Top 3 Locations for Photos in Elk River, MN

Choosing a location for family photos will greatly affect the overall look and feel of your photos. Knowing where to go and what to look for is such an important step in preparing for family photos! And you don't have to head into the city to create amazing family photos. Some of the best locations might be in your own backyard!

Kids playing during a family photo session elk river
This photo was taken in the fall next to a wide open field. I love how quiet fields like this one are, and I love how they change so much throughout the seasons.

Questions to Ask when Choosing a Location

Before we get into recommended locations for photos in Elk River, here are the questions I ask myself when choosing a location for a family photo session:

  • First and foremost, it's aaaaall about the light. Is the light soft and even? Does the location offer shade?

  • Is the location distracting? Busy backdrops and lots of colors can create a lot of distraction. We want YOU to stand out in the photos, not crazy abstract artwork.

  • Is the location busy? I'm not a fan of people in the background, and you probably aren't either.

  • Does the location have variety? This is sometimes called location within the location. This might be a spot of shade, a bench, a field, a bridge, all within walking distance.

  • Is the location hard or easy to access?

  • Is there a location that has special meaning to the family?

Top 3 Locations for Photos in Elk River, MN

Based on these questions, there are three locations in Elk River that I absolutely love:

01. Woodland Trails Park

Woodland Trails Park offers gorgeous fields right next to a parking lot. There are also several grassy and paved paths with more of a canopy feel. I love having a lot of options within walking distance. There often aren't too many people around either so it feels quiet.

This location is special to me since it's near my new house in Elk River and I plan on doing many photos there as a relocated family photographer in MN, but that's not why it's my absolute favorite. One of my preferred looks for photos is the neutral, wispy backdrop of an open field at sundown. This background is gorgeous and un-distracting and makes my subjects pop. What's more, during golden hour the brown and yellow tones of the field make for even more glowy photos.

Photos taken at the beginning of a family photo session in the middle of October.

Fields change so much with the seasons. Even a couple weeks can make a huge difference! Even within the same location, you can create photos will a very different feel. Photos at sunset in the fall will create warm, soft, and glowy vibes, whereas photos earlier in the day at the start of summer will create a fun and bright vibe.

These photos were taken at the start of summer in the same field as above. Everything was green, green, green! I love the simplicity of this sort of backdrop. And the trees provided some much-needed shade.

toddler looking up at mom who is expecting a baby
One of my favorite maternity photos taken Northwest of the Cities. I love how curious the little girl was, and this candid glance at mom was perfect!

Why head to Woodland Trails Park? From open fields to quaint paths, Woodland Trails Park has a lot to offer. I love shooting back lit photos against that wispy, neutral backdrop. As a bonus, there's a bridge on one of the paths that would make for some sweet, playful photos.

02. Bailey Point Nature Preserve

Bailey Point Nature Preserve offers quiet fields as well as very natural looking paths. In a single photo session you can spend time in the woods AND be near water! It's the perfect setting for a family lifestyle session. Kids can dip their feet in, throw rocks in the water, play in the sand.

Why take photos at Bailey Point? The option offers a lot of variety. Option of gorgeous golden hour sunset photos near water. It's fun for the kids!

These photos are examples of lifestyle moments captured near water. Taken at Fish Lake in the springtime. The beach is best photographed near sun down. This was perfect because it wasn't too hot or too cold and the bugs weren't out yet!

03. Inside Your Very Own Home!

This is the most convenient location for a photo shoot! You don't have to worry about forgetting anything or getting spit up on and needing to change your shirt. You don't even have to worry about being on time! Capturing your family in your own home also means that we'll capture some of those details that makes your family who you are. Maybe you're thinking, Uh, my house isn't exactly magazine worthy. If that's you, then check out this post on why in-home photos are the best!

One of the benefits of taking photos in your own home is not having to worry about the weather. Another benefit is the timing of your session is much more flexible.

Why take photos in your own home? It's the most convenient location and will offer the most relaxed of atmospheres. Easy for kids to take a break (or Dad for that matter). And it provides an opportunity for your personal details to be captured.

Final Thoughts on Choosing a Location

Deciding on a location is exciting and fun, and it adds an element of personality to your photos. While a great photographer can take amazing photos of your family anywhere, she'll likely have her favorite spots. What's in the background of a photo can change it completely. Colors and scenery go a long way in creating a vibe! If there's a certain vibe or color you like, tell your photographer! She'll be able to help you achieve it with her location knowledge.

Looking for a Family Photographer in Elk River?

I love to work with families in Elk River! I especially enjoy working with families with young kids! If you're on the hunt for a photographer, send me an email at or give me a call at 612.599.8349. I'd love to hear more about what type of photos you're looking for!


Based in Elk River, MN, Kara Joy Photography is a lifestyle & documentary photographer who specializes in newborn & family photography. She's known for capturing raw emotion & authentic expressions through a laid-back approach. Her unforced images have a glaze that is natural yet polished. The cherry on top? A quick turnaround time.

fresh 48 minneapolis_edited.png
fresh 48 minneapolis