Minnesota friends – don’t you love how versatile the Twin Cities are?! One of the best parts about being a photographer here is the mixture of nature, charm, hard lines, and soft stone you can find depending on which neighborhood you’re in. If you’re looking for a location for your engagement, wedding or family photos, it can be a bit overwhelming with all the options available. Plus, choosing a location for your photo shoot plays a huge factor in the final look and feel of your photos! As a light and airy photographer, I love looking for locations with lots of shade, with beautiful sunsets, and a location that will lend itself to timeless photographs. Through many years of experience, I’ve found locations that are just that!
So let’s get into it! Counting down my top 10 favorite photo locations in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area for family, engagement and wedding photos.
10. James J Hill Library
This is one of my go-to photo locations in St. Paul. Whether it’s a bright sunny day in the middle of summer, or it’s a gloomy day in March, the backdrop of the James J Hill Library will always provide beautiful light and bright photographs. It’s also located in Rice Park, so a few short steps away you can also get some greenery in your photos as well!
9. Arneson Acres Park
This well-kept park is truly a gem. There’s a picturesque fountain, lots of flowers, and tall shrubs that line the parameter of the park. It’s small, so it’s not the most versatile, but it’s perfect for family photos. The best part, the large shrubs that line the park provide for excellent shade. Perfect for a family photo shoot and kids with earlier bedtimes!
8. St. Anthony Main
Ahh, St. Anthony Main! If you’ve ever considered having photos taken in Minneapolis, this is likely high up on your list of ideas. Some might consider it overdone. It’s close to the Stone Arch Bridge (fun fact – this is the most popular tourist destination in the city but happens to have THE WORST light for photos!), has charming brick streets, and lots of lush trees. But it’s popular for a reason! It’s EXTREMELY versatile, has great shaded options no matter what time of day, and even has a gorgeous bridge that provides for a great solution if rain comes through. See below for some of my staple photo spots within the area.
7. Studio 130
Let’s be real. The weather in Minnesota isn’t always ideal for outdoor photos. Consider renting a cozy studio space for timeless photos year-round! My favorite is Studio 130 in Minneapolis. You can keep it timeless and use the light-wash floors and white walls as the backdrop, or bring in your own floral arch and décor to create a fun theme. This studio is home to my winter mini sessions every year!
6. Hansen Tree Farm
This is hands down my favorite location to photograph starting late-fall and through our long winter months in Minnesota. Not only can you get the charm of the Christmas Tree Farm with rows and rows of evergreen trees, but there’s also areas of tall trees that provide the abundant shade that’s needed (and hard to find!) in winter. This location is PERFECT for a holiday card photo but isn’t limited to just that. Depending on where you photograph at the Farm, it can look like Christmas, or simply a winter wonderland.
5. Wayzata Beach
Minnesota is known for our 10,000+ lakes. It’s not uncommon for the lake to be extremely meaningful to my clients, resulting in lots of requests for photos on or near it. The thing about lakes, however, is that they can photograph really beautifully, or really horribly. When choosing a location for lake photos, finding a spot with the perfect light is VERY important! The location I always recommend is Wayzata Beach. There are rows of docks with the traditional wooden pillars, a nice beach, a location for the perfect sunset photos, and a lush park nearby.
4. Mill City Ruins
The Mill City Ruins are truly the gem of Minneapolis. When I bring my clients to this area, many share they’ve walked by the area countless times and never knew it existed! It’s tucked away below the Stone Arch Bridge near the Mill City Museum and makes for the perfect backdrop for photos. There are light-wash ruins, tall grass, and some historic architectural details. It’s also tucked down below the city, so it’s private and the abundant shade makes for really glowy and beautiful photos.
3. West River Parkway Courtyard
Just up the hill from Mill City Ruins is my favorite, charming courtyard in Minneapolis. I shoot here A LOT, but it’s because it’s private, well kept, has lots of shade, and keeps my photos looking light / bright with the light wash stone buildings that surround it. This is home to my mini sessions every year and has THE BEST floral trees in Spring! If your photos take place mid-May, you can expect me to always recommend this location!
2. Quarry Park and Nature Reserve
Ok, this isn’t in Minneapolis or St. Paul. But this one CAN’T BE overlooked! It’s a short 1 hour drive outside of the city and is extremely versatile if you’re looking for nature photography. Between the sunsets behind the quarry rock formations, a charming wooden foot bridge, and acres of tall grass fields, this location tops my list for a reason.
1.Como Lakeside Pavilion
This spot is my absolute favorite during Minnesota summers!! There’s a lake, a European-esque garden, a light wash pavilion with fun turquoise windows, a mini waterfall, and lots of paths surrounded by mature trees. This location will make your photos look luxe and has the best glow in summer months!