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  • Writer's pictureJen

Choosing a location for your photo session

One of the first questions that my potential clients ask is......"do you have any suggestions on where to have our outdoor session?".

I believe a portrait should be about showcasing the subject – especially their eyes, expression, and body language. Everything else – the clothing, props & location, are all secondary.


​That being said, everything else CAN have a big impact on your photos. So here are some things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about the perfect location for your session…


​1.      Think about where and how will you be displaying your images. If you’ll be hanging a portrait on your wall – think of the colors and style of the rooms that need new portraits. I have this wooden circle print hanging in my office, and I love the bright, cheery colors.

​2.      Think about the day and time of your session. Will the locations you’re considering be crowded during this time? I like locations that aren’t too crowded for a couple of reasons. First, you don’t want to have to be waiting around while another person or family is using the “popular” picture spot. Second, you don’t want to have to worry about other visitors being in the background of your portrait. And third, if you’re not comfortable being the center of attention, you might want to choose a space that we’ll have mostly to ourselves.

Luckily for us, Northeastern PA has an abundance of great outdoor locations with minimal crowds. This image was taken at South Abington Park, which is a popular area for photos, but I rarely find that there are too many people there to cause an issue with crowding.

​3.      Ideally our location will have areas where we can get OUT of the open sun. Bright direct sunlight creates harsh shadows and makes squinted eyes! So I’ll be looking for buildings, overhangs, trees, or any other structures in the area that can provide shade. In this image, my subject was sitting in the shade of a building just to her left.

​​​4.      Try to think of somewhere personal or meaningful to you. Your photos will mean so much more (especially in 10 or 20 years!) if they are taken in a place that you enjoy being. And if you’re relaxed and feel “at home”, that will enhance your mood & expression! Even your own back yard can be a great place for a photo session. The stone wall on this family's property made for a beautiful backdrop for their family photo session. Many times the "perfect location" is right at home.

​​​The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to location options. Here are some thoughts to get you started….

  • A downtown area that has lots of variety. The structure and texture of buildings will work perfectly, whether tall and sleek with glass windows, or historic and weathered with moss-infested brick walls. Also, alleys usually aren’t crowded, offer lots of shade, and will be something a little different! Even parking garages can be used. Downtown areas work especially well for senior sessions.


  • A park that has beautiful trees, buildings and structures.  Many state and local parks have great natural areas that photograph beautifully. Parks are great for family photo sessions, senior sessions and also for children, as they can run around and be themselves.

  • A farm, old barn, abandoned building, or run-down shed where there is worn wood and peeling paint. These old buildings can range in style from cute and country, to and dark and mysterious. Either way, it’ll add character and interest to your portraits.  

  • A natural area with overgrown brush, fallen down trees, stone walls, a small creek running through. A field of sunflowers or wheat.  An apple or cherry orchard. Natural areas are one of my favorite places to shoot! They make for very casual, carefree, and romantic portrait sessions! 

  • A simple dirt road with trees lining the edges works wonderfully as well, and gives great dimension to your photo.​

  • A local business that you like to frequent. Most business owners would be thrilled to allow you to use their store or restaurant for your portrait session. And most people wouldn’t ever consider this – so you’re sure to have unique images if we do part of your photo session there! There are so many great small businesses in the Scranton/Clarks Summit and surrounding areas with beautiful storefronts!

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