client tips, families, local

June 23, 2021

Favorite locations for family photos in Charlottesville

Over the past 10 years, I’ve photographed families all over the Shenandoah Valley, but these are some of my top favorite locations for family photos 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 for family photos in Charlottesville hiding right under your feet!

Other things to consider for your family photo location:


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. (There are always exceptions though, like in this mid-morning session at Chiles Peach Orchard!)


It’s important to keep in mind things like close parking and safety, especially for families with young kids. Nobody enjoys dragging kids (or a pregnant mama) for a mile to get to a secluded spot. I also opt to stay away from overlooks or rocky hills that may be scenic but are not friendly environments for playing.

I want your photos to be awesome, but I also want to create a good experience and simplify wherever possible, so I encourage families to choose locations that offer lots of flexibility and feel natural to them.

Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite locations 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.


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!


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!

charlottesville family photos at beaver creek

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


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.

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 photoshoot locations for families

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!

You might also like :

What to wear for outdoor family photos

Tips for including your dog in family photos

Why it’s okay for your kids to ‘misbehave’ during family photos