A complete guide to selecting the best setting for your photos

The possibilities are endless. We can suggest a few places in and around Colchester, but if you have some ideas, then even better. Do you have a preferred location; perhaps your favourite place to relax and unwind, somewhere significant, or simply where you go to walk the dog? It is important that you choose the appropriate location for you and your family, as it plays a big part in the overall atmosphere of your images. It is also important to select somewhere that matches your personality – if you hate the feel of sand in your shoes, don’t go to the beach. You need to enjoy the experience and by including your interests and something of your personality, it creates a complete portrait.

We have put together our most popular choices of locations, but would love to hear from you about any other more unique suggestions..


The beach offers a huge array of options all in one place. There is the sea, the sand, the beach wall and the beach huts that provide colour and variety for the backdrop. This setting creates stunning, natural portraits if you’re not afraid to have wind swept hair. It can be quite windy and chilly by the shore even in the summer, so come prepared – bring an extra layer and a hairbrush! The beach is a fun space for children to enjoy, or a romantic setting for a couple taking long walks in the evening. If this interests you, see more of our beach portrait photographs.

Young couple having engagement photos at the beach


A country park or something similar is the most popular portrait location as it offers variety. This is perfect for families with children as there are large open fields for them to run around in. It’s not just for children though with the natural, uninterrupted ideal landscapes giving the perfect setting for any portrait. The four seasons create different backdrops – spring and summer provide the most common backdrop most associate with portrait photography, with leafy trees and colourful blossom. Autumn brings in beautiful earthy colours of reds and oranges, while winter in the park can appear quite stark with exposed branches. This is something to consider when choosing an outdoor portrait and what colours and environment you would like your photographs to contain.

Mother and two young girls running in field


An urban environment is generally used for more specific portrait sessions; it provides a very stylistic look. If you feel the beach or the park just isn’t for you, then you might consider an urban area. Perhaps here is where you feel at home and your personality can shine through. Alternatively, you might want to use an urban area in an ironic fashion by dressing smartly and creating contrast between your outfit and your environment. This backdrop often offers dark, gritty images with added drama. 

Man posing on rustic, industrial staircase


For winter portrait sessions, you might not want to brave the cold and biting wind or would prefer to not have the dull, leafless trees in the background of your pictures. This is when going indoors is a great idea. However, we don’t want to lose the feel of a natural, lifestyle portrait by using plain studio backdrops. There are not many inside spaces that you can just turn up and photograph in – this requires a lot more planning and organising. 

The first option to consider is doing the session at your home. If you have a fairly spacious, light room this can be ideal for a family portrait as it is the perfect reflection of who you are. You can be comfortable in a familiar environment and have everything you might need to hand. Other venues could include pubs, cafes or churches. Checking with the venue is a must and arranging a time when they are not busy is a good idea to avoid too many spectators! 

People having portrait indoors

Things to consider…

When choosing a location for your portrait session, you will need to think about how you will get there. Are there public transport links nearby or can you drive to it. If you drive, consider your parking options – is there parking available and is there an extra cost for this. Being prepared means you won’t turn up flustered for your shoot.

If there will be young children at the photography session, it is important to remember their safety. Will your location be near moving cars or a pond/lake which could be a cause of concern? All of your decisions should help make the day relaxed, stress-free and enjoyable. 

w: www.maephotography.co.uk           e: [email protected]            t: 01206 632200