I love making family portraits outdoors, especially when kids are involved. More space = more chance to run and play and be themselves. It means less time spent telling them they need to sit still and more time spent coming up with fun games to engage them. But when planning for an outdoor family portrait session, the million dollar question is WHERE to do them.
Choosing the location for your family portrait session is about more than choosing a place that is convenient and has parking (although those are important factors.) This is because the setting for your portraits is a major element of the photos. And remember that your family portraits are going to be pieces of artwork that decorate your home, whether they hang on a wall or rest on a nightstand. This means that the aesthetic of the location matters just as much as the availability of parking. The way I see it, there are essentially three aesthetic locations in our region: the Park, the Beach, and the City. Once you narrow down the aesthetic you prefer, then we can consider specific locations (and their parking situations.)
What I am broadly referring to as “the park,” here could be any place where an abundance of foliage is the main element in the background. Some of my favorites are the Arnold Arboretum, Wellesley College, Hall’s Pond Sanctuary, and Larz Anderson Park, but the possibilities are endless. (For many families, the backyard could serve this purpose, too.) Of course parks can have many different backgrounds and locations within them, but the general aesthetic is the same: foliage. In the summer, this means photos that feature a lot of green; in the fall, this will mean more reds and oranges.
Beaches are a favorite for family portraits in New England and again we have so many possibilities! The main background elements of portraits on the beach are the sky, sand, and water. So the color palette tends towards blues and browns, rather than the greens and yellows of The Park photos. Beach photos tend to feel more open than photos taken in the park since there are fewer elements in the background, which means more white space in the final portrait as well.
Again, I have to repeat this caveat that all three of these general locations have many mini-locations within them. The City, for example, could have within in elements of both the Beach and the Park – wide open spaces AND foliage – depending on which park of the city you choose. But when I consider family portraits in the City, what I really think about is incorporating the architectural elements of an urban landscape: buildings, bridges, bricks, reflections, and fountains. Photos in The City will reflect an urban background that either features blue and gray colors. Or, like in Boston, portraits in the City may mean lots of red from the bricks from the historic buildings.
Once you have decided on what you want the aesthetics of your background to be (foliage, sky and water, or architecture) then you know if your portraits are best made in The Park, The Beach, or The City. Then, we can narrow down the specific location where you’d like to make family portraits. I have lots of favorite places within each category, so we can absolutely find one that is convenient for your family, has lots of parking, and will give us the beautiful family portraits we’re looking for.