.

You'll be receiving a few questionnaires ahead of time. One to help us plan the day, and the rest to help tell your stories. Don't worry if you don't know what to say... I'll guide you through the process, with questions specifically designed to get right to the good stuff. And don't worry if your kiddos are too young to type... we'll do video interviews or they can draw pictures instead.

Full-day sessions also include follow-up interviews via phone or Skype, so we can go back in detail and recall a few other things which might have been missed, or share a few highlights from our day together. 

day in the life - reading books before naptime. lifestyle and documentary photography by The Suitcase Studio


My pictures + your words = pure AWESOMESAUCE.

This is where the magic truly happens. Pulling quotes from the questionnaires and interviews, your stories will come to life on the pages of a one-of-a-kind family photo album. 

It's like your favorite lifestyle magazine, but even BETTER. Because it's all YOU.


What a Storyteller Experience REALLY looks like...


Curious to see what REALLY happens in a Storyteller Experience?

Here are highlights from a few past experiences, to help provide a little inspiration:

A Day In The Life

A typical Saturday for this blended family. Cooking breakfast, running errands, hanging out together, and all the beautiful moments that happen in-between.    

a day in the life photo session where we explore the city of Portland with The Suitcase Studio

Exploring the City

A trip to Portland to celebrate their ten-year anniversary included shopping the Farmer's Market, picnicking at Cathedral Park, coffee at Ace Hotel, and exploring the city.


family reunion at the cabin

The family had finished building their cabins just in time for a Thanksgiving feast! The day was filled with off-roading, archery and rifle contests, and singing around the campfire. 

It's a CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE kind of thing... 

So how about trying one (or more) of THESE ideas on for size:

  • colored powder, paint or silly string war
  • picnic, beach day, hiking or horseback
  • visit the locations of YOUR childhood memories
  • water balloon fight + playing in the sprinklers
  • arts + crafts, board games or playing pretend
  • vow renewal
  • a normal day at home
  • outdoor movie night in the backyard
  • recreate a favorite date or family outing
  • slumber party with blanket forts + pillow fights
  • a day at the fair or favorite amusement park
  • explore a favorite city

...or anything else you can come up with! 

documentary photographer the suitcase studio during a storyteller photo shoot
Thank you, not just for the lovely photos... but for the therapy session this event was for us. We reconnected, remembered why we fell in love and also looked into the future of what’s to come. Thank you... the experience alone will make each photograph more memorable.
— Georgina + Jack

Fall in love with your family... over and over again

So, why an experience like this with ME

Because I'm more than just a photographer. 

With my degree in psychology and years spent working in children's group homes + art camps, I've learned to instantly connect with a range of personalities and work with all sorts of moods. I work hard so that you don't have to... creating the most stress-free and FUN experience from start to finish, including session planning, how to get the entire family excited, and even tips on what to DO with your photos AFTER you have them. 

Hey there...
I'm Michelle Simmons. 

The camera has been an extension of my hand for most of my life, and I've been running The Suitcase Studio for nearly 10 years now... providing FUN + stress-free photo sessions for the adventurous, authentic + AWESOME. 

Michelle Simmons of The Suitcase Studio, lifestyle + documentary photographer for families and more.&nbsp;

And I still use my psychology training and insight on each + every photo shoot as I calm the nerves of parents, maneuver kids out of meltdown mode, and help everyone connect in the most genuine of ways.

I see you the way your loved ones see you; quirks and all. And we celebrate that uniqueness, together. HOW? By creating a FUN photo experience for all involved (cross my heart). Yes, we'll be taking pictures. But by the end of it, I swear you'll forget I have the camera in my hand. So let's PLAY!

The Suitcase Studio - blending lifestyle and documentary photography to provide unique family portrait experiences
One of the things I like best about her photography is the FEEL. She captured moments in my life, not just poses for a shoot. I treasure each image as a photographic time capsule. The emotions are genuine, the overall feel of each image is simply a glimpse into a moment in time. The absolute best photographer from shoot to finish.
— Lauren

What's it gonna cost?

Half-day and full-day Storyteller Experiences are available. Here are details of each... 


  • 10 hours together
  • 400+ high-resolution digital images
  • detailed questionnaires and follow-up interviews
  • 4 custom magazines (so each kid has a keepsake)
  • video slideshow of the day
  • mobile app for instant access to video + photos
  • complimentary "try before you buy" wall art design
  • 25% off additional product purchases
  • vendor recommendations for DIY prints/products

normally $2999*, but currently offering



  • 4 hours together
  • 100+ high-resolution digital images
  • detailed questionnaires to capture your stories
  • 1 custom keepsake magazine
  • video slideshow of the day
  • mobile app for instant access to video + photos
  • complimentary "try before you buy" wall art design
  • 15% off additional product purchases
  • vendor recommendations for DIY prints/products

normally $1999*, but currently offering


* plus travel fees, as applicable. 

storyteller experiences include digital images - the suitcase studio

Experiences include digital images!

Yup, that's right! We live in a DIGITAL world, so Storyteller Experiences include digital images!

Images are delivered as downloadable files, presented to you in a custom online gallery which will remain securely backed up for TEN YEARS. You can download your images from this gallery at any time and as many times as you’d like. Photos can also easily be shared to your favorite social media sites.

A mobile app is also included with each experience, so that you can carry a reminder with you everywhere you go, reliving all your favorite moments ANY TIME you need a little pick-me-up! 

Fine Art products available

From Fine Art Albums to Canvas Wall Art (and MORE), I've got the perfect fit to show off your fabulous new photos in STYLE!

Storyteller Experiences also include COMPLIMENTARY Wall Art Design so that you can virtually try before you buy, right on your very own walls!

Check out the video to take a closer look at what I have to offer...




Expect a reply within 24 hours. You may also contact me directly via the following:

email: michelle@theSuitcaseStudio.com

phone: (541) 633-7598 (no text messages, please)