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How to Choose a Location for your Session

Photography Tips - Location

March 21, 2023


As a lifestyle family & Senior photographer, one of the most common questions I get asked is “Where should we meet for our session?” If I only did traditional studio portraits, my answer would always be the same – at my studio, of course. That would be super easy. It would also be super boring, too! LOL However, since 99% of my sessions are shot on location, that means that the options are literally endless! There are a few things to consider, though, that will help you narrow it down and decide the best location for your session! In fact, there are 3 main questions to ask yourself when choosing a location for your session.

1. What LOOK or VIBE do you want?

  • Earthy/Natural Look

Do you want an earthy, natural look? Do you love wide open spaces and sunsets? In that case, you could choose a farm or a park as your location. I don’t mean a farm with pigs and cows, necessarily, unless that’s up your alley! 🙂 It could be 5 wide open acres that you ask permission to shoot at…or a friend’s home that has a long, gravel driveway or even your big, open back yard. Parks often have wide open spaces that are perfect for a natural look, too.

Do you love the rich, warm colors of Fall or the bright colors of Spring and Summer? That’s something to consider for the look you want, as well.

  • Modern/Urban Look

Maybe a modern, urban look suits your style more! If you love the look of city streets, buildings and textured backdrops (such as brick), or even the look of storefronts (like a local coffee shop), then meeting downtown in your local city/town would be a great location for your session! Urban settings provide a lot of different backdrops and backgrounds in a close proximity.

  • At Home

Home is where the heart is – or at least for most of us. 🙂 Home is also where we tend to feel most comfortable, at ease, and ourselves. Choosing to have a photo session at your home is a wonderful way to celebrate your family, newborn or Senior in a way that is truly natural and genuine. There are a couple of ways to use your home for a photo session.

The first way is to use the outside of your home. You could treat your home as you would a building at a park or downtown. You could use the front porch or the front yard with your home in the background. This is a great way to tell your story. 🙂 You could move around to different spots in your yard such as next to a beautiful tree, a patio with seating, an outdoor fireplace, etc. You can even sit on a blanket in your yard. If you have small children, they could even play on their playset for some shots. Those are the sweetest! 🙂 Using the outside of your home is a great option.

You can also use the inside of your home. This is a great option when you want to capture your family in a very cozy, intimate setting. This is perfect for snuggling on the bed or the couch; playing on the floor with your children; a Senior in his/her room (putting on makeup, playing guitar, painting, etc.); a toddler playing with a trainset in the living room, and more. In-home sessions are wonderful ways to capture life as it is. It showcases the beauty of the everyday. 🙂

2. How much PRIVACY do you want?

This may sound a little silly at first, but it is very important and can make or break your session experience. It’s totally normal to feel a little uncomfortable in front of the camera. However, if you are naturally a shy person or have insecurities that affect the way you feel, then you may want to choose a more private, secluded location for your pictures.

For instance, meeting at your uncle’s farm is going to be completely private with no people passing by and looking at you (even if they don’t even mean to). Meeting at a quiet park will also be less intimidating for you if you like privacy.

On the other hand, meeting downtown on the square in the evening will lead to lots of people walking and driving by – and lots of people watching you as you strike a pose! 🙂 Maybe you love that idea – or it doesn’t bother you at all. Whether you love it or not, it’s just something to think about. 🙂

Along with privacy comes the consideration of SAFETY, especially for children and pets. It’s important to think about the safety of the location you choose. For instance, you may love the idea of a downtown session with busy streets and old buildings as your backdrop. However, if you have three kids under the age of 5, that may not be the safest option! Plus, you will likely be stressed out trying to watch them super closely the whole time!


This is a very busy tunnel on a walking trail at a local park. I love using this tunnel for pictures, but on a busy day, it can take a while to get a free moment when runners or bikers are not passing through. It’s still worth it, but takes longer and is something to consider.

3. How CONVENIENT is the location for your needs?

No matter how wonderful a location may be, it’s important that you are aware of your and your family’s needs before you select that location. Here are some things to consider:

  • How far will you be walking to different areas? If you have small children, will this affect them? If you have elderly parents with you, are they able to walk that far? If someone has a physical limitation, is this location doable for them?
  • Are restrooms on the property a must? If you have small children (or if you’re a woman in your 40’s like me – LOL!), having an available restroom may be important! 🙂
  • Parking – is it readily available? Do you have to pay for parking? This may come into play in a busy downtown area or a park with limited parking on a busy day.
  • If you’re bringing a pet to your session, make sure the location is appropriate and safe for your pet. For instance, I photograph at a family member’s farm often, and they have a lot of animals. There have been times when I wanted to shoot there, but my client wanted to bring their dog, so we either decided on a different place (to avoid stress for the dog) or made sure that their dog was good with animals before deciding on that location.
Going on an adventure to a creek is so fun, but it may not be for everyone! Consider all the factors before deciding on an adventure! 🙂
Sometimes, making sure there are places to sit is also something to consider, depending on the needs of you or your family.

In the end, you want your session to be as stress-free as possible. These factors can all affect the experience!! When you are relaxed, you are able to focus on loving your family, feel confident in your own skin, and creating memories that you will truly cherish for a lifetime! 🙂

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