So many decisions to make! The location of your portrait session has a big impact on what your final images will look like, and beyond that, it's a reflection of who you are and what your style is. Maybe you love nature and would love to stroll through beautiful gardens to show it. Maybe you love Cleveland and want to showcase its downtown architecture. Maybe you love llamas and want to do a shoot at a local alpaca farm! (It's happened.) There are lots of great options for your portrait session around Cleveland, and I'd like to provide some information on a few of my favorites below!
Schoepfle Garden* (Birmingham): Schoepfle Garden is a small park with a lot of personality. It has large pine trees, groomed flower gardens, and even a small carousel! Even though it's a bit of a drive, it's one of my favorite locations for portraits in the greater Cleveland area.
Prayers from Maria Sunflower Field (Avon): This gorgeous field full of sunflowers is in bloom in late August and early September, and a portion of your session fee there will go to support the Children with Glioma Cancer Foundation.
Huntington Beach (Bay Village): Huntington Beach is a small west-side beach from which the entire Cleveland skyline is visible on a clear day. Besides the beach itself, there is also a rock jetty, stone staircases, a wooded picnic area, and a delicious ice cream shop to enjoy when there.
Veterans Memorial Park (Avon Lake): This public beach features a boardwalk and is perfect for a sunset portrait session.
David Fortier Park (Olmsted Falls): David Fortier Park is one of my favorite locations around Cleveland, although it can get a bit crowded on weekends with other photographers. This park is small but has so much to offer: a covered bridge, gardens, a stone bridge in the middle of the forest, and a series of small waterfalls on the Rocky River. View an engagement session at David Fortier Park here.
Rocky River Reservation (Rocky River): Rocky River Reservation is a beautiful area of the Cleveland Metroparks. It contains wooded trails, a tall staircase, a lake, marshes, and so much more.
Baldwin Wallace College (Berea): This beautifully landscaped college campus features historic buildings and several different areas to explore.
Mill Stream Run Reservation (Berea): This park has lots to offer, including forests, trails, bridges, and a large picnic area.
Lakewood Park (Lakewood): This family friendly park borders Lake Erie and features a paved brick walkway along the shore of Lake Erie. At the end of the walk is a fantastic skyline view of downtown Cleveland. The park also features playgrounds, making it the perfect spot for family portraits.
Lakeview Park (Lorain): This Lake Erie park has lots to offer, including a gazebo, beach, rose gardens, and more.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo* (Cleveland): If you love animals, this is the place to do your portraits! Both the animal exhibits and the Rainforest provide beautiful and unique backdrops for portrait sessions.
Edgewater Park (Downtown): This park provides a lot of different looks for portrait sessions, including a great view of the Cleveland skyline, a large beach, a Cleveland script sign, the Lake Erie shoreline, and much more.
Abbey Road/Superior Viaduct (Downtown): This stop provides an expansive view of Cleveland's skyline and features a Cleveland script sign overlooking the city.
Cleveland Botanical Gardens* (Downtown): The Cleveland Botanical Gardens have a plethora of colorful flowers, trails, steps, and reflecting pools to explore both inside and outside. View a wedding at the Botanical Gardens here)
Wade Oval (Downtown): Wade Oval and its reflecting pool offer lots of variety and iconic shots of the Cleveland Museum of Art and Rodin's Thinker in the background. This park features marble steps, a quiet path around the pond, greenery and classic architectural backdrops. View a wedding in which we did portraits at Wade Oval here.
Cultural Gardens (Downtown): The Cultural Gardens near the Cleveland Museum of Art are a natural oasis inside the city. They are lush, green, and have several distinct areas in honor of different countries and ethnicities. Note that this area is only safe during the day and in large groups.
Rockefeller Park Greenhouse* (Downtown): This location is perfect as a rain backup, providing indoor floral gardens and a fountain.
Little Italy (Downtown): This historic neighborhood of Cleveland has lots to offer, including small shops, walkable streets, a small city Park, murals, and more. View a portrait session in Little Italy here.
Flats, West Bank (Downtown): The west bank of the Flats has so much to offer for portraits, and it is one of my favorite locations in Cleveland! Between Heritage Park's skyline view, the Center Street Bridge's colorful red paint, multiple murals, and old railroad bridges next to the Cuyahoga River, you can't go wrong with this location. View a portrait session partially done in the Flats here.
Cleveland Museum of Art (Downtown): The Cleveland Museum of Art is bright, beautiful, and a fantastic backup in case of rain for your portrait session. While photography is not allowed in the art galleries themselves, it is permitted in the atrium and outside. View a family session at the Cleveland Museum of Art here.
East Fourth Street (Downtown): East Fourth Street is in the middle of downtown Cleveland and just a few blocks from Public Square, and it is home to a large number of lively restaurants and bars. Although parking can sometimes (but not always!) be a challenge, this iconic street is well worth it. This pedestrian-only street is especially pretty at night when the strung lights come on overhead. View a portrait session partially done at East Fourth Street here.
Voinovich Bicentennial Park & Cleveland Sign (Downtown): For the quintessential Cleveland skyline view, head to Voinovich Park. This urban park faces the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and downtown Cleveland, and is home to the iconic "Cleveland" sign that everyone loves. View a wedding in which we did some portraits at Voinovich Park here.
The Old Courthouse* (Downtown): This gorgeous building features high ceilings, impressive columns, and a sweeping staircase.
MOCA* (Downtown): The Museum of Contemporary Art is a fresh modern building that is interesting both inside and out. Its contemporary exterior can produce unique reflections for portraits. [Due to an arrangement with Jennifer Elizabeth Photography, the standard photography fee for MOCA is typically waived. :)]
The Union Club* (Downtown): The Union Club is a gorgeous building in the heart of downtown Cleveland, just down the street from Playhouse Square. The interior is filled with classic and luxurious furniture that could be out of The Great Gatsby, and its marble staircase is amazing for dramatic portraits. View an engagement session at The Union Club here.
Playhouse Square (Downtown): Explore one of Cleveland's most iconic areas and do portraits under the theaters' marquis and Playhouse Square's chandelier over Euclid Avenue. View an engagement session done partially at Playhouse Square here.
Cleveland Public Library: The Cleveland Public Library a great backup location in case of rain and provides interesting architecture with a literary twist.
Hyatt Regency at the Arcade* (Downtown): The old Arcade, now the Hyatt Regency Cleveland, is a stunning historic building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Its large gilded atrium provides soft light any time of day that is perfect for portrait sessions.
Westside Market & Ohio City (Downtown): Westside Market is a lively and cultural market that can make for a fun backdrop to a portrait session, although it can get very crowded. Just outside, Ohio City is brimming with small shops, interesting alleys, and a lively square to explore. A particularly good spot for pictures lies just outside Market Garden Brewery: a large chalkboard wall reads: "Before I die I want to..." Write in whatever you would like to complete the sentence!
Wendy Park at Whiskey Island (Downtown): Wendy Park offers unique views of the Cleveland skyline and Lake Erie and is home to the old Coast Guard Building.
Henry Church Rock (formerly Squaw Rock) (Bentleyville): Henry Church Rock is one of my favorite locations around Cleveland! A trail leads through the woods across small wooden bridges and down stone staircases to the Chagrin River and the park's namesake. View a senior session at Henry Church Rock here).
Sulphur Springs Picnic Area (Bentleyville): Sulphur Springs is a quiet, wooded area with a small waterfall and beautiful road through the woods. View a senior session that was partially done at Sulphur Springs here).
Shadow Lake (Solon): Shadow Lake is a quiet fishing lake in the Cleveland Metroparks and it was almost destroyed in the 1990s. A wooded trail leads around the lake, complete with bridges and several small piers.
Mosquito Lake State Park (Cortland): Mosquito Lake State Park contains a quiet lake with a drivable beach, woods, and pier. It's a bit of a drive from Cleveland, but well worth it! View a senior session at Mosquito Lake here.
Canyon Estates Park (Bainbridge): This park is a well-kept secret! Located behind a residential development, it has two walkable covered bridges, woods, and a small lake. Some walking is required to get to the good stuff, but it's well worth it!
Chagrin Valley Athletic Club* (Bainbridge): The Chagrin Valley Athletic Club hosts many weddings throughout the year for good reason. Its tranquil gardens make for a beautiful setting for a portrait session.
Frohring Meadows (Bainbridge): Frohring Meadows is an open park with tall grasses and a marsh. It is perfect for romantic and picturesque sunset shoots. View a family session at Frohring Meadows here.
Bedford Reservation (Bedford): Bedford Reservation is full of wooded trails, waterfalls, and picturesque bridges.
Chagrin Falls Village (Chagrin Falls): Chagrin Falls is well-known for its historic and charming downtown area. The gazebo, the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop, Riverside Park, and of course the falls themselves are all within easy walking distance of each other. View an engagement session in Chagrin Falls here.
Hiram College Campus (Hiram): This small college has a beautiful campus full of historic buildings and carefully manicured gardens. It is very quiet in the summer, making it perfect for an evening portrait session. View a wedding in which we did portraits at Hiram College here.
Wiegand's Lake Park (Novelty): Wiegand's Lake Park is a large park surrounding its namesake lake. A dock and picnic area make for great spots to explore here for portrait sessions.
Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park (Nelson Township): This forested park features hiking trails, interesting rock formations, and a waterfall, and is perfect for those looking for some adventure.
Accoyo Alpaca Farm (Hunting Valley): If you like animals and want to do something a bit different for a portrait session, this is the place! The owners of this alpaca farm have graciously allowed us to arrange limited portrait sessions on their grounds with their alpacas. View a senior session at Accoyo Alpaca Farm here.
Headlands Beach State Park (Mentor): Mentor Headlands is the quintessential Cleveland beach on Lake Erie. It contains a large sandy beach, dunes with tall grass, and a wooded area close by. No dogs are allowed, but families are welcome! View a family session at Headlands Beach here.
Veterans Memorial Park (Mentor): Veterans Memorial Park contains a lake, pier, and several pretty hiking trails.
Squire's Castle (North Chagrin Reservation, Willoughby Hills): Squire's Castle is a well-known Cleveland landmark, and it makes for a great backdrop to all kinds of portrait sessions. The castle itself is surrounded by wooded trails that are worth exploring as well. View an engagement session at Squire's Castle here.
Chagrin River Park (Willoughby): Chagrin River Park is a wooded metropark with several bridges, trails, and fields. It has a lot of variety in a small space, making it perfect for portrait sessions.
Holden Arboretum* (Kirtland): Holden Arboretum, part of the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, is an expansive garden and forest with a plethora of options. It is filled with tranquil ponds, lush green forests, and carefully manicured flower gardens. Holden's Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower add architectural interest to this picturesque location.
Burton Wetlands & Nature Preserve (Chardon): Burton Wetlands contains a boardwalk around a beautiful marshland, as well as several wooded areas. It's a large area and has many options for portraits.
Chardon Square (Chardon): Chardon's colorful square is perfect for portrait sessions. It is filled with trees, has a beautiful white gazebo at its center, and is surrounded by historic architecture.
Steele Mansion* (Painesville): This mansion was renovated just a few years ago, and it is gorgeous! Its historic interior includes a large staircase, interesting furniture, colorful and unique rooms, and even carousel horses in the basement. View an engagement session at Steele Mansion here.
Horseshoe Lake Park (Shaker Heights): Horseshoe Lake is a great park for portrait sessions and is centrally located on the east side of Cleveland. Besides Horseshoe Lake itself, there are also forested boardwalks and beautiful Shaker neighborhoods close by. There is also a playground, making it a great location for family sessions. View a family session at Horseshoe Lake here.
Luvin Lavender Farm* (Madison): Roam through fields of gorgeous lavender blossoms at this unique portrait location perfect for the summertime.
Station Road Bridge & Brecksville Station (Brecksville): The Cleveland Metroparks meet Cuyahoga Valley National Park at this scenic station stop next to the Station Road Bridge. View a wedding in which we did portraits at Station Road Bridge here.
Chippewa Creek (Brecksville): Less than a mile from Station Road Bridge lies Chippewa Creek. Chippewa Creek is a small stream running through the forest, and a small footbridge over it makes for a great setting for portraits. Some of the portraits from this wedding were taken at Chippewa Creek here.
Twinsburg Square (Twinsburg): Twinsburg's historic center features a stage, monument, numerous trees, and several historic buildings nearby.
Liberty Park (Twinsburg): This large park is full of gorgeous fields of tall grass and wildflowers that just glow during the evening golden hour. A dog park is next to it, so it's a perfect place to bring a pup for pictures!
Green Leaf Park (Wadsworth): This small park in Wadsworth has lots of options for portrait sessions, including a picturesque pond, a log cabin, forest, and bleachers. View a senior session at Green Leaf Park here.
Wolf Creek Park (Wadsworth): This park features forested trails, bridges, and a lake, giving many options for portrait sessions.
Hudson Square (Hudson): Hudson's large central square is full of small paths and trees and it features a white gazebo and the town's iconic clock tower. Small boutique shops line the square, providing many options to explore during portrait sessions.
Indigo Lake Park (Cuyahoga Falls): Indigo Lake Park is a beautiful area and has lots of variety for portrait sessions, including a train station for the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad, several bridges, and of course its namesake lake.
Everett Road Covered Bridge (Peninsula): Everett Road Covered Bridge is a colorful covered bridge inside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The bridge crosses Furnace Run Stream and is surrounded by picturesque woods. A permit and extra fee are required for weddings and large groups. View a family session at Everett Road Covered Bridge here.
Brandywine Falls (Peninsula): Brandywine Falls is the most well-known landmark in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. A short boardwalk leads through the woods to the impressive waterfall. Unfortunately photography is no longer permitted for weddings and large groups.
Medina Square (Medina): This gorgeous square features a large gazebo and lots of greenery, and it's surrounded by fun and unique shops and restaurants.
Carolyn Ludwig Mugrage Park (Medina): This small park is perfect for portraits! It features a small lake, dock, walking trails, and small bridges through the nearby forest.
Hale Farm* (Bath): Hale Farm is a living museum dating back to the 19th century and it is a historic property of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Hale Farm is a great place for portraits, as it is usually not very crowded and has many quaint and rustic buildings to explore, along with wooded trails and gorgeous fields of tall grass.
University of Akron Campus (Akron): This college campus has a bit of everything, including gardens, interesting sculptures, and impressive arches.
Stan Hywett Hall & Gardens* (Akron): This gorgeous location has an incredible amount of scenery, including various tudor buildings, reflecting ponds, gardens, terraces, a greenhouse, and more. Unfortunately, photography is not permitted inside Stan Hywet Hall itself.
*An extra fee may apply. This may range from an entrance fee to several hundred dollars depending on location.