If you are interested in outdoor family photography, it is important to consider all the practical details that goes into making your outdoor photoshoot a success.
I wrote this blog to help you with all the information you need to make an informed decision prior to booking your outdoor family photography session.
I’m based in Toulouse, France, but I am available for traveling to serve families all over Europe and UK.
If you stumbled upon this blog post and you’re searching for a local family photographer instead, do keep on reading as the practical information I share here will be helpful to inform you on what are the things to consider when planning your outdoor photoshoot.
Outdoor family photography: who is the ideal family for this type of photoshoot?
In general, outdoor family photography is ideal if you want a family photo session with a mix of beautiful portraits and candid images, or if you live in a small/dark home. They are also ideal if you love greenery or other natural elements in your images, like the sky, flowers, water, etc.
Finally, outdoor sessions are best suited for families with toddlers and older children who love running and playing outside.
Typically, for families with babies, I recommend an in-home or studio session instead as these sessions can be scheduled for when your baby is most rested and up for a photo session. That is, after the first nap.
Regardless of the location (studio, in-home or outdoor), families who love my work are those that are down-to-earth, and authentic. And want images that are meaningful, candid, organic, and filled with love. In contrast, my sessions are typically not ideal for families who want everyone looking perfect and smiling into the camera, or with props. And for families who expect beauty retouching to images with Photoshop, such as removing strained hair, removing dirt from children’s clothes, whitening teeth, swapping heads, etc.
What type of locations is available for outdoor sessions?
This really depends on the photographer you choose to hire and the city. This is a question you will need to ask your photographer during the booking process to ensure he or she offers a location that meets your vision.
I photograph all over Europe and UK. I offer outdoor family sessions in city parks, open fields, and occasionally in castles and domains.
But I like to keep things simple for families. As such, I have a curated list of locations that I know very well. The type and number of locations vary according to the city where I am photographing. I typically offer 2-4 different options to choose from.
During the stage of planning for your session (after we reserved your date on my calendar), I will share with you the locations that I photograph and help you choose which one is best for you.
I personally only photograph in locations from the curated list. Why?
I believe is the photographer’s job to know what are the best outdoor locations. This relieves the pressure from families having to do the work of finding a location in addition to doing all the planning for a photoshoot.
A good location for a photography photoshoot needs great light and a beautiful background.
I only take families to locations I have photographed a number of times prior to their session. This saves you time from having to think/find a location on your own. Plus, in these locations, I can guarantee I will deliver images that are consistent with my signature aesthetic style – timeless and luminous.
Some locations you go to for hikes or the playground might be beautiful or very enjoyable for a family day out. But they might not work for a family photo session because there might be elements in the environment that would not give us that soft, timeless look you seek in my images.
When choosing a location, I consider many elements, like the amount of available light, the color of the trees, the variety of backgrounds, the presence of natural reflectors, the direction the sun rises/sets in relation to the background, how busy it gets, etc.
What is the approach during an outdoor session?
Outdoor family photography sessions are *typically* more posed versus entirely unscripted. While some documentary photographers offer outdoor sessions that are entirely documentary, I personally find challenging to do an entire outdoor session pose-free.
Because when working with families with young children (my expertise) I know that little ones usually can’t handle an outing to the park for more than 1-2h. Letting children to play around freely while doing an entire documentary session will result in a lot of images of action: running, jumping, walking.
But these images might end up lacking moments of affection, laughter, connection that I also like to document. Simply because there isn’t enough time to let these moments unfold naturally in an open space where children mostly just want to run freely and explore.
Most photographers will do outdoor photography sessions entirely posed. Yes, the whole 1-2h! While this is certainly an option to consider, I find the outdoor environment ideal for a mix of portraits and letting children simply be children!
So, the way I approach is the following: I typically start the session with natural posing for about 15-30 min, or for as long as the dad and children are OK with it. As the session progresses, I step back more and more to let those natural interactions occur with minimum or no interference. I might suggest some activities in beautiful light, like blowing bubbles or collecting sticks and flowers. But for the most part, I let you enjoy being with your family while capturing those natural playful, and candid moments in a more documentary way.
At what time are outdoor family photography sessions scheduled to start?
Light is at the heart of an outdoor family photography session. Most photographers will prioritize the light over, let’s say, your child’s nap.
Why? Because light will make the WHOLE difference in your images.
While most photographers book the session for 1h before sunset, I typically offer the option to book anywhere between 1-2 hours. Because I photograph with a digital and a film camera, I have more flexibility when it comes to manipulating the light. But please keep in mind that the exact start time of your session will depend on the time of the year as the sunset time changes a lot throughout the year.
My outdoor sessions typically last for 45-60 minutes. These sessions are usually on Friday or Saturday (sunset) or Sunday (sunrise).
What if the weather is not ideal?
One common concern families have about an outdoor family photography session is that the weather might not be ideal (dark, wet, cold) during the months of November to March.
Each photographer approaches the weather constrain in their own way.
After years of experience, what I learned that it works really well to alleviate any stress with the planning of your session is to offer only a very limited number of outdoor family photography sessions during this season. Like this, we can easily reschedule your outdoor session to another date in case of rain or strong wind. For example, if your outdoor session was initially booked for a Saturday, I’ll ask you to leave your Sunday also available. So we can simply change the day if we need.
But what if the idea of a cold and wet outdoor session takes away the excitement for your photo session?
Then, why not choose a studio or in-home session instead?! These two locations are a great alternative to an outdoor session. Especially for sessions that need to take place during the cold months, like maternity, newborn, or a baby milestone session.
What to do next?
If you feel ready to reserve your session or would like to meet me to discuss your vision, please visit the contact page to learn the different ways to reach out.
If you’d like to see more of my work, I invite you to browse around my website to learn more about my style and get the feel of my images.