The Best Backdrops & Settings for Family Photos

It's Fall photo shoot time, everyone!!! This is one of my favorite times of the year to get pictures taken, because the weather is nice and cool. That means you can layer your family up with lots of cute colors, pull out your favorite pair of boots and pick a fab Fall spot for photos.
We've gotten asked more than once about how we pick out our own family's photo backdrop locations, and quite honestly, we tend to always go bold, but simple. This usually means a fun colored wall, or a backdrop with awesome texture.
The best backdrops and settings for family photos - thehouseofsmiths.com
The best backdrops and settings for family photos - thehouseofsmiths.com
The best backdrops and settings for family photos - thehouseofsmiths.com

That being said, we have also done lots of different kinds of photo shoots with our family, that don't necessarily fall into this category, ones that are more laid back and somewhat casual.
The best backdrops and settings for family photos - thehouseofsmiths.com

And even a few where the BEST photo has been the most unexpected one :)
The best backdrops and settings for family photos

Either way, I'm just obsessed with photos of me and my family doing things together and then having a photo to remember that special moment. Call it vain, call it silly or self absorbed, but since my memory is how it is... I just NEED all the pictures that I can get!

So... since we HAVE had lots of questions on backdrops and locations, I thought it would be awesome for photographer, Kristen Duke to give us her best tips and tricks, when it comes to picking out a setting for family photos this year.
Take it away Kristen!

Tis the season to take Family Photos! Fall is the most popular time to have Family Pictures taken, because a lot of people like to send out fresh images in their Holiday cards. I'm going to share a few suggestions today on the best backdrops and settings to take Family Photos. It's fun to change up the location each year, to display a unique new setting, along with how much your cute family has grown in the past year. My name is Kristen Duke, and I blog at Capturing Joy, and I’m excited to offer a few suggestions on photo shoot locations. I’m sharing posts on Taking Family Pictures on a few different sites today, scroll down to the
The Best backdrops and settings for family photos - thehouseofsmiths.com
My name is Kristen Duke and I blog at Capturing Joy, and I'm excited to offer a few suggestions on photo shoot locations. I’m sharing posts on Taking Family Pictures on a few different sites today, so scroll down to the bottom to see where I'll be.
 Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke 
 Besides being a professional photographer, I'm also a Mama to 4 kids, with my hands dabbling in all sorts of creative goodness from DIY projects to parties and delicious recipes. When taking family pictures, there is so much to think about, and LOCATION is a big decision. I enjoy the creative process that comes with photographing in each new location, and I love each spot that I'll mention for different reasons. Whether you hire a photographer or take the pictures yourself, I like to categorize family pictures into 4 types of locations.

This has become the most popular spot for the modern family photos. If you pick the right time of day, a field with a cluster of tree's works wonders. This is the safe route, and quite frankly the easiest in my opinion as the photographer. I've got my spots that I know work well in certain times of the day. It seems most of my clients prefer this type of location because it's safe with fewer variables...and rightly so. Natures colors are a good neutral background, which helps emphasize the people, with fewer distractions. The Great Outdoors refers to any nature scene: from the beach to rivers to open fields with trees. This seems to be the easiest type of setting to bring in props and other elements, such as quilts or treats or bikes (more on that in making sessions enjoyable). Below is a sampling of the The Great Outdoors from past photo sessions.
The Great Outdoors Photo Sessions

I consider the Urban Adventure as any type of building, vehicle, or man made structure in the background of your family photos. Sometimes I'll bring a car or truck into an outdoor field and it blurs the lines between urban and outdoor, which also makes it fun! Urban is often colorful, and generally in the urban setting there are several different "looks" just around the corner from each other, such as in a downtown location. This is definitely the more modern route, and for families that want to step outside of the box a little with their family photos (and who likely have done The Great Outdoors recently). I love the variety an urban setting offers, and am always keeping my eyes open for back alleyways, or pockets of interest for new locations.
Urban Family Photography

This is probably the most traditional way to go, but becoming less and less used for family portraits (although great for newborns and individuals). Back when I was a kid, Olan Mills saturated the market, and it seemed was the only option for family pictures! I personally don't photograph families in the studio setting because I feel more limited in the space. Though I love candid photography, I'm a sucker for a beautiful posed family photo that comes from studio photography. That being said, studio photos tend to be more formal, many people love that aspect of it. To make a studio setting unique is quite an investment in purchasing extras to make the scene unique, so it's a lot for a photographer to keep up with. I have seen it done well, and below are some examples from Peekaboo Photography, a photographer I admire. I love the variation in backdrops, and the couches/props used.
Studio Family Pictures
all taken by Peekaboo Photography

This has quickly become one of my most favorite places to photograph families, for two reasons: 1- It's a creative challenge for me 2- It's in a fun new spot each time. Families under estimate the value of having beautiful images taken in the place they gather the most. If you don't love your home decor, this might not be the best option. If your home doesn't have great lighting, then it would be tricky for a photographer to capture the natural light as well. So much can be done around the family bed, in the kitchen, or in the backyard. We had our photographer friend Heather Walker come to our home for our family photos last year, and the images bring me so much joy! I like to suggest families thinking of a fun activity that they like together, such as a board game, or baking something in the kitchen for fun activities to do together while being photographed. Below are a few examples of Family Pictures at Home.
Family Pictures at Home

I generally have our family pictures taken each year, so I like to mix it up, and have done it all! Don't think you have to hire a professional each time, either. See my post below on how to take your own! Where has been your favorite spot to have family pictures taken? Are you nervous to try something new?
Do you have Family Picture Sessions on the brain this fall? I'd love to help you out!
Join me today at these other sites on the web for more inspiration with Taking Family Pictures:
Infarrantly Creative--Decorate with Pictures
Capturing Joy--How to Take your Own Family Pictures
I love all of this helpful information and great ideas, THANKS KRISTEN! Don't forget to check out all of Kristen's other great tips and tricks in the links above!


  1. You're killin' me with all the cuteness! We need family shots done so bad, thanks for the push and sweet ideas!

  2. Yes, trees are important! As are no distractions (i.e. playgrounds are a no no when kids are involved!!)

    I definitely encourage the home for those under 1year old.

  3. Wonderful family pics Shelley and great ideas for backdrops Kristen! Thanks for sharing space with Kristen, Shelley! What a great pairing with both of you on this post!

  4. Lovely!! Can you tell me where you got the purple coats from on your daughters? So cute!

  5. You're all super good models :) ...and your shots are so inspiring. Can't wait to get some great Fall family shots!

  6. Geez! You have the most incredibly photogenic family.

  7. You look so pretty in yellow! Love the silly shots, too. The serious ones never quite capture the...ERM...true essence of our crew. :)

  8. You look so pretty in yellow! Love the silly shots, too. The serious ones never quite capture the...ERM...true essence of our crew. :)

  9. Love all the Inspiration and great Photo tips, you have here. I am remiss to say that we have VERY little family pictures. I know!!! Crazy, Right!?!? I am feeling pretty motivated now to get some done. We usually pass out, piece mealed photos, during the holidays. I feel a GOAL being set right now. :)
    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  10. This post is so cool and inspiring as well! These family portraits are so adorable and lovely. Family photos are great souvenirs, thus, investing much for this is indeed an advantage. This enables a family to treasure all those precious moments they had. Captured memories are priceless such as these family portraits shared. I personally love these photos so much.


  11. I am totally motivated to get good family pics this year...in our house!! hopefully it will work

  12. Simply superb post and it motivates everyone to get the best and good family photos for themselfs. thanks for sharing this one..
    srinivasa channai


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