*Updated March 2022.*
Instead of JUST posting awesome real weddings, engagements and sessions I’ve photographed I have always wanted to share helpful tips and advice for couples and photographers. Since I have been photographing in the Tampa and St. Pete area for many years I hope my experience helps others. I often get couples asking where they should do their St. Pete or Tampa engagement photos and of course that depends on many factors like the mood and style they are going for, if they’re including pets, the length of the engagement session that they booked, if they want to include locations that are personal to them and of course the weather might determine location. The locations I suggest may not be for everyone, but they are great locations for certain reasons that I’ll state. So let’s get into it!
1. The City of Tampa mural is a very popular spot for engagement photos. It’s colorful and fun and such a cool representation of our City. It’s been there a while too, one of the first murals Tampa had. Some things to note, it’s usually in full sun in the afternoon so it’s better to go later in the session.
2. University of Tampa and Plant Park. This location is GREAT because not only can you photograph indoors but you can also photograph outdoors in the gorgeous park. You have a great balance of greenery and historic building. There are tons of options on the porch with the brick as well. In the second photo I’m showcasing the rotunda area inside the main entrance to the museum area. Such an awesome piece of Tampa history.
3. Tampa Theatre. Another awesome staple of Tampa history. I know this isn’t the quintessential shot with the marquee sign, but that’s exactly why I like this one. This spot is usually very busy especially if they have a showing so make sure you look at their show times before you decide to go here.
4. Curtis Hixon Park, Kiley Gardens and the Riverwalk. This is a fantastic location if you’re trying to get the cityscape in the background and the Hillsborough River. The light is usually pretty harsh here most of the day so prepare for that. The sun also sets opposite this photo across the Hillsborough River which is beautiful. However, also a very popular and busy area. Where I shot the first couple isn’t as busy.
5. Armature Works. This is one of those new locations that has changed the look of Tampa Heights. I had my own wedding celebration in their Theatre space. The windows and brick are awesome as a background. It is also very populated especially on weekends, but feasible. Just be patient and make sure the couple is ok with lots of people being around.
*2022 Update: I believe now you need a permit to do sessions at Armature Works, but you can use the area around it like Water Works park along the river.*
6. Water Works Park. Also another awesome location on the Hillsborough Riverwalk. Very close to Armature Works as well so if you’re already in the area you can check it out. Just make sure to look up the event calendar to make sure there are no big events going on that would get in the way of your photos.
7. Franklin Street Murals. There are lots of new murals in Tampa and they are mostly condensed into Tampa Heights. There are lots along Franklin street and down the side streets from there. The only issue is that there is street parking so sometimes you have to get creative like I did below.
8. Ybor City. Again, another staple in Tampa history. If you haven’t been there you need to check it out because it has also come a LONG way from what it was years ago. Now I feel it enhances the history of Ybor and it can only get better. Watch out for the wild Ybor chickens. They are protected and are descendants of the chickens brought over by Cuban immigrants. Ybor has a very urban feel so if that is what the couple is going for it’s perfect. Some photo examples below.
9. Davis Islands. Great little hidden spot in Tampa. There is a Marina with a little beach that gets a great sunset plus a view.
10. Hillsborough River State Park. If the couple wants a more rustic, outdoors or forest type mood for their photos this is hands down one of my favorite nearby parks to go. It has tall trees, grasses, the river rapids, trails etc. It’s such a great hiking spot!
11. Ft. Desoto. Another beautiful outdoors location that has a variety of backdrops such as beach, mangroves, trees, the fort ruins. This is near St. Pete about a 20-25 minute drive from downtown St. Pete. By far my favorite beach to photograph at.
12. Vinoy Park and Straub Park. The first two photos were taken at Vinoy Park and then Straub Park. Both couples included their dogs which I LOVE! Any outdoor location is great for photos with your pets.
13. St. Pete murals. You can check out www.stpetemuraltour.com to see all of the murals downtown. I am just showing a few of my favorites below because they are all within walking distance of each other.
14. Sunken Gardens. I love photographing weddings at Sunken Gardens, but they also allow engagement sessions as long as you get permission and pay the $10 entrance fee. The only issue with Sunken Gardens is that they close at 4:30 so during the time of year when the days are longer, that means the lighting when you go around 3 or 3:30 isn’t “golden hour” lighting. I’ve made it work and my couples love it, but it’s something to note.
*2022 Update: Sunken Gardens now charges $250 to photograph sessions at their venue on weekdays only. This would be a fee the client would have to pay, however, I have location options below that are tropical like Sunken Gardens.*
15. Gizella Kopsick Arboretum & Pier Mural. An alternative to Sunken Gardens, also in St. Pete, Gizella Kopsick Arboretum features lots of lush tropical plants and brick pathways.
Across from it is a beach with a colorful pier.
16. Honeymoon Island. One of my two favorite beaches to shoot at (this and Ft. Desoto). It features a dog friendly beach park as well as a rock jetty, interesting trees and mangroves. Lots of cool hidden spots to shoot.
17. Parking garage rooftop. Any parking garage rooftop with a good view of the city in Tampa or St. Pete. Most of the ones I've enjoyed are in Tampa, especially Ybor City. You must shoot at sunset to get the most out of it.
18. Philippe Park. In Safety Harbor, a gorgeous park with winding staircases and really cool trees. This park also has a waterfront area as well as an awesome road with a tree tunnel.
19. Bok Tower Gardens. A bit of a ways from Tampa (about 1.5 hours) located in Lake Wales. This garden park is absolutely stunning. It features tons of flowers and trees as well as the tower, overlook and mansion. Just outside there are rolling hills with grass and orange groves. Definitely worth the drive.
20. At home. This is not an official location in either city, however I love at home engagement sessions. It is especially great because if you do have pets you want to include and don’t have friends or family that can help take them home when we’re done with them for photos doing your photos at home is a great alternative. It’s helpful if your home has a room with great window lighting or even a pretty porch or outdoor location.
I hope this has been helpful everyone. Of course, as a couple make your own decision on location. It can be a very personal spot like where you had your first date or places you love to go together. It doesn’t have to be the most picturesque or have an amazing backdrop as long as it means something to you. Consult with your photographer on locations, outfits, lighting, timing etc. If you have any questions at all or would like to book an engagement session with me, feel free to reach out by emailing email@example.com. Can’t wait to hear from you!
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