Choosing a good place for family photos can be this easy!
Whether you're visiting Gloucester or you've lived here your whole life, you might not have the time to explore and 'scout' locations for your next family photoshoot. Let me make it easy for you! I'm sharing my top five places to get your photos taken, from well-known historic landmarks to the lesser-known hidden gems. There's a location here that's perfect for your next family photo session.
The shortlist: best places for family pictures in Gloucester
- Cooper's Edge (Handley Park) - off the beaten path!
- Hillfield Gardens (a hiddem gem!)
- Crickley Hill (stunning sunset views)
- The Gloucester Docks (obvious contender)
- Robinswood Hill (great for family time).
Be sure to read the specific location tips - these are learnings garnered from my experience taking photos at these locations, as a Gloucester photographer, and worth noting to make sure you make the best out of each location!
So, with that: Onwards!... to great family photos in Gloucester!
Modern and Stylish Photoshoots at Coopers Edge
Coopers Edge, near Brockworth, is a young and modern estate in Gloucester. So what makes this a great place to take family and lifestyle photos in Gloucester?:
- Beautiful modern Cotswold stone clad homes
- Rendered regal town houses
- Public pathways winding through the estates, around streams and through small parks lined with trees and Pampas grass - great for photoshoots!
- ... all this set against the backdrop of Coopers Hill.
All the ingredients are here! I've used this location for family photos a number of times, and once for a pet photoshoot!
My favourite location for family photos in Coopers Edge
I'm excited about sharing this location with you! It's fairly 'off the beaten path' and buried deep in the Coopers Edge estate. In the map above, take a look at the pin for Handley Park. This park is located right at the back of Coopers Edge and is literally sat at the bottom of the ascent towards Coopers Hill. There's so much on offer here, with the surrounding hills, adjacent fields filled with crops, a rustic barn sat in the middle of the field on the approach to the hill (not to mention the park itself which is a great reward for the kids following their family photos). And in April and May, be on the lookout for bluebells! I was delighted to find bluebells scattered around the outside of the park when we arrived for a birthday photoshoot earlier this year.
Hidden Gem: Photoshoots in Hillfield Gardens
Hillfield Gardens is a seriously pretty 1.6 hectares of gardens slap-bang in the centre of Gloucester, dating from the Victorian period and with some points of interest including modern sculptures and some historic architectural delights including a grade II listed building. I was introduced to Hillfield Gardens in Gloucester by our wedding photographer back in 2012 when we had our wedding portraits taken here. There's everything you'd ever need to know (and a few things you'd never need to know!) about Hillfield Gardens over on the website (linked at the bottom of this post).
There's lots of potential for beautiful couples & family photoshoots at this versatile central Gloucester location, surrounded by mature pine, Redwood and Oak trees, with flower and shrub borders maintained throughout the year by a Friends of Hillfield Gardens volunteer group. My first ever paid photography session took place here! I've learnt a few things about this location over my time taking pictures here, including its limitations, and I'll continue to bring clients here in the future!
Here's a few tips for taking great pictures at Hillfield Gardens:
It's worth a visit at different times throughout the year. This will be true of most locations, of course. You might notice, as you frequent the same location throughout the seasons, that the sun rises and sets in different parts of your scene depending on what time of year it is. The nice thing about Hillfield gardens is that with its relatively small size you'll almost always find a gorgeous backlit scene for your photos. Specifically, I mean we've got great tree cover here, so when the sky is clear you'll get that lovely glow as it diffuses through the border of mature trees surrounding the gardens.
It's heavily shaded. This can be super helpful on a sunny day, but use caution: if you retreat into complete shade you run the risk of experiencing strong colour casts on the faces in the photos. Without the indirect light that open sky provides, skin in photographs will pick up the colours around them - which in this case will mean some green colour casts. And unless you have (a) the knowledge or (b) the inclination to fix these colours in Photoshop, you'll want to avoid these scenarios.
There are tonnes of resources to understand colour casts and - importantly - how to correct for them. Here's a couple:
The other way to overcome the problem of colour casts is to generate your own light source! I'll often have my off-camera flash set-up with me for my on-location and outdoor photoshoots.
Incorporate the architecture. Behind the entrance lodge (from London road entrance) you'll find a path that leads up to St Mary Magdalen's Chapel, with a lovely large and rustic front entrance. At certain times in the afternoon, the speckled light in this location can be used to highlight your subject against the darker door and can make for an interesting portrait.
