Location ideas for extended-families

MORNING TIMES     

  • I can’t guarantee that we will have a bright blue lake for pictures.  It depends on a lot of factors like time of day, what side of the lake we are on, and sun vs clouds.   And if you notice with my examples below it’s not a common result.  But if the blue lake is your main goal then scroll down to my East Side section in the afternoon for your best chance.
  • I bring stools and chairs for large groups.  If you don’t want stools in your pictures, just let me know.
  • I meet most summer families between 9am or 10am.
  • And if we are meeting on a sunny day, I suggest not wearing eye glasses as they pick up glare and reflections.

 


RENDEZVOUS BEACH
If you want standing on the beach or in the water photos then this location works great.  It is on the south end of Bear Lake.  There is parking near the water’s edge and is easy for large groups.  July and August are busy times at Rendezvous Beach and most likely we will have to walk a bit down the beach to find a vacant spot.  8:30am is the best time to beat the crowds. It is a Utah State Park and has an entrance fee of $10- $20 per car depending on your circumstance. They won’t let you in free if you’re “just taking pictures”.  Some families have made this their “beach day” after pictures since they have paid to be there for the day.  A lot of the free areas around the lake have too many rocks to make multi-family pictures work.  Rendezvous long sandy beach is why I like this place the best.

For all beach locations, I don’t recommend wearing nice shoes or heals.   I can’t guarantee the lake to be super blue, it all depends on cloud cover.  Most days in July and August are bright and sunny.   Pictures at the lake will have some sunlight on the face.  By the bathroom building there is a water faucet to wash sand off feet.  With beach photos, I spend extra time editing out background people in the water.

The photos below were taken at 9am on a sunny day.This 2 photos below were taken when the water level was full and the edge was close to dry sand.

Rendezvous Beach is a Utah State Park and a fee use park.  See below for their rates.  If you already have a Utah state park pass, don’t forget to bring it.
It’s $15 per car if you are a Utah resident, so I would recommend filling up your Utah vehicles as full as you can.   Out of state vehicles are $20.

 


IDEAL BEACH
If you are staying at Ideal Beach then we have access to their private beach.  Your pictures will have views of the iconic Bear Lake mountains and the lake behind you.  Someone will need to let me in through the gate, as the office won’t let “outsiders” in.

With any locations on the beach I don’t recommend wearing nice shoes/heals.  Ideal Beach also has tall shady trees if you want to be in the shade instead.  These large trees make it so we can meet later in the morning or afternoon if needed. I can’t guarantee the lake to be super blue, it all depends on cloud cover.  With beach photos, I spend extra time editing out background people in the water.  Pictures at the lake will have some sunlight on the faces.

One of the downsides of Ideal Beach are the busy days in July and August.  Even in the morning I’ve found little room on the beach for pictures.  This beach fills up very early.  So if you want to take pictures here, you’ll need to go out early and reserve a large spot for us with something like canopies or chairs.  I recommend meeting at 9am here if you want beach photos.

 

The four photos below were taken around 9am on a sunny day.

IMG_4963bThis family below didn’t want to be by the water’s edge.  Ideal Beach is great that it has large areas of sand.

IMG_0770The following 3 photos were taken about 9:30am on a cloudy day.

Ideal Beach also has beautiful tall trees for some really nice shaded photos.  If you want photos in the shade then we can meet at any time.


BEACH BY REST AREA
There is a rest stop on the south end of Bear Lake between Garden City and Laketown.  It has grass areas, shady spots, and some beach areas. Pictures at the lake will have some sunlight on the face.  If you want a free location near the lake, and don’t mind the brush and rocks, then this is a great spot for small groups.   I meet groups here at 9am to maximize shade.


NEAR MEADOWVILLE DR
There is a rustic spot on the south end of Bear Lake between Garden City and Laketown.  It has large bush areas, shady spots, lots of rocks, and some rocky beach areas.  We can stay in the shade, or be on the beach or a mix of both.  Pictures at the beach will have some sunlight on the face.  If you want a free location near the lake, and don’t mind the wild brush and rocks, then this is a great spot for small groups only.  About 20 or less people.  We park on the main highway and walk down a little slope. Definitely wear sturdy shoes to handle the slope and rocks.   I meet small groups here at 9am for the best shade.

The three photos below were taken 9am in the shade.

The 3 photos below were taken on the beach in full sun.  We can be on the dry sand or near the lake edge on wet sand.



