As a Washington DC family photographer, I know a thing or two about finding perfect settings for portrait sessions and photo shoots. These are the spaces and places that really make photography come alive, while at the same time never overpowering the true subject of each shot.
Over the years I’ve come to find that my favorite place to photograph a family is in their home. I love incorporating the home into images because it adds another level of meaning and nostalgia to each image. Parks, yards, and locations that hold special significance to the family also provide excellent backdrops. I sat down to answer some of your questions about what it takes to choose the perfect photo shoot location:
What are the top 2-3 things parents should consider when determining the location of their family portrait session?
- Is it a spot where the children will be comfortable and at ease? It’s easier to take carefree photos of kids when the adults don’t have to be on-guard and constantly concerned about safety.
- Is there a place to stash their belongings so that no one has to lug around bags and purses? Unless the bag is meant to be an accessory to mom’s outfit, it probably is not going to look good in the photograph. It’s best to leave it behind if possible.
- Is it a quick walk or drive from home and easy to park nearby? If a small child has to walk a long distance to get to the most picturesque spot in the world, the whole endeavor could backfire because the child often arrives worn out and grumpy by the time he or she gets there.
These are all practical concerns, but for advice on what will look great in the pictures, consult with the expert! Often what parents imagine to be a perfect location may be impractical or may not photograph well.
As a Washington DC family photographer, what are some of your favorite photo shoot locations in the area?
Rock Creek Park! It’s a giant park with endless nooks and crannies, foot bridges, and open fields. For a more urban setting, Washington DC is filled with lots of great alleyways, which are often laid with brick and have cute little carriage houses and garages. All of these elements have a lot of different textures that photograph beautifully. Graffiti and weeds, which under normal circumstances would be considered an eyesore, can be surprisingly picturesque in photographs.
When it comes to shooting at home, what spaces tend to work best?
The master bedroom is great because there’s room for the whole family to pile onto the bed and get cozy with each other. The baby’s nursery is particularly special because it feels like a perfect little haven, and because it will likely transform as the child grows, it’s nice to capture this space before the baby outgrows it.
What role does the location play in family portraits?
Imagine your children looking back on these pictures many years from now reminiscing about their childhood and the place where they grew up or a special spot where they spent time with loved ones. The setting can bring a whole other layer of meaning to the images.
What are some the characteristics that make a location particularly photographic?
As a Washington DC Family Photographer I am always hunting for new locations and I tend to pay special attention to lush foliage and architectural details. It doesn’t have to be a large, well-known tourist spot (such as the memorials along the National Mall), instead it can be something as simple as a quiet street with white picket fence. If a space has the right elements and lighting, great photographs are possible.
What are some of your favorite tips for finding a great photo shoot location?
This is a wonderful topic that I teach parents in my Snap Happy Class. The main factor to consider is the quality of the light! When photographing people, look for areas of open shade with soft, diffuse light as opposed to direct sun, which can look quite harsh in photographs. Just inside a doorway, on a porch with an overhang, or next to trees with a large leaf canopy. The scenery in the background is not as important as the light shining on the people who are the focus of the images. Just be sure that there aren’t any distracting elements in the background that can draw attention away from the focus on the people!
About the Author:
Julie Kubal is a child and family photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!