New Orleanians have it good when it comes to a stunning backdrop for photos. The city is rich in history, with brightly painted homes, European-style architecture and moss-draped trees. For wedding-related milestones, the Crescent City offers a cornucopia of options to create the perfect shot. Here, four New Orleans photographers share their favorite iconic backdrops and a few hidden gems.
Proposal shots are becoming increasingly popular. Imagine this: A groom is on bended knee, pouring his heart out while asking his to-be bride for her hand in marriage. Hidden in the background is your wedding photographer, on-hand to capture this moment — the beginning of an exciting journey — with an abundance of photos. Amy Lombardo of Tres Bien Photography says that the Nola Gondola has been a popular place for proposals, and she can easily hide to get the best shots. She also loves Crescent Park in the Marigny, which provides unparalleled views of the New Orleans skyline. Sarah Mattix of Sarah Mattix Photography says she has done quite a few proposal shots at the Botanical Gardens at City Park (where a permit and fee are required). She says, “There are fewer people there and the landscaping is beautiful; after they get engaged, we can take pictures in the garden. It turns into a photo shoot.” She also loves Audubon Park, where she can shoot in an open area and the couple won’t know she’s there. Maddox says, “The most exciting shoots are proposals.”
At GK Photography, engagement photos are included in every package. George Kuchler, owner and wedding photographer with 21 years of experience says that he always asks his couples where they got engaged and how. He says, “This helps me learn about them quickly and directs me where to go.” For this shoot, he might suggest bar hopping, with a stop at the iconic House of Blues. For something more classic, he might take a couple to Longue Vue House and Gardens. “That is more secluded and it gives you variety that’s pretty with flowers in bloom, the driveway with the oak trees and the gorgeous house.” For Brenda Sison of Sison Photography, a favorite location for engagement shoots is at the Jon Vaccari House historic house and design showroom on St. Charles Avenue. Sison says, “It’s as New Orleans as you can get: elegant, French, contemporary.” Also, it’s rarely used. Another gem for engagement photos is Mardi Gras World. Sison says, “It can be set up phenomenally; they can move the floats around on the dance floor and light them.” Lombardo says that you can’t go wrong with the French Quarter. “It’s why so many photographers can get away with not having a studio. Why have one when you have the most beautiful sites in the United States?” She says everywhere you turn, there’s something beautiful and amazing — specifically in the French Quarter. “You can’t go wrong with the Carousel Bar. I love framing people in the window. It’s less posed and more just like having a drink at the bar.” She also discloses a secret to those great balcony shots. “I will tell you that so many times when I’m in the Quarter for an engagement shoot, someone will be out on their balcony watching, and will ask us to come up and use it for photos. Or they have access to a courtyard that is so New Orleans but not touristy. That’s just a testament to how amazing people are in New Orleans.”
According to Lombardo, having the entire party at Jackson Square is breathtaking. She recently had an out-of-town bride from Texas who paid for the permit and booked a shoot there. Lombardo says, “She went back to Texas with a photo that is unequivocally New Orleans.” For Mattix, Race and Religion is about as perfect as you can get for wedding shoots. Here, the balcony, agriculture and even the slave quarters inside, show the true history of New Orleans. “It screams New Orleans. You can get the French Quarter feel without being in the Quarter,” says Mattix. She’s also shot in cemeteries — specifically the Metairie Cemetery. Mattix says, “It’s quiet and calm and doesn’t even feel like a cemetery.” Sison points out the destination couples prefer different locations than locals. “Your destination bride is coming to New Orleans [because] they love it, but it’s not the same city that we love. They want the French Quarter, Esplanade Avenue and City Park. Their guests from out of town will recognize this as New Orleans.” She adds that local brides request more artsy and intimate locations. “Our homegrown brides prefer more architecture, the art, the music the bands — what make New Orleans specific to us.”
While most photographers do a post-wedding shoot, Kuchler offers a specific Mr. and Mrs. package after the wedding day. “Who doesn’t want to get back in their wedding dress?” He says that the gents will often rent a tux or even wear a natty suit. “For these shoots, you can relax and be as candid as possible. Plus, I get a ton more photos.” For these shoots, he might head to the back end of City Park around Fillmore or the backside of the French Quarter. For modern post-wedding day photos, the Saints Hotel is about as modern as you can get. “The Mr. and Mrs. sessions are all about the couple’s personality.”
Sarah Mattix of Sarah Mattix Photography offers up her suggestions for photos of the bride preparing for the Big Day.
International House hotel: The walls are white and the floors are wooden; it’s airy and not too much is going on. You can focus on the couple getting ready. The light floods.
The Roosevelt: [It] has suites and light and you can go in the rooftop by the pool and shoot there.
Hotel Monteleone: Go on top of the roof (in advance) and you have the sign in the background that says Hotel Monteleone. And the [Carousel] Bar.
Windor Court: Beautiful doors to hang the dress right in middle and the light is great. I love the natural light that fills your face in.