ROCKING RANCH HILL

This location is just north of Garden City and is just high enough to have beautiful views of the lake and mountains.  I love it for how easy it is to get to.  It has no homes nearby.  It also doesn’t have any shade so pictures will have sun on the faces (see below).
Rocking Ranch Hill is on a dirt road, sometimes a little bumpy.  There are a few sticker/prickly plants in the grass.  I highly recommend wearing long pants and closed shoes for kids if they don’t like the feel of grass on their legs as the grass here is itchy.  This is private land that I have permission to photograph on.  summer days are mostly sunny.  So with that, I don’t recommend wearing dark pinks, corals or reds as the the sun bounces that color around.  I get better skin tones when families wear neutral colors.  Because I expose for the faces in shadow, the distant background is lighter, so I won’t be able to get the lake a brilliant blue color.

These three photos were taken about 9am in June on a sunny day.  The grass is green in May and June.

These 2 photos were taken about 10am on a sunny day early July.

This photo was taken about 10am on a sunny day end of July.  The grass is half green and half golden.

These two photos were taken about 9am on a sunny day in August.  By now the grass is all golden.


THE RESERVE BEACH
In Fish Have, Idaho. Families staying at The Reserve have access to this gated private beach.  It has large trees and is quiet.  I love it for the variety in setting and color.   We can find shade for groups, or we can do pictures on the beach.  Pictures at the beach will have some sunlight on the face.   The water is nice and shallow for fun pictures standing in the water.

This 2 photos below were taken on a sunny morning at 9am.

This photo below was taken on a cloudy morning at 9am.

 

 


YOUR CABIN
Some families, especially very large groups, want the ease of pictures done at your own place.
If that works for you, here are some suggestions.
I prefer outdoor shady spots on level ground with a large area to pose your family.  That way I don’t have to worry about sun on faces.
I can’t guarantee that we will have a bright blue lake for pictures, or be able to angle towards the view.  It depends on a lot of factors like time of day, what side of the lake we are on, sun vs clouds, and size of your back yard.

If the shady spot is in the evening we can meet in the evening.

The photos below were taken on the front porch in the morning.

With families photographed in the shade, but the background is not shaded, I expose for the faces which makes the background extra light.
So if you want a view of the blue lake behind your family, this type of setup won’t capture the lake very well.

The family below is standing on their back patio all in the sun.  

 


AFTERNOON TIMES

  • I can’t guarantee that we will have a bright blue lake for pictures.  It depends on a lot of factors like time of day, what side of the lake we are on, and sun vs clouds.   And if you notice with my examples below it’s not a common result.  But if the blue lake is your main goal then scroll down to my East Side section for your best chance.
  • I bring stools and chairs for large groups.  If you don’t want stools in your pictures, just let me know.
  • Bear Lake is famous for its afternoon winds, so the later we meet the better chance the winds will die down.
  • And if we are meeting on a sunny day, I suggest not wearing eye glasses as they pick up glare and reflections.

ROCKING RANCH HILL
This location is just north of Garden City and has beautiful views of the lake and the west mountains.  It is private land that I have permission to be there.  I love this spot right after sunset when skin tones are soft and there’s no harsh sunlight.    In the summer months the sun sets pretty late, between 7:30 – 8:30pm depending on the month.  So keep that in mind if you have little ones in your group.   If you want pictures in the shade, then we need to meet at 7:30pm or later.

Rocking Ranch Hill is on a dirt road, sometimes a little bumpy, and has no homes around.  There are a few sticker/prickly plants in the grass, and it is an active cow pasture.   I highly recommend wearing long pants and closed shoes for kids.  The grass is high here and I’ve seen how kids don’t like the feel of grass on their legs.

In the fall months I like to meet at 6pm.  Peak fall color season is at the end of September, early October.

The following 3 photos were taken in July about 7:30pm.

The following 2 photos were taken in June about 7:30pm after sunset.

The following photo was taken in July about 4:30pm on a sunny day.  Because I expose for their faces in the shade, the distant background is lighter.
Please note that it is often windy in the afternoons.  So don’t choose 4-6pm if you are concerned about that.

This photo was taken about 7:45pm in July, after the sun had set and we were in full shade.  This was taken during a rainy summer.  This summer the grass isn’t that high.

This photo was taken about 7:30pm in July, after the sun had set and we were in full shade.

