So, you’ve decided to book a photo session with Liz Viernes Photography and one of the questions you have for me is “What are your favorite photoshoot locations?” Well, I’m glad you asked! One of the decisions we have to make before your session date is where we’re going to meet and it’s a really important decision!
That’s why I’m always quick to speak up about my favorite photoshoot locations because I’ve vetted all these places for the “architectural details” (such as they are) and the light! I know where the light will be amazing at all my favorite spots and light is really what elevates a portrait from good to WOW.
Of course, I’m always happy to shoot in a new location, especially if it’s a place of special significance to your family, so this list is definitely not exhaustive!
In no particular order, here are the most frequent locations I’ll suggest for photo sessions along with notes about each spot.
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Howard County Conservancy
I love the Howard County Conservancy. What’s not to love?? It’s got so many different areas in which to shoot so you’re guaranteed some great variety to your session (tall grasses, barn, low stone walls, big open fields, rooftop deck, garden courtyard – the possibilities are practically unlimited), the light is amazing in so many places there, and it’s big enough that we can move around freely and not really worry about anyone getting in our shot.
There is an annual photographer’s pass that I buy so no permit fee for you and no advanced permission is needed as long as there’s not an event being held on the day we decide to meet.
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Shrine of St Anthony
The Shrine of St Anthony is another one of my absolute favorites. I have shot here spring, summer, and fall, and it’s always absolutely stunning. The Shrine does require advanced permission (I’ll take care of that) and they do ask for a free-will donation (I’ll send you the link, submitting it is completely easy) but the photos we get are well worth it! The gray stone walls and black iron gates give off a certain sophisticated air and the grounds around the Shrine are just lovely. The property is situated so the the morning *and* evening light is perfect and it’s really hard to go wrong here!
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Font Hill Park
Font Hill Park is a favorite photoshoot location because of the boardwalks, the water, the tall, marshy grasses, and its convenient Ellicott City location. I’ve only shot here in the summer so I don’t know what it looks like at other times of the year but the light is consistently amazing and the two places I usually shoot give some nice variety to the gallery. I do like to start shooting at one end of the park and finish shooting at the other end so I will have us meet at one spot and then drive to the second. That way, there’s not a long walk to get from one location to the next (something that pregnant women usually appreciate 🤭).
No permit fee and no advanced permission required.
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Woodlawn Manor
Ahh Woodlawn. I love it so. This spot is a ride-or-die location for me. Do you like horses? It’s got them. Do you adore tall stately trees? Check. Are you drawn to a long, tree-lined driveway? This spot has not one but TWO. It’s also got a white gazebo, a red brick manor house, a green-doored barn with white and red brick arches along its’ back side. Not to mention tall, frondy grasses that catch the evening sun rays so beautifully.
This property has changed ownership in the last several years so sometimes the landscaping isn’t quite up to previous standards and there is a permit fee for photo sessions held between the hours of 9am – 5pm (but, with me, that would likely only happen in the early spring and mid-late fall; summer sessions fall outside of these hours) but don’t let those things stop you!
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Jonas Green Park
Ok this one I absolutely love because it’s a way to get to the “beach” without actually going to the beach. There’s so much good about this place (I mean, just look at the photos) so I’ll only mention the not-so-good parts so that you can make an informed decision.
First, it’s in Annapolis so it’s a bit of a drive if you’re local to me in Burtonsville. Second, the parking situation is…less than ideal. If you are able to meet on a weekday, chances are better that we’ll both be able to park but if you can only meet on a weekend, we might have to park somewhere else and call an Uber to drop us off 😬 (in case it’s not clear, I DON’T recommend a session there on the weekend). Additionally, parts of the park get very crowded with fishermen when the weather starts to warm up. While I am pretty good at politely clearing space, I can’t promise that there won’t be strangers in the background of some of your shots so that would definitely be something to consider.
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Rawlings Conservatory
This is a place where I am DYING to shoot and I will soon get my chance! I have multiple maternity sessions booked for winter 2022 and then I will update here (blogpost will be published in April ’22 so if you click this link before then, you’ll get an error message, whoops!).
As of November ’21, Rawlings allows 1 hour photo sessions during limited hours on weekdays. An application and permit fee ($100/hour for parties of 10 or fewer) are required.
The greenhouse features five distinct rooms filled with lush plantings and gorgeous growth all year round. It’s an amazing way to be surrounded by nature even in the dead of winter!
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Your Home!
I love shooting in-home sessions! I will admit to being very picky about home settings – I want to make sure that I can deliver the style that you are coming to me for so I will be looking for an abundance of natural light coming through the windows and lots of light, neutral decor. Dim rooms or rooms with darker wall colors or dark, saturated furniture or art on the walls are not the best setting for light, airy photographs so I would be asking you, the client, to pre-qualify your home for suitability before we chat.
Examples of the types of ideal lifestyle settings can be found here, here, and here.
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Montpelier Mansion
This is a *great* morning location. The light is amazing along the driveway within an hour of sunrise and spring/summer shoots can take full advantage of the garden area.
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Brookside Gardens
Brookside Gardens is a 50 acre park located in Montgomery County, MD. There are beautiful gardens, a turtle pond, and acres of rolling hills. As lovely as Brookside *can* be, it can be a little tricky to stay true to my light and airy style for clients who want to stay mostly within the flower garden due to the heavy foliage right around the gardens. I would ask clients who are leaning toward Brookside to consider whether they care more about the flowers/foliage or more about light and airy photos. If you are less concerned with light and airy, then it’s a fine place to meet and I will use my eye discerningly to try to pull out as many light and airy possibilities as I can BUT your photos will potentially look heavier and more dense than the majority of my portfolio. If flowers/foliage are less important and the light, bright look is more important, then we should either choose a location different from Brookside OR focus the majority of our time away from the flower garden.
As of November ’21, photo permits are only needed between the hours of 9am-5pm, according to Montgomery Parks website. My sessions typically start 2 hours before sunset so summer photo sessions are not required to have a permit.
Favorite Photoshoot Locations – Butterbee Farm
Butterbee Farm, located in Pikesville, MD, is a beautiful, family owned flower farm. It is *absolutely* beautiful there. There is a permit fee but the photos are absolutely worth it, in my opinion. If you have a desire to be completely surrounded by every kind of bloom you can imagine, Butterbee is The Spot.
I have photographed one session there and it was toward the end of August so the majority of the blooms had faded for the season. I’d recommend spring and early summer for the best showing.
Favorite Photoshoot Locations Wrap-Up
Hopefully this list will get you started! I always have a running bucket list of places I haven’t shot but would love to so if none of these spots light your fire, ask me about that bucket list and we’ll see if we can make magic in an entirely new place ❤️ Happy Trails!
Liz Viernes Photography is based near Potomac, Maryland, and specializes in maternity, fresh 48, posed and lifestyle newborns and first year milestone portraits.
leave a comment