Jenn McKinney Photography
Family Photographer Serving Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Apex, Cary, Raleigh, and Surrounding Areas
Choosing where to have your session can be a difficult decision. You might have a hard time narrowing down your location, or maybe you don't even know where to start looking for a location. If you have already found your
photographer, they should be able to give you several options to choose from. Below I'm going to give you some guidelines to help you decide on that perfect location for you.
Need help to choose the best family photographer: Tips for Choosing a Family Photographer .
Tips for what to wear in family pictures: Tips for What to Wear in Family Pictures .
1. TYPE OF SESSION?
The type of session can really help you decide on the best location. Are you planning a family session, a senior session, or a smash cake session etc?
If you are planning a family session that includes grandparents, you need to consider their mobility. If your grandparents have a hardtime going up and down stairs you need to consider if there are stairs to get to your location or if there will be a long walk to get to your location. Places like parks can be a difficult location if you need to walk a ways to get to the perfect spot. Also can your grandparent stand for a long period of time? If not you need to make sure there is a place for them to sit during the session. I live in Fuquay Varina, NC and one of the popular locations around here for sessions is Yates Mill. However for grandparents that have a hard time with walking and stairs this isn't the best option for them. In addition to everyone enjoying the session, you do not want your grandparents worn out afterwards.
If you are planning a family session with little kids you need to consider if there is room around for them to run around if necessary to get out some energy. Wide open fields are great for this. Another location near me is Historic Oak View Park. This is one of my favorite locations as there are plenty of fields for the kiddos to get out some energy. Plus they have beautiful old white buildings, barns and fences. This location does require a free permit in order to hold a session here. They only allow a few photographers at a time to avoid over crowding.
If you are planning a senior session will he/she need to change outfits during the session? If so plan ahead and make sure there is somewhere for them to change clothes. Also take into consideration if your senior is a more private individual who may not want their session to be around a lot of other people. If this is the case a downtown location might not be the best option for them. You want your photographer to capture their true self and if they will become shy because others are watching then that will be a hard task to accomplish.
If you are planning a smash cake session will there be an area close by to clean up your child? Cake smash sessions are messy and that is the entire point. I like to combine my smash cake sessions with a follow up bubble bath session. That way the toddler is all clean for the car ride home. It is necessary to make sure the water for the bubble bath is warm, so access to warm water is a necessity in this case. The time of year for the smash cake should also determine if you are looking for an indoor or outdoor location. I offer smash cake/bubble bath session during the warm months of the year at my outdoor studio. November-April is usually too cold outside for these types of sessions in North Carolina.
What is your vision for your session? Do you like the feel of modern buildings or would do you like more rustic? Do you want water or nature backdrop or do you prefer the top of a parking garage?
The top of parking garages is a popular option for senior portraits, especially ones with the downtown skyline in the background. You might need to do a little bit of research to find the perfect parking garage unless your photographer has taken past sessions in parking garages to show you. Be prepared to pay to park in the parking garage. Also take into consideration the day of the week that you will be having your session, will the top of the parking garage be full of cars?
Rustic backdrop is another popular option for families and senior portraits. If there is a favorite barn near you that you want to hold your session, be sure to get the owner's permission ahead of time. As I mentioned before Yates Mill is a popular option near me, and there are a couple of rustic looking buildings that can be used as backdrops. This location also requires a free permit since they only allow a few photographers at a time. Even though this is a beautiful location, I have found that unless your session is early in the morning it be can be super crowded. If you choose this location expect your session to take longer as you will most likely have to wait for other visitors to move along.
Nature, flowers and water make beautiful backdrops. This can even be at your favorite park. I would just recommend a spot at your park that isn't crowded. The JC Raulston Arboretum is another one of my favorite locations close to me. This is located near NC State Campus. They have beautifully landscaped areas and so many options to choose from. However at the time of this writing they are still closed due to COVID. Currently no permit is required to hold a session here, they just ask that everyone is respectful of one another.
Wide open fields is another great option. One of my favorites near me is Sugg Farms in Holly Springs, NC. No permit is needed to hold a session there and it isn't usually crowded.
Beaches are also beautiful options for a session. I recommend a location that isn't crowded and that the sand area is clean looking and not full of seaweed. Keep in mind that it is windy at the beach and that most likely your hair will be blowing in your pictures. If that isn't the type of picture that you are looking for, maybe select a lake location that has some sand instead.
Is there a location that has a special meaning to your family? If this is an engagement session, is there a special place that is meaningful to you? For example the location of your first date? Is there a special place on your grandparent's property that has special memories? Take a moment to think if there is a special location that you would like to hold your session.
4. DO YOU WANT TO INCLUDE PROPS?
Some photographers during certain times of the year will offer special mini sessions with props. These can be for special holidays like Easter or Christmas. I truly enjoy creating special mini session setups from February through November. My mini sessions are held at my outdoor studio and are designed for a particular season, however I also like to incorporate fun themes like Fairy Garden and Camp Mini Sessions.
You can check out my 2021 mini session schedule here: 2021 Mini Session Schedule .
I have found that especially for family pictures a more private location is the best. This allows the family to be themselves and entertain one another without having to worry about others. This is especially helpful when I ask the parents to be silly to get that wonderful smile out of their child. The parents will stand behind me and do whatever is necessary to make their child smile. There have been many chicken dances, tiktok dances etc that makes the kids be kids. Plus it's just them and they don't have to worry as much for the child to be embarrassed because there is no one else to witness their parents being silly. The only people that are witnessing the sillness is the family. This really helps put everyone at ease and helps them to just relax and allows me to capture their true self. This is one of the main reasons that I created an outdoor studio on our property. It makes a more relaxing and enjoyable environment. No waiting for other families to move along, and it makes the session run smoother and faster.