Yay! Lets plan for some great photo locations. Here are a few ideas and descriptions of fun and popular places around Minneapolis and St Paul. These are to give you a sense of what a space feels like and the options there, but I try not to recreate photos and a lot is dependent on lighting or weather conditions. If there is something that really speaks to you, let me know.
STONE ARCH BRIDGE
The most popular location in Minneapolis, and with good reason – it features a spectacular view of the Minneapolis Skyline no matter the weather. To the side of the bridge, walkways and greenspaces give options for variety. My favorite location for shorter sessions, evening sessions, and people who love walking. This is also the perfect location for a quick stop in winter and is a great way to finish a session from another location, particularly the Saint Anthony Main area.
Best in: the early morning sunrise or dusk when the lights of the city come up.
SAINT ANTHONY MAIN
The area on the St Anthony Main side of the river combines great views of the Minneapolis skyline and the Mississippi river, park space, and some old Minneapolis cafes and architecture.
Best in: the afternoon and evening. Mix of indoor and outdoor spaces make this a great choice for rainy or cold weather.
NICOLLET ISLAND/BOOM ISLAND
Boom Island connects to the back of Nicollet Island in downtown Minneapolis and is a touch of rural Minneapolis in the middle of the city. Features include rustic iron bridge, wooden stairs, and in seasonal tall grasses and fall color. Great from early spring to early winter.
Best for: a rustic vibe without leaving the city
MILL CITY AREA
The downtown side of the Mississippi river has a good mix of color and urban architecture mixed with old stonework and a real Mill City vibe. Beautiful options all year long, and a good mix of semi-covered and open spaces make it a good choice for photos in light rain or snow. The variety of textures and architecture makes this a perfect my favorite place for headshots or graduation portraits.
Best for: lots of variety in a small area.
Centrally located park features a mix of interesting spaces and a slightly European vibe. Easy walking to a few cafes, and the Minneapolis Sculpture garden for more drama. A favorite is the underground “sky pecher” bunker for a wild architectural photo. Parts of the sculpture garden are under construction for 2016 and not available.
Best for: week night walking
LAKE OF THE ISLES
Get outside in summer at this versatile park close to a boat rental (canoe fun!) and featuring small secluded areas, willow trees, and a good mix of lake views with trees and tall grasses.
Best for: fun in the summertime
ST PAUL UNION DEPOT
The St Paul Union Depot is a recently renovated historic train depot and the “waiting room” area has really gorgeous architecture and a high domed brick area. This is also an active train and bus depot, so there can be other people mingling around. Also, there are sometimes special art installations or events scheduled here so it makes sense to look at their website for listings.
Best for: big indoor space with old architecture.
GUTHRIE THEATER INSIDE
The Guthrie Theater has modern bold colors and lines, a panoramic view of the Mississippi river, and has large parts of space that are open to the public. It is also an active theater so photos must be timed to not conflict with intermissions, etc. The best time to go is definitely early in the day to avoid tourists and theater-goers.
Best for: indoor alternative to Mill City area and bold colors
St Paul’s Rice Park is small but mighty – trees draped in lights in wintertime, the architecture of the JJ Hill Library and the Landmark Center, and a slightly European vibe throughout.
Best for: A lot of St Paul in a little space.
The twin cities have some of the best parks in the country, so finding one that speaks to you should be no problem. Be aware that some parks (the Three Rivers District, for example) require photo permits or might have other regulations. Some parks I love include:
Raspberry Island in St Paul: Best view of downtown St Paul, and large steps allow you to get right next to the river. Lots of parking, and tall trees. Great year round, almost any time of day.
Sweed Hollow in St Paul: spectacular tunnel-like bridge and then loads of secluded green spaces and tall grasses. Perfect in summer time, best before dusk.
Lake Phalen Park in St Paul: newly renovated stone bridges surround the small river, beautiful mature trees and willows.
LOCATIONS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY
The best way to feel comfortable for photos is to actually be comfortable, so find something that makes you happy. I’ve done sessions at the State Fair, on a canoe, surrounded by cows, in a home. Planning a session around things you enjoy doing (starting with an ice cream, hitting a favorite brew pub, walking in your neighborhood) is the best way to ensure you have fun!