Top Family Photo Locations in San Antonio | Sara Welburn Photography
Updated: Jun 27
So you've made the easy choice and booked your family session with me (woohoo!!), but now you have two more difficult decisions to make: location and outfits! In this blog post I'm going to focus on the location side of things, but don't worry, I have a blog post to help y'all out with the outfit selection coming soon too!
One mistake that people make is underestimating the importance of the location they choose for their photoshoot. Backgrounds are so important for style!! Your family photos would look very different if taken in front of a dark wood barn versus a bright, neutral colored museum. And we love those bright, joyful, vibrant photos, don't we? And the background determines the vibe of the photos. Do you want and industrial vibe? A natural vibe? A sense of timelessness? All of those things are largely impacted by the location you choose!
Now don't stress out, I've put together this guide detailing some of my favorite locations for family photos here in San Antonio. I lay out the pros and cons of each spot (like whether they have bathrooms close by for the little ones) and make sure you know if there's a photography fee required to do your session there. Read through this carefully and then let me know if you have any questions!! I'm here to help, and can't wait to get your family in front of my camera!!
McNay Art Museum
The McNay Art Museum get top spot on this list because it's.. well.. it's absolutely gorgeous! As you walk long the expansive, green grounds you'll see the statue garden under the towering oak trees, a rustic little gazebo on a pond, and of course the bright, white, elegant building itself! It provides nice, clean backgrounds that will complement - not distract - from your family and your love. San Antonio is known for its Spanish architecture and this building will give your engagement a little bit of Spanish flair and a clean elegant vibe. It's definitely a must see!
There is a $30 photography fee to shoot on the grounds outside the museum, and a $100 fee to shoot inside the museum (they have gorgeous staircases and windows inside) which also includes their courtyard with lush greenery and bold fountains and intricately tiled staircases. Personally, I think the outside is beautiful enough on its own, but having access to the inner courtyard does provide a greater variety of backgrounds for your photos when you put them up on your wall!
One important thing to note, there isn't access to a bathroom once the Museum closes at 5 or 6pm (depending on the day). There is a tiny little emergency bathroom clear on the other side of the grounds from where we'd be shooting, but it costs us precious golden hour light if we have to wait for a parent to frantically rush one of the little ones to the bathroom. It's usually not a huge deal for kids who are potty training, but just make sure to plan ahead!
The Pearl is one of my absolute favorite family photo spots!! There is just so so much you can do. Besides the riverwalk and the goooorgeous Hotel Emma, you also have the urban alleyways, the ivy-covered walls, waterfalls with koi fish, and seriously SO MUCH more. You'll be hard pressed to decide what to you want us to capture! You can get a wide variety of backgrounds at the Pearl to give your gallery a lot of unique shots; no two photos will look the same.
They also have easy access to restrooms for little ones, and there's no photography fee which is always a plus! It can get crowded on the weekends just because it's such a popular place to with all the restaurants and shops, not to mention the other photographers taking advantage of the plethora of gorgeous backgrounds. So if you're really interested in the Pearl, it might help to plan your session for a weekday evening instead of a weekend!
Landa Library is this beautiful family estate that this sweet couple donated to the city on the condition that they'd turn the estate and its grounds into a public library. It's got gorgeous architecture, a bunch of small intricate details, greenery and trees, and even a butterfly garden! (not a garden of butterflies, but a garden for butterflies to live). There are some big, bold doors that I love to utilize whenever I shoot at Landa Library, and quite a few intimate little corners providing the perfect background for closeup, snuggle shots!
This location does get pretty crowded on the weekends, so just be prepared for that! It's a hot spot for lots of local portrait photographers so we may be waiting our turn for the really sweet spots. If your schedule can handle it, a weekday session would be perfect here! I've heard talk of Landa Library starting to charge a small photography fee, but I can't find anything on their website about it. If you choose this as your family session location, we'll definitely call ahead and double check first!
There's also a playground on the grounds! Parents have successfully used this as a bribe for their children to be on their best behavior during photo shoots - the reward is right there in front of them and it can help to keep them focused. But on the down side, the playground is right there in front of us and that can be distracting for some kids. You know your children best! If they can handle the excitement of the playground and harness it to get us some super cute photos, then great!! If that would be too distracting, that's okay too! There are lots of other great location options :)
Y'all Brackenridge was the first place I ever shot a session when I moved to San Antonio and it's STILL one of my favorites. It has miles of green walking trails, majestic trees, the river running right through it, and these gorgeous bridges near one of the entrances. If you're wanting primarily natural backgrounds for your family photos, this is where I would recommend going! Literally every single backdrop at this park is insta-worthy. It also gives us a lot of awesome shade to get some pretty fantastic lighting in the evenings!
There's no photography fee to shoot here, but because it is one of the biggest and best maintained parks in San Antonio, it can get a little busy with pedestrians on the weekends. Like always, we can totally work around that if this location speaks to your heart! It certainly speaks to mine :)
Joshua Springs Park and Reserve
This one if a little outside of San Antonio near the cute town of Boerne, but I included it on this list because it is WORTH the drive! It showcases the very best of Texas hill country: rolling fields, blue streams, rolling green hills. You feel like it's just your loved ones and nature (and me) and I'm aaaaaaaall about that.
There isn't a photography fee to shoot there, and it's far enough out of the way that it's not insanely crowded on the weekends like the Pearl, Landa Library, or Brackenridge Park might be. They do have restrooms there for the littles! There is a lot of tall grass in certain sections so I always want to be mindful of people's allergies and aversion to bugs. Those backgrounds are totally worth it though. 😍 So bring your adventurous spirit and fun-loving attitude and let's capture photos you'll cherish for years to come!
San Jose Mission
If you're looking for a quintessential Texas location with beautiful backgrounds, graceful arches, and a rich history, then the San Jose mission is for you! The neutral colored walls of the mission make you and your family POP as the focus of the photo. If you choose this as your family session location, make sure to wear those light, calm colors that will complement that background sooooo well (I talk about that in the Family Style Guide I send you!).
Every single time I've shot here, I've gotten beautiful images. Without fail. And that's in spite of how crowded it can get - because it's the most popular mission for tourists and locals alike. We can work around the other people pretty easily, though. If this location just speaks to you, don't worry about a thing! I'll take care of it :)
There is a $100 photography fee to shoot at any of the missions. There's a form we have to fill out ahead of time, and they won't allow us to photograph at all if there's a real wedding taking place at the mission that day. So if this is the location you want, let me know ASAP so we can make sure it's available on your date!!
Did any of those locations speak to your heart? Is there a photo above that you wish you could just switch out the family that's already there and put your family in instead? Then yay you have your family session location decided!! If none of these jumped out at you or just didn't fit the vibe you're going for, let's chat! I have lots of other spots in mind :)