While we all have access to great camera phones and have camera rolls full of photos, nothing can replace beautiful, professional photos with every member of our family that capture those beautiful family photographs.
However, sometime with lots of options available to you and so many different styles to choose from, it can sometimes be overwhelming to decide what is best for you.
While some photographers do offer both options, the majority only offer studio or photos on location so it’s a great place to consider which is right for you when considering what photographer to book.
I hope this article will help you decide whether a studio shoot or an outdoor family photoshoot experience is the right choice for your family. Remember when hiring a professional family photographer there is no right answer as every family is different!
What is the difference – studio vs outdoor?
Studio photography is in one set place where you are photographed against backdrops (usually plain colours like white, black, grey) under studio light. The benefits are obviously that you’re indoors so it can happen in any weather and you have access to toilets, changing facilities and so on.
Location photography happens, as you’d imagine, on location! I often split shoots between home and location, but a lot of families also just opt for their family portraits in one place like the park, fields or they have another choice of location in mind that makes the shoot personal to them. Maybe it’s somewhere special to them or somewhere they hang out a lot. That put extra meaning into the photos for them.
While you lose the ability to change clothing and other tiny things like that you capture ordinary moments that make lovely family pictures and can capture some super fun photos. You may end up spending a little more time on location when you have family photos outdoors but that just gives me more opportunity to capture those moments that will become your favourites!
Pick the style of photos you love
It may seem like an obvious place to start but which of the styles really resonates with you?
If you look at one genre over the other and immediately know that’s the style for you then great, go with your gut!
If you know that you want your kids running around free-range in a park then the thought of being in a studio under lighting umbrellas probably fills you with dread. However, if the photo you dream of hanging on your wall is your family sitting formally in smart clothes, then that look absolutely cannot be achieved while running around in a garden!
What type of family are you? And what type of home do you live in? Would a photo of you all having fun throwing leaves at the park work on your walls in your home or would a studio lit shot of you all on a plain background fit in better?
What is best for your children?
You will know your children better than anyone, but will it be hard to contain your kids in a small space such as photo studio? In my experience, this is especially true if your little one is spirited and loves to be free and run around.
The benefit of opting for an outdoor family photoshoot is the freedom to run and play let’s kids really relax into the shoot and have fun. When they’re enjoying themselves you’ll really get to see their little personalities shine and I think that shows through in the end photos.
The pictures captured of them playing will really capture the true essence of who they are and their interests at this moment in time and become a time capsule to this phase of life.
What about the British weather if you go for an outdoor family photo session?
Studio photos do definitely have the advantage that they can happen any time, but is there anything better than a beautiful spring day in the UK, or the British summer sun shining on you? The autumn colours changing make my heart sing and when we get snow our countryside never looks more magical!
I’ll admit we do get some showers, but mostly they aren’t enough to show up in photos so if you’re happy to take your chances you usually won’t need to reschedule, but I’m also happy to be flexible and reschedule your photoshoot booking for a different day should the weather be bad.
Furthermore, the light outside can be worked with to give you a great range of photos from one location and I know how to work with it to get the best from your family portrait session to get some beautiful photos. And we can pick the best time of day for your shoot to boot; the beautiful golden hour just as the sun dips creates gorgeous light or early in the morning gives a lovely hazy light.
That being said, if you absolutely need your photos on a specific date, then an at home family photo session or a studio shoot can be the safer option here!
Will we feel awkward posing for photos?
While I’ve heard it said that you’ll feel silly taking photos in the park or at other locations because people will see you, I would say the opposite is true. Yes, of course on outdoor shoots people will see you, but you’re in the park doing normal things like scooting, playing football and using the playground for the first bit of your shoot so you all relax into it. That’s what everyone else is doing. They’re all far too busy paying attention to themselves to worry about what you’re up to!
Look at what Lauren said about exactly this:
Tori was great at putting the whole family at ease – I had been a bit worried that having photos taken in public would be embarrassing, but after five minutes it just felt like a normal day at the park, which resulted in some beautiful candid shots. She has a fantastic way with children, and was very patient and playful with my uncooperative toddler and sleepy baby.
In photography studios, you will be taking photos in different poses against a background so if you’re worried about feeling awkward this might not be the setting for you. I’ve had a studio shoot with my own family when I was a child and it wasn’t right for my family. Being asked to do non-spontaneous piggy backs etc didn’t feel right (especially when I was an awkward teenager!) so it’s all about finding the right experience for your particular family – there is no right or wrong answer. Here’s a photo of me looking particularly uncomfortable for you to have a good laugh at!
Which is right for us?
It’s not for me to say which is right for your family, but remember these tips:
- Look at the different styles – which resonates with you?
- Think about the temperament of your children – what do you think they’d enjoy?
- Are you able to be flexible around the weather and time of day?
- Do you have a location that you’d love to incorporate into photos?
If you decide that having an outdoor photoshoot is what you’re after, take a look at some of the photos I’ve created for other families and I’d love to chat through your ideas for your own family!