With reference to my outdoor family photoshoots, somebody asked me the other day "...but where would you go to take family photos at this time of year?"
At the time, it was still cold and damp outside and I could completely see her point of view. For most people, heading out of doors on a dull and dreary day for some family portraits seems less than ideal. I would imagine that many people would much prefer to head outside on a bright, sunny (and warm!) day instead.
The weather is always commented on at every single wedding I photograph - as soon as the sun appears there is normally a comment along the lines of "fantastic! I bet you're happy that the sun is out. It makes for better pictures doesn't it!". Well, actually, no it doesn't, not necessarily!
Bright sunlight can cause your subject to squint because of the harsh light and you are also very likely to capture some really horrible shadows. Using fill-in flash to reduce the shadows can help but I feel that you lose colour and ambience and the resulting photo can look immensely flat (unless you are very skilled at flash photography).
The truth is, as long as there is enough light available then there are always photographic opportunities to be found. Every location and season throughout the year has something to offer. Winter offers the perfect opportunity to capture some really intimate family portraits, getting families to snuggle up in their hats and scarves with sparse trees in the background and if you're really lucky you might be able to capture ice and snow too. Spring brings warmer weather with the opportunity to capture blossom trees and vibrant greens. It also means that your choice of wardrobe can be much more varied when you are not confined to wearing your warmest clothes! Summer is all about having fun, utilising vibrant colours, playing with (or near) water and seeking out amazing sunsets. With the longer days it also means that you can more or less choose when you want to do your shoot. Autumn still offers warmth with amazing colours to match. Puddle jumping and umbrella swinging are just an added incentive!
As for locations, woodlands are ideal for a photoshoots as you can find a number of different backdrops within a small area but it also allows you a bit of privacy away from crowds of people so that you can just relax and have fun. There are, however, many other places to undertake shoots and some of my favourite images have resulted from using other types of backdrop. Buildings can be used to add some extra interest to the photos and whether they are old, new or in a place with a personal link, I often like to take a few portraits which show the wider context which includes the building and the rest of the environment.
Whatever the weather, whatever the location I always try and make my photoshoots fun, especially with young children. Toys and props can be helpful (and a welcome distraction if children are getting a little bored!) but very often the surroundings can always be utilised for fun games!
Hopefully that gives you a bit of insight into my outdoor family photoshoots. At the moment I am really looking forward to getting out to do a couple of shoots in the bluebell woods - it's one of my all time favourite backdrops! I also offer indoor photoshoots in your own home but I think that might require a blog post all to itself! I've put up a few photos below from various family outings and photoshoots. If you are interested in commissioning a shoot, please take a look here for more information or drop me a line.