When it comes to choosing a location for your family’s photography session, my first rule is the comfort. What is comfortable for one family may not be comfortable for the other. Since I do all my sessions on location or at a client’s home, we’ll have to decide on where we’ll shoot together. Some of the most popular spots I use for sessions are parks, gardens, historic locations, downtown areas, cities, or even your own backyard.
One thing I never want is for a group to feel uncomfortable or self-conscious being photographed by a professional due to passers-by. Since the majority of my sessions are during the weekdays, crowded locations aren’t usually a concern. If we are planning a weekend session, consider if the location and timing need to be revised. Imagine the first nice weekend in spring at a local park. It’s usually packed and will likely mean lots of photo bombers in our shots!
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Is there a location that’s significant or special to your family? A place you enjoy hanging out at (like: the library, your favorite ice cream shop, or the playground)? What about an activity you do together as a family (like: making cookies in the kitchen, exploring a local trail, or taking out the family boat)?
Keep in mind, some locations, like well-manicured private gardens, often require a photo permit. It is the client’s responsibility to check so they can obtain and pay for any required permits. Make sure to check their website before we make solid plans in choosing a location for your session.
Here are a few of my favorite spots:
What time should we schedule our session?
Family sessions can be tricky when it comes to timing our shoot. Typically, I prefer to start sessions 90 minutes before sunset. This gives us plenty of time to utilize the softest and most flattering light of the day.
The one exception to this rule is if you have children whose mood is generally predictable depending on the time of day. Little ones around 1 – 3 years old might not be at their best just before a meal or nap time. I have noticed a trend and many parents tell me that early-ish in the morning, around 9am or 10am, is typically a meltdown free time zone. If this is the case we throw rule numero uno out the window and let the kids dictate the time. You know your child best so you let me know when your kids will probably be at their happiest. I’d much rather have a happy child than perfect light.
If this is the case we’ll just want to make sure we choose a spot with ample trees and shade to work in when choosing a location for your family session.