Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

How to plan a London family vacation photoshoot


Family photos while on vacation in London

You’ve arranged the flights, booked the perfect hotel and your family are excitedly counting down to your forthcoming vacation in London.

Maybe it’s going to be the holiday of a lifetime, an annual summer visit to your second home or a trip to spend time with overseas relatives.

One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a great adventure. And one that you’d love to have professionally captured on camera.

It’s such a lovely idea to take photographs that your children can look back on, sparking happy memories of the wonderful time they spent in our amazing capital city.

London is an incredible place to visit and, with some forward planning, you can get the perfect pictures here for your family. Photographs that record your vacation in the style and manner that suits you best.

What’s the ideal format for your London vacation session?

London is a fascinating city. There’s so much to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. And when it comes to choosing where to take your family photographs, you can also be spoilt for choice.

Start by asking yourself: what do I want to remember?

If your trip is all about sight-seeing then you can base a session around some of London’s most iconic landmarks: Big Ben, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral.

Or, if you have young children, you might prefer to just record the fun you have together as a family without having to move from one place to another. London has so many beautiful green spaces and children always love being able to run around, play games and enjoy a day relaxing with mum and dad.

The third option is to do a mixture of both. You can start with a couple of London’s famous sites and then move to a park to let the children let off some steam.

What are the ideal London sites for family photography?

London has so many awe-inspiring landmarks to choose from, it’s helpful to have a photographer who can advise on where will work best for your specific photoshoot.

Take into account:

  • Where you’re staying, to keep travelling down to a minimum.
  • The age of your children, to ensure they have a great time.
  • Scheduled events. For example, in 2018 Big Ben is undergoing restoration and is covered in scaffolding.

From there, you can plan how to make the most of both your session and everything that London has to offer.

What else do you need to consider when planning your family vacation photoshoot?

One of the first things to think about is your children’s age and therefore their schedule.

Very young children will likely need a nap at some point. If they’re happy to sleep in their buggy, this is a great opportunity to walk between a landmark and a park so you can add variety to your final set of images.

Toddlers will relish time spent running around a gorgeous green space, showing the fun and love you share as a family. The hectic landmarks might not produce the best shots at this age.

Older children will enjoy moving around and exploring different famous places, keeping the morning interesting and fast-paced.

Talking of hectic, it’s sensible to consider the crowds that are understandably drawn to London. To get unobstructed views of some of the most popular sights, it’s crucial to start early to avoid the throngs of tourists. Arrive too late and it could be difficult to spot your family’s faces if you try to take a photo in the middle of Trafalgar Square.

Some areas of London do have restrictions on photography or require permits. These arrangements can change so it’s best to discuss this with your photographer who’ll be able to arrange the necessary permits, passing on the charges at cost.

How to choose the best photographer for you

So, you’ve decided you want family photographs taken on your vacation. Perhaps you’ve even come up with a wish-list of favourite landmarks or beautiful parks. Now it’s time to choose your photographer.

This can be a little overwhelming as there are so many working in London. They’ll have different styles, different levels of expertise and will cater for different budgets.

You’re going to be keeping – and looking at – these photos for ever, so it’s worth investing some time in making the right decision.

  • Browse through some websites and you’ll soon get a feel for the variety out there. It’s worth having a thorough look through a wide range of pictures, in portfolios and also on your photographer’s blog where you may see images from individual shoots. This gives you a better idea of the consistency of their work: after all, you don’t want just one good shot from your session, you want lots of lovely pictures that tell your family story.
  • Read reviews and see if your photographer’s clients keep coming back to them for more pictures. Are there galleries of the same children growing up? Or blog posts that link to earlier ones about the same family? This is all great evidence of happy clients who love their photos and are impressed with the service.
  • Social media feeds will give you a feel for their style and approach. Follow them for a few weeks to learn more and see if they come across as the right fit for your family.
  • Most photographers who work in London know the city like the back of their hand, but it’s sensible to check that this is the case. Local knowledge and insight will not only mean the day goes smoothly but can also lead to creative ideas that add an extra dimension to your images.
  • When it comes to price, in photography you definitely get what you pay for. Experienced, skilled photographers do charge more but investing in high-quality work is something you’ll never regret. You can clearly see what you’re paying for: from quality equipment allowing your photographer to produce unique images in any situation to skilled and sensitive retouching (after all, nobody wants to look as if they’re made of plastic but equally, that pesky summer cold does mean a runny nose needs attention).
  • Photographers will always be happy to answer your questions as it’s in everyone’s best interests to get the right fit. It leads to a fun session and means you’ll be thrilled with your images.

How can you view your photographs?

Consider what you’re planning to do with your pictures: it would be a shame to put all that effort into a family photoshoot only to leave the end result on a disk in a drawer.

Have a chat with your chosen photographer about the options. If you’re in London for the whole summer, you’ll have time for a viewing session. During this, you’ll see your pictures in all their glory on a big screen and can then choose which ones you’d like to use as prints or in albums.

Photographers will have spent considerable time and effort to source the most beautiful printed products including stunning leather-bound albums, fine art prints and handmade frames. The quality of these will far surpass anything you can order yourself.

Once you’ve made your selection, your photographer can advise if there’s enough time to have your items made while you’re still in London or give you an estimate of international shipping costs.

If you’re only in London for a short trip with no spare time for a viewing session, you’ll be able to access your images digitally and choose your favourites or your photographer may offer a ‘straight to files’ package.

When should you book?

Contact your chosen photographer as far in advance as you can as the best photographers do get booked up, particularly in the summer months.

However, if you’ve just arrived in London and decided you’d love some pictures to be taken, it’s always worth getting in touch to check their availability.

To find out more visit my London vacation photography page or give me a call and we can plan your perfect family portrait session.