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Not so long ago, if you wanted family photographs you’d call a photographer, ask to see their printed portfolio and then schlep out to their studio for a session almost entirely designed by them. Thank god the world is a different place now. Family photography has been totally up-ended, so now your photoshoot can focus on you.

But when the world is such an awesome playground, how do you choose just one location? You don’t need to be overwhelmed by the options open to you.

My handy guide to choosing a family photoshoot location that works for you is here to save the day!

Take a look at these images. Which draws you in more?

Do you love those dreamy photos of perfect children posing-but-looking-natural in a field, with the background blurred “just so”? These photos are really beautiful, it’s undeniable. They tend to happen during golden hour, around dusk. Fields and woodland are popular.

image from a family photoshoot of a mother and her toddler hugging and touching noses in autumnal woodland
black and white photo of a man cradling his baby girl at home during a documentary style family photoshoot

Or you might prefer an alternative style. The current minimalist, artsy trend for documentary style photographs works amazingly well for kids. Unlike the other photo, family photography in this style doesn’t involve posing, and the background is more of a focus.

Whichever of these photos you prefer, you still have the agony of choice over where to have your shoot. It’s not as straightforward as outdoor photoshoot = dreamy, posed moments and at home = more candid.

photograph of a small boy holding his mother's hand during a family photoshoot at crich tramway museum

These are the other things you need to bear in mind when picking a location for your family photoshoot.

How old your kids are

If your kid(s) are really small, then taking them to a cliff edge in the Peak District isn’t going to be the most relaxing time you’ve ever spent together.

Equally, if your kids are old enough to understand the risks of such a location, and they’d get all “ugh Muuuum” at being made to stand around a tree for 10 minutes, you might want to consider somewhere more exciting.

Older children like to interact with their environment in a more adventurous way. They climb trees and rocks, have races and go mad.

Little kids are generally happy anywhere, but you’ll require a stiff drink if you take them somewhere riskier.

photograph of a boy on his bed as his mother tickles him during a family photoshoot

Do you want to be directed, or would you rather play?

I hate having my photograph taken. I hate standing around and feeling like I have to smile. Every adult I’ve ever photographed has said it, and I feel it too!

Having someone direct you can really help if you’re not sure where to put yourselves, how to stand etc. But playing is amazing too. You can have both, but whichever one you choose requires a level of trust between you and the photographer.

If you opt to pose then be patient with your children. If you opt for a documentary flow then make sure you and the photographer properly plan the session, otherwise there’ll be nothing to take photos of.

What you all like to do

Do you like to discover new places and explore your surroundings?

Do you like to take the dog out for a big adventure every weekend?

Would you rather stay at home?

There’s just no point choosing a location that you can’t stand. So pick one you love! It can be your home, and it can be somewhere beautiful. If you ask nicely, it can even be both.

wide candid shot of a family in front of a snowy hilly landscape during a family photoshoot in the peak district
black and white photography of a child hugging her mother as her father holds a baby and smiles in the background - family photoshoot derbyshire

Does the location need to be significant?

Sometimes a family just wants to hang out at home. Sometimes they want an experience, something more adventurous where the kids can run around and explore. Some families want to do something, and have it be documented.

All these things are a good way to get natural, documentary style family photographs, which incorporates the setting.

Alternatively, if you’re after a more posed look then the location is not so significant. A local woodland or field with wildflowers is as good a choice as any.

photograph of a young boy with curly hair popping bubbles outdoors during a family photoshoot in nottingham
photograph of a mother throwing and catching her toddler in the air during a family photoshoot in derbyshire
image from a family photoshoot in which a father and son stand in front of a lake

If your kids are high energy explorers, you might want to consider having your family photography session outdoors. There are so many inspiring locations on your doorstep! A good photographer will take their ages and interests into account, and discuss all of this with you.

Alternatively, if your kids are young and prone to falling off cliffs, you can totally hang out at home and still capture some pretty awesome memories.

image from a family photoshoot as a boy plays with a foam water pistol at a local splashpad

The third option is always worth exploring – do both! Each family is different, I approach all of them with a totally open mind.

I love going on adventures, but I also love hanging out at home with a cup of tea and a few books, and savouring all those delicious cuddles with my kids before they grow up and stop thinking I’m cool.

If that’s you, then just say so. Choose home and adventure!

If you’re thinking about having a family photoshoot but would like to learn a bit more about it, take a look at my family FAQs page. I’m happy to go pretty much anywhere for family sessions, and design them around each family’s needs.

 

Interested in booking a family photoshoot? You can email me at hello@carolinegoosey.com to chat about everything you want.