It’s getting to be the season for family photos, and I often have photographers message me for new ideas on Birmingham backdrops for family or commercial photo shoots. We all know that the Botanical Gardens and Morris Avenue and Railroad Park are great, but people want new ideas.
And I like to give the people what they want.
As I tend to get around a bit as a Birmingham photographer, I have a few suggestions for you who are looking for unique backdrops to take photos in Birmingham. I’m sure you’ve heard of some of them, but maybe I’ll surprise you with a few. Some are seasonal and some take longer walks than others, so be sure and read the details for any disclaimers that you might want to know about. And feel free to ask follow-up questions in the comments or by email – I’m always willing (albeit sometimes a little slow) to help!
Also, if you just like shooting cool places in Birmingham, this is the list for you. As you can see, I don’t usually clog up my pictures with people, either.
But first, a disclaimer: Please use common sense. Just because I list a place here does not mean you can have a full two hour photo shoot there without permission. If in doubt, get prior approval.
Now. Let’s begin.
1. Urban/Artsy: The Blank Space Mural Projects near the Alabama Theatre. These are beautiful, bold, colorful works of art that can be found on the north side of 3rd Avenue South and 18th Street.
Details: They’re both in the backs of parking lots used by Alabama Theatre visitors and workday cars, so attempt to time your visits when the parking lots aren’t full for best access.
2. Urban/Graffiti: The “Graffiti building” on 1st Ave S by the Jones Valley Trail between 28th St S and 32nd St S – It’s a giant warehouse building at least two blocks long covered from one end to the other with Graffiti tags.
If this is your thing, this is the place to find it. It’s currently uncovered because of construction going on next to it. There are some really fun, colorful, and unique tags on the building.
Details: There isn’t public parking right next to it, but you should be able to park fairly close by and walk down the walking trail to the graffiti wall.
3. City View: Crest Road, off of Aberdeen Road. The ultimate city view, this street has a spectacular rock wall overlooking the city. The sunset is best here during the summer, but it’s a great place for family photos year-round.
Details: Park on Aberdeen and walk up Crest – there’s no parking on Crest. It is gated after 7pm, but it’s still a public road – you are not trespassing to walk around the gate.
4. Floral Gate: During Crepe Myrtle Season (July), the gate at the east end of the above mentioned Crest Road is like a fairytale.
…Even when boys photobomb you.
5. City View: An alternate to Crest Road is Stratford Road – but the nice big yard that is city-facing is private property, so stay on the sidewalk or obtain proper permission before scheduling a photo shoot.
6. Pastoral View: Tip Top Grill’s parking lot in Bluff Park. With their great gate and the unobstructed view of Oxmoor Valley, this is a spectacular place for a photo – of sunsets or people or both.
7. Night Funk: You’re not going to get fantastic detail of your subjects if you wait until dusk and go to the Light Rails, but hey – you’ll get some cool shots. And if you’re shooting somewhere close by, this might be a fun way to end the photo shoot.
…But even during they daytime, they’re cool tunnels.
Details: There are three sets of light tunnels that run between north and south Birmingham – at 14th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Streets. I currently recommend 18th Street because the others have construction around them right now.
8. Rotary Trail: The Rotary Trail is a fun place to photograph, with or without people. There are so many fun angles, interesting benches and signs, underpasses and fences.
9. Morning Light: If you actually convince a client to meet you at sunrise, the Argyle Road area (near Stratford Road) has stunning sunbeams that provide an ethereal glow to the already lovely street. You could visit this road in conjunction with Stratford or Crest.
10. Manicured Lawns and Gardens: Samford University is a charming college with many superb buildings, yards, flowers, and stairs.