How to choose the best location for your family photography session - Melbourne Family Photographer

One of the top questions clients ask me when booking their family photography session is “where should we have our session!?" and so it's made me think about the things I look for in a great location and I thought I would share my thoughts about it, here.

The four main points that I think about when trying to decide on a location are - 

SIGNFICANCE
DISTRACTIONS
PRIVACY
VARIETY

 

I'll chat a bit more about each of these points below, so please read on. 

Sometimes it's worthwhile venturing a little further out of the city for your family photography session - this session took place on the Mornington Peninsula

Sometimes it's worthwhile venturing a little further out of the city for your family photography session - this session took place on the Mornington Peninsula

SIGNIFICANCE

Think about places you go with your family and things you do together that are important and meaningful to you.   Do you guys love to go for adventures in the forest together on weekends?  Do you spend every evening in summer at the beach ? Do you visit your local café  so regularly that they no longer even ask you for your order?  Having your family photography session in a spot that is special to you and already holds its own memories in your heart are going to make your images just that much more treasured in the years to come!   

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DISTRACTIONS -

While it’s wonderful to choose a spot that has significance to you, it is also important to think about how practical the space is going to be for the purposes of a photo session. For example, if you want to do your session at your local park, but the only time you guys ever visit that particular park is for your toddler to play at the playground there, how do you think they will cope when we arrive and tell them they can’t play on the playground and that we’re going to go and do some photos instead!? If they’re anything like my kids, that probably won’t go down so well #tantrumcentral !!!  For that reason, I do try to avoid parks that have playgrounds, because once your toddler sees that, they’re never going to forget about it and you probably didn’t book a professional photographer to get 100x photos of your toddler going down the slide !  

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PRIVACY

Chances are, unless you’re a professional model, you’re probably not SUPER comfortable in front of the camera !! One thing that I think really helps during your photo session is picking a location that isn’t always packed full with people so you don’t feel like you are being watched by a group of 50 curious onlookers.  Crowded areas with lots of people can make it that much more difficult to relax! For example, inner city parks and beaches on a sunny afternoon = top destination for 99% of Melbournians ***!!  In summer, I try to schedule beach sessions for the morning when they tend to be quieter or I suggest that we venture a little further to some of the quieter beaches further out that have just a little more space.  I also suggest we avoid the really popular/well known parks and opt for quieter spots that are just as (if not more) photogenic !

(***completely made up statistic...from time to time I like to exaggerate to make my point)

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VARIETY -

OK, so you were thinking that the park across the road from your house has some nice greenery on the very far right hand side of said park….BUT it is bordered by roads / houses and/or car parking that is slightly less photogenic…. Because you see, the thing about my photo sessions is there is no WAY I am going to get you all to stand in once place for the entire time !  We are going to be moving around, your kids will be running around / playing and so if the location isn’t versatile enough, you’ll end up with a big bright blue station wagon in the background that is going to be distracting and take away from your images !!  As you can see from this session, the locations we shot at had SO.MUCH.VARIETY – it didn’t matter where we turned or what direction we were facing, it was all just so beautiful and that to me, is the ultimate test of a location !!

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A few final thoughts

- My outdoor sessions are always scheduled to coincide with sunrise or sunset, the time of day we photographers refer to as "golden hour". This is when the light is beautiful, flattering and well, just generally pretty damn magical !! The times of sunset and sunrise obviously change quite a lot during the year and it's not always the most convenient time when you have young children - but I can promise you, that for just this one day, it is 100000% worth the small disruption to their routine! 

- Pack lightly for outdoor sessions - please leave your pram in the car and handbags/sunglasses etc. at home ! We're going to be moving around a lot during your session and the last thing we want to have to worry about is moving bags/prams out of the shot. 

- Given we live in Melbourne, there is always the possibility that mother nature will have other plans for our desire to be outside on the day your shoot is scheduled - if the weather is looking dicey, I generally suggest we hold off making the decision to reschedule until the day of the session as the forecast can be so changeble. But we definitely won't be shooting in the rain ! 

- We live in an absolutely BEAUTIFUL part of the world, with endless natural beauty to discover! Of course we can find gorgeous spots close to home, but if you're up for an adventure, let me know and I'm always SOO excited to travel a little further out and explore new places!! 
 

So, there you have it, my top tips for choosing your outdoor location for your next family photography session.   Would you add any others to the list ? 
 

I would LOVE to know what your dream photo location in or around Melbourne would be.  Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know.  If you would like to book in your own family photography session, please get in touch and let's make some magic together ! 

Also, I couldn't help myself but do a big ol' overshare of this gorgeous recent family session on the Mornington Peninsula, only a short drive from Melbourne.

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Our highlight reel - Melbourne Family Photographer

I feel like I need to preface this post by stating for the record that these photos, in fact ALL the photos I post on my instagram / facebook / blog - they are all from our highlight reel.   I am not a mummy blogger - I use my blog and social media accounts as a way of highlighting the best of my work for the purposes of a photography portfolio.  Essentially it's my best and most creative work OR the moments that I love and treasure the most.  If I was a mummy blogger, TRUST ME, I would not have such a curated feed. 

The reason I'm saying this and feel this need to explain myself is because I received a message from a friend recently which said something along the lines of "from the looks of your instagram feed, your life is perfect right now" - say whaaaaaat!?

Firstly, my instagram feed is like 70% client work... so I have no idea how my client's love / joy / beauty is any reflection on my life. 

