Photography: Picture Perfect

Iconic engagement and wedding photo locations around New Orleans and hidden gems, too

New Orleans remains one of the most picturesque cities in America, the perfect backdrop for engagement and wedding photos. Because of its unique and colorful ambience, the city routinely attracts many out-of-town couples for destination weddings.

Photographer Bob Bradford has been shooting engagement photos and weddings in New Orleans for 30 years and he naturally receives many requests for French Quarter locations and City and Audubon parks. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg to what the city and South Louisiana offers, he said.

Some of his favorites include Longue Vue House and Gardens historic home in Metairie and Houmas House Plantation upriver in Darrow.

“Houmas House is beautiful and the grounds are gorgeous,” Bradford said. “But I can imagine you can go to any of the plantations for photos.”

Bradford prefers classic shots, so he bypasses unusual backdrops such as the city’s distinctive cemeteries. He prefers spots such as historic hotels including the Omni Royal Orleans, the Royal Sonesta in the French Quarter and the Ritz Carlton on Canal.

“One of the prettiest hotels but not in the Quarter is Le Pavillon,” he said.

Thad Billiot and Caitlin Guidry love to photograph weddings and engagements at Race + Religious, a rustic event space located along the riverfront of the Lower Garden District with exposed brick, courtyard and iron balcony. Recently Billiot and Guidry, wedding photographers who own The September Company, shot an afternoon wedding as rain rolled in. The wedding party took it in stride, incorporating umbrellas in the service and later jumping in the facility’s reflecting pool.

“Race + Religious and the Pitot House are both great venues that capture the charm and romance of New Orleans,” said Billiot. “So many factors go into a great wedding venue and one of my favorite things about both of these is that they include gorgeous places for couples to get ready. The decor is true to New Orleans’ quirky style and the outdoor areas are beautiful.”

Almost every corner of the city offers wonderful backdrops for wedding photography but permits are needed in many instances. Before shooting in a hotel, for instance, inquire for permission, Bradford explained. Some hotels may only allow photography if wedding and/or the reception is held there. Permits to photograph in City Park, Jackson Square and other public spaces in New Orleans must be arranged ahead of time and require fees.

No permits are required to shoot inside Audubon Park, however, and it contains lagoons with stone bridges, ancient oak trees and almost two miles of walking paths.

“Audubon Park is about the only one you can walk out and take pictures,” he said.

City permits

Photography permits are needed for outdoor spaces owned by the City of New Orleans. Green spaces are largely regulated by the City of New Orleans Parks and Parkways and permits may be obtained by calling 504-658-3201 or visiting nola.gov.
Jackson Square is a public park and all photography must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance by filling out a form online at Parks and Parkways new.nola.gov/parks-and-parkways/rules-regulations/photography-in-jackson-square or by calling 504-658-3201. The non-refundable processing fees range between $50 and $250 and for groups of 10 or more a litter-damage deposit is required which is refunded if the park is left intact.  

Jackson Square lies at the heart of New Orleans’ tourism industry, Bradford reminds wedding planners, and great photographs may be difficult with tourists roaming around.

City Park

City Park hails back more than a century and is one of the largest and oldest municipal parks in the nation. The massive property includes historic buildings and statues such as the Peristyle, unique bridges, the stunning New Orleans Botanical Gardens with its Pavilion of the Two Sisters and several water landscapes, among others. The park is also home to the world’s largest stand of mature oak trees, which make for excellent photographic backdrops.

Because it’s a public park, all bridal photography must be done with a permit, which costs $50 a session and is valid for one day, unless inclement weather causes a reschedule. Payment must be made in advance and obtained at the City Park Administration Building or Tolmas Building at the Botanical Gardens during weekday work hours.

Photography is not allowed within the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, Storyland and Popp Fountain, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden or the inside or front portico steps of the New Orleans Museum of Art. Photography is allowed at the Peristyle and Popp Bandstand if not in use. Admission to the New Orleans Botanical Gardens requires a separate admission fee.

For more information about City Park, contact Natalie Weiss at 504-483-9417 or email nweiss@nocp.org.


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