I’ve done some location scouting in my area. It starts with an internet search, creating a list, driving around to attempt to check out parks during golden hour, even doing some self portraits at these locations to test them out. I’m always looking for places with beautiful backgrounds, not too crowded and yet not too difficult to access. And yet, the truth is that my favorite location is the one that my client suggests.
Family photos are about the connection and the love . . .
For me, family photos aren’t about what’s in the background. They are about the people, about the connection and the love shared, a mother's gentle touch, the way a husband looks at his wife. Beautiful backgrounds are nice, but the focus of the photos I take is the moment, the moment between two or more people or a moment in a person's life, a glimpse of who they are right now.
The background should add to the story of your family, not distract from it. Your home is part of your family’s story; an in home lifestyle session is a wonderful way to capture your family life as it is now.
My favorite sessions are in locations that have meaning to the family I am photographing. Sometimes it’s in the client’s home. This is especially convenient for newborn photos. I can document the nursery where the baby spends his first days, the rocking chair that the new parents find themselves constantly rocking her to sleep in, as well as more easily any furry family members.
But you don’t have to have a newborn to have an in home family session. Your home is where you spend a lot of your time, with the people you love. Your children’s rooms are where they are growing, playing and sleeping. Your master bed may be where you cuddle with the kids, maybe it’s where they bring you breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, or where you just enjoying relaxing on a lazy Sunday. Your backyard may be where the kids play, where you hang out on Saturday afternoons, and share meals on a summer evening. Your home is where you live your life and it makes the perfect setting for your family photos.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be your home . . .
A grandparent’s home can also make a wonderful setting for family photos. We did little Jocelynn's cake smash photos at her grandparents’ beautiful home. Her birthday party was going to be there the next day, so it was the perfect location to play with balloons, smash some cake and document a post cake smash bath. (A little bonus to an in home cake smash session is that we can document things like baths, everyday rituals that you will want to remember for years to come.)
Beautiful outdoor locations that have special meaning to your family make for more fun photos than just any beautiful outdoor location.
One of my favorite family sessions last fall was at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The family chose this location prior to booking me for their fall family photo session, because it had special meaning to them as a Navy family. We were fortunate to have chosen a date and time when there was a home football game going on, so the grounds weren’t too crowded since most people were at the stadium. The Academy provided beautiful backgrounds, and moments of awe for two little girls, moments I was thrilled to be there to document. In full disclosure, my husband and I had our engagement photos taken at the academy, as well as maternity photos when I was pregnant with our second, so I was excited when one of my families suggested it as a location and I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the camera.
Think about places where you’ve previously documented momentous locations in your life.
When I did my cousin, Amanda’s, maternity photos, I suggested that we contact Weatherly Farm, where they had their wedding reception the year before. We were fortunate, and they were very willing to let us use the grounds for photos. Not only did this location provide picturesque backgrounds, it had special meaning to Amanda and Kevin, and was now a place where two major life changes were documented for them.
I will help you find the perfect location. And if you don’t have a special location, we will find something simple and beautiful that will put the focus on your family.
Of course, I will always work with families to help them find the location that speaks to them and their family. I will research and suggest places that are convenient for them and will provide beautiful backgrounds for their photos. But if you have settings that mean something to you and your family, I absolutely welcome ideas that will make your family photos even more meaningful for you.