A young toddler smiles as he explores the trees at his family portrait session in Broomfield, Colorado.

Family Portraits: McKay Lake Trail

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Destination Photography

What do you do when friends come to town to visit family? Take their photos, of course.

My friend Stacie recently sent me a Facebook Message that she was taking a spur-of-the-moment trip to Denver to see her relatives. She wanted to put together a multi-generational photo session with her 18-month-old son, her mom, and her Grandma Bea.

The Location

We tossed around a few ideas for a location and decided on McKay Lake Trail in Broomfield. The spot offered a convenient location near Stacie’s local family. Other advantages included a small parking lot with accessibility for her Grandma. And, not to mention, several backdrops within just a short distance from parking. These included a wooden fence with wild grasses and a fairly level forested area.

Fortunately, the leaves on the trees had just started to change from green to yellow. Plus, they still covered the spot with a thick canopy. This meant we could schedule our session at any time to fit with Stacie’s busy timetable. After talking about schedules and her son’s timing for naps, we set up a time at 11:00 a.m. on a weekday. (Note: Many photographers like this area for making portraits on the weekends. Consider weekdays for the best parking and access to prime spots).

The Session

Temperatures dropped a little on the day of the shoot. This meant a hint of chill when standing in the shade and warmer temperatures in the sunshine. The light changed quickly, giving us beautiful clouds and blue skies at the beginning of the session. This later changed to hazy sunshine and contrasty skies without clouds.

Thankfully, we started with the fence photographs first. We then moved to the wooded area. Once inside, we just made sure to stay as much as possible in the shade away from dappled light. My goal was to keep intense sunny spots from appearing in the photos.

End Results

Our littlest member of the portrait session loved checking out the nature in the area. From the trees, insects, and running water, to the branches and leaves on the ground, plenty kept this toddler occupied between shots. Given the small size of the party, we kept a mental checklist of adult combinations to work in between interruptions in his attention span. We also kept the shoot to about 40 minutes to keep things from being overwhelming.

Overall, we had fun capturing everyone on this mini-adventure in Colorado. Making time to create portraits in a place other than home makes for a fun time on your vacation. And, it helps capture those memories forever in a beautiful way. Check out the gallery below to see which photos Stacie and her family selected from the day.


If you’re thinking of McKay Lake Trail portraits, here’s what you need to know:

  • Small parking lot with two disabled spots (ideally carpool to this site)
  • Kid-friendly (although, no restrooms or porta-potties)
  • Easy 1.6m hiking (see All Trails App for information)
  • Walkers, hikers, road bikers, and bird watchers
  • Partially paved path
  • Lake views
  • Wooded area
  • Wildflowers
  • Construction (if you head to the east side of the lot, one of the trails is under repair)
  • NOTE: Google Maps will take you to the south side of the lake; you will want to take 144th Street

McKay Lake Trail Portraits – Final Selections Gallery

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