Fall (and cooler temps – yay!) is approaching and with that comes the promise of the holiday season. Translation: it’s time to take those family photos for holiday cards!
Am I right? I remember when I was taking portraits, I would get many calls during the fall months for friends and family wanting me to capture a few quick shots of them for their holiday photo card. Often I would wind up in early December with my tripod, remote and family somewhere close to home trying to get a great photo since I was always busy taking pictures for everyone else; sometimes we even got our picture right in our own backyard!
While your very own backyard is at least one option for taking your family portraits, we have many others to choose from! One of the things I did frequently was travel out and about in search of unique, fun locations to capture great portraits of families. Our area is so picturesque that you don’t have to go very far to find a beautiful place to take a few photos!
Whether you are hiring a photographer to capture lifestyle portraits or doing them yourself, we have many great, low cost or free locations throughout the New Orleans metro area – from Uptown to the River Parishes – that make for great photographs!
I am pretty sure that nearly everyone from our area is familiar with City Park and all that it has to offer. The park is large, and there is lots of room everywhere for photographs. The Peristyle/Playground area is popular, but if you are looking for something a little more natural, you can drive throughout the park and find many green, neutral areas as well. The Besthoff Sculpture Garden, Botanical Gardens and Storyland are all also great locations for photos as well. Small fees apply at the Botanical Gardens and Storyland. Be sure to call ahead to see if Storyland will be open to the public, as it can be closed for birthday parties. There is no fee to enter the sculpture garden; however, donations are greatly appreciated (and encouraged!).
Tip: If you have a toddler or older child, the promise of playground time (or using playground time for portraits) will provide a cooperative child when it comes to smiling for photos.
To the right of the Audubon Golf Clubhouse, there is a great lagoon area, bandstand, and lots of beautiful oak trees that provide beautiful light for family and children’s portraits. There are also lots of ducks and squirrels, which can be very entertaining for little ones.
Like most of us, I LOVE the bright colors and scenery of the French Quarter. However, I only recommend children’s portraits in the French Quarter during the very early morning hours because it gets so busy down there after 9 or 10 am. My favorite area in the French Quarter for kids is behind the French Market where there are some fun statues and fountains and it’s not as busy.
Tip: Bring Pennies for the kids to make wishes in the fountains. And also maybe some cash to grab beignets?
Near the Jefferson/Orleans Parish Line, Longue Vue House & Gardens boasts acres of many beautiful trees, perennials and other natural elements, along with a historic home for portraits. There is a fee for professional photographers to shoot portraits there, but moms with cameras are welcome at this beautiful local treasure. Garden tour fees do apply for “mamarazzi” ($7 for adults, $3 for children 3 and older, and children under 3 are free). For professional photographers, either the photographer OR the subjects must be members of Longue Vue. Membership fees are $75 annually for families, while a $175 fee for photographers covers ALL sessions for one year.
The largest park in Jefferson Parish, Lafreniere is home to a bird sanctuary and oodles of ducks, egrets, herons and other fowl. The wooden deck over the lagoon, as well as lots of shady trees and benches, provide great light and fun activities for portraits. There is also a carousel and a playground (remember, these are good bribes for smiles!).
Tip: Bring bread to feed the ducks. Some of them will eat right out of your hand!
If you like whimsy and a vintage inspired location, this park is right for you. Kenner Heritage Park, in the heart of Rivertown, is home to a mini village of fun antique setups that are great for some fun pictures of your kiddos. Equipped with a mini-chapel, general store, old time gas station, and even a stable, there are lots of fun picture opportunities. Also in Rivertown there are several fun museums for kids you can check out!
Tip: Call first to check park hours and events.
A favorite of Ashley’s (one of our co-founders), Country Day has a beautiful campus with some colorful brick walls, a lush, green courtyard and playground fun for the kids. We strongly recommend Saturday or Sunday mornings when the campus is quiet (this is not a location for a school day for obvious reasons). Park in the front circle and capture a few shots of your little ones in front of the historic administration building before wandering into the courtyard to find endless gorgeous backdrops.
One of Louisiana’s many beautiful state parks, Fountainbleau is not only a beautiful place to go camping or have a picnic, but it is also great for taking portraits! There are oodles of hundred year old oaks draped in Spanish moss, a very unique beach laced with cypress trees, and even a fun pier overlooking Lake Pontchartrain.
Tip: If you go at sunset, you can get some beautiful beach pictures. There is also a splash pad, so in the summer months, the promise of playing in the splash pad may be a nice incentive for the little ones! An admission fee is required to enter the park.
A smaller state park nestled on Highway 22 in Madisonville, Fairview Riverside is also a nice location for capturing some great family portraits. There is a beautiful old home, lots of cypress and oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and a fun playground for the kids.
Tip: There is an admission fee to enter the park.
All along Lakefront Drive in Mandeville, you have amazing views of Lake Ponchartrain, beautiful ages-old oak trees and lots of benches for classic family and kids’ portraits.
Wetland Watchers Park
A hidden gem, Wetland Watchers Park is at the very back of the Bonnet Carre Spillway levee, bordering on Lake Pontchartrain. Home to a fun wooden gazebo, a nature trail, playground, and beautiful views of the lake, it’s a great location for some nature loving as well as taking family portraits.
Tip: Do you and the kids love fishing? There is a fun little pier where your little ones can cast for a great catch.
The Bonnet Carre Spillway not only serves an engineering purpose; it is also a great natural location for photos and recreational fun! On the north side of Airline Highway, there is a quaint nature trail with beautiful shade and lighting for portraits. On the South side of the spillway, in the early summer, there are giant patches of sunflowers as well. There are also lots of oak trees, cypress trees, and small ponds that are beautiful natural backgrounds for photos.
Tip: The Spillway is all natural, not manicured like our local parks. The nature trail and boat launches are easily accessible and kept up. However, other areas are accessible by dirt road and may be overgrown. Plan accordingly!
One of two historic antebellum homes on the River Road in Destrehan, Ormond Plantation is another great location to capture some great images of your family or little ones. On Saturdays, Ormond Plantation is also home to the German Coast Farmers Market where you can grab a snack or two after taking photos. There are lots of beautiful old oaks, a classic plantation veranda, and lots of open grass for some fun pictures.
Tip: Be sure to call first to make sure gates and property is open for photos.