My favourite London parks and commons for 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 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 locations near to my clients’ homes which are private enough to not be dodging passerbys, open enough to allow children to run around, and with a 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 after, Go Ape (which has a special route for children), feeding ducks or having a picnic on the grassy hills.
The video slideshow is in production, but in the meantime, 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 open fields also provides a nice wide backdrop. 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.
Here are some photographs from recent portrait sessions there:
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 / Bishop’s Park in Fulham is also great, with its picturesque rose gardens, the pretty riverside towpath and the wide open fields. There are also pretty woodland areas along the edges of Fulham Palace – and great trees to practice balancing on!
I’m behind with blog posts but will post some from recent portrait sessions there shortly! Here are some photographs taken on a very hot and busy day, with the photographs taken in a shaded area near the trees:
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 documentation required – primarily my public liability insurance certificate.
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: