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!   

family lifestyle photography

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 !  

mornington peninsula family photography

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 !!

melbourne natural and fun family photography

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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beautiful in home family photography melbourne

5 tips to help you prepare for your lifestyle newborn photography session

melbourne newborn photographer

1. What to wear 

This is hands down the most commonly asked question I get asked.  I really and truly believe that the main thing here is that you need to feel like yourself and you need to feel comfortable … and no, I’m not suggesting we do a session in your PJ’s (although, that actually could be kind of cool ...) but I definitely don’t want you getting dressed up to the nines in clothes that make you feel stiff and uncomfortable – keep in mind that for the majority of your session you’re going to be in your home, up on your bed/couch, cuddling your newborn baby and perhaps playing with your older children.  

I have created a Pinterest board which has lots of outfit inspiration, here –

Jess Worrall Photography - Pinterest Board

Also, a few other important things to keep in mind are -

•  MUMS, the single most important thing is that YOU feel ah-mazing and comfortable – so take this opportunity to buy yourself something that you feel a million dollars in. Tell your partner I OK’d it 😉  Once you have found something amazing for yourself, you can pick the other outfits to compliment yours (keyword here is “compliment” not “matching”! It’s not necessary for you all to dress in jeans and the same coloured white/black tops ... in fact, please don’t do that!)

•  Neutrals are timeless (but pops of colour are beautiful too and can really inject your own unique personality into your images)

•  Long flowy skirts/dresses or simple basics matched with textures (scarfs/kimonos/cardigans) photograph really well

•  I beg of you, please avoid wearing shirts with graphics, logos or lettering, or mixing too many different patterns. These all detract from what the real focus of the image should be (you) and often, date really quickly

• My all time favourite newborn outfit? A plain white singlet or short sleeved onesie. So simple and it allows for alllll the focus to be on your gorgeous newborn and their cute little teeny tiny arms, legs, feet, cheeks ... you get the drift here, right?  Plus, you can add colour and texture and extra prettiness with gorgeous muslins and blankets.

Melbourne newborn lifestyle photographer

2.  Preparing your home

We will not be shooting in every room in your home, so do not feel like you have to spend days tidying and cleaning your entire house. Generally we will stick to 2-3 rooms and this is largely determined by which rooms have the best natural light (these tend to be your main bedroom, living room and maybe a nursery/kids room). Although I do recommend a little bit of tidying and general decluttering, please don’t feel like you need to  present a show home fit for the covers of an interiors magazine – your home still needs to tell your story and show that you live there! 
 

I almost ALWAYS will shoot in your main bedroom, piling you all up on your bed together. With this in mind, make sure you have your favourite doona cover ready to go, or if you’ve been eyeing off the new Kip & Co range or latest Adairs catalogue, now’s the time to make that purchase!!  
 

The last thing to consider is the room temperature. Newborn babies tend to be a lot more settled when they are warm and they generally prefer it a lot warmer than us adults ... so on the morning of your session, if it’s winter, pump up the heating a few extra degrees for an hour or so beforehand or if it’s summer, turn off the air con! If we’re feeling uncomfortably warm, that generally means it’s the perfect temperature for bub which will hopefully result in a sleepier/more content baby (fingers crossed!).

Natural newborn photographer in Melbourne

3. When to schedule your session

One of the things I love about lifestyle newborn photography is that there is not a strict timeframe to schedule in your session. For posed newborn sessions, it’s really important that the baby is settled and sleepy, so they can be easily moved into different poses, which is why it’s recommended that sessions take place within the first 6-14 or so days. For lifestyle newborn photography sessions however, this is not necessary and it’s not as important that your little one sleeps the entire time. I shoot newborn photography sessions with babies anywhere from 1 week to 3 months old and each age/stage has its own advantages.
 

In saying all of that, I know that many parents are super keen to have their baby photographed in those first few weeks of life when they are at their tiniest, and so if that is the case for you, it’s really important that you book your newborn photography session in during your pregnancy and also that you contact me as soon as you can once bubs is born so we can schedule the date of your session.
 

I generally find that if you and your partner are still on maternity/paternity leave, midweek usually works best for a newborn session as you are often inundated with visitors on weekends and it’s all a bit hectic. Currently I offer newborn photography sessions in your home in and around Melbourne, Tues - Thurs at either 10am or 2pm.

lifestyle newborn photography, Melbourne

4.  During your session

The chances are high that your bub is going to experience periods of unsettledness during your newborn photography session. As the mother of two babies who could barely be put down for 30 seconds during their first few months of life, believe me when I tell you that I GET IT! Newborns are wildly unpredictable and very rarely listen to reason (we all know that whoever invented the term "sleeping like a baby" was a cruel and misleading individual). But please let me reassure you that this is totally to be expected and not going to ruin your session!!

A few things I would suggest to help try to minimise your bub being really unsettled during your session are -

1) Be prepared to do some extra feeds/top ups during the session. Even if it’s not generally at a time when you would plan to feed bub, if he/she is unsettled, sometimes just a little top up is enough to make them nice and content (it certainly works for me 😉)

2) If you are putting your baby down for a nap before I arrive, consider dressing them and wrapping them in what you would like them photographed in. That way, if they are still sleeping when I arrive, we don’t need to disrupt them and risk upsetting them by getting them undressed straight away.

3) As mentioned above, try and keep the rooms we are shooting in really warm: uncomfortable for adults = perfect for newborns!!

natural newborn photographer in melbourne

5. Older siblings

Awww, my favourites! No, honestly!! I love working with toddlers, they add such a fun and unpredictable element to sessions that I have learnt to wholeheartedly embrace! My number one rule for working with older toddler siblings is not to force them into anything, particularly early on in the session. For some toddlers, they really just don’t want a bar of their newborn baby brother or sister, and so getting them just to sit NEAR the baby, is a win! For others, it’s about protecting the newborn baby from the toddlers overwhelming love and adoration they feel, which often results in body slamming cuddles!  It’s a fine line to walk and although that can be stressful at times as the parent, my number one piece of advice for you during your session is to just roll with whatever the toddler is doing on the day. If your toddler is not interested in photos, initially I’ll focus on other photos first and then come back to the shots with the toddler in them. Only as a last resort and after I’ve exhausted all of my other tricks would we resort to bribery. It's important not to bring out the big guns too early (ie. if they have a comfort toy/dummy or favourite food that you think will get them onside, let's save that for when we REALLY need it and preferably leave it as long as possible before even mentioning it!).

Another benefit of lifestyle photography is that you don’t need to worry about trying to get them to sit still and look at my camera. Instead, you can just focus on cuddling/playing with them and doing whatever YOU guys do together that makes them happy.  Again, I have a 4 year old and 2 year old at home, so I know they can be extremely temperamental and that they generally have ridiculously short attention spans!!  Bless their young hearts ;)

newborn photographer camberwell

Having a bit of an idea about what to expect in the lead up to your newborn photography session can help things go a little bit more smoothly - if you have any other questions about what to expect, or if you live in or around Melbourne and would like to book your own newborn lifestyle photography session, please get in touch here  

For now though, feel free to peruse through some more photos from this gorgeous session!

Seddon newborn photographer
camberwell newborn photographer
carlton newborn photographer
Hawthorn newborn photographer
elsternwick newborn photographer
yarraville newborn photographer

Jess Worrall is a lifestyle newborn and family photographer based in Melbourne. Jess specialises in natural, relaxed and unposed newborn and family photography. Jess sometimes likes to speak in the 3rd person, but generally just for blogging purposes, so please don't be too put off by that (I tend to not do it in real life).

to New Zealand

Guess what!?!?
We have just booked a trip back to Auckland for the end of July ! I had so much interest in sessions when I was there at the start of the year that I promised the next time we came back, I would open up a limited number of sessions again ! So, if you are in the Auckland area and would like to book a session for late July / early August, please get in touch - I will only be able to take on a limited number of sessions so don't put it off until it is too late !! 

Also, did you know that my wonderful mailing list subscribers actually got the low down on my NZ travel plans LAST WEEK!?  They are the first ones to find out about any travel plans, updates AND they get discounts just for signing up......Can you see where I'm going with this!?  Well, if you're still wondering, the point I'm trying to make (in my not so subtle way) is that if you missed out on a session date for this NZ trip but never want for that to happen again AND/OR you want other cool discounts and updates, you should probably play it safe and sign up for my mailing list ! All you need to do is scroll to the very bottom of this page to where it says SUBSCRIBE (YOU KNOW YOU WANNA) enter your details and voilà - you'll never miss another update !! 

 

Ok, phew, now the obligatory salesly spiel is out of the way (I always hate that part..but, yknow, kind of important to do every once and a whille when you're running a business), I can share with you one of the last family photography sessions I did back when I was in New Zealand in January. We ventured out to this gorgeous spot in Mount Albert with the most DE-LIGHTFUL family (have you ever seen a happier, more expressive smile than little Harrison's!?).  Our 5:20am alarms (yes, correct.... SO much respect for these guys for braving the FIVES with a 4 month and 3 year old!!) were TOTALLY WORTH it as we had the PERFECT conditions...but don't take my word for it, see for yourself!!

 

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