Family photo location ideas in Charlottesville

family photos location ideas with water in charlottesville

Locations are always one of the first and biggest decisions to make when planning your session, and many families are surprised to learn that there’s a lot more that goes into choosing this spot than some pretty scenery!

Sometimes the most “scenic” views make for the worst spots for a family session simply because of light and time of day restrictions. You’d be surprised at the locations hiding right under your feet that may not seem ideal, but given the right conditions, are the perfect fit.

Although visitors can take pictures pretty much anywhere, professional photographers are often limited to locations based on regulations and required permits.

For example, photo sessions at the many scenic wineries in our area are typically reserved for engagement photos of couples getting married at their venue or for the weddings themselves, require additional fees to shoot at, or are only open in peak business hours (which, during most of the year = not great for flattering natural light).

Other things to consider:


When shooting in public places, I recommend early morning or sunset sessions to avoid crowds and bystanders. Also, it goes without saying – light is key and those are prime times for flattering light.


Close parking and safety in our shooting spots is something I keep in mind for families with young kids – nobody enjoys dragging kids (or a preggo mama) for a mile to get to a secluded spot. And while sometimes scenic, I opt to stay away from overlooks on the side of the road or rocky hills – aka not very wild-child friendly.

I want your photos to be awesome, but I also want to create a good experience and simplify wherever possible, so I choose locations that offer lots of flexibility, comfort, and room to roam.

Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite location suggestions for family photos in Charlottesville:

Your home!

VIBE: Casual, intimate, and personalized to your style!

GREAT FOR: ANYONE, but especially families with kids 2 + under

FEATURES: not restricted to golden hour for lighting, comfortable, no travel time, best for incorporating pets, not weather-dependent, easy access to snacks 🙂

PRIME SEASONS: IDEAL choice for winter sessions, but great any time of year!

CONS: If you hate your home, let’s get outside instead.

examples of lifestyle family photos at home on the bed and in the living room
examples of lifestyle family photos at home, outside on the deck, making pancakes, reading on the couch, playing board games

Ivy Creek Nature Area

VIBE: Rustic, diverse, and very open

GREAT FOR: families with little kids, seniors, and large families… basically anyone.

FEATURES: Large open field, wooded trails, white barn, creeks and bridges, and even a peek at the blue ridge mountains.

PRIME SEASONS: spring, summer, fall

CONS: no pets allowed!

family photos in charlottesville va with barn and open field, mountain view
fall family photos in charlottesville with fall leaves
fall senior girl photos in charlottesville
spring family photos in charlottesville, open field and woods

Beaver Creek

VIBE: Scenic, natural

GREAT FOR: outdoorsy families

FEATURES: view of the mountains, dock and lake

PRIME SEASONS: all seasons!

CONS: It’s pretty crucial to stick to golden hour here due to lack of open shade. If you have little kids, choose a late fall or winter session here in order to hit an earlier sunset!

maternity photos in charlottesville, location on the water in winter
fall family photos by the water in charlottesville, va
family photos with teens in charlottesville, fishing by a lake

Darden Towe

VIBE: Outdoorsy, beachy, natural

GREAT FOR: Small families who like the sand and water!

FEATURES: Access to river places to splash, pretty view, fields, woods

PRIME SEASONS: Summer (if getting in the water!), flexible for all seasons

CONS: no huge cons, here!

outdoor summer family photos with toddler in charlottesville virginia,
outdoor summer family photos in charlottesville with kids


VIBE: Urban, funky, fun

GREAT FOR: families who are moving and want to capture a piece of their city, families with kids 3 and older, high school seniors

FEATURES: Variety, texture, bold colors – I love suggesting an ice cream stop or sweet treat break to incorporate into a shoot here to fully embrace the family fun

PRIME SEASONS: A great choice for winter sessions, but an option year round!

CONS: Must work around prime meal hours to avoid crowds

charlottesville photoshoot downtown family photos in fall
family photos in charlottesville with sisters downtown, eating ice cream
urban-style family photos in downtown charlottesville with 6 month old baby


VIBE: Classic, traditional

GREAT FOR: alumni or military families who want to capture of a piece of their story through location, extended families, basically anyone 🙂

FEATURES: private gardens, rotunda and lawn, brick walkways, columns,


CONS: It can be crowded in the fall on weekends because of students and football game traffic, but we can generally work around it by utilizing more private spots around grounds.

family photos at UVA in Charlottesville
family photos in charlottesville at UVA in the fall with toddler
family photos in charlottesville at UVA in the fall with toddler

Boar’s Head

VIBE: Classic, clean, traditional

GREAT FOR: families who want a more manicured look to their photos, morning sessions

FEATURES: beautifully landscaped, lake, large oak tree with a view!

PRIME SEASONS: especially lovely in spring, but beautiful year round

CONS: no huge cons on this one!

charlottesville spring family photos in with kids
spring, morning
charlottesville photoshoot locations for families
family photos in the fall in charlottesville va

These are just a few of my top favorite locations for family sessions, but of course, I have a secret stash as well for all my families to find the perfect spot!

Interested in taking an adventure with me for some fun and natural family photos this year?? Reach out here so we can get started planning!

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Family photo location ideas in Charlottesville

  1. […] Favorite locations for family photography sessions in Charlottesville […]

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