Choosing Where to Take Family Pictures

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Today, I’m  happy to introduce to you Courtney from Click it Up a Notch talking about choosing a location for your Family Portraits.

When I’m not chasing around my 3 little girls with my camera, I have my nose in a book to learn more about photography. Before the kiddos I was an elementary school teacher, so I combined my love of teaching and photography to create Click it Up a Notch. I really want to help you learn to improve your photos one click at a time.

There are many different places you can take your family photos:  beach, urban, field, or even in your home.  Choosing a location can be left to your photographer but these are YOUR pictures.  You should think about the location when you are selecting your photographer.

Things to keep in mind when considering your location:

– Where will you be displaying your images?  Think of the colors of your home.  Will  beach images look odd among your home decor?

– What are you going to wear?  Kristen talked about some great tips yesterday on how to dress your family for your shoot.  You don’t want to be wearing high heels and pearls on the beach so consider what you are wearing.

– Where do you feel comfortable?  You want your images to show your family and the joy you have together.  Think of a location that helps you feel comfortable, relaxed and where you can be yourselves.

Your Home:

I’m personally obsessed with getting my family photos taken in our house.  I have been fortunate enough to take a friend’s photos in her bedroom and I thought it was such a personal touch to the image.  You not only capture your family but you are able to capture the place where you spend the most time.

By choosing to have your photos taken at home you are able to get a more “lifestyle” type feel to your images.  It is as though, you are living your everyday and they are just be captured on film.

If you decide to have the photos taken in your house, do a little homework.

Light: Walk around your house.  What room do you want to have your photographs in?  Bedroom? Living room?  Check and see when the light is best in that particular room, and consider the amount of light during the time of day you’ll have the photos taken.  A room that faces east, while it may have a big window, may not have great light later in the day. This is important information for you to share with your photographer.  They want to be able to utilize the best light in your house.

Clutter: I know you will clean your house before the photographer shows up but take a look around the room and take out the distracting elements.  These may include kleenex boxes, excess toys, and other knick-knacks that will detract from telling the story of your house.   The more simple the surroundings, the more focus will be on you and your family instead of that old lamp coming out of the top of your head.


Do you live near the beach and want to capture the location you spend your weekends at?  Maybe you are on vacation and want to remember the beautiful scenery.

The beach can be a great place to take family photos.  When looking for a great beach try to find one that isn’t just the sand and water.

More than sand: See if there is a board walk or tall grass near by.  Having these other areas to take pictures give can you some variety which would be great for an album or wall collage.

Think about your family:  Do your kids need a place to burn off some energy in the middle of the photo shoot?  The beach may be a perfect place for that.  They can run around and play with beautiful scenery so your photographer is still able to capture some amazing images.



Urban photos are really popular right now and can be a lot of fun.  The texture and colors that an urban setting can offer are fantastic.  Again, think about your home and your style.  Is an outdoor urban setting for you?

When choosing a location walk around and see if you can find different places that offer a lot of variety for shooting.

Map it: Map out where you want to go and share that with your photographer.

Time: Take into consideration the time it takes to walk or drive to the different locations.  If you want a lot of props and urban location may be a bit more of a challenge to carry all those items with you.

Crowds: Keep in mind as well how busy the area is.  You do not want a ton of people in the background of your family photo.  Please don’t rely on your photographer to edit them out.


Tall grass with golden light is very beautiful as well!  A field full of weeds can be surprisingly dramatic in a photograph.

Fields create their own set of issues as well as any other location.

Creepy crawlers: You may want to bring bug spray if you are doing a field photo shoot.  Mosquitos, ants, and spiders love tall un-mowed grass and may decide to join you.  Snakes like it too so keep that in mind.

Property: Just because the field looks abandoned to you it is probably owned by someone.  Do a little research to figure out who owns it and get permission before you hop onto someone’s land.


You would be surprised at all the different locations a good photographer can make look amazing.  I’ve seen spectacular pictures taken in a parking lot and I would have never guessed unless someone filled me in.

Laura talked a lot on Monday about selecting the right photographer.  Keep the location you are looking for in mind when selecting your photographer.  If someone is a beach photographer and advertises themselves as such they may not be the best fit for an Urban photo shoot.  Be sure to ask them for their advice for locations as well.  Communicating your plan and working with your photographer can help you both get the best photos of your family!

Thank you, Courtney! All such wonderful information when deciding on what location you’d like to have your portrait session.  You can find Courtney on her blog, Click it Up a Notch, Facebook, or Twitter. I simply LOVE the name of her site–so clever.  She gives lots of photo tips, and she shared an expression in an entry the other day that I am going to apply to all facets of my life when offering “constructive criticism.” She says to use a “critique sandwich” when helping another person learn.  Sandwich a critique/constructive comment with 2  positives before and after, and it will be recieved much better. Brilliant little nugget. P.S. I am currently in LOVE with “in home” family portraits.

 Come back tomorrow to figure out how to get ideas on keeping calm at your session if your children are being less than cooperative (I’m sure that would never happen to you).

Remember to enter the giveaway this week to win Say NO to Auto or Get Focused photography books by clicking on the image below (or here).


If you’d to join the Capturing Joy Photo Club on Facebook, where we have photo challenges, Q&A’s, and image sharing, request to join HERE:

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