Lori Pickens

A girl and two boys bonding and having fun at the muddy lake while their hands are intertwined.

A West Virginia Riverbanks Photography Session

I want to share one of my favorite spots for a photo shoot that can be a fantastic inspiration for your upcoming family and milestone sessions. As a family photographer serving Parkersburg, WV, and the Mid-Ohio Valley area, I’m all about capturing those precious moments as your family grows and creating memories that last a lifetime. So, let me take you on a journey to a unique little beach area over in Belpre, where we had a blast during an impromptu photo session!

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kids holding hands laughing walking through muddy river in west virginia

West Virginia Riverbank Photo Shoot

You might be thinking, “Wait, West Virginia, doesn’t have beach fronts, right?” Well, you’re absolutely right! We may not have sandy shores, but we do have picturesque riverbanks that can be just as charming. On this particular day, I had a creative itch to capture some images with a beachy feel, so I decided to surprise my kids with this offbeat location. It’s a delightful spot where, on dry days, you can stroll along the riverbank. However, you might encounter a bit of mud, especially when you venture into the water. And, well, my children managed to embrace the mud wholeheartedly – they were covered head to toe! But hey, I’ve never been one to shy away from a mess; for me, the memories we create together outweigh any concern over clothes or material things. (Plus I’m pretty convinced that there is no stain that my own mother can’t get out!).

collage of siblings playing in muddy water parkersburg wv

The best part of this session was the laughter and playfulness of the kids. I had the opportunity to capture genuine smiles and heartfelt sibling connections without needing to prompt or bribe them. It was pure joy to witness and photograph.

girl playing in riverbanks near mid ohio valley area

P.S. – this super cute dress is from Amazon. Haven is ultra-picky about what she wears and more importantly that it feels comfortable, so I loved this cute, flowy option that she actually loved wearing. It comes in several different colors and includes a cute, little belt (that she opted out of). It would be a great neutral option for those of you that keep a kid’s client closet. 

The kid laughed and played, and I got to shoot genuine smiles and sibling connections without any prompts or bribery. 

riverbank photography session parkersburg wv family photographer

Photographer Tips and Gear

If you know you are going to be in a messy shooting space, use a longer lens. I used my favorite 70-200mm Nikkor lens and could be plenty far back from the splash zone and still capture those big belly laughs. 

I had actually thought about taking the kids to this spot and planned out outfits ahead of time, but waited for an overcast day. While I LOVE a golden sunset and beautiful backlight, I know we would be going earlier in the day before the sun was in an ideal spot, and this area doesn’t really offer any light filtering, which would limit the angles I could shoot from and get good light. Knowing my crazy children and the experience I wanted them to have, I didn’t want to limit either of us to make sure the sun was directly behind them in my shots. Overcast days are like big giant softboxes, the light might not be as dramatic, but I knew we could both move around and not worry about limiting myself by the light source. 

As much as we enjoyed ourselves, there’s always room for improvement. I learned the hard way that having some water on hand to wash off the mud from the kids and perhaps carrying a change of clothes or at least some towels would have been helpful before putting them back in the car. Lesson learned for our next adventure!

So, if you’re in the mood for a fun and adventurous family photoshoot, consider exploring this charming riverbank location in Belpre. Embrace the mess and create wonderful memories together, and I’ll be there to capture every heartfelt moment. As they say, life’s messy, but it’s beautiful, and I couldn’t agree more.

Until next time, keep cherishing those magical moments with your loved ones, and remember, I’m here to make those memories last forever through the art of photography.


Lori Pickens is a Mother, Wife, and Tech Geek from Parkersburg, WV. She is a true lifelong local and has been photographing in the area for over a decade. Lori is also a Click Pro Elite and Click Community Mentor. When she’s not capturing pictures or spending time with her kids, she enjoys organizing her lists and spending time on her family farm!


I have a few tools in my toolbelt that will help you grow into the photographer you’ve always wanted to be!  Whether you are prepping to be a Click Pro Elite or you are just ready to start leveling up and making new goals check out these resources to help you grow!

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Fearless Indoor Light – a Self-Paced course

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