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My Favorite Tips for Choosing a Location for Your Family Session

Tips for Sessions

What should we look for when choosing a location for our next family session?

Two teenage sisters hug each other in front of an old covered bridge in Gainesville, Georgia

Have you ever ordered a a meal from a fast food restaurant and been so excited to test it out because a commercial made it seem like the most drool worthy delectable meal to grace this planet? More often than not, when you finally open the wrapping to this beautiful creation, you find that this meal is not what they promised. It’s got a soggy bun, a cold meat patty, and toppings that you can barely make out with the naked eye. The image of the meal that you had created in your mind is promptly ruined when you realize that it didn’t live up to your expectations.

What does this have to do with photography, you ask? Well, oftentimes, it is easy to see a beautiful tree or building and daydream of the perfect pictures that could take place there. Without a strong understanding of what makes a location work for you, though, it is easy for that location to turn into your “soggy burger” if there is spotty or harsh lighting, a lot of distractions in the background, or dark zones that keep the light from reaching the subject. Read below for some of my “Must Haves” when searching for a great location for your next photo session, whether your session takes place in Buford, Georgia or beyond.

Senior girl sits in a meadow in front of trees in Flowery Branch, Georgia

Must Have #1 for Choosing Your Location: Open Shade

When taking pictures outside, you want to find an area that is not in direct harsh sunlight. If the sun is blazing on your background, you can bet that it will also be blaring in your eyes, causing both unsightly shadows and making you squint. Instead, you want your background to be in the shade so that you can be photographed looking and feeling your best.

The beautiful building that you want a picture in front of may only have beautiful lighting during part of the day when the sun is behind it. This will provide an opportunity for you to have soft even lighting on you so that you don’t have sunspots ruining your beautiful photo. If there is a location that you truly want to have in your pictures for our session, be sure to let me know ahead of time so that I can scout and see when it is in the beautiful light we want for us to schedule our session for the right time of day.

An extended family stands in front of an old wooden barn in Duluth, Georgia

Must Have #2 for Choosing a Location: Distance Between You and the Background

When you’re posing for a picture, it’s easy to place yourself right under a tree or right against that beautiful building for you to strike your favorite pose. When you are placed right against that building, you only get a small area of it featured in the photo. You miss out on all the beautiful detail that isn’t right behind you. Additionally, if you are right next to your background, you are unable to attain that dreamy blur, or bokeh, that makes professional pictures so stunning. In order to achieve that nice blur that allows the eye to focus directly on you, you need to be standing a good distance in front of the background and you will see those beautiful results.

As far as that tree goes, if you are standing right underneath it, you will end up with sun spots shining through the leaves that may leave unsightly light on you and distract the eye from the moment you are trying to capture. You also will get a harsh shade that will darken your pictures and make it more difficult to get that bright and airy look we are aiming for. Instead, we want to stand several feet in front of the tree so you can still get the beautiful detail in the background and yet keep the light as beautiful as possible.

Ready for a session?

When you come to book a session, I am always excited to hear what ideas you have for locations for your images. With these tips in mind, we can ensure that the picture we take is as beautiful as the one you imagine in your head. (No more soggy take out burgers for you!) As always, if you would like ideas for tried and true locations that will make beautiful backdrops either morning or evening, I have a list of suggestions I would love to share to you before our next session.

Feel good about the location for your family session, but need some tips for your family’s outfits? Check out my blog post with my top tips for styling the family for your next session!

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