Secondly, oh my gosh that is so not true!! God, if I was a mummy blogger, my feed would be filled with tears /  mess / guilt /  tantrums in the street / how we watched frozen 5 times in one day / how I call my husband at 8am on some days and ask him if he can come home from work because I'm done with parenting after ONE hour / how I hid in the bathroom from the kids and ate chocolate for lunch  .... you get the drift, right!?  But guys, I'm NOT a mummy blogger ! I share allllll the shit stuff with my friends and family, but I just don't feel it's something I want to share on social media at this point in my business! (but totally in love with so many of the incredible women that do share their experiences with the many highs and lows of motherhood through social media !) 

So  yep, every now and then, we go somewhere beautiful - I take photos because it's my PASSION, and if I LOVE the photos - I will share them online as a representation of the best of my work. More often than not, we do alllllll the standard / routine stuff that everyone else does - sometimes I take photos in those situations too, and if i'm lucky, I can turn something boring into something beautiful - more likely, I take an uninspiring photo or the kids aren't in the mood for it and I don't love it so I don't share it in this space. 

Also - I ramble (it's a family condition, passed down by my father).

OK, well if you're still reading, thanks for sticking with me... enjoy the highlights :) 

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Urban Melbourne Family Photography Session

When Celia first contacted me to tell me she was interested in booking a maternity photography session BUT, she wanted to know whether it might be possible to do something a little different and maybe do an urban shoot in the laneways of Melbourne, I was SO excited. Like, proper butterflies in stomach counting down the days til the session type excited!

Before I had kids, I was obsessed with street photography, and loved exploring all of Melbourne’s hidden laneways and street art.  To the point where I used to trick my husband into going to "try this new coffee shop in Fitzroy” purely because I had heard a new mural had gone up around the corner... The amount of times I have heard him muttering “but what are you even taking a photo of!?” is kind of hilarious and reminds me of just how differently a photographers mind works !!!

The morning I spent with Celia, Curt & Jude was just a perfect Melbourne morning with a toddler. Street art, laneways, coffee (and of course babycinnos) – and let’s not forget, watching garbage trucks! Toddler heaven!  Add in Celia’s beautiful baby bump and it was just a dream session – see for yourself!

Oh and this month I’m part of a blog circle with some incredibly talented women, so once you’re done scrolling through this session, make sure you head on over and check out Kylie Purtell - Sydney Wedding Photographer

And if you would like to book your own urban Melbourne family photography session get in touch here ! 

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Williamstown Sunset Family Photography Session

Summer is finally here!! Well...to be fair, this is Melbourne, so winter could easily be back again tomorrow, but for now, we've had a run of beautiful weather and I've been LOVING all of my recent sunset family photo sessions in and around Melbourne ! 

Obviously with daylight savings over summer, the days are long and sunset is getting later and later - which means the time we would plan to start one of these sessions is right around our little peoples bedtimes ! Now, believe me when I tell you that I 100% get the reluctance in wanting to mess with your kids bedtime. By 5pm, I'm counting down the SECONDS until I can put the kids in bed (ok, fine, sometimes I'm counting down from like 8am...). But TRUST ME, for one night...it really and truly is worth it!!  The light during that golden hour, well there is something just magical about it, it is soft and flattering which means you look your absolute best with no harsh shadows or squinty eyes!

"But Jess!", I hear you say, "my kids usually go to bed at 7:30pm and you're trying to tell me we should start a family photo session then!? Are you crazy!? They will be miserable, impossible to deal with, it will be a disaster. The end".

Oh, I hear you, and they are completely justified concerns, but I would say this - the chances are, your kids are actually going to be pretty damn excited to be going out and about (on an adventure, because that’s what you’re going to tell them we’re doing OK!?) when they are normally getting ready for bed. Plus, I’m going to make sure you’re doing lots of FUN stuff together, stuff that your little one LOVES to do … so I find that generally, the novelty factor often seems to be enough to perk kids up for as long as we need.

In saying that, it’s best to try and prepare them a little bit in the lead up and it can be helpful to try and give them later naps on the day of our photography session just to help stretch them out a bit. Also, bring plenty of drinks and snacks along to the session as I always allow time for breaks whenever we need !  Toys that they love (including bubbles) are great to have as a secret weapon – but I prefer to try and keep these hidden until towards the end of the session unless we *really* need them earlier.

This advice obviously does not apply to all kids – and I completely understand that for some little ones, going out at or after bedtime is just impossible, so in those cases, you have two other GLORIOUS options - 

1) Sunrise
If your kids are like mine and are generally up before the sun, this option might not be as mortifying as it sounds. Get your clothes ready and snacks packed the night before, give the kids some toast in the car and you could be all finished and ready to go out for a family breakfast by 8am!

2) In home session
If neither of those options appeal, then a in home session might be perfect for you and has many benefits ! Check out the blog post I wrote about in home photography sessions with me here

Here is a little snippet of a gorgeous, sun filled family photography session that I did recently just before sunset in Williamstown, which will hopefully convince you that it really is worth it - and if it does convince you - please get in touch and let's chat about planning your own session!

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Emilie + Lara + Carolina

The biggest perk of my job as a newborn photographer is that I am constantly reminded of all of the good in the world. Being invited into a new family's home for a couple of hours and getting to not only witness, but getting to capture, their love, their connection, their joy and their bond - it leaves me with this amazing feeling, this feeling that everything is right in the world..

My newborn session with Carolina & her two beautiful mamas, Emilie & Lara, was no exception.  Their bond, the joy and the love in this home was something really special to witness.  There was a beautiful card on display which I felt like summed it up so simply, yet so perfectly

"That will be one lucky baby, having two incredible mums ..." 

And it's so true, because when I look at these images, I can't help but smile when I think about how lucky little Carolina is to grow up in a home that is filled with so.much.love. 

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