When I'm photographing a family, the most important part of a the session is the family that I'm shooting and how they interact with each other. And how I encourage that interaction. The location is not really that important to me! There, I admitted it! I feel like there is so much pressure to find a great location, one that's never been used before, that has the most magnificent light, that offers something beautiful to look at. And if I'm honest, I try really hard to choose those things for my clients, but the most important thing to me is the connection between the family members that I'm photographing. Honestly, we can do a family session anywhere!
That said, if you've ever worked with me, you know that I'm overly cautious choosing a location. The first thing I do is make sure that we're allowed to shoot there! I never take clients somewhere that I haven't been given permission to shoot. Unless we're talking about a park or spot on the side of the road that isn't private property, then I'm hunting down the owner and making sure it's okay for us to be there. Sometimes that means we can't use the perfect cotton field for a session if I can't track down the owner. It's a bummer sometimes, but again, that connection is the most important thing!
I'm a little more relaxed when I'm just photographing my family. Last year, my son got both Flu-A and Flu-B within the same month. He was going SO stir crazy (and so was I!). When he got to the point that he was feeling better but he wasn't able to back to school yet we started exploring and looking for photo session locations.
I found a really cool spot that was next to an abandoned office building. I couldn't find any signs or anything indicating what the name of the company was but we explored and I figured I try to figure out who owned the building and if I could do family sessions there in the future. We spent about an hour exploring and then right when we were heading home a police car pulled up. I had mud covered boots on and looked like...well....a mom who had a kid who'd had the flu twice and also had had sinus surgery herself the week before. Let your imagination do the work. Ha!
He told us that there had been some people that had vandalized the building and that they were patrolling and we needed to leave. Since then, the building has sold and after contacting the new owner, I've found out that they do not allow anyone to photograph there because of security reasons. I'm glad we found it when we did! And I'll be happy to never get kicked out of a location again!