Photoshoots at Crickley Hill, Gloucester
Crickley Hill is a fantastic place for watching the Gloucestershire sunset (or sunrise!), with wide open views for miles, and open to visitors for free* throughout the whole year. It's a short drive out from central Gloucester towards Birdlip, and well worth the trip with walking trails and an array of wildlife recorded across this 32-hectare site!
*Parking charges apply 24/7, although it's a small nominal amount - check theirfor info before travelling!
Photography tips for Crickley Hill in Gloucester
- If you're hoping to take any kind of equipment other than your tripod and camera (such as an off-camera lighting setup) you might need to ask permission from Gloucestershire Wildlife trust. Check their out for more info and contact details.
- For any commercial photography purposes, you'll certainly have to request permission and there may be a fee payable - you should reach out to email@example.com to inquire.
- You'll be tempted to take your photos with the sunset behind you (as it sets on the horizon, away from the hill). But try this: try taking your photographs facing back in towards the hill. On a partly cloudy evening with the right lighting conditions, you'll get those lovely pink & orange hues catching the passing clouds making for really cinematic and dramatic scenes! ⛅
- Expose for the sky and capture story-telling silhouettes.
- Please be aware that the car park is gated! Make sure you're aware of gate closure times. You can find up-to-date information at the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust website.
- And for more information on this beautiful site, its history and wildlife, visit the and make it an afternoon out to enjoy with the family (link at bottom of the page).
Photoshoots at the historic Gloucester Docks
I nearly didn't include this location because I was worried it could be considered a little too obvious! In fact, there's a couple of obvious Gloucester landmarks that are hard not to include in a list of places to take family photos in Gloucester, including the Gloucester Cathedral (which I have successfully omitted from list this). Most visitors will be able find plenty of information for these local points of interest online, and you'll find these locations with or without my help! But I do want to mention the Docks as it's a versatile and exciting location, suitable for different types of photography and different styles of photoshoots.
The Gloucester Docks is a great place to visit regardless, with tonnes on offer including the, the National Waterways Museum and a wide range of restaurants and coffee shops to unwind, indulge and watch the passers-by at this hallmark Gloucester site.
Personal Branding at the Gloucester Docks
For this photoshoot (example above), Rob was opening a room to operate his osteopathy business from and wanted to capture some traditional 'profile' photos outside the practice, and also create some environmental images from inside the practice working on a model to demonstrate his services. Photos at the Docks are desirable for small local businesses and solopreneurs, as it firmly establishes that they're a local presence. We made this shot (above) in the early hours of a spring morning, when the Docks themselves would be quiet and to capture the beauty of the morning sky. I was using my off-camera flash setup with an assistant, and we were swiftly asked by security to stop and vacate the area! ... the lesson: you may need a photography permit for some locations so be sure that you or your photographer is aware and has made the necessary arrangements on your behalf.
Robinswood Hill, Gloucester
Family time at Robinswood Hill
I LOVE this place, and not least because they serve ice cream in the recently opened cafe. We've created some lovely family memories over the years visiting this spot, from time spent playing with our kids on the play area when they were really young, sliding down the faux-grass next to the slide, and dragging our relentlessly tenacious 7-year-old daughter up to the beacon on a cold autumn's day! And the 360-degree views at the top of the hill are fantastic.
Taking family photos at Robinswood Hill
This Gloucester location is popular and therefore usually quite busy at peak times like weekends and in the early evenings in summer months. That said, the site is VAST, and you'll absolutely find some space for your own beyond the usual hangouts near the car park, cafe and play area.
The usual 'rules' apply, as discussed above, about being careful in heavily shaded areas particularly when there's a lot of green foliage in spring and summer. Those green colour casts are ghastly! Avoid direct sun on your family's faces; secondary, non-direct light is best!
Pro tip: Visit in the morning, in the first two hours after sunrise. You'll avoid the crowds. Be the family that gets the first light of the day!
Want great photos in any location?!
Location is key... but lighting is critical! To get the best out of any lighting scenario you really need to know your stuff - or find someone that does! My name is Chris and I'm the owner of Christopher J Photography, a specialist outdoor family photographer covering Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds. I'd love more than anything to take you and your family to a great location, capture your treasured 'life right now' moments and to create bespoke wall art solutions for you to enjoy and remember those moments again and again!