This photo was taken about 7:30pm in August, after the sun had set and we were in full shade.
Often in the late summer months we have state wide fires that add a bit of smoke in the background.  This was taken during a rainy summer.  This summer the grass isn’t that high.

The following photos was taken after sunset at 6pm in October.


SUMMIT OVERLOOK

This is a good shady spot for evening session for groups with aspens and pines.  I recommend meeting at 7:00 or 7:30 in the summer months.  6pm in the fall.  This location is very rocky and not good for high heels or those with mobility challenges.  I would recommend closed sturdy shoes so we can walk to a variety of settings.  For groups 15 or more we would just stay in one spot to keep it easy.

The following photo was taken at 7:30 in July.

The following 2 photos were taken at 7:30pm in August.

The following photos below were taken at 6pm in September.


TONY GROVE  (Currently Closed for Construction)
This lovely mountain location is located in Logan Canyon, about 45 minutes from Garden City.   In the summer there are wildflowers.  In the fall the colors turn yellow.  I like to meet families here at 7 or 7:30pm so we can be in the shade which will give us gorgeous light.  Tony Grove is also only suitable for small groups, 20 people or less as there’s lots of scrub and rocks, and no large areas suitable for large groups.  Tony Grove is open from July to September This is a fee area and you will have to pay $10 to park there.   Also please tell your kids not to pick the wild flowers so others can enjoy them.


RENDEZVOUS BEACH
If you want standing on the beach or in the water photos then this location works great.  It is on the south end of Bear Lake and is a Utah State Park with fees to use it.  They charge per car so see rates below.  There is easy parking near the beach.  Pictures at the lake will have some sunlight on the face.  There is plenty of sand here and beaches are less busy in the evening.  Bring bug spray as the mosquitoes come out at dusk.  At any locations on the beach I don’t recommend wearing nice shoes/heals.  With beach photos, I spend time editing out background people in the water.  If you don’t like the lighting with sun on the faces, then we can meet right as the sun sets and have lovely soft pink lighting.  Bear Lake is famous for afternoon winds, so I like to meet here as late as possible, 7pm or later.  A lot of the free areas around the lake have too many rocks to make multi-family pictures work.  Rendezvous long sandy beach is why I like this place the best.

The 7 photos below were taken about 7:00pm on a sunny evening.

The 2 photos below was taken about 4pm on a sunny day.  Please note that it is often windy in the afternoons.  So don’t choose 4-6pm if you are concerned about that.

The following photos were taken right after the sun set behind the mountains.  Approximately 7:45pm in the summer depending on the month.
This lighting only works for 30 minute sessions.

Utah State Park is a fee use park. Fridays and Saturdays the fee goes up $5.
It’s $15 per car if you are a Utah resident, so I would recommend filling up your Utah vehicles as full as you can.   Out of state vehicles are $20.


EAST SIDE

On the east side of Bear Lake in the early afternoon, there is a good chance we can catch the lake when it’s bright and blue, if it’s a sunny day. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Garden City.  This place is rocky and not a sandy beach, so I only recommend small groups here 10 people or less. The rocks are hard to walk and navigate through. Pictures at the lake will have some sunlight on the face.  Sunny days will be bright so if anyone is sensitive to too much light, this may not work for you.  There’s a high chance we would have squinty smiles.  But I’ve only been able to get that bright blue color when we are in full sun at mid day.

I like to meet families here between 2 and 4pm.  This is a Utah State park too and the day use fee is $6 per car.  Since we will be out in the sun, I don’t recommend wearing dark pinks, corals or reds as the the sun bounces that color around.  I get better skin tones when families wear neutral colors.  With beach photos, I spend extra time editing out anyone in the water.   Please note that it is often windy in the afternoons.

 


 

IDEAL BEACH
If you are staying at Ideal Beach then we have access to their private beach.  Your pictures will have views of the mountains and the lake behind you.
There is plenty of sand at Ideal Beach. Pictures at the lake will have some sunlight on the face.  With any locations on the beach I don’t recommend wearing nice shoes/heals.  With beach photos, I spend time editing out anyone in the water.  I recommend having pictures at 7pm or later.  It gives time for a spot to open up on the sand.

The 2 photos below were taken on overcast days about 7:30pm in July.

