Best Places for Portrait Sessions in Northern Virginia: Old Town Alexandria Spotlight
There is no shortage of amazing portrait locations throughout Northern Virginia for every setting. The area is full of historical buildings, urban development, beautiful gardens and trails, fun new developing cities… it’s easy to be overwhelmed by options! One of my go-to recommendations for portrait sessions in Northern Virginia is Old Town Alexandria because it checks off so many boxes, all attainable within a normal single photo session. The Potomac River docks, the Torpedo Factory Art Center, the historic homes with cobblestone streets, the blooms in Waterfront Park, and the fun bright yellow wall at Big Wheel Bikes… with always more to explore and ever-changing looks based on the seasons, it’s can be as romantic, as fun, as classic, or as out-of-the-box as you make it. Looking for more examples of full sessions we’ve done at Old Town Alexandria? Check out:
The Docks and Potomac River
Despite being probably the busiest single area of Old Town Alexandria, it can be easy to get great portraits full of movement by the water. The breeze from over the river ensures you get movement in loose hair and clothing to add a fun element to otherwise static portraits. The sun reflecting off the water brightens the entire area, making it easy to get flattering, beautiful images. You can walk along the docks themselves, passing by the boats of various sizes and shapes. Stand along the boardwalk and capture the water behind you, and walk along the riverfront extending down through and past Waterfront Park where there’s less of a crowd but still great views of the Potomac River (and the National Harbor on the other side).
Torpedo Factory Art Center
Next to the riverfront and boardwalk is the Torpedo Factory Art Center. What was once a munitions plant now functions as a fun and busy place to spark creativity with artists’ studios and artwork on display. Bonus points if you choose to host your wedding reception here, as the Torpedo Factory also hosts events! While I wouldn’t recommend expecting to do a full portrait session inside the Torpedo Factory due to its less-ideal lighting situation and small size, it’s a great location to sprinkle into your session and take a break from the elements if it’s particularly warm or cool outside.
Having recently completed some major renovations, Waterfront Park is now a bustling spot that still manages to feel a little peaceful thanks to all the blooms inside. Take a stroll along the paths to enjoy the flower beds, shrubbery, and blooming trees. It’s especially beautiful in the springtime when there are trees weeping with beautiful pink blossoms. Even better - this park is just steps away from the Torpedo Factory and the docks so you don’t have to go far to get a little bit extra nature in your session.
Of course, everyone knows that Old Town Alexandria is known for its historical significance and that includes historic buildings dating back to the days when the Founding Fathers frequented its storefronts and pubs. It doesn’t have to be a crowded stroll down King Street to fully experience the quaint historic nature of Old Town Alexandria - every side street for blocks all around is full of cute houses in various colors and styles. It can be fun just to wander hand in hand down the sidewalk, pointing out houses that you could imagine yourself living in if you had been here two hundred years ago.
Pretty much all of Old Town Alexandria has been repaved since the construction of the buildings that line the streets, but one little stretch of road parallel to King Street is covered in stones and makes for such interesting pictures! While it is an active street and everyone has to be careful and aware of their surroundings, it is an area close to the waterfront and therefore not harboring a lot of traffic - mostly just cars hoping for a good parking spot near the waterfront.
Ice Cream at Pop’s
Looking for something to do during your session to add a little extra fun? Do you have a sweet tooth you want to satisfy while we’re out and about? A classic spot on King Street is Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Co. which serves up tons of flavors of delicious homemade ice cream! Pick out flavors together and share some in one of the cozy window seats or walking along King Street for a fun twist for your session.
Blooms Around Town
One of my favorite methods of searching for spots to stop for photos during a session is to search for blooms and Old Town Alexandria is full of them all the time! The streets are lined with planters and trees, so year-round there’s always somewhere in view with pretty flowers, colorful leaves, blooming tree branches… Even in the wintertime, