How to Find the Perfect Portrait Session Location

family of four posing for portraits at Vally Forge National Park Finding the perfect portrait session location is one of the biggest stressors for clients planning a family portrait session.  Choosing a photo shoot location might seem like a big deal, but it really doesn’t have to be difficult. Especially, when you hire a professional family photographer to take your portraits!

One of the best parts of hiring a professional photographer, who’s been photographing families for a while, is that we have a huge arsenal of incredible session locations for you to choose from. It’s sort of like how Joanna Gaines has an entire warehouse of vintage doors and accent pieces, only ours is a digital file of locations (and we get to reuse the same one every once in a while). 

A location usually drives some of the other decisions you will need to make about your shoot. That said, I totally understand that you want to have a say in choosing your portrait session backdrop. It’s your session, after all! To be honest, I’m always super eager to hear what my clients have in mind, and I might even have some sweet location ideas to share with you off the top of my head.

family playing games during portrait session in the park

7 Ways to Find the Perfect Portrait Session Location 

Really, choosing the best location for your portrait session is about figuring out what vibe you’re going for and then from there we can brainstorm together to find a spot that’ll make your heart skip a beat. 

Here are seven ways to jump start the process:

  1. Consider Your Preferred Style: The best portrait sessions capture your existing style. Think of what your favorite outfits are and what sort of style you’re drawn to, and then we’ll come up with a complimentary session location. For example, if you lean toward bohemian, then an urban landscape may not be your jam. 
  2. Are you Thinking Indoors or Outdoors?: Both have their perks, but by narrowing down your choice to either indoor or outdoor we’ll be able to quickly refine the focus.
  3. Think About Color: Do you want a bright and splendid backdrop, or one that’s more minimalist? By narrowing down your preferred color story, we can narrow down your session location.
  4. How Many People Are Being Photographed?: This detail matters for a few locations, especially if you decide to go with a small space or an indoor location. If it’s just you or a few people total, then your options are pretty limitless. Large groups, however, require large and open spaces, otherwise things may start to feel crowded or overwhelming during the shoot itself. And the last thing you want to feel during your portrait experience is stressed!
  5. Consider Sentimental Spots: If a location has special meaning to you then it can make your session and images even more personalized. For example, engagement sessions taken at your first-date location, family portraits taken in your forever home, or the ice-cream shop you went to all the time as a kid.
  6. Look at Some of Your Favorite Images: What sort of portrait images are you drawn to when scrolling through social media or flipping through a magazine? Is it rich, lush greenery? Is it gritty graffiti? Hazy fields? Modern lines? Let this natural inclination inform your session location choice.
  7. Are you allowed to take pictures there?: Make sure that you can legally take pictures at the location that you have in mind. If it’s not public property or available to the public you will need to get permission first.

mother and father posing with small children for family session family of four smiling directly at the camera for family portraits

Make sure that your location doesn’t become a distraction and that there is shelter nearby if you need it. Your location tells a story so it’s worthwhile to choose a meaningful spot.

family of four playing in leaves at knox hill estate in PA

Still stumped on finding the perfect location for your family session this fall? Say no more! I’ve put together a list of my favorite outdoor locations for fall portraits. If you want to know my favorite spots for plenty of fall colors and amazing portrait backdrops, click HERE to download my top 10.

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meet ann


Hello & welcome to the ABP blog! I’m a Philadelphia based portrait photographer creating beautiful, light-filled images for families looking to create lasting memories and women creatives excited to grow their busineses with branded photos. On the blog,  I’ll share my most recent sessions, travels,  photo tips and more. So grab an iced coffee and . hang out a while!

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