One of the most frequent questions I’m asked right after a client books a session is, “what are the best locations in Waukesha County?” One of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to getting your family pictures taken is how to choose the best location for your photo session. Your choice will drive all other decisions about the session, including what lighting I will need to bring along, which style and color of clothing should be worn, and the most suitable poses to use.

As your photographer, I’m a storyteller, and the location plays a really big part of the story. I always advise my clients to think hard about the location and try to choose somewhere that has special meaning…a weekend escape, a favorite ice cream shop, a lake you frequent on the weekends, even your own backyard! Helping you choose a spot that fits your personality truly makes the session special and unique.
Three girls sitting on bench outside Oconomowoc ice cream shop eating ice cream
Furthermore, capturing the essence of your family’s personality at a meaningful location results in engaging, personal photos because you feel happier and more comfortable there. The imagery showing that level of comfort and happiness will touch your heart every time you look at the portraits hanging on your wall. If the location has emotional meaning to you, you’re going to love your images even more.

There are, however, plenty of times when my clients can’t think of a location that has special meaning to them. When that happens, I have a long list of beautiful locations in and around Lake Country to suggest based on a number of factors. What I have found to be helpful is meeting my clients ahead of time for an in-person consultation that allows me to get to know them a bit, learn their preferences, see their home décor first-hand and learn about their family so that I can properly advise them on where to go. This consultation is included in the full-service level of care I provide all of my clients.

Here are my top five tips for helping you find the perfect spot for your portrait session.

1. Choose a Location That Fits Your Personality
The location of your portrait session is the perfect time to showcase your personality! If you prefer dressing casual for your session (think jeans and Chuck Taylors) an urban setting with lots of brick walls and streetscapes may be just the place to pull it all together. Conversely, if you really love dressing up in fancy clothing you could still choose an urban location, but I would recommend one with more classical architecture (think large white pillars). Dreaming up the perfect setting that matches your personality is wrapped up in all that I offer you as your full-service photographer.
Family of five sitting on brick steps of urban area in downtown Delafield posing for a family portrait session2. Consider your home decor
The location of your portrait session can largely be decided based on the style and color scheme of your home décor. If you have a home with modern or industrial furnishings images from an urban location will likely fit in nicely. A beach session would be perfect for a home with nautical or coastal/cottage interior design. Images taken in an open field or near a rustic barn suit a home with farmhouse décor. Considering your home’s interior design style when planning where to have your portraits taken is a critical part of the planning process. The pre-session consultation is the ideal time for me to see your home in person to suggest locations that will complement your décor.
Family of four on cement pier at Atwater Beach, Milwaukee
3. WHEN is just as important as where
Locations can look drastically different depending on when you are visiting. This is true both seasonally, as well as throughout the day. Seasonally, flowers bloom at different times of the year, foliage changes color from summer to fall, and the placement of the sun in the sky will change as the year progresses. Time of day also changes the look of the location’s landscape. Two hours after the sun rises and two hours before the sun sets is called the “golden hour” for a reason. Everything has a warm, flattering light during this time. Mid-day sun casts undesirable shadows with its harsh light. I prefer photographing you during the golden hour, but happy children trump beautiful light every time so first and foremost consider when your children are happiest during the day when deciding when to have your session.

4. Be Unique
Start by thinking about what your family enjoys doing together. How do you spend your weekends or free time? Is there anywhere you enjoy going together on a regular basis? Ice cream at The Kiltie in the summertime? Nature hikes at Lapham Peak when the leaves start to change in the fall? How about embracing where we live, in beautiful Lake Country, by showing off your skills sailing, fishing or kayaking? Prefer playing board games? Consider bringing one along to play for a bit on a picnic blanket. A lifestyle session in your home could be the answer too! Also, don’t feel limited to remain in the Lake Country area for your session. Do you have a favorite spot outside the city we live in? A summer cabin? A favorite vacation destination? Shoot it by me, I love to travel! Let’s explore together.
Family of three looking through baby photo album5. Relax
If you still have no ideas of where to hold your session don’t worry! I’ve got many favorites I use in the area as well as a gallery demonstrating my work at all those locations that is provided to you to peruse once you’ve booked your session. I am always here to help and usually start with a few questions, such as “What look and feel would you like your photos to have?” Are you adventurous and want the images to reflect that part of your personality? Are you after a cozier, relaxed feel to the images? Or do you prefer something sleek and polished? We have so many options in Southeastern Wisconsin, from rustic barns, open fields and parks to beaches and urban areas too.  Once I have met you, know your preferences and have seen your home décor I can suggest places or find a new location that will suit you perfectly. I’m here to help!

Need more ideas? Check out this post I wrote for Lake Country Family Fun for the best photo locations in Waukesha County that might help you decide. I know that when trying to find the perfect spot for your family photo session there are tons of hidden gems all over this part of the state. Comment below if you’ve found one you’d like to share!

Now that you have an idea of how to find the perfect location for your session let’s get together to plan what you’ll wear. I love pulling outfits together for families. Contact me today to get started!


Julie Collins Photography is an Oconomowoc Family Photographer serving Waukesha and Milwaukee County and the surrounding areas.  If you’re looking for an Oconomowoc family photographer, send a message to chat!  Come visit my family photography site to view more beautiful pictures!

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