Good morning, folks!
Man, am I jazzed today, and I think it's because spring has finally sprung. Trees have buds and leaves, flowers are blooming, and the weather outside has been PERFECT. I'm one of those people that counts down the days until the spring equinox, when life finally blooms again for those of us on the northern hemisphere.
Today, we're going to be kicking off a blog series I'm calling "Location Spotlight." What does this mean, and what's its purpose? Well, when I often talk to potential or returning clients about their preference for their "on-location" photo session, the reply is often, "Well, I'm not sure. What do you recommend?" Although I can give my preferences and the places that I personally love to photograph people, the thing I've been saying all along still holds true: "no photo session is created equal." For a truly personalized experience, it definitely helps to photograph in a place where the client feels comfortable, where it feels like a good fit. To help my clients along, this series will be showing some highlights of the places I photograph most often. Today, we'll be starting off by taking a look at the ABQ BioPark.
The ABQ BioPark, located in the heart of Downtown Albuquerque, consists of a zoo, an aquarium, and a botanical garden. Because the original zoo, located on 10th street, is somewhat landlocked by surrounding neighborhoods, the aquarium and botanical gardens were built about 1.5 miles away, right off of Central Ave. Today, we'll be talking specifically about the aquarium and botanical gardens, which are located on the same facility grounds.
Starting with the botanical gardens (which is plural, by the way, since there are several different types of gardens within the facility), there are so many different options to choose to take photos! Upon entering, there is a large grassy park area, which is always very well-manicured and maintained. My favorite time to go is in the morning when there's no one there yet. This photo of baby Payton was taken during one of my morning sessions in this park.
This field isn't HUGE, but it's big enough. Lots of trees and shade to keep cool during those hot summer months!
Fellow wine enthusiasts, check out the back area by the ranch house and the stables! There's a small vineyard area that looks very green and lush in the summer months, but no grape-picking! Seriously. They'll scold you for that.
During the fall time, they leave all of the leaves on the ground for one purpose only. I forgot until recently how much fun playing in the leaves can be, especially when you don't have to rake them all up afterward!
To the left of the entrance is the children's garden, which looks like a giant castle! The children's garden is very cool and original, like you're walking through a vegetable garden that's larger than life. It's complete with giant carrots sticking out of the ground, huge ants and bees, and even getting to walk inside of a giant pumpkin! Although I haven't done much couples photographing inside the children's garden, I do enjoy using the front of it, as do cosplayers and Game of Thrones geeks (I must admit, I'm itching to do my first Game of Thrones themed session here!).
A casual stroll through the gardens can be very relaxing...
...with that wide-open New Mexico sky above you. Unlike other botanical gardens in other states in the four-corners area (not naming names, but you know who you are), these gardens are completely unfettered by surrounding apartment buildings and skyscrapers. It feels very comfortable and natural to have minimal reminders of the surrounding urban environments and neighborhoods. This is a quality I absolutely love about our gardens.
If you like the ranch style home look, there's a replica of what home life was like in the early days of New Mexico's statehood. It's a relaxing place to sit in a rocking chair and just enjoy the garden area.
Near the ranch home is a barn, which is quite valuable to photographers (you'd be surprised by how difficult it is to find a red barn to photograph next to!). Although next to the back parking lot, it still makes for a wonderful rustic backdrop that has a very comfortable feel!
The Japanese garden, located at the back of the facility, is a great place to go relax. It's complete with a Zen garden next to a pagoda bell, a waterfall on the inside, and tall bamboo shoots, cottonwood trees, and cherry trees to take shade in.
AND NOW MY FAVORITE PART...
The aquarium. Although it's filled with jellyfish, clown fish, and sharks, this particular tank has romance written all over it. But if that's not your thing, nothing says romance like...
...a shark tank!
Of course, there is an admission fee to get into the park if you haven't already purchased an annual pass. However, as far as things to do that don't cost a whole ton of money, picking up an annual family pass is a wonderful investment and pays for itself after a few visits. On days where you just want to go to the park and relax (and don't forget, admission also includes the zoo), why go to any old park when you could be surrounded by all this color and life? The gardens are also a great place to have your wedding, which makes the bride & groom session a breeze since it's all located in one place!
Whether you're a new client or returning client of mine, I urge you to use the ABQ BioPark as a backdrop if you like the relaxed, natural feel of the gardens. The more I photograph here, the more I love it!
Have a great week, my friends. It was great to chat with you!