People are always asking where I took a certain photograph and are continually surprised by the answer, because it is often someplace really simple—a wall with interesting texture at the back of their property, a little corner by a small window in their bedroom, a pretty tree in the back of a park. When considering the best location for a portrait, there are a few things that are always at the top of my list. You want a place that means something to you and where you and your family will feel comfortable. You want a place with beautiful, simple textures that will enhance your images, rather than be distracting. And of course, perhaps most importantly—since photography is all about light, you want a location with beautiful light.
For me, photography is about storytelling, and I want to help you find a location that will help us tell your story.
A meaningful location…
You can choose a specific location that means something to you. Someplace where you have an emotional connection—a quiet spot in your home, a tree your daughter has been climbing for years, a bridge where your son likes to throw rocks in the river, a spot where you always go fishing when you are on vacation. This can be a way to capture a feeling or freeze little moments in the life of your family.
Sometimes the place is not so specific. Maybe you just love the mountains, or the feeling of your feet in the water and the rocks under your toes. Maybe your daughter just loves to swing (all day!), or you love taking your kids out for ice cream because that’s what you always do on a hot summer day. We want to get to know you, and as we do, we can help you find a specific spot where you will be comfortable and can fully relax.
As I said before, photography is all about light. You can have a location with the most dramatic view, but if you have to squint into the sun and your eyes begin to water every time you look at each other, it’s going to be hard to enjoy your session.
When photographing families, I’m usually looking for soft light. Open shade or reflected window light is a nice way to go. I’m not looking for flat, deep shadows, but rather shade that has nice, soft directional light, that gives the eyes some sparkle and creates enough shadow on the face to create depth, without being too harsh.
Of course, dramatic light is fun too, as are lots of locations without much shade. If that’s the case, we can consider scheduling your session in the morning or early evening when the sun isn’t as strong, and is much more directional.
Finding a location with lots of variety…
Because kids are naturally playful, I love locations with lots of variety. That way, we can naturally move from one activity to the other (running across a bridge, jumping off a stump or holding your hand as they walk along a log), so that rather than forcing kids to sit still (and getting posed, uncomfortable looking photos in the process), we can capture, fun, playful images of kids being kids. A wooded spot by the river works well for this, as would a barn in a field with a tractor nearby, or your home—where we can move from the porch to a spot at the foot of a flight of steps in the living room or a long hallway with a big window at the end.
How will you want to display your images?
I love to talk with people before their sessions about what they want to do with their images once they are ready. Maybe you have a spot in your living room where you want to hang one big framed image of the whole family, or maybe you are looking for a series of small moments that can be printed as individual canvases and hung in a hallway or the dining room. Whatever your plan is, it’s always nice to consider where the images will ultimately hang so that we can think about the colors and tones of that spot in relation to where we choose to do your portrait session and what the feel of those images will be. Even if you don’t have a specific spot in the house in mind, just knowing the style of your home and your color preferences can help us decide the right location for you– the woods, an old barn, a field of flowers, or a cozy session with your kids on the sofa or hanging out in bed.
We’ll help you figure this out!
Don’t worry, you are not on your own with this—we’re here to help! As always, before we photograph your session, we want to get to know you—who you are, what you like, what your family’s personality is like—and once we do, if you don’t have somewhere specific in mind, we can help you find a location where you will feel comfortable, a place that can bring out some of those things you like best about your family.