where should you get your portraits taken?

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spring 2019 is almost here, and it’s a great time to start thinking about portraits - family, couple, baby, individual, whatever you’re looking for! i’ve been photographing all of these types of portraits around the DMV for the last decade, and i have a few favorite locations that i wanted to share.

i often tell my clients that all i really need is a bit of unobstructed green or some water, and some good light, if we want to take outdoor portraits. and the timing - unless you’re up for a sunrise session - is almost always best just before and during the golden hour, so many of the images you see here were clearly taken at that time. not all! some were taken at night, some on a cloudy afternoon - you can make beautiful portraits at just about any time if you know how to use the light and space available to you. take a look at these options, and if you’re interested, send me a message and let’s set something up! and stay tuned for mini-session date and location announcements!

if there’s a hike or a nature walk involved, i am so down, and there are a number of parks and gardens in our region that offer really lovely backdrops and settings for portraits. one of the most popular is brookside gardens in wheaton, maryland (be aware that a permit and fee is required for professional photography there). but it’s a stunning location, with a variety of gardens, structures and bits of water that offer a plethora of options:

brookside’s sister gardens, mccrillis gardens in bethesda, offer a much smaller but permit-free option for family, couple or individual portrait sessions. at the right time in spring, it’s gorgeously floral with large azaleas and other flowering trees, but even without the flowers, the wooded paths, manor house and gazebos are lovely outdoor settings:

one of my favorite park locations is centennial lake park in columbia, maryland. the paved walk around the lake is almost two miles long, but if you have time to just go partway around in one direction, there’s a lovely red iron bridge; in the other direction, a wooden bridge; and either way, picturesque waterside and wooded scenes. there’s also a sizeable, colorful playground, which makes it a great location for family portraits with kids - or for playful couples:

i’ve done a number of family sessions at patapsco valley state park, which is large enough to have different areas and entrances. my favorite is the avalon area, with a swinging bridge, a bit of ruins next to old train tracks, and a paved pathway through the woods along the beautiful patapsco river. sharing here some engagement photos that i’ve taken there:

virginia also offers several lovely park locations for portraits! i’ve done many sessions at the stunning meadowlark botanical gardens in vienna (though none i can share here unfortunately, as those clients happened to want to keep their photos private), but a smaller, more farm-like location is claude moore park in sterling, with a small pond, some wooded paths and wood fencing as well, that at the right time of evening make a gorgeous spot. and another park in fairfax county with a variety of beautiful portrait spots, including gazebos, a children’s garden and open spaces, is green spring gardens park in alexandria.

sometimes local parks are a fantastic option! you don’t need fancy structures and sculptured gardens - sometimes, like i said, all you need is good light and a bit of green or some water. we did this engagement session at a city park with a lake on a beautiful day:

you can tell i’m big on parks :) there’s also my most favorite park of all, great falls, with its stunning views of the potomac over rocky cliffs! but if you like a different kind of waterfront, maryland has three fantastic harbors (probably more?) that each offer a different setting for portraits. annapolis harbor offers white boats floating on the blue harbor, quaint housefronts and storefronts on cobblestone streets; baltimore harbor is, of course, big, busy and brilliant; and national harbor has a giant lit ferris wheel and an enormous sculpture of a man clambering out of the beach sand:

if you’re wanting photos in DC, but looking for something different from the usual monuments, you might try roosevelt island, in the center of the potomac south off of GW parkway. this park offers an unusual mix of wooded paths, waterfront views of the surrounding city, and a massive stone monument plaza with tall structures, bridges and a moat:

city or town streets are also a great location for family photos, especially if the kids are a little older, or couple photos as well. street photos offer so many more opportunities for subjects to interact with their surroundings - including people! - for more interesting, memorable photos. here are some family photos taken in historic ellicott city, and an engagement session done in and around chinatown, where the couple first met:

there are so many more options to choose from; i could never list or showcase them all! and i’ll throw this out there: i’m dying to do a bookstore portrait session. or a session at the bromo-seltzer tower in baltimore. and i never get tired of photos at the incomparable diyanet center of america! or whatever. if you’ve got something in mind that you don’t see here, feel free to ask me what’s possible (which is pretty much everything!). let’s start planning your spring portraits!