It’s around this time of year, the not-so-lovely doldrums of winter, that I start longing for the warm, sunny summer days. And with those warm days comes one of my favorite types of session, the outdoor photo session! Don’t get me wrong, shooting in-studio and playing with studio lighting can be a lot of fun. But most people (especially kiddos) seem to be much more relaxed and casual when outdoors.
The first question everyone asks upon booking their outdoor photo session with me is “Where should we go to take our photos?”. So at the risk of spilling all my secret spots (!), here’s a list of my top 5 locations in and around the Sioux Falls area.
Located not far from the 26th Street Exit on I-229, this one probably isn’t a really big secret. In fact, I run into about 5 other photographers any time I shoot there. But there’s a good reason this location is so popular. Lovely mature trees, a river, a bike path, and an amazing bridge all make great locations for photos. It’s especially lovely in the early morning or late evening when you get beautiful golden light through the trees! Oh, and did I mention it has a PLAYGROUND? That always makes for lots of fun photos!
2. Perry Nature Area
On the eastern edge of Sioux Falls, Perry Nature Area is another not-so-secret spot. On warm evenings I’ve seen 2 or 3 other photographers there as well. Once you see how beautiful Perry Nature Area is, you’ll know why it’s so popular. Sunk into a lush ravine and surrounded by trees, this spot boasts beautiful backdrops for any photo! Beautiful weeping willow trees, a bridge, and a flowing creek all make great spots for photos!
3. Arrowhead Park (see map above)
Just across the highway from Perry Nature Area is this relatively new, but still lovely park. While the park is nice, the hidden gem is a beautiful barn tucked back behind the park and surrounded by tall grasslands. It makes a lovely backdrop for photos, and you can park right next to it (no hiking)!
This is one of those spots that can get to be a bit overdone–but if you know where in the park to go, this park can be a goldmine of beautiful locations! Located on the north end of town near the Arena/Convention Center, you wouldn’t expect to find this lush Japanese-themed oasis. Featuring beautiful trees (more weeping willows, one of my favorites!), a lake, lots of cool Japanese architectural features, a waterfall, and some really cool terraced hillsides (thus the name Terrace Park), there’s all kinds of fun places to use as backdrops for your photos!
My list wouldn’t be complete without ONE Brandon location (although I think it is technically in Valley Springs, I’ll still claim it for Brandon). This one is definitely a little off the beaten path and not one at which you’ll run into many other photographers. One of my favorite parts of Beaver Creek Nature Area is actually the road there–affectionately known by locals as “Spook Road”. Although some might find it creepy and scary, I think it’s beautiful, with huge trees creating a verdant archway over the gravel road. The Nature Area itself is lovely too, full of grasslands, creeks, hiking trails, and an old cabin from the 19th century. Aaron and I loved it so much, we did a “family” portrait there a couple years back (thank goodness for tripods and self-timers!). I say “family” because I had only just found out I was pregnant with our son at the time!
I hope all of these suggestions help get your brain going for your family or engagement session! And (pluggity plug…) don’t forget to book soon (email us!) as this spring/summer is bound to fill up soon!
Wishing you warmth in the doldrums,