IMG_7523b

IMG_7588b

This photo of grand kids was taken about 7pm in August, and they wanted to be away from the water, but on the sand in the shade of the large trees.
I expose to the faces in shade so the background is much brighter.


NORTH BEACH

On the Idaho side of Bear Lake is North Beach.  There is a $14 per car fee, $10 for Idaho residents, and it’s 30 minutes from Garden City.  This place is highly popular and overcrowded so I recommend meeting as late in the day as possible. 7:30 or 8pm.  I like it for the clean beaches and simple background.  The water is shallow a long way out and easy to stand in.  Since we will most likely be in the sun, I don’t recommend wearing dark pinks, corals or reds as the the sun bounces that color around.  Pictures at the lake will have some sunlight on the face.  I get better skin tones when families wear neutral colors.  With beach photos, I spend extra time editing out any background people in the water.

 

These two photos were taken when state-wide fires caused smoke to be in the air.  The following 3 photos were taken about 7:30pm in cloudy shade.

 


CONESTOGA RANCH

If you are staying at Conestoga Ranch in Bear Lake then we can take pictures there on site.  It has plenty of room for a large family on the grass or a small family around the wildflowers.  The wagons and tents make a charming backdrop.  The wild flowers bloom in mid June and July.  I like to photograph here right near sunset 7 or 7:30pm.


 

YOUR CABIN

Some families, especially very large groups, want the ease of pictures done at your own place.
If that works for you, here are some suggestions.
I prefer outdoor shady spots on level ground with a large area to pose your family.  That way I don’t have to worry about sun on faces.
I can’t guarantee that we will have a bright blue lake for pictures, or be able to angle towards the view.  It depends on a lot of factors like time of day, what side of the lake we are on, and sun vs clouds.  If we are standing in shade but the lake behind you is in the sun, then it will be exposed very bright as I have to expose for faces in the shade.  See examples below for lighting situations.
I avoid shooting indoors as there usually isn’t enough room, but we can make that work if the weather is bad.

The following photo was taken about 7:30pm in the shade of their back yard.

The following photo was taken about 7:30pm at their cabin backyard on an overcast day.

The following photo was taken about 7pm at their rental’s beach on a sunny afternoon.  I expose to the faces in shade which makes the sunny background extra light.

The following photo was taken about 7:30pm at their rental’s beach on a cloudy afternoon.

The following 2 photos were taken about 7:00pm in the shade of their rental.  I expose to the faces in shade which makes the sunny background extra light.

We photographed in the shade of this house that blocked the afternoon winds.

 


 

WINTER LOCATIONS

Because of snow and travel, I like to find winter locations that are easy for groups to get to.  If we meet in the morning I prefer 10 or 11am.   For afternoons I prefer 2 or 3pm.

If you are scheduling a winter photo session, here are some tips to help make it successful.

  1.  Dress kids warm, especially if you don’t want to wear coats for your pictures.  Have the kids in layers to help keep them warm; extra shirts, thermals, wool socks.  Maybe winter hats for the little ones.  And definitely have boots on everyone to keep feet warm and dry.  Young kids have a hard time with pictures when they are cold.
  2. Plan on being quick.   Prepare the kids ahead of time that if they follow the directions of the photographer, then they will be through the session quick and back in the warm car.
  3. Consider trying small hand warmers in pockets.

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MARINA OVERFLOW
This location is very easy for groups to reach and is right in Garden City.  Roads are plowed.  We would meet up on a hill with views of Bear Lake behind you.  This location is only good for morning times.

IMG_4072bIMG_5111bIMG_5199b


BEAVER CREEK
If you love giant snowy pine trees and grand mountain views then this is the location for you.   It is up Logan Canyon and about 30 minutes from Garden City.  It is a great spot for small-medium groups.  This spot works great in the late morning or early evening.


ROCKING RANCH HILL

This location is just north of Garden City and is just high enough to have beautiful views of the lake and mountains.  I love it for how easy it is to get to.  It has no homes nearby.  It also doesn’t have any shade so pictures will have sun on the faces (see below).  If the snow is deep we will do pictures in the road.  But if we can walk through the snow we can do pictures in the field.

I like this location in the early afternoon.

 


THE RESERVE

If you are staying in the gated neighborhood called The Reserve in Fish Haven then we have access to these stunning views.  It works for large groups as we can park on the road and be right at this view of Bear Lake.  10am is the best time at this spot for views of the lake, or 3-4pm for views of the mountains.


 

 

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