Once your family photos are on the calendar, the excitement of planning sets in! And with it, we’ll need to pick a setting for your family story. As a Columbus Ohio Family Photographer, most of my client’s first sessions happen in their homes. There are a lot of reasons for that, but once you’re comfortable and acquainted with me, you may want to start adventuring to other places around town.

Although location is an important details, it’s not worth stressing over. We can make great photos almost anywhere! The focus of a family photo session will be on your family and your connections. So, think most about your favorite memories, then think about where it makes the most sense to capture that.

A little boy hangs onto a lamp post while his sister watches

Here are some things to consider when choosing a location for your family photos:

1. Personal style & interests

Who are you as a family? Are you homebodies? Urbanites? Dog walkers? Ice cream aficionados? Your personal interests and hobbies should shine bright in family photos, because this is how you get photos that feel like you. Think about the activities you like doing as a family — I guarantee you already do something that would make for a great photo session. We could stay at home and do arts and crafts, pick veggies from your garden, or jump on the trampoline. We could go to your neighborhood park and swing on the swings. We could hit up the local farmer’s market and fill our bellies with seasonal blueberries. The sky’s the limit.  

2. find the meaning

Above all else, you look at your family photos and know exactly what was important to you in that moment. So let me ask you: what’s filling your cup these days? It could be those picnics at your local park, or those long walks around the block with your new puppy. One of my clients chose the Columbus Museum of Art for her family photos, because she wanted to build new memories at the place she and her husband were married. Another client wanted to do their session underneath the Buckeye tree on the land where her grandparent’s house once stood… and it’s a good thing we did, because the tree was cut down two weeks later!

Imagine if your life completely changed course tomorrow. What would you want to remember about today? It might not be anything crazy or weird. It could be ordinary, everyday moments. You may not think these are special right now, but think about what emotions these photos will bring back in 10, 20, or 50 years. What will it mean to your kids to have a beautifully documented family story, that shows your faces and the joy you shared? Spoiler alert, it’ll mean a lot!

A family standing in front of a large Buckeye tree at sunset in a field in Columbus Ohio
A family standing in front of a blue street art statue outside of the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio
A family playing on a swing set at Sharon Woods Metro Park in Westerville Ohio

3. Consider the season

The time of year you schedule your family photos could affect the options you have. We all know that Ohio has all 4 seasons (sometimes within the same day!), but each of them have its own merits. Winter is great for cozy comforts of home with hot chocolate and baking cookies. Spring is great for walking the neighborhood and admiring the blooms. Summer is full of all kinds of colorful activities and festivals that make a perfect family outing. And Fall, in its fleeting beauty, is equally suited for in-home cuddles or outdoor adventures.

4. Prioritize comfort and convenience

If you have older kids or teens, venturing away from home for a couple hours is easy-as-pie. On the other hand, if you have young kids, especially under the age of 5, it’s important to prioritize convenience for family photos. I’m a big fan of sessions in your home: you have everything you need within arm’s reach, and it can be completely unique every time. Kids are most likely to be themselves in their own space, and I absolutely love getting the tour of their rooms and toy bins, and seeing how their interests change and grow over time. These moments simply could not be reproduced in a park setting.

5. Privacy

How silly would it be to find your dream photographer, spend all this time gushing to them about everything that makes your family unique, and THEN go to a random park that you have to share with a bunch of other families and all of their noise? Yes, VERY silly. Family photos are your opportunity to connect with your family, leaving behind all the distractions of your busy world. This might be one of the few times during the year you get to do so, and as your photographer, it’s my job to make sure you feel completely at-ease during the experience. Private property like your backyard (or a neighbor’s yard) means you’ll be able to put all of your attention on your family, which translates into the best photos.

6. Consider how flexible you’re willing to be — really.

If you want family photos outdoors, the best times of day for lighting are close to sunrise and sunset. In the warmer months of the year, this means you’re waking up extremely early or pushing back bedtime until sometime after 9-10 PM. So it’s important to weigh your ideal outcome with everyone’s comfort levels. If shooting in outdoors is a priority, it may require some adjustment in your schedule to make it happen (perhaps an extra nap for young kids, or adjusting schedules for a week leading up to the session so nothing feels like a shock). On the other hand, if you know the session needs to fit within your normal routine, an at-home session is the perfect solution because I’ll come to you whenever it works best.

7. Safety first

This one seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times a client has suggested a location that had a steep cliff, or an active railroad track, or something else that would end in absolute disaster with a small child running around. Places with busy roads, construction sites, and unleashed dogs can also be problematic and distracting. It’s important that whatever space we use for your family photos allows young active kids to run around safely. You should be enjoying your time with absolute assurance that your family is safe to explore!

Two sisters laughing on the floor at their house in Columbus Ohio
A family standing in front of an abstract painted wall in Columbus Ohio
A family playfully wrestles in their living room in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus Ohio

Hi there!

I’m Daisy, and you’re very welcome here.

I’m a documentary Columbus Ohio family photographer offering stress-free and fun portrait experiences. I hope you enjoyed How to choose the right location for your family photos, and if you’d like to chat about your own family photos, smash that button below. Can’t wait to hear what wild and wonderful things you’re dreaming up!

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