Picture this: warm sunset glows, the whispers of grass blowing gently in the breeze, curious preschoolers exploring a color-popped field of wildflowers, rolling hills undulating as far as the eye can see, right!? “WHERE IS THIS LOCATION? I want my session there, you think!”
Well, I’ll just come out and say it... It’s a retention pond by my house. LOL. I’m not kidding. Chicago suburbia has them in every flat-landed neighborhood in the metro area. It’s the place the rain goes when the rain sewers overflow in our summer monsoons. Sometimes they’re disguised as playground areas, sometimes they’re just a big hole of grass that the village mows once a week. The one down the street from me was just restored with native plants this past summer and I drive by it every day.
One day I decided that if the light was just right and the camera angles were just “so,” we could rock this place as a cool location for a session. So one evening last summer, golden hour glowed and I had about 30 minutes of filtered sunlight before the sun set over the houses across the way. My amazing mother and permanent session jester, Dee Dee, came along to help coax my kids to explore the field… and check for ticks when we were all done. Delaney slipped and literally rolled down the hill and had enough… and Lyla just wanted to spin and twirl in her summer dress.
But by looking at the photos, you would never know of the mild-chaos, bumped knees and weird little spot we were all in that summer night. Golden hour delivered and we snapped what we could as the sun peeked behind our, “oh so picturesque” village water tower.
As a client myself, sometimes I get hung up on the “where” when thinking about sessions. I know many families do, and for good reason too! Depending on your session’s vision, you may want or need to have that epic backdrop as part of your story. I personally love to hunt for those “epic” shots in epic places - the one on the beach with the Golden Gate Bridge framed in the background, or the curl of the perfect wave on a pristine beach! (PS - I’m willing to travel to exotic locations to photograph your family… just sayin’…)
But my point is, that sometimes you don’t need to be in an epic place to get epic photographs. Let’s have a chat, or have a discussion with your photographer of choice, about location ideas. If you’re open to it, I bet I can think of some pretty cool little secret spots that will deliver something truly special, no matter where we are.
In the end, and on your walls, it’s all about the ones you love most.
Yay for crappy iPhone photos, right? Anyway, this is what this location really looked like.
As you can see, it’s literally a retention pond, in the middle of a normal, middle-class neighborhood.
Nothing fancy except the city seeded it with native plants last year. It was pretty, and bloomed all summer and fall with pink and white flowers and tall grasses.
Learning how to use your camera, and knowing about shooting in some good light brought these photos to life in an epic way… in a retention pond.