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If you’ve booked an outdoor family photo session, or are considering one, you may be wondering where to go for your shoot. You want great backgrounds, of course, but also somewhere to keep the kids entertained for long enough to avoid any temper tantrums. Maybe somewhere you can take the four-legged members of your family. With so may locations to choose from it can be difficult to decide, so below are a few points you might want to consider when’d deciding on the perfect place for you.
Do you want to stay local, or even at home?
You don’t have to travel far to find some great photo spots. Often, the best places are right underneath our noses but we just don’t see them. Somewhere simple, like a local park, could be great if you have small children. You avoid a long car journey with lots of “Are we there yet?”s and you’ll be somewhere familiar so small children may feel more at home and comfortable.
You don’t even have to leave your home if you don’t want to. I’ve photographed plenty of families at home, in their gardens and indoors. This is a good idea if you have very young children and/or babies who need a stricter feeding and changing schedule. It’s also a great option if you’re looking for a shoot that’s very personal. Maybe you’ve spent a few years renovating your house and want to show off the results? Maybe it’s a home that’s been in your family for a few generations and means an awful lot to you.
Do you have small children?
Let’s face it, an hour of trudging round a field, however pretty it is, doesn’t always keep the kids occupied and happy. If you think your little ones will fair better in a more interactive environment, it may be worth considering going somewhere with specific activities that they can enjoy.
Local parks with play areas are a good choice as they offer a good balance between some natural moments of the children playing together and some more “rural” images taken in the surrounding parkland. Plus, if we start the shoot in the grounds and the children are getting bored, the play area is a fantastic source of bribery as a reward for “just five more minutes”!
Alternative options could include petting zoos, or local nature walks with interactive elements that the children can get involved with (treasure trails, mazes etc). If you want to go for something really fun and different, there is even the option of going to a fairground or to an event or activity you can do together – just be sure to check any organised activities will allow photography.
Are you worried about strangers looking at you?
OK, I can’t help with this one – it’s frowned upon to kick people out of public parks I reckon – but firstly, let me assure you that nobody will really take much interest in your shoot. They’re much too busy with their own lives and where they’re going to give you more than a passing glance.
But, if you really want to go somewhere that avoids large crowds, avoid the obvious tourist attractions such as National Trust sites, popular parks and beauty spots. Popular beaches can also be very crowded in good weather. Instead, look for places off the beaten track. I’ve found some gorgeous spots over the years just by asking locals and exploring whilst walking my dog. Unfortunately, these are difficult to find on Google, as everyone else will be able to find them too, so you’ll need to do some exploring in your local area.
Time of day makes a big difference on how many people you’ll meet during your shoot too – a Saturday lunchtime shoot will be far busier than a weekday morning. So if you want to keep things quiet but still go to a popular location, consider a weekday mid-morning shoot when most people are at work or those who aren’t have already completed their morning dog walk.
What do you like to do together? What is your lifestyle?
As a family, think about what some of your favourite past times are. Maybe you can incorporate these into your shoot. If you like walking, or you have a dog, then some woodlands or open fields where the dog can run and play would be great. If you more of a “curl up in front of a good movie” kind of family, then perhaps a home-based shoot of you all cuddle together on the sofa would be more fitting.
Is there somewhere that holds special memories for you?
Where did you meet? If you’re married or engaged, where did that happen? Is there somewhere you visit regularly as a family – a holiday location maybe? All of these could be location options for you. I’ve done family shoots at the parents’ wedding venue (check in advance if this is OK), at grandparents’ homes, even on the coast at people’s holiday homes. Photographs are all about memories and experiences and keeping it personal may mean the resulting images hold more sentimental value.
If you really can’t think of anywhere, here’s a few ideas from me…
If all of the above points still leave you racking your brain for somewhere you feel is worthy of your shoot, then take a look below at 20 of my favourite places that I have done shoots at in the past. Some of these places charge an entry fee but many are free public spaces. Please note that the locations listed below are mainly based in or around Worcestershire as that’s where I live and am most familiar with. You’ll be able to find more information on all of these places by searching their names online:
Arley Arboretum, Bewdley
Avoncroft Museum, Bewdley
Baggeridge Country Park
Botanical Gardens, Birmingham
Broadway Tower, Cotswolds
Clent Hills, Stourbridge
Croome Court, Worcester
Habberley Valley, Bewdley
Hanbury Hall, Droitwich
Kingsford Forest Park, Wolverley
Kinver Edge, Kinver
Lickey Hills Country Park, Birmingham
Saltwells Nature Reserve, Quarry Bank
Severn Valley Country Park, Alveley
Severn Valley Railway
Springfield Park, Kidderminster
Malvern Hills, Great Malvern
Warwick Castle, Warwick
Witley Court, Droitwich
For more information on booking me for your family shoot, please click here to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!