Best London parks and commons for family portrait sessions
One of the best things about living in London is the extraordinary amount of green space – we’re spoilt rotten! The beautiful parks and commons are a gift for family portrait sessions, as they provide lots of variety in backdrops and lots of space for your children to run around and enjoy themselves while they’re being photographed.
Over the years, I’ve built up a favourite set of parks in south and west London. These parks are private enough to not worry about passerbys, open enough to allow children to run around, and have a stunning variety of planting and colours. I choose the exact spots on the day depending on the weather, the light and which plants are in flower.
Here are some of my go-to locations:
Clapham Common has the wonderful bandstand, and some quiet wooded areas nearby which provide great cover if the sun is particularly bright. The fishing ponds also make a great backdrop, and scooting along the flat paths is a great option for little ones! It’s a great location to take younger children as the cafe and playground can be a great reward at the end of the session, and a lovely opportunity for more family time all together.
Here’s a selection of photographs from recent portrait sessions in Clapham Common:
Battersea park is a particular favourite of mine as it has the grassy meadow areas, a picturesque lake and beautifully planted areas – these all make fantastic settings for photographing you and your family. Even when the park is really busy (a sunny Saturday, anyone?), I know places off the beaten track that offer peace and quiet which are great for your family portraits. It’s a really fun spot to take children as you can make a real day of it – a bike ride afterwards, Go Ape (which has a special route for children), feeding ducks or having a picnic on the grassy hills.
Here’s a photograph from the landscaped areas:
Wandsworth Common has a lovely variety of locations, from the pretty pond to more secluded areas – and of course the ice cream van to hand for when energy levels start to dip! The walkways around and through the pond are so much fun for children to run around on, and make for great photo opportunities. There’s lots of nice foliage to provide gentle shade, so it’s great all year round. The open fields at the other end of the common also provide a nice wide backdrop, as well as shade for bright and sunny days.
Here are some photographs from recent portrait sessions on Wandsworth Common:
Peckham Rye is another great park to consider, with the stunning wysteria pathway, its child-sized landscaped gardens and the pretty fountain. Children love running around the pathways, playing hide-and-seek and examining the brightly coloured flowers. Here’s a selection of photographs from recent family portrait sessions there:
Bishop’s Gardens in Fulham is one of my favourite locations for a family portrait session. There’s a spot in Bishop’s Park that I particularly love for family portrait sessions as it offers beautiful foliage, light shade and privacy from passersby. I love the little wooded area with its peaceful paths, offering lots of landscape to incorporate in your family photographs with very few people walking by. The balancing tree is always a hit with young children too! In summer, the brightly coloured rose garden also makes a stunning backdrop.
From Bishop’s Park, it’s a quick walk over Putney bridge to the very pretty Putney Embankment – with its uninterrupted view of the river disappearing into the distance, and the near guarantee of curious ducks, geese and swans to distract and amuse your little ones!
I’m more than happy to take your photographs in a Royal Park (e.g. Richmond park, Hyde park, Hampstead heath, Bushy park). I just ask that you arrange the necessary paperwork for the photography permit – I can of course provide the insurance documents required.
Richmond park is a particular favourite of mine, as it has such wide, open spaces. The pond is very pretty, and the fields and open grassland are stunning. It made the perfect backdrop for a recent maternity portrait session:
National Trust properties
Equally, I love photographing in the beautiful grounds of National Trust properties – but ask that you contact them for permission to take your photographs there. Each property has their own policy, but often a permit isn’t required for a family portrait session – just permission.
Here are some photographs from a recent family portrait session in the grounds of Claremont Landscape Gardens – if you haven’t been, plan a trip: