City Park in New Orleans is one of the most frequently visited parks here in the city – and for good reason! City Park is home to one of the largest collections of live Oak Trees in the world – some in which are almost 800 years old! Sitting at over 1,300 acres, this park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States!
While the Oak Trees and various stunning foliage is often what brings visitors to City Park, there are a ton of other unique spaces in the park that lend themselves for beautifully minimalistic imagery.
If I am being honest, I have a love/hate relationship with taking engagement photos at City Park. The reasons I love it are obvious – the grounds are unmatched and with it being such a large park, there is no shortage of beautiful places to take photos. From under the Oak Trees, to the lakefront, to hidden corners of the New Orleans Museum of Art, there is a little something for everyone here!
On the other hand, this is the exact thing that can make taking photos here difficult! It’s taken me a few years to learn how to work in the park in a way that tells the story of the background, without losing the couple in the chaos that can be City Park. With that being said, this session with Sydney and Ahmed just might be my favorite work in City Park to date!
No matter what situation I am working in, my goal is to capture the cleanest, most well-composed image I possibly can. Now of course this will get thrown out the window if there is a quick moment that I’d love to have captured in an instance. If I have anything to do with it however, I am always striving for clean lines and easy-to-read photographs where you aren’t distracted by a million things going on in the background. While there are a ton of gorgeous backgrounds at City Park, there can also be a ton of people admiring said backgrounds. Because I value quiet and calm time when working with couples, finding quiet corners of this park can prove to be difficult, especially in the prime seasons!
So what exactly do I mean when I say “clean” photos? It’s not that there isn’t any garbage lying around in the photos (though, I do take that into consideration!), but rather, that there are easy-to-follow lines in the photograph that help direct your attention to the emotion or moment I’d like to highlight, without distraction from lines going on in the background.
Take these photos of Sydney and Ahmed for example.
These are two of my favorite photos from their session. You can see that their bodies are placed in the bottom right third of the image, and their heads are either clearly above or below the horizon line of the trees. Your eye is drawn directly to their embrace and the moment they are sharing, without any distractions from trees, power lines, other random things intersecting with them. When the background is clear of distractions, it’s easier to focus on the moment, and thus, feel more connected to what is going on.
Like mentioned above, one of the best parts of City Park is all of the natural foliage and sprawling Oak Trees. This can, however, create a hard environment to create crisp images that aren’t full of random tree branches, leaves, or wild greenery overpowering the photo. Taking photos here can be like playing a game of tetris – one where you are trying to put focus on the couple – and – capture the environment in which they are in.
When I am shooting in City Park, and my goal is to get clean photos, I like to find “windows” of open space to strategically place the couple in so your eye is drawn to them, while still telling the story of the whole place. Take this next photo of Sydney and Ahmed.
I wanted to highlight both the trees and greenery here, but also the two of them walking their sweet doggo. In order for them to not get lost in the photo, I was able to find an angle that placed their bodies right in this window of open space between the trees and the wrought iron fence. I find that you’re able to easily see the couple in the photo first, then are invited in to digest the background.
Overall, the reason that I loved this session so much is that I was able to find so many pockets and corners here at City Park this day that felt unique and different from what I typically shoot here. Some of my favorite images from the day came from the backgrounds of buildings within the park – both the photos in front of the Pavilion of Two Sisters, as well as the NOMA.
And of course I loved ending our session during blue hour (the time immediately after sunset) overlooking the lake in the park. These photos felt incredibly romantic and peaceful, which was the perfect way to end our time together.
Interested in having my shoot your elopement at City Park? Check out this blog post from Kim + Sunshine’s spring time elopement at City Park.