Are you planning on doing an engagement photography session in Richmond and wondering what some great locations might be to hold your session? Richmond is such an amazing and diverse city and there are no lack of options for great locations for photos! We’ve got some beautiful gardens, historic buildings and of course, the James River within minutes of the heart of the city!
Being a native Richmonder, I was born and raised in this amazing city and have had years to explore all that Richmond has to offer. Whether you are adventurous and outdoorsy, love being by the river or you're more into an urban feel with historic buildings or murals, Richmond has something that will suit you and your fiancé's personality great!
Here are 10 great spots in Richmond that I’ve found are absolutely amazing for not only engagement photos, but also family photography, senior portraits and more! You’ll learn what unique qualities each location has to offer!
I grew up going to Maymont Park and always loved exploring the gardens, rolling hills and seeing the animals! Maymont really has so much to offer and is always a great choice for photos. Maymont is a 100 acre historic estate and park with beautiful gardens, like the Italian Garden at the top of the park with a white column walkway and the Japanese gardens at the lower level with koi ponds, stepping stones and a tea house! I’m always impressed at just how well the Maymont crew keep the gardens looking stunning all year round. Even in the winter, they have flowers blooming up in the Italian gardens! If you love animals, there is also a farm on the property with horses, goats, chickens and more. There are seriously endless possibilities for photos at Maymont, so you really can’t go wrong!
Belle Isle is another adventurous option with great spots for engagement photos! It’s a 54 acre island right in the middle of the James River with a view of the city skyline! To get to Belle Isle, you cross the river on a really cool suspended bridge, which is also a great spot for photos! Once on Belle Isle, there are hiking and mountain biking trails, overlooks and great spots to rock hop or lounge on the river! The sun also sets on the other side of the river from the rocky areas, so it makes for an amazing backdrop around sunset time! There are also a lot of old rustic looking brick buildings that can create great backdrops. If you’re up for a little adventure, there is so much to explore on this island!
So many of my couples love Libby Hill! If you are a Richmonder and want something that represents your city in your photos or just want one of the best Richmond city backdrops (and sunset spots), this is the place! From the top of Libby Hill, you can see the city skyline, a view down Main Street, and to the left, a view of the river and Rocketts Landing. The river view from atop Libby Hill is known to be “The View That Named Richmond” because of its resemblance to Richmond upon Thames in England, what Richmond was named after! Libby Hill is part of the historic Church Hill neighborhood, so there are a lot of pretty historic streets to walk down nearby. At Libby Hill Park, at the top of the hill, you’ll find cobblestone streets, an ornamental fountain, some grassy, rolling hills and a line of crape myrtle trees that bloom in the summer! Sometimes it can get crowded for photos in the Spring and Fall because it arguably has the best sunset view in the city, but it’s worth waiting our turn for the spot :)
Water lovers! Sunday Park is a stunning little park right on the shores of the Swift Creek Reservoir in Chesterfield County. It’s such a peaceful place to relax by the water and take in the scenery. There’s a walking path that goes along the water, starting from a parking area near The Boathouse at Sunday Park restaurant. Right next to the restaurant, there are sailboats lining a sandy area of the park and a boat landing with a dock that extends into the water, which are always favorite spots for photos! Many couples get married at The Boathouse at Sunday Park because of the amazing water view from right behind their ceremony spot. Sometimes swans and geese like to sneak into the background of some of their photos as well!
The grounds of the Virginia State Capitol are always a nice choice for photos. You not only get the elegant staircases leading up to the beautiful white columned Capitol building, but you also have the well landscaped and manicured grounds that feature a fountain and several gardens. There’s a pretty cool backdrop of some of the downtown Richmond buildings from the top of the Capitol stairs as well. A lot of couples who are getting married downtown at a venue with limited options for outdoor photos, love to head over to the Capitol for their formal portraits!
Great Shiplock Park is a great spot with easy access to Rocketts Landing and the Low Line, so you pretty much get three locations in one! The Low Line is an area beneath raised railroad trestles that goes right along the James River and the new Capital Trail. As you walk along the Capital Trail, you’ll quickly come upon Great Shiplock Park, which sits right along the Kanawha Canal. A favorite spot for photos at Great Shiplock Park is the railroad bridge with a unique view of downtown Richmond in the background.
If you take the small bridge over the canal, you’ll find one of my favorite spots, Chapel Island. On Chapel Island, there is a nice little sandy beach area with some low leaning trees where a lot of people like to fish! It’s a really pretty little hidden place along the river that reminds me a little of some place I went in Costa Rica! Every time I go, I seem to run into a band filming a music video. I don’t blame them for wanting to take advantage of such a pretty spot!
Continue down the trail from Great Shiplock and you’ll get to Rocketts Landing, which is another amazing spot on the less rocky part of the river. This area of the city reminds me of the more open water areas of Hampton Roads and I love hanging out there! Rocketts Landing is home to The Boathouse & Conch Republic restaurants and is a favorite spot for boaters to dock on the shores. There is a great city view from the docks at Rocketts Landing and the sun sets right behind the skyline, making for some gorgeous photos!
Byrd Park is one of Richmond’s most popular parks with 3 lakes, including Fountain Lake, that has paddle boats in the summer and is lined with cherry blossoms in the early spring! There are plenty of walking paths, spots along the water and tons of swans and geese! The historic Carillon bell tower is also right in the heart of the park and sits atop a stone landing with a staircase coming off of either side. The Carillon was actually built as an interpretation of the Italian campanile, so you get a little bit of an Italian feel here as well!
The grounds of The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, or the VMFA as the locals call it, is located right in the middle of the Museum District in Richmond! This is by far my favorite place to hang out (I probably walk here 3 times a day!) The grounds are gorgeous and have a huge grassy area, including a hill to sit on, where you’re surrounded by sculptures. Between the walking path and the cafe patio, there is a reflection pool with lily pads and a fascinating sculpture by Chihuly called “Red Reeds” that is an iconic part of the museum. If you walk up the hill, there is a marble staircase, benches and an upper deck area with a garden. The views from the top are quite nice and it’s also another great spot to experience a beautiful sunset!
Main Street Station is a gorgeous historic train station and is one of Richmond’s landmarks! Both the inside and outside feature stunningly elegant architecture. Couples love having their photos done on the front staircase or up on the porticos in between the archways! The French Renaissance-style interior has lots of natural light and is fun for some of those more lifestyle-like photos, like having coffee together. Mainstreet Station has a lot of history and is definitely worth a look!
Lewis Ginter is a gorgeous 50 acre botanical garden not far from downtown Richmond. It’s definitely one of my favorite places to visit and is absolutely stunning in the springtime! There are thousands of blooming flowers, bridges, walking paths, and reflective ponds to enjoy. There really isn’t a bad backdrop in the entire garden! Many of my couples have gotten married at one of their three ceremony sites. Lewis Ginter does charge a small fee for engagement photography sessions, however, if you book your wedding at the gardens, a 1.5 hour session is included!