First, let me reassure you that it’s totally OK if you know you want to book a session but you don’t have the slightest clue where you want to have it! That is normal, and I promise, it’s going to be easier than you think to decide where you’d like to have your session! For almost all kinds of session that I shoot, there are three things I recommend considering when you are choosing a session location, and I’m super excited to be sharing them here on the blog today!
(Side note: the only kind of session that these tips don’t quite apply to is a newborn session – if you have a brand new little family member on the way, today’s post will be helpful in prepping for your maternity session, but you’ll definitely want to read my 6 things to know before booking your newborn session post, too, if you want to know what to expect when it comes to newborn sessions!)
If you’re thinking about booking an anniversary, maternity, family, or high school senior session (OR if you’ve booked a wedding package [YAY!] but we haven’t yet scheduled your engagement session), I hope that after reading today’s post, you’ll feel more confident when it comes time to choose your session location!
So, here we go!
The first question I always encourage my clients to think about is this:
1. What kind of feel do you want your session to have?
(I know that sounds incredibly abstract, but stick with me here!) What I mean by that is, when you think about your session and the images you’d like to have from it, does your mind immediately picture a wide-open, natural setting? Or do you picture a downtown street wedged between old buildings that are just brimming with character? Do you want a specific natural element in your images, like trees, fields, mountains, or water? Do you want a setting with a modern, urban feel or more of a timeless, classic vibe? I know LOTS of great session locations all over Virginia (and even a few in the Carolinas!), so if you can put your finger on a specific “feel” or element you want included in your session, we’ll be able to narrow down our choices to a location that has just what you’re looking for!
Mandy and Bryan knew they wanted an urban an engagement session location that would showcase the water and views of the city they love – and the Potterfield Bridge and Brown’s Island Park near downtown Richmond was the perfect location to do just that!
Once you have an idea of what particular element or feel you want for your session, the next thing to consider is this:
2. Do you already have outfits in mind?
If so, you’ll definitely want to take those into account when choosing a session location. Your images will feel most cohesive and sophisticated when your location compliments your outfit choices. If you have a glam, sparkly cocktail or evening dress in mind for yourself and a sharp suit in mind for your man, then a downtown session will probably compliment your outfit better than a farm session. Or, if you have a romantic, flowy maxi dress picked out for yourself, a sophisticated slacks + blazer combo ready for your hubby, and equally dapper ensembles for your littles, any natural setting (mountains, fields, water) will highlight those perfectly!
When Jason and I booked our 10th anniversary session with my talented friend Kaitlyn Phipps, I knew I wanted to go extra dressy + romantic with our outfits, because 10 years is a big deal, y’all! I was specifically drawn to the combo of a lace top with a romantic, flowy chiffon or tulle skirt for myself (and I ended up making a DIY floral crown for myself and a coordinating boutonniere for Jason), so I wanted a location that felt a little more romantic and timeless than just your average local outdoor park or a downtown setting. The breathtaking, European-inspired architecture at Swannanoa Palace was the absolute perfect backdrop for these outfits, and I could not have been happier with how this location complimented our outfits!
This last question is kind of a bonus question – it doesn’t apply to every situation, but when it does apply, it can make your session that much more special!
3. Is there a location that holds sentimental value for you?
… and that is appropriate, based on your answers to the two questions above? Is there a location that would make your session even more meaningful to you, now and 5, 10, 15, or 20 years from now? Perhaps the home or property where one of you grew up, or the college campus where you met? Is there a park you love to visit as a family or a favorite date-night spot that would make a pretty backdrop for a session? Or even a vacation spot where you make some of your favorite memories every year? (I love to travel and shoot in new locations!) How do you feel about having your 5- or 10-year anniversary session at your wedding venue? Any of these types of locations could make your session even more meaningful, as long as it provides the feel or element you loved from question 1, and it compliments your outfits from question 2!
Kayla and Jonathan live in Roanoke and have spent many date nights in and around the downtown Roanoke area, so we spent the first part of their session wandering the streets of downtown Roanoke!
Friends, I hope this post has been helpful to you!! I hope it has inspired you as you think about where you might want to have your next photography session! Let me know in the comments what was especially helpful – or if there was something you were hoping to learn that I didn’t include! (Your questions might be the inspiration for future blog posts!) And friends, thank you so much for sticking with me to the end of this post! You’re the best!!
pssst! If you liked this post, you may also like these other photo-session-planning resources:
free PDF download: Photo Session Shopping Guide
blog post: 4 steps to a swoon-worthy portrait session