It’s engagement season in Nashville, and since I’m asked about photo locations many times a year, I’ve come up with a list of my top five Nashville engagement session locations!
So many couples ask about going to beautiful spots such as Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, Carnton Plantation, or other private parks, not realizing that there’s a fee of $250 or more to photograph on private property. Some couples choose to pay the fee to access those gorgeous properties – which is awesome! – but most are happy to find another beautiful option that’s free and open to the public. (Note: Many venues allow access for an engagement session if the couple has booked their venue for the wedding! One example of this is Green Door Gourmet, which has acres of beautiful land that’s perfect for an engagement session with a natural or bohemian vibe.)
There are tons of great places in and around the city, but these are five of my personal favorites because of the light, the different options available, and the ease of access:
Located in Brentwood, Smith Park is a gorgeous, big park with lots of options for engagement sessions and, most importantly, beautiful light in the afternoon! With lots of trees and some open areas, there’s always shade to help filter harsh light, and there are open areas for those last rays of soft, golden-hour sun. Smith Park has wooden fences, a natural dirt trail flanked by leafy trees (really pretty in the fall!), romantic tall grass, an open field with short grass, a white barn, and lots of tall trees.
Long Hunter State Park is another one of my favorite spots! Long Hunter is a big state park that includes Percy Priest Lake and Couch Lake, and there are so many beautiful spots here all within a few minutes of each other! From a rocky lakefront that provides a romantic watery backdrop to tall grass (my favorite), and also a pier on the lake, walking trails, and an open field that’s perfect for golden-hour portraits, this park is always a beautiful place for romantic, natural engagement session portraits.
Downtown Nashville is a favorite spot for pictures because it’s just such a cool, bustling, colorful city! The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is an iconic place with the Nashville skyline in the background, so it’s an easy favorite. Many couples choose to take photos on the bridge, and then some photos in Cumberland Park (right beneath the bridge), and if there’s time, we walk across the bridge into Nashville and do some photos on the busy stretch of Broadway with the neon signs and crowds. It all makes for a chic, urban backdrop for couples who like a city vibe.
Located in East Nashville just 10 minutes from downtown, Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Shelby Park offer acres of green space to explore and find beautiful light. There are options for areas with trees, trails, and at least one field with tall grass. Here are some examples of a session shot in the middle of winter at Shelby Park. There’s always somewhere beautiful around here, no matter what time of year!
For adventurous couples who don’t mind driving to the west side of Nashville and putting their trust in me to find someplace beautiful, there are a few tucked-away spots that don’t have a formal name, but I’ve found them near my part of the city and they’re beautiful! See some shots below from sessions where the couple said they wanted a natural look, including a creek to splash in for some playful shots – and then a more romantic but still natural look for dressy photos.
Once again, the most important thing is the LIGHT. You can have an amazing location with terrible light, and you’ll likely have a bad (or just OK) photo. But you can have a generic location with beautiful, soft light, and you’ll have amazing photos!