July 16, 2023
Where are the best spots for engagement and couples sessions in the Tampa Bay Area? We’ve compiled a list of the best places for you!
One of the most commonly asked questions during the booking process for sessions that we get asked is, where do you think is the best place to shoot? Here is a list of some of our favorite locations in the Tampa Area:
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, this park provides the relaxation of a local park with all the perks. From hiking trails, beaches, pavilions, and fishing sites. The last family I shot with at this park spent the rest of their day enjoying the beach with kids. A $5 entrance fee does apply.
With planes flying overhead, salt in the air, and kids playing in the sand. Cypress Point Park is located near the Tampa International Airport and provides a decent size beach park for any time quick session.
Definitely in our Top 10 of Best Places for Engagement Sessions
A commonly used beach location for me, Apollo Beach Preserve in Apollo Beach, FL has provided me with some of the most beautiful lightings I could ask for. A small county beach on the southern end of Hillsborough County, this pet-friendly location does get packed with sunset watchers in the afternoons which is why I always recommend morning sessions.
Hidden gems are my favorite and this one ranks at the top of the list. Tucked away in Ruskin, FL Bahia Beach Nature Preserve is definitely a hang-out spot. Lined with sea grape plants, large boulders in the water, and lots of seaweeds lol, this location is one in millions, you’re almost sitting in all three counties (Manatee County, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County) at this location.
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One of my favorites for day trips is Honeymoon Island State Park Dunedin, FL which can connect you to Caladesi Island and is family-friendly and pet friendly. It is one of those places where you can spend the whole day in and out of the water with things to do, so a family day trip with a beach photo session just makes sense.
6. St. Pete Beach – My personal #1 of Best Places for Engagement Sessions
A Florida vacation hotspot, St. Pete Beach seems to always be the life of the party. With beautiful sand stretching for miles, this location will get you the vacation family photos you desire. This location is a great spot for early morning sessions and sunset sessions. You can hang out at the beach after or go out for dinner at one of the local restaurants. I will warn you it gets packed in the afternoons and parking fees apply.
Another popular vacation hotspot, Clearwater Beach is known for its stretches of white sands and all the things to do at the pier. Clearwater Beach has many evening charters that will also take you out to the water. While it is a great location for lots of fun while on vacation, I have to warn as always It Gets Packed!
Parks on our list of Best Places for Engagement Sessions:
Plant Park/ University of Tampa
Nested in the beautiful downtown Tampa, at the Henry B Plant Museum in the University of Tampa. Plant Park provides beautiful foliage as well as the leisure to take photos as you enjoy a stroll. The balance between greenery and historic buildings with red bricks is breathtaking.
20 or so minutes north of Downtown Tampa, is the beautiful Lettuce Lake Park. 240 acres of wildlife and greenery, the park truly demonstrates Florida nature at its best. With a small $2 entrance fee, the park provides great foliage, a boardwalk, and beautiful walkways. A perfect location for sessions with pets.
Traveling more north to the border of Hillsborough County and into Pasco County, this park provides lush greenery, a running river, and lots of vegetation to illustrate the beauty of Florida. A small entrance fee of $6 applies per vehicle.
Hidden in Riverview, FL, Bell Creek Nature Preserve provides the ambiance of all the larger state parks all the while being small and cozy. It is truly a hidden gem only known by a few locals and one of my favorite places to shoot. Be warned though, that mosquitoes may join our session. Also, a perfect location for families with pets.
E.G. Simmons Regional Park
A little more south to the quaint city of Ruskin, FL you’ll find E.G Simmons, Conservation Park. After paying a small $2 fee, you’ll find open roads of 258 Acres of mangroves that lead to the beautiful beach for an astonishing backdrop.
On the south side of St. Petersburg, FL lies the oasis of Fort De Soto Park. After crossing the toll bridge, you truly feel like you traveled and are on vacation. With over 7 miles of waterfront, multiple trails, camping sites, and much more. This location allows you the opportunity to have a primitive-style camping shoot, like nothing you’ve seen before.
Another favorite in Riverview, FL this neighborhood park allows the quiet privacy of a session with lots of lush greens around a long, beautiful boardwalk. Sessions at this location are usually quick and easy with little to no interruptions.
Do you want to see tangled roots of hardwood trees that fall midair off sandy mounds? South of Plant City and super close to Brandon, you will stumble on this beautiful conservation park which offers a variety of sceneries. This location is great for all outdoor sessions; I love to do family & couple sessions here any time of the day.
University of South Florida (USF)
The beautiful campus has no limits, although most people only think of doing graduation shoots on campus. USF can be used as a canvas for many other photo sessions without revealing that it is a university campus. The campus provides lots of greenery and walkways making it a great spot for families with young children. Parking fees may apply.
Kiley Gardens/ The City of Tampa
Nested in downtown Tampa, Kiley Garden is 4.5 acres of checkerboard patterns of grass and concrete. This location is great for a chic photoshoot of a day in town. I love this location because it allows the opportunity to explore, there is always something new here for those that are looking for a more adventurous style shoot.
Historic and elegant, the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club stands majestic and pink in downtown St. Petersburg, FL. While many couples may not think of hotels and resorts for their photo sessions. If the event is big enough, sometimes renting out the space is worth it. With a location like this, you can truly make a statement.
Tampa Riverwalk/ Armature Works / Curtis Hixon Park
If you’re looking for a laid-back location with all the works, the Tampa Riverwalk and Armature works is “the” location for you. You can get just about any look from this location, from the river to the park, to the high-rise buildings the Tampa Riverwalk has everything you need and is pet friendly with their dog park.
Sometimes graffiti is where it’s at and the Franklin Street Murals in Tampa Heights is the best location for an urban street style shoot. 48 Murals, 2 blocks long, this location provides an adventure into the arts.
One of my favorite locations to shoot the historic Ybor City is timeless. Filled with boutiques and vintage shops, the Cuban and Latin American culture is in the air, as early morning rooster crow. There is just something about it and the photos always come out as vibrant as the rich cultures that fill the area.
And sometimes you just need to do your session at home! Let’s be honest, home is where the heart is, whether it is a family session, a couple’s session, maternity, or newborn. Being at home can be comforting and it is easier to maneuver some things. At Visual Arts Wedding Photography, we will meet you wherever you want.
In closing, we do want to note some of these locations will require a reservation or permit to shoot and entrance fees, prices are subject to change. It is recommended to do some research prior to setting your heart in any location. Also, when considering a location please also be mindful of the day and time you’d like to shoot. While sunset beach shoots are always beautiful, Florida beaches tend to fill up during the sunset hours which makes it more difficult to get the perfect shot without people in the background.
Leigh & Carsten
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