Studio or Location Family Photography – What’s The Difference and Which One is Right For Me?

studio photography vs outdoor photographyWhen you’re choosing a family photographer one of the decisions that you’ll need to make early on is whether you go for a studio photo shoot, or one on location – for example in an outdoor location or in your home.

Whilst some family photographers do offer both studio and location photo shoots, many will only offer one of these options, so deciding which of these options is best for your family will help to narrow down the number of photographers you’re considering.

So what are the differences, and which one is right for you and your family?


Family Photography in a Studio

If you book a family photo shoot in a studio, the chances are that the photographer will be using studio lighting and a choice of backdrops to photograph your family against. They’ll have complete control over both of these factors and will be able to achieve a consistent result in every shoot.

Some studio photographers may also offer the option to bring a ‘pop-up’ studio to your home – this is particularly common for newborn photographers.

They’ll have all of the equipment they need, and will most likely have toilets and changing facilities on site for you to use too.

Typically (although not always) a studio shoot will take a shorter amount of time than a location shoot as you’re in one place.


Family Photography on Location

If you book an on-location photo shoot you may have more choice over the ‘backdrop’ in your photographs, and it’s likely that your shoot will be completely unique to your family.

Most location photographers use only natural light. Some photographers will use reflectors and flash too.

Depending on where you choose for your shoot you may not have toilets or changing facilities to hand – if you opt for a photo shoot at home then all of these things will of course be close by!

Location shoots will typically take longer than a studio shoot as there is usually more of a storytelling element to them – you’ll often move around to different rooms of your house, or different parts of the outdoor location you’ve chosen.



So which one is right for me?

Whether a studio or location photo shoot is right for you is going to be very personal to your family. Every family is different and what works for one won’t be right for another.

That being said, here are the things to bear in mind when making your decision:


What kind of photography do you like?

Ultimately this is the most important question to ask when considering whether to choose a studio or location shoot. If you are drawn to one style of photography over another then the other factors I’ve listed below probably won’t be of concern.

If you’ve just started searching for a photographer and aren’t sure what style you would like for your family’s photographs I recommend spending an evening looking through Pinterest. You’ll find lots of different styles of photography and once you’ve found something you like you can search for photographers in your area who create the same style and quality of work.


What style of photography will complement the decor in your home best?

If you’re planning on investing in prints or canvases after your shoot it’s worth considering the style of your home, and what kind of photographs will complement it best.

For example, how would a photograph of your family in a park full of autumn leaves complement your decor compared with a brightly lit studio photograph of you all against a white backdrop? What about a dark and moody portrait in the studio compared with one of you all at the beach?

This can be difficult to visualise at first but spending a little time considering the end result you want to achieve in your home up front will help you to achieve it.


What are your children’s temperaments like?

Many families opt for a location photo shoot because it gives their children the opportunity to run, explore, play and this all brings out their personalities – and that’s what you want to capture.

If your children are shy or take time to warm up to strangers being on location, or in the familiar environment of home can suit them better.

For other families, a studio shoot is much more appealing because they’re worried that their children will ‘play up’ or not cooperate if they are at home or outdoors – the formal environment of the studio will suit them much better.

Whichever option you choose it’s important to choose a photographer who is experienced in working with children – wherever you are they should be able to bring the best out in your children and capture their personalities.


Does it matter if you have to reschedule?

The weather can of course impact location photography – if you’ve opted for an outdoor shoot and it pours with rain or snows on the day then chances are you will have to reschedule. Each photographer will have their own policy on this.

Of course in a studio, or at home the weather is unlikely to affect your shoot at all!

If your shoot absolutely has to happen on the date it’s planned for – for example everyone in your family is going to be in the same country and it’s the only time this will happen this year – then a studio shoot will likely be a safer option.


Related Links

How to choose a family photographer

How much does family photography cost?

I’ve booked an outdoor family photo shoot – what if it rains?

5 common concerns about booking a family photo shoot

How to prepare your children for an outdoor family photo shoot


Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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