Raleigh's Best Places for Family Portraits- Part 2 {Raleigh Family Photographer}

July 20, 2015  •  6 Comments

Back in 2013, I wrote this blog post about my favorite locations for family portraits.  After almost three years in business, I wanted to give an update on this list, adding to it, and giving a little more information about each location.  One of the first questions I get asked by families is "where should we have our family portraits done?"  We are blessed to have such a wide variety of locations in the Raleigh area.  We have urban backdrops, small towns, farms, historic buildings, gardens, woods, and everything in between.  Whether you are centrally located in Raleigh or live out in Holly Springs or Fuquay Varina, there is something for every style.  I live in Fuquay Varina and do most of my sessions in the central, southern, and western parts of Wake County, so you will not see locations on my list in northern Wake County.  Not only do I want to let you in on some great ideas for locations, but I'll share with you what times of year these locations have the most to offer.  I should add that I do have a handful of locations that I won't put on this list.  Every photographer has to keep a few secrets, but I do know of a few "off the beaten path" locations that I share with only my clients.  

And here they are, my favorite locations in the Raleigh area.  

Central Raleigh Area:

1.  Historic Oak View County Park

This beautiful park is like taking a step back in time.  The buildings on the property are old and white washed.  I love the stone walls, brick paths, and old fencing.  A grove of pecan trees is such a romantic setting.  

Best time of year to go:  I love this location year round.  Winter, spring, summer, or fall, it's always amazing.  I think it's an exceptional fall location because of some of the bright yellow maple trees and the cotton field with its bright white cotton balls.  

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2.  JC Raulston Arboretum

This beautiful garden is part of NC State and is like a little paradise.  It contains an enormous variety of trees and flowers, as well as pretty gazebos, stone walkways, fountains, and sculptures.  As beautiful as this garden is, it's important to note that the purpose of the garden is to educate the public about different species of plants.  We are not allowed to walk through the garden beds, climb the trees, or pick any of the plants.  

Best time of year to go:  This is probably my favorite place to do sessions in the winter.  Because of all the evergreen trees there and architectural features, it remains just as pretty when the leaves fall off the trees.  I've even been in the garden for a session with snow on the ground.  I also love this park in the spring, however, when there are many varieties of flowers in bloom.  

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Another beautiful garden, the WRAL Azalea Gardens are also located close to NC State.  There is 3/4 of an acre of nothing but azalea blooms.  It's a small park, but it's an excellent little location.  I believe this location is best if you are interested in a session for a baby or child.  

Best time of year to go:  The azaleas are typically in bloom from about mid-April through the end of April or early May.  Aside from the gorgeous azaleas, there isn't a whole lot there, so I recommend this as only a spring location.

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4.  Lake Benson

This park features wide open spaces, large fields, woodsy trails, and a beautiful lake.  You'll find old wooden fences, beautiful trees, and a fun playground to play on after your session.  

Best time of year to go:  Lake Benson has many pretty features, such as the fields and lake, that don't rely on foliage, making it a nice location for winter sessions.  There are no flowers at Lake Benson, so it may not be the best location for spring or summer.  

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5.  White Deer Park

White Deer Park is located almost right across the street from Lake Benson, so it is very feasible to use both locations during your family portrait session.  White Deer Park has a playground made from natural materials, like wood, rock, and plants.  This makes it a really interesting backdrop for a child's session.  It also has flowers, a covered deck, and paths.  

Best time of year to go:  White Deer Park is a fairly woodsy park and would make a great location for fall portraits and summer and spring portraits.  

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6.  Historic Yates Mill County Park

Yates Mill is undoubtedly a beautiful park and location for family portraits.  I've done many sessions here and love visiting the park throughout the year with my own family.  There are several beautiful features, such as the mill and bridge, that all photographers use.  I have also found a few additional spots that are more off the beaten track.  If you are willing to walk a little bit, this park has so much to offer.

Best time of year to go:  I should say that there is really only a bad time of year to go and that is the fall.  I rarely go to Yates Mill in the fall anymore.  If I do, it has to be on a weekday and not during the peak of the leaf season.  Honestly, this park has become so popular in recent years for fall family portraits, that I feel that I'm not giving my clients a unique experience when I go there.  Not only that, but it is so crowded that it becomes unpleasant sometimes for my clients to have to work around so many families.  I want my clients to have the very best experience possible, and because of this, I discourage using this location in the fall.  My favorite time to go to Yates Mill is the spring and summer.  The lake is very pretty and there are several areas of flowers.  

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Cary/ Apex Area

7.  Fred G. Bond Metro Park

This park is a well kept secret.  It's a wonderful park to simply visit with children.  I used to live very close to this park years ago and visited it almost daily.  It holds a special place in my heart.  If you are looking for a park in Cary with natural beauty, this park is a great location.  It features wooded paths, a pretty lake, trails, and fields.  

Best time of year to go:  I love Bond Park any time of year.  It may not be a great choice for a winter session because its beauty relies on natural features.  My absolute favorite time of year to visit is the fall.  The fall foliage here is exceptional.  There is a wide variety of trees that create a wonderful range of colors.  

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8.  North Cary Park

Another beautiful park in northern Cary, I rarely visit this park anymore because it is so far from my home in southern Wake County.  I am willing to travel to this park, however, and have done several sessions here.  My favorite features of this park are the large grass field, the majestic oak trees scattered in the field, and a bridge that goes over a stream.  There is a small travel fee for sessions at North Cary Park. 

Best time of year to go:  I love going to North Cary Park in the fall because the leaves change so beautifully there.  It is a very woodsy park and it's just stunning in October and November.  I also believe it's a nice spring and summer location because of all the shade.  

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9.  Downtown Apex

If you like the idea of having a more urban feel to your portraits, downtown Apex is the perfect location.  The buildings that line the streets have interesting and colorful features.  In the heart of downtown is a parked train caboose that is a lot of fun for children to climb on.  There are also brick walls that make for an interesting backdrop. 

Best time of year to go:   Downtown Apex is a very nice location year round.  Urban settings like this are a nice choice when the weather is cold and there are no leaves on the trees.  

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Seagroves Farm Park is a little park just a few minutes from downtown Apex.  I typically allow families to choose this location and downtown Apex in the same session because they are so close together.  Seagroves Farm Park is a sweet little spot for family portraits because of its old barns, large trees, pond, and neat little bridges. 

Best time of year to go:  My favorite time of year to visit this park is the fall.  It's fairly woodsy and the pond looks gorgeous with the colorful leaves reflecting into it.  

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Holly springs/ Fuquay Varina

11.  Sugg Farm

Sugg Farm is a pretty location in Holly Springs that features old farm fencing, wide open fields, and old trees.  This used to be a favorite location of mine, however I may need to stop doing locations there because some of the prettiest parts of the park are being ruined by subdivisions.  Instead of seeing beautiful trees, eventually we will be looking at the backs of houses.  In the meantime, I still do sessions there and there are a few hidden parts of the park that are still amazing for photographing families.  

Best time of year to go:  My favorite times of year to visit Sugg Farm are in the summer and fall.  The fall color is very pretty and the green fields are so lush and pretty.  Sometimes, they let the grass grow long and the park has a meadow that creates a very pretty texture for portraits.

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Bass Lake is a lesser known site for photography sessions, but it has a lot to offer.  The park features a beautiful lake, woodsy trails, decks overlooking water, paths, and a new flower garden. 

Best time of year to go:  

I love visiting Bass Lake in spring, summer, and fall.  In the fall, the foliage of the trees reflects off the lake and looks so pretty.  The woodsy trails become filled with color.  In the summer, this is an ideal location because there is plenty of shade and an air conditioned building to escape heat.  The flower garden is beautiful, but not large.  It is perfect for children's portraits.  

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Being a photographer for families around the triangle is such a privilege.  I enjoy serving all families and helping them find the perfect, unique location to match their style.  If you have any questions about these locations, please ask.  As I said previously, I didn't list ALL my favorites here.  I have to keep a few secret so I can offer a style of family portraits that is unique and fresh.  If you need a photographer for your next family portrait session, I would love to help you.  I can be reached at erica@ericacourtinephotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

6.Peter(non-registered)
Great update Erica! Thanks for providing these intimate details, especially the seasons.
5.Carmen(non-registered)
This is extremely generous of you to share prime locations with everyone :) Lovely photos
4.Lela(non-registered)
You've got a great eye for choosing picturesque locations. Beautiful photography!
3.ashley(non-registered)
GREAT JOB!
2.Julianne(non-registered)
You're right, these look like they are all AWESOME locations for a photography session in Raleigh! Thank you so much for sharing! Your photos are beautiful :)
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