Susan Dixon Photography » Jacksonville wedding & portrait photographer

How to Choose the Perfect Location for Your Next Photo Session

As a Jacksonville photographer, I feel like we are very blessed to have SO MANY options in our area when it comes to choosing a location for a photography session.

Whether you’re a professional OR you’re  just wanting to take pictures of your friends/family, the location you choose makes a HUGE difference in the outcome of your images.

And whether you’re in the Jacksonville area or not, here are three questions to help you select a stunning location for your next photography session!

(1) What will the lighting look like at the time of my session?

Since the best light for outdoor sessions happens in the golden hour–one hour before sunset, you really need to know where and how the light will shine at the time of your session. Sometimes you know because you drive by the area frequently. You may need to make a special trip to check out the lighting. If you love back-lit images, you need to be sure that there’s a fairly open area in the west so that you can get enough of that gorgeous, warm light.

If you need to do the session at a time other than the golden hour, think about finding some open shade or other ways to get good light.

Try to avoid dappled light (often produced as sunlight shines through leaves), which leads to hot spots in your photos. In addition, avoid placing your subjects facing into the sun. Everyone will be squinting.


image to pinterest


(2) What mood do you want these pictures to convey?

Take a few moments and think about the story you will tell with these images…..and what type of location will add to the mood you wish to achieve?

The two engagement photos below were taken in very different settings.

image to pinterest

The one on the left has a definite city/modern/sophisticated vibe. On the other hand, the pic on the right has a dreamy/romantic/natural quality. They are both beautiful… just depends on the direction you want to go. It’s your story, and your location should enhance that story–not detract.

Don’t just pick a place because you think it’s pretty. Decide on the tone you want your images to have, and go from there.

One of my recent families specifically asked for a beach session. They know they will only be here for a few years because of the husband’s military career. And the beach fits them perfectly, because reads as fun and casual….just like them. It helps them tell their story of their time in Florida.

image to pinterest

{A side note about shooting on the beach–>ALWAYS check to see when low tide is. High tide makes your session more difficult and/or impossible–depending on the beach.}

We also have a lot of awesome buildings here in Jacksonville, Florida. One of my favorites is a warehouse that is covered with art! Images photographed at a place like this will read as modern/young/edgy.

image to pinterest

There are SOOO many more examples that I could give……but the last option I’m going to mention here is being photographed on your own property. I’ve done several sessions with clients on their own land, and it something extra special to the images. Here are a couple of my favorites:

image to pinterest

(3) What location works best for all of the people involved?

If you hire a professional photographer, please defer to him/her for the final say in the location. Photographers LOVE suggestions from clients! But trust his/her experience as to whether or not a specific location will work. Also, make sure that everyone can get there ON TIME–> ready to go.

The closer your location and more familiar everyone is with the directions, the more likely you are to experience success.

Location is very important! It creates the framework for the story you are telling with your images. Be thoughtful when selecting a setting….you will be so glad that you did!

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