AKP’S GUIDE TO PHOTO SHOOT LOCATIONS
Selecting a location for your photo shoot can often be as challenging if not more challenging than choose what you will wear. When working with a new client or family, I like to ask a handful of questions about their personality, style, and home - specifically where they plan to display their portraits. Why? Because a location/background should tie into your personality & style not overpower or be a complete disconnect from how you style your home or how you dress.
More often than not, my clients defer to me for location selection - which I am happy to suggest as there really isn’t a shortage of locations within Lancaster, Pa and the surrounding counties. Below you’ll find a list of my favorite go-to locations along with tips & tricks for maximizing your location and time in front of the camera.
Before reading through my suggested list of locations - don’t over look your own Rolodex of possible locations. You’d be surprised at the number of private locations you might have access to if you simply ask a friend or family member. I’ve had clients invite me to private farms or homes with beyond beautiful grounds, photographed a high school senior who was a swimmer in her best friend’s family pool, an Alpaca farm, and have been designing a photo shoot for an upcoming high school senior that involves a private plane.
Let’s get creative with locations and think outside of the box. As I jokingly say - brick is brick and grass is grass. The location isn’t as important as how you feel in your photographs and who you are photographed with!
Downtown Lancaster (Central Market & Press Room & Fulton)
Downtown Lancaster offers no shortage of locations for those who want an urban backdrop in their photographs. You’ll find red bricks, painted murals and new places to dine (I’m a foodie at heart, you can’t blame me for picking locations near good places to eat!) at as you explore. Those who live in Lancaster, know how lucky we are to have the oldest operating farmers market in the country making Central Market a tourist destination and a popular place for locals.
My advice, avoid Central Market on market days; Tuesday, Friday & Saturday as the alleyways are often filled with vendor vehicles and people scattered around. There are two parking lots next to market starting at $3.00 an hr.
Press Room - The brick courtyard with a large waterfall/fountain. Personally, I avoid the fountain at all costs - it’s fun for snapshot, but not for beautiful portraits. Opt for the archways as they provide shade in a hot sunny day, coverage in the event of rain, and simply a beautiful backdrop.
Throughout Downtown Lancaster there are plenty of beautiful hidden locations, my only suggestion is keep your wits about you, when scouting locations.
Lancaster Train Station
Allow me to defer you to Amtrak or the train station itself for photography policies - should you wish to use this location please inquiry directly with the station for policies & procedures.
TRAIN TRACKS - Argue with me all you want, but it is illegal to photograph on train tracks and let’s be honest, it’s really unsafe. There have been a handful of times that I have used old, non-operational tracks prior to learning this law.
Lancaster County Park
Situated south of Downtown Lancaster you will find a beautiful park with rolling hills, tall grass, access to the river, a covered bridge, an old plantation and photo opportunities at every turn. A note about Historic Rockford Plantation - photographers are required to purchase a membership to photograph on the grounds. Personally, I no longer maintain a membership to Rockford Plantation due to my preferred photography style.
This location is new to me in 2019 due to the need for a wildflower field. The park is known for it’s disc golf course. Personally, I only ventured through the park enough to use the wildflowers - note - by the middle of August the wildflowers have reached their peak and would suggest using the field in the earlier peak of summer.
Also known by locals as Steinmain Mansion located on Marietta Ave. Sadly, I have not had an opportunity to photograph on the grounds yet, but am so ready too! Check their website for photo shoot availability, tour dates/hours, and any other policies!
I’m a sucker for Lititz and if you aren’t local to the area, Lititz was named one of the coolest small towns in the US a few years ago. With plenty of quaint shops, a beautiful park, and places to dine, Lititz is a fun destination. Lititz Springs park is a beautiful park within the town and offers plenty of parking, a natural spring that runs through the park, a playground, and lush greenery. Certain weekends in the park (and Lititz) are to be avoided - like 4th of July as they celebrate in the park with fireworks, the weekend of the Lititz Craft Show is another weekend to avoid. The downtown shopping area provides a softer urban backdrop with cute alleyways and brick walls. There are also a few other hidden gem locations I like to stop by when in town for a photo shoot.
Landis Valley Museum grounds are stunning - at one time the fee was $100. to photograph on the grounds - inquire before having your heart set on this location
A hidden gem of a location that requires both permission and a fee to be paid depending on the number of people involved in the photo shoot. Visit their website for the full list of policies and how to submit payment.
Hershey Gardens does require an admissions fee for everyone and photographers are required to sign a document with their policies.
DESTINATION PHOTO SHOOTS
From time to time my clients ask me to join them for a destination photo shoot or event. And let me be honest and say, this is not something that I take lightly. Being asked to travel with a client is one of the greatest honors and something that I truly treasure. Of course, travel and photo shoots can be unpredictable, but these photo shoots are EPIC. Myself and my team have traveled to Nevis, Dominican Republic, Belize, Puerto Rico (2x), Mexico, Key Largo, Boston, and Connecticut to work with out clients. If you’d like to create a destination photo shoot experience, I’d be happy to dream, design, and create one for you - so please ask!
STUDIO PHOTO SHOOTS
I’ll be the first to admit that offering studio portrait photography was something that I resisted for a very long time (14 years), but after focusing the majority of my work for be studio based over the past two years, I am in love. The studio offers a completely different look to that of location based portraits, of course, both have their pro’s and con’s, but the ability to work in a temperature controlled space, access to privacy to change clothing, and not having to fight with mother nature has been the icing on the cake. By expanding my portfolio to now include studio style the possibilities for everyone involved are endless.