09 Mar 2022

Family Photography in the Studio vs. Outdoors


If you’ve decided to get some family photos taken, you’ll have to settle where you stand on the location vs. studio photography sees k debate. While you can get gorgeous photos whichever option you choose, there are differences between the two. 

To help you figure out the right one for you, read on to discover the pros and cons of each form of portrait photography.

On-location photography


Especially in a city as famously beautiful as Edinburgh, using your location as a backdrop can add special magic to your family photography. 

It also gives you a chance to incorporate a place that’s important to you into your family photographs. This could be a place where you all love to spend time together or where the parents got engaged. In this way, on-location photography can help to tell your family’s story.

Many people also say they feel more natural and comfortable posing outdoors rather than in a proper photography studio. (If the thought of passers-by seeing you get photographed makes you uncomfortable, the studio might be the better opinion for you).

Natural light is another big pro for outdoor family photography – though the right studio will have large windows letting in lots of natural light as well as studio lights (we are fortunate to have both at Blue Sky).



When shooting on location, you and your photographer have less control overall; less control over the lighting, the weather, what’s in the background (other people’s dogs or kids or too many tourists depending where you pick)… The list goes on.

And while natural light, in general, is gorgeous, it can also pose some challenges. On the odd extra sunny day in Scotland, it can create harsh shadows on your faces or make you squint in your photos. As outdoor light is variable from one minute to the next, getting the lighting just right can take some trial and error on the day.

A country like Scotland offers innumerable beautiful backdrops for family pictures, but remember it’s family photography you’re ultimately after, rather than landscape. And if you’re hoping for an outfit change mid-shoot, this can be a bit trickier to achieve when shooting on-location.

Studio photography


Especially in a country that isn’t exactly known for its sunny and warm weather, studio photography offers consistently great results. Regardless of the weather, the season or the time of day, you’ll get beautifully-lit pictures and stay warm and dry. All with no chance of the weather dictating a last-minute reschedule.

Studio photography also means you have all the facilities you might need on the day to be comfortable. This includes bathrooms if nature calls, if you need to fix your makeup or change nappies for the most junior family members. You’ll also have access to tea and coffee and comfy seating in between shots. 

For the younger (and older) members of your family studio photography can just be that bit easier. You don’t have to worry about how cold or hot they are and the shoot is more likely to be quicker as less space to explore (so the kids/Granny won’t get fed up)



On-location photography offers plenty of options for activities that lend themselves well to family photography. This can be harder in the studio. Having the kids play on the swings, collecting wildflowers or simply strolling around can make you forget you’re posing and gives little kids plenty to keep them interested. 

In the studio, it can be hard to forget that you’re getting photographed. That being said, a professional photographer worth their salt will be an expert at making you as relaxed and comfortable as possible. And (if they’re like Blue Sky) will have a veritable supply of toys and props to make your experience home-from-home.

A photographer working in a studio will also have rent to pay for their workspace, which can have an effect on the overall price of your session. Although remember that generally also means you’ll get a more complete service, including products after your shoot.

For some people, studio photography is simply not their preferred style, as they like being outdoors. On-location photography can often have a more natural, less posed feel to it and feel more natural, but remember that as lovely as natural candid photographs of the kids are, if it’s one main family one you’re after of everyone looking at camera then be sure to let your photographer know. 

Some people still think of those cheesy 1980s family photos when they think of studio portraits. But trust us when we say studio photography is truly timeless and we can achieve a variety of styles to suit all families. Just check out some of the different example pictures from our archives used in this post.

The bottom line 

When it comes to the location vs. studio photography debate, the right choice is ultimately up to your personal preference. 

Whichever you choose, make sure to do your research beforehand to make sure you get the best possible pictures. Look through portfolios to find a photographer whose style you love, and chat with them to make sure you gel well and you understand what to expect from the experience. 

This way, you’ll get gorgeous family photographs you’ll cherish for years to come whichever side of the location vs. studio photography question you land on.


Edinburgh family photography

If you end up choosing studio-based photography and are looking for a family photographer in Edinburgh, you’ve come to the right place. We offer plenty of photography packages at our inviting studio in central Edinburgh. 

You and your family will be made feel welcome and comfortable at our family-run operation, capturing timeless portraits of your family you’ll proudly display in your home for years to come. Want to learn more? Pop us a line and let’s get chatting.


Alie x