Picking the best location for your photo session shouldn’t be a hard task. Keep a few key things in mind when planning your photo session and the perfect location will jump right out at you!

There are so many things to think about when planning your session. I’ll break them down into a few simple steps to walk through.


What is your overall vision for your session?

Are you obsessed with the idea of a breezy sunset beach session? Does the thought of an edgy downtown session really speak to you? Keep this in mind!

Ebony really wanted to feature cliffs and the beach in her session. The power and might of the cliffs and ocean really played well into the reason for her session. This helped me to significantly narrow down the options of locations since I knew we had to have cliffs. I was able to find a great spot in Malibu for her session which checked all of her boxes.

Woman's portraits


Why are you having your session?

Are you commemorating a trip? I have had several families come in from out of town on a vacation and have family photos done to commemorate their trip. We always try to incorporate something very Santa Monica to make sure that we fully capture their experience here. Usually, we end up on the beach by the Pier, but I have another family coming in this summer who wants to shoot at the Venice Canals – side note – I can’t wait for this one!! This is an awesome souvenir from your trip so make sure to pick a spot that really encompasses what the trip was for you!

family photo session at the beach

Trying to commemorate a place you lived before a move?  Let’s plan your session right near the home you are leaving.  We can capture some memories for you to have forever before you move to your new home!

family photo santa monica

Annual family photos or maternity photos? Pick a place where you spend a lot of time together! This sweet family loves to spend time at the Will Roger’s State Park together, so it only made sense to go there for their annual holiday session!

2019 03 03 0056 Family Photos at Will Rogers State Park


Think about your overall style. Is your family really stylish and formal? Are you more laid back and casual?

You want to make sure you are comfortable at your session. If you love to get dressed up maybe a fancy hotel lobby would be a great location for you! Are you more laid back and casual? Maybe a sandy beach session or a field is your style. More outdoorsy and adventurous? Maybe a hike to a hidden location in the mountains would be better (another side note – I’m a trail runner, so I have some pretty great locations if you want a bit more adventure!)

Engagment 31


Think about convenience!

Are you having a family session with 3 small children under 5 and a dog? You may not want to do a long hike 3 miles out to a secluded location with no bathrooms. No one will be happy when you get there!

One of my favorite locations to shoot at – El Matador Beach – checks off so many boxes for being the perfect location. It has a parking lot, it has bathrooms, it’s a bit more private, and it is GORGEOUS -BUT you have to walk down about 100 steep stairs to get to the beach.  And those bathrooms? Port-a-potties. This can absolutely be a deal breaker for some families. Hauling a stroller and diaper bag down those stairs can be annoying and even a bit dangerous.

On another note, Will Rogers State Park has convenient parking, an actual bathroom, and you can push a stroller to so many different spots.

Think about your comfort level in front of others.

While you might be dreaming of a sunset session at the Santa Monica Pier, you might also get a bit uncomfortable in front of all of the people who will be there at that same time. In that case, we can find a more private beach location to capture the same overall feeling without you having to kiss, dip, and pose in front of a ton of strangers!

Final Thoughts

A few other quick things to think about are permits and if a location is pet-friendly. Some locations (especially here in LA!) require a permit to shoot at. Your photographer can help you find out how much a permit is and how far in advance you have to secure them.

Another thought is if the location is dog-friendly. I have a lot of sessions that include a dog and while I LOVE getting your 4 legged friends in your images, no one wants to get a huge ticket because your pup was where they weren’t supposed to be. A quick rule of thumb is State Parks do NOT allow dogs. Also, many of the beaches do not allow dogs either. If you’d like to include your pup, let me know. I’m happy to let you know the locations where your dog is allowed to go!

Corgi with a bowtie Corgi with a bowtie

Going forward, I will be featuring some of my favorite locations as well as sessions that were shot at them. My goal is to help you pick the perfect location for your session and to help you visualize what your images will look like.

Tell me in the comments – where would you love to have a photo session?

leave a comment




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

back to top

Serving New Jersey, pennsylvania, and New york 

Effortless Maternity, Newborn, & Portrait Photography