Planning a Photo Session | Why Location, Time of day, and Clothing Matter

Family Photography

Family Photo Tips | Location, Time of day, and Clothing

Today I am going to share my family photo tips and why Location, time of day, and clothing matter most when planning a photo session! Every decision of your photo session, pre-planning process plays a vital role in the final product of your images that you receive. In order to get the images you want, you have to take each of these things into account! I’m going to do a quick overview of why these three things are important and then some practical things that you can do to achieve the final look that you want in your photo session.

Christmas Tree Farm Photo session in Nashville TN by Family Photographer Grace Paul.


The first item we are going to dive into is location. If you think of this like a movie, this is where you set your scene. For example, if you sit down to watch a romantic, princess movie, and the first scene pops up of them in a cave in the amazon, you’d be a little confused. If you are like me, you would be asking, “what is going on here?”  It sends mixed messages that the storyline might not be cohesive in the end. 

The same is true with your photo sessions. If there’s a feeling you want to convey in your images, then you need to select the right scene or location. For instance, if you want light and airy photos, you’re going to want to start with a light and airy background.  If you’re inside, then you want white colored walls and white surfaces next to windows.  

During an outside session, think about wide-open spaces, and areas with reflective surfaces. If you were taking photos around buildings then you need to make sure there are sidewalks, as they are typically reflective and will bounce the light back in your face. You also want to make sure the area is free of heavy tree coverage that will cast shadows. 

On the flip side, if you are wanting those darker, moodier images, you can look for darker alley ways if you’re in the city. Another option are places with thicker, dense tree lines, as that will create the look you desire for your session. Setting the scene is the foundation of your session. it is a major factor in your final product, which is why you want to start with location.  

Fall Family Photos at Ellington Ag Center in Nashville, TN by Grace Paul Photography.

Time of Day 

After you’ve selected your perfect location, the next item I want to discuss when planning a photo session is the time of day! Let’s say you have your perfect light and airy scene. You are in a wide open field with wildflowers decorating the ground; everything is beautiful! However, you’re shooting at noon. Since the sun is high in the sky, you’re going to have some really harsh shadows. Now, they can be cool and artistic, but it’s not going to give you that ethereal look typically seen in a light and airy photo. There will be more contrast. It will be punchy. It will be an entirely different look all together, even though it is the same setting. This is why the time of day really matters. 

If you’ve had a recent outdoor photo session, you know they are typically scheduled either early in the morning around sunrise or in the evening around Sunset. I know, because I am a mom, that your first thought might be, “I can’t do that. It’s my kids’ bedtime!” 

Trust me; I know! I hear you, because again, mom of four right here!  They are all little and it is a struggle and a juggle act when you have bedtimes and nap times in the mix. However, if you are wanting that heavenly, dreamy look to your photos, then you have to stick to the early morning or later evenings around sunrise and sunset. The lighting during these times will give you a natural glow from the sun, excellent skin tones, and an overall light and airy look. 

Nashville Family Maternity Photography at Ellington Agricultural Center

Clothing Selection

Moving on to our final point! Now that you have your location and time of day selected, you need to pick out your clothing. This matters more than you think! It’s also easier than you may realize. For years, I would stress about our outfits. I would bring backup options and be careful with the snacks in the car and all that. Now that I’ve fallen in love with timeless, organic, and luxurious images, I’ve figured out a few things that are easy to implement to get that high-end, fresh and timeless look.  

First, whenever you’re picking out clothes, the fabric matters just as much as the cut.  If you’re wanting the light and airy images I’ve described, then fabrics like gauze, linen, and chiffon are the ones that will lend themselves to that organic and luxurious look. The same thing with flowy layers and textures. These clothing items will really bring in depth to your images.

Conversely, if you are wanting an edgy modern look, then grab some skinny jeans, if those are still in, a white tank top, and a leather jacket. You do you, girlfriend! However, if you are anything like me, and you want those images that speak to your heart, are whimsy, and have an air of romance to them, then I recommend sticking with those fabrics and textures. I also recommend thinking about the types of outfits you will wear. Dresses lend themselves to that romantic and feminine vibe for moms.  

style tips for moms by Grace Paul Photography.

Styling Kiddos 

When styling kids, this is where I think it’s easier than you might think.  For my kids we have switched to just going barefoot in all of our photo sessions. It is organic and it speaks true to our everyday life, because we’re always outside of running around the house without shoes on. Going barefoot allows us to be free, run, play, and be ourselves. It is also one less thing I have to worry about. There’s my Mom Hack: skip the shoes for everyone! Don’t even worry about it!

For the rest of the clothing, since I have all little boys, I stick to linen shorts and pants, a linen or gauze top. I might add in a little variety sometimes with a stripe or a small pattern, but always in muted colors!  Which brings me to the next crucial part of picking out clothing: dark colors and  patterns create a different look in images. I admit, I’m not a bold, edgy, modern photographer. 

My heart is with that feminine, romantic touch! To achieve that look, select muted colors. In addition, if you want that light and airy look, choose light clothing. I know, it sounds almost too simple!  If you want a light and airy photo, wear a white dress, or have your kids in white, beiges, or creams. You could even do soft blues. I’m loving sage and muted greens these days, as well as pale, dusty pink.  Whatever color you love, find the muted version of that and don’t worry too much about matchy-matchy. 

Family Posing Tips by Grace Paul Photography.

Final Notes on Clothing | Planning a Photo Session

When planning a photo session, select clothing that you know your kids will wear again. Relax and know that it’s fine if they get grass or dirt on it. It will come right out with some spray and wash.  Go barefoot and run around in the grass. Remember to be yourselves in and whatever clothing you select. Your clothing should make your heart skip a beat. You should feel beautiful and confident, your kids should be comfortable as you fawn over them. Your husband should also feel comfortable, because Lord knows he is probably already uncomfortable as it is going into a photo session. 

Another mom hack: throw your husband in some khakis with a brown leather belt and a button-up shirt, or a white Henley and he’s good to go. Guys are so easy! 

I hope these family photo tips on why location, time of day, & clothing Matter help you as you plan your next photo session. These three items truly set the stage of your photos. They dictate and determine the feel and outcome of your images that will be on your social media, the walls of your home, on your Christmas cards, and even Christmas and birthday gifts to your parents and other family members. Location, time of day, & clothing are key factors that matter most when planning your photo session and what your photos look like for years to come.

I hope my tips on location, time of day, and clothing help you when planning your next photo session! If you want to start planning your next photo session, I’d love to connect with you! Please Contact Me to start a conversation today! I will always be there to help you find the perfect location, the time of day that works best for your, and the right clothing for the look you want!

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