What makes a great location for family photos

I. Why shoot outdoors for your family photo session?

It’s time to schedule your Family Session and you are unsure about the location. Location plays a huge part in the quality of the images. If you don’t know me already; I am Alba, an outdoor Family Photographer serving London, Kent and Essex. I truly believe it’s worth travelling to get to shoot at amazing, unforgettable locations. I scout each place online and offline before offering it to my clients on my Location Guide. In this blog post, I will tell you the reasons why I choose or avoid a location.

II. What makes a great location for family photos; choosing the right backdrop and light for family photography

A. Choose a Great Backdrop

The background or backdrop is super important and it will be shown on a lot of the images. It will need to be a spot with wide-open space so the photographer can step back enough from the subjects. Locations could be in the city, at a beach, in a flower field, near a lake or in the mountains (although we don’t have many mountains in the UK!). You should pick a location that is picturesque but convenient for you in terms of travel but also that you would love to interact with as you explore and play games within this location. For example, if you like spending your free time on the beach with your children, a coastal location would be great but if you don’t, you might want to consider something else. It needs to be somewhere you feel connected and comfortable.

Make sure to choose a location that won’t be too busy with people as it will be time-consuming for the photographer to remove every single person in post-production. Visual interests such as rocks to climb and dunes to run on are great and add variety to the images.

Public parks are often to avoid as manicured grass never brings that wild feeling I’m after for your portrait session. Instead tall grass is better as it creates a beautiful fuzzy frame around the subject and we can play hide and seek! My favourite locations to shoot are marshlands and coastal scenes with sand dunes, cliffs and seagrass, they always compliment my editing beautifully.

In my location guide, I like to include what time of the year it’s best to visit, but also what time of the day, what shoes you should wear and many more things that help you make an informed decision before selecting where your shoot will take place. If you know a special place that is not listed in my guide, I would love to discover it and if I think it’s suitable to shoot your session there too, I am always open to discuss your ideas.

B. Choosing the right light

Natural light plays a huge part in the quality of the photographs. I like to shoot only at golden hour, at sunset or sunrise. Some locations will be east-facing and would only work in the morning and some west-facing only in the evening. The Photographer should be aware of the light and how to position the subject depending on the time of the day it is. My locations have all been pre-tested and you will be able to see an example of a previous session done there so you can make an informed decision. If it’s an overcast day, then we will have to start the session 30-60 minutes earlier if it’s sunset or later if it’s sunrise. When overcast, make sure to wear one or two bright colours so it creates more contrast in the photos.

C. Avoid busy places

As mentioned above, it’s important to select a location that will be quiet so your images aren’t photobombed by passersby. For example, when I photographed this image in front of Big Ben we shot at 7 am in January when we knew that it would be quiet and that the sun would be in the right position. 

D. Check if you need a photo permit

Your photographer will need to make sure that they are allowed to shoot at the location. Most places open to the public are fine with Family Sessions but it’s worth checking as some are more strict and require a permit. For example, the photography permit at St Dunstan in The East Church in central London requires a permit, which was priced at £400 last time I checked. It’s a big expense and unless you are emotionally connected to this location, it is probably best to avoid and pick somewhere else. A private property like a flower field is worth investing in as the permits are usually low, around £50 and you will have a unique location to have your images. I go through each location price on my Location Guide so it’s clear and visible for my clients.

E. Schedule your session at golden hour

To my opinion, there is no bad time to have your Family Photos done. Most of my clients book their sessions between March and October but the winter months are also very special and offer a unique light that you don’t have the rest of the year. Plus you won’t have to get up at a crazy hour to enjoy the sunrise, or oppositely, go to bed super late to see the sunset. In Winter, we wrap up more, wear beautiful fur and move more to keep warm. 

III. Picking a photographer who knows the best outdoor locations for family portraits

It’s important to select a family photographer who has experience shooting outdoors and in locations that they have tested before as it takes time and knowledge to position families into the best poses within a location. I take all my locations on a test trial before offering it on my Location Guide. If you want more information, I invite you the visit my booking page on the link below.

IV. Conclusion: The benefit of shooting outdoors and finding the perfect place that suits your family’s need

I hope this article helped you understand what makes a great location for your Outdoor Family Photo. Outdoor locations, especially in natural environments much better than photo studios as it’s a spaces to let the kids roam free and explore, they enable candid moments that feel natural and unposed. Shooting outdoors also brings uniqueness to your images, your photos won’t look like anyone else. 

If you are curious about my locations and want emotional candid photography, send me a booking request! I would love to create special moments for your family.

If you want to see more of my work, I invite you to visit my portfolio on the button below.


Related Post:
Stop waiting for the perfect moment for family photos


If you’re after a candid, relaxed and intimate photography experience, you’ve come to the right place. 
My work focus on emotions, no stiff poses and forced smile; only gentle love and embraces. I offer a very hands-on experience, connecting over a video consultation with each family beforehand ; we explore their stories of love, loss and wins and turn it into a beautiful, meaningful session. Each family and session are unique and crafted with patience, love and understanding. 

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