Updated for 2020!
Originally published in 2016, this blog post has proved to be one of the most popular pages on my website. I’d like to greet the new decade with an update to reflect some new finds, as well as a whole new set of photos to illustrate the beauty of these natural spots for location family photography!
Wow! Thank you so much for the great reception you gave to the first part of my article on my favourite outdoor family photo shoot locations. I absolutely adore shooting family portraits outside, and this was such a fun exercise for me. It was very rewarding to look back at some of my favourite location portrait shoots from the past few years.
I hope you are inspired by the light, colours and scenery as much as I have been. And if you know of any other incredible places you think I should check out, get in touch!
5. Roman Walls, Silchester, Hampshire
Hands down one of the most fascinating places to visit in North Hamphire, the Roman Walls of Silchester (near Tadley) date from 1st century BC, and circle the Iron Age settlement once known as Calleva. It is possible to walk along the full circle of the walls, and view them from the outside as well. The circuit is surrounded by beautiful vegetation, including tall grasses, wildflowers, and ancient oak trees, in themselves already a stunning visual backdrop – but the weathered brickwork from the walls really makes Silchester stand out as a magical location for family portrait photography.
To sit, stand or ran alongside remains from a civilisation over 2000 years old always gives us pause for thought, and sparks great conversations with the children!
4. New Forest, Hampshire
The New Forest needs little introduction. It is the pride of Hampshire and an easy-to-reach retreat for families from all around the country. It spans a very large geographical area and its scenery is very diverse, from rivers to streams, to beaches, woodland and beyond. The treasure of wildlife in the New Forest is one of the best preserved in the country – drive around the country roads and you will see wild ponies, cattle, pigs and donkeys enjoying their freedom and space. What better place for a family photo shoot, than one of the forest’s hidden crannies or exciting wildlife walks?
More from this family and toddler portrait session in the New Forest, Hampshire.
3. Richmond HIll, Richmond, West London
The gentle slope down Richmond Hill all the way down to the River Thames is one of the most visually impressive spots in the area. 18th century landscape Romanticist William Turner lived there in the early 1800s, and he, like many other of his contemporaries, was famously inspired by the views from the top of the hill.
It is not difficult to see why the scenery at Richmond Hill is an artist’s delight. I am always struck by the way that the colours of the river, the sky and the lush vegetation flow so well into one another. Turn your back to the river, and you will still have an impressive backdrop of characterful period buildings. Small patches of well-tended woodland are home to the local wildlife, and provide such a fun and safe space for even younger children to explore.
And after the shoot, the town and its many coffee shops and restaurants are a very easy walking distance away! Richmond Hill definitely has a lot going for it as a destination for family photography, and comes highly recommended for families in the Surrey and West London area.
More from this fun family photo shoot at Richmond Hill
2. St Catherine’s Hill, Winchester, Hampshire
If you would like to combine a family photo shoot with a gentle hike or a picnic, St Catherine’s Hill is the place for you. On the way up, your children will love the accessible woodland, which is particularly colourful during the autumn. And once on the top, you will be rewarded by spectacular views over the city of Winchester and an extensive wild flower display during the summer months. So many butterflies to be spotted! My favourite part would have to be the steps on the clearer side of the hill, which look straight out of a fairytale illustration.
1. West Wittering Beach, Chichester
West Wittering Beach in East Sussex has everything you could ever ask for from a seaside location. Fine white sands stretching for miles, and clear blue waters (with Blue Flag status!) to swim in, or shallow lagoons to splash around in at low tide. The sand dunes are the perfect growing environment for a number of beach grasses and other vegetations, while the multicoloured beach huts give the beach that unmistakeable British seaside charm.
It is one of my most requested locations, and even though it may be a little further out for most of my Hampshire, London and home counties clients, the drive and the early start are absolutely worth the effort. We can shoot there during the warmer months, usually between the Spring and the early Autumn.
…. and a Bonus entry! Just around the corner…
There is one location that I originally overlooked when compiling the first incarnation of this list. So close to me that I almost take it for granted – but I am really grateful to have access to it because it comes up with the goods every time!
Just a few minutes’ walk away from my studio in Basingstoke, is a belt of mature beech, sycamore and lime trees. The trees are over a hundred years old, and they protect the residents of our neighbourhood from the main road. Walk along this long avenue of trees, and you’ll forget you are in a residential area – squirrels everywhere, mushrooms, bluebells, musks all grow there.
All year round, the avenue of trees provides a simply magnificent and colourful backdrop for family photo sessions, and it is my go-to whenever we want to add an outdoor portion to a studio shoot without going too far.
Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn all look equally striking – take a look at the selection of images below for an example of what this location looks like at different times of the year.
Well done to you for coming to the end of this long post! Take it as a starting point – it was tricky to narrow down twelve years of location family photography to a list of just ten (or eleven!). There are at least twice as many gorgeous settings that I could recommend for your portrait photo shoots. So let’s get inspired together – next time you feel like exploring somewhere new, take a great family photographer with you! 😉