Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Avenue Philadelphia, PA
Some of my greatest photos have been taken behind these walls. It’s a perfect location if you are interested in a Gothic 1930’s style. The staff limits photographers from the freedom of exploring the location because it is a famous landmark. Almost anywhere here can make for good photography, but the best spot for a photo, in my opinion, is the greenhouse hallway because of the extra light that enters.
The National Historic Park Gardens
1. Magnolia Garden — It’s a beautiful small garden, but there is not much to photograph here. I recommend it as a great place to do family formals.
2. Rose Garden — This is a beautiful 18th century garden, with a brick path and a tree. It’s very moderate — it isn’t over the top, which is why it isn’t my favorite spot here.
3. 18th Century Garden — This location includes an 18th century gazebo, the plants are maintained well, making it the most attractive out of them all, but it is very small. It’s great for the bride and groom, but poses a challenge for large groups, like family formals. Out of all of the gardens, this is probably the best one because it has a good three-dimensional look.
4. Benjamin Rush Garden/Bishop White Garden — Out of all of the gardens, this is the smallest and it is next to the 18th Century Garden. It is my least favorite of the gardens because of the small size and no good shading. It is still a shootable location, but the best way to make it work is with the bride and groom.
5. Second Bank of the United States — Out of the nine locations, this is my favorite place for photos. I love it because it has a vintage 18th century, historical Philadelphia feel with a cobblestone street, a lot of eye-catching architecture, iron gates, brick paths, and great lighting. For these reasons, this location works very well for wedding photography.
6. Carpenters’ Hall — My photo “Heaven Can Wait,” which won a Kodak Gallery award, was shot at the iron gate of this location. At the time, I was permitted to shoot there. As of now, this spot is off limits for others, but that doesn’t limit the great shots that you can create. The permit allows shooting at the grassy knoll north of Carpenters’ Hall, and there are wooden benches, cobblestone streets and shady trees. Sometimes people have picnics here on the weekends, so be certain to go at the right time. I recommend going in November around 3PM or in July around 8PM because the sun is bright here.
8. Washington Square — The entire park is a graveyard and it contains The Tomb of the Unknown Solider, but don’t let this eerie information divert you from taking photos here because it is a good location with brick paths, high trees, and it is very light on tourists.
Valley Forge State Park
This location is outside of the city and it is the Campsite for Revolutionary War soldiers. There are a lot of log cabins, old wooden bridges, bike paths and there is horseback riding. I recommend the National Memorial Arch, but I usually take the couple into the large field with the hill and scenery in the background; this only requires a couple shots. There is an old barn called Knox Trail Barn that I enjoy shooting at because it is next the drawbridge and the creek which will be in the background, and the barn doesn’t look really old — it’s well-maintained. A permit is needed to shoot professionally here.
15th and John F. Kennedy Blvd.
This is a favorite destination for tourists and locals alike. John F. Kennedy Plaza gets its famed nickname “Love Park” due to it’s famous sculpture, which makes this location only good for one shot, and it is a quick shot.
As of right now, Love Park is under construction and will reopen in 2017. During the construction process, Robert Indiana’s Love sculpture is moved across the street into Dilworth Park until the construction is finished. There is sometimes a line to get the photo in front of the sculpture, but having a bridal dress on can (most of the time) solve that problem and help you butt in line.
No permit needed.
Race Street Pier Park and Under the Ben Franklin Bridge
Columbus Blvd. & Race Street Philadelphia, PA
This is another one of Philadelphia’s amazing outdoor spaces. The Race Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront is a relaxing location for the bride and the groom to take photographs. The first thing I do is take the bride and the groom out to the end of the pier and get photos with iconic The Benjamin Franklin Bridge in the background. Located underneath the bridge, you capture the interesting architectural structure of the bridge, and while this may sound unattractive at first, but the mix of the deep blue with the brown rust and the light and shadows can create something really spectacular. Also, this location is great because, if there happens to be poor weather that day, the bridge protects the photo shoot. I highly recommend trying this location! No permit required.
Painted Bride Art Center
230 Vine Street Philadelphia, PA 19106
This is the home to an intimate theater and gallery in Old City. I find this place cool because the walls of the building’s exterior is created using mosaics with glass and metal. It’s perfect for the bride and the groom only, but not a wedding party because the spots are small. No permit is required here, but I recommend a phone call or sending an email to them in order to see if there are events happening that day that we can incorporate into the photo shoot.
215.925.9914 email: INFO@PAINTEDBRIDE.ORG