As I sit in a wildflower garden, location-scouting for future photoshoots in and around Sheffield, I thought it would be helpful to talk a little bit about location. Is it really that important, and how can we use it to meaningfully tell our story and enhance our photos?
It's All About Connection
When booking your photoshoot, it can be tempting to think that you need a grand, magical location in order for your photos to sing. This just isn't the case. Your photos sing first and foremost due to connection; either your connection with self, loved ones, the environment (more on that later) or all of the above. You could be in the most picture perfect spot, and whilst it is beautiful, you wont want that to be the only thing you're reminded of when you look back on those images. You'll want to remember the typical tantrum on the way up the hill. Seeing your children's faces light up as they splash mud up their legs. Taking refuge from the wind by nestling into your partner's chest, breathing in the rare quiet moments of your busy life. Your chosen location should compliment this and be a backdrop for precious moments, not the main attraction.
Think About What You Really Want
Now we know that we'll have meaningful photos wherever we go, it takes the pressure off the 'perfect location' and we can think a bit more objectively about where to have your photoshoot. What mood do you want to portray, what atmosphere do you want to create, how do you want to remember these moments?
Sweet & Playful
If sweet and playful images are what you're after, flowers are the way to go. This is great if you have younger children as this can pique their interest and hold their attention for a little while. Going for a walk is great, or a picnic in the park. Fields of flowers or wheat that they can get lost in, run around in, or pile on you to have a little cuddle are great. Wildflowers are also extremely romantic at any time of day, perfect for motherhood, family and couples sessions alike.
Golden & Cinematic
If you're after something a little moodier, the rugged Peak District is brilliant at golden hour for deep tones, an expansive 360 degree vista and windswept hair for days. I find that this type of location feels very cinematic and emotional. Wrap yourselves up in blankets, lead each other over unsteady ground and embrace as the sun sets over the hills. Bang on for couples shoots and beautiful for family, motherhood and maternity too. There can be some sheer drops though so be mindful if you have adventurous little ones.
Side note: The Peaks can look beautifully earthy and bright whilst still keeping the cinematic feel in the daytime. See below for examples
Ethereal & Enigmatic
I don't know about you but I find woods and forests so magical. It makes me want to 1. sod life and live as a naked wood nymph, and 2. find the biggest, floatiest gown and run through the trees with reckless abandon. Completely normal, thank you, I know. I think it's because of the way the dreamy dappled light filters through the leaves, the layers upon layers of trees adding depth and mystery, the occasional mist skating over the ground. This is a lush environment if you're a fan of bluebells in spring, green in summer, or more autumnal tones later on in the year. I personally think this would be beautifully otherworldly for maternity sessions as well as solo and motherhood/family sessions. Like I said, it's all about the atmosphere you want to create.
Slow & Authentic
Maybe you have mobility issues, or simply can't face wrangling the kids together to get out the door with your sanity intact. Maybe you have a beautiful newborn and need to take it steady. This is when in-home (or studio) sessions are perfect. You are not sacrificing anything. There is so much beauty to be found in our own homes; so much character, memories, stories. And no, before you say anything, the state of your home does not matter. It is your home, for all it's mess and chaos. It's a representation of life today. We aren't living in a magazine and if authenticity is your bag, it shouldn't look like it either. Again, it is the connection that shines, the mundanity of daily life which we are sure to look back on with such romantic eyes. As long as you have a decent sized window or floor lamp, we're good to go. It really doesn't get more authentic than your own home, where new memories and lots of 'firsts' are being made every single day.
My studio is also available if you're wanting something a little more curated. It is however located up 2 flights of stairs (that's Sheffield terraced houses for you) but has wonderful afternoon and evening light. We can take it slow and steady no matter the session type, resulting in serene and calm images. If you're interested in studio sessions, I've written all about it here.
Sentimentality Is Key
A place that holds meaning to you is going to mean so much more than a random pretty field. The place you first met your partner, the spot where you realised you were in love. Your child's favourite tree, the walk you take when you need alone time. You'll know the places I mean. They are tied to your memories and hold so much weight which will inevitably show in your images. They'll mean so much more when you're looking back on them for years to come, so it's always worth considering when choosing a location; you can't go wrong with sentimentality.
It's All About You
I hope I've shed some light on the potential moods and atmospheres that different locations can conjure up. The importance of location will vary person to person. If you have your heart set on a gorgeous wheat field, choose the damn wheat field. This blog post is all so you can make more informed decisions when choosing your location, so that you are as in love with your photos as you possibly can be. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, go with your gut and if in doubt, go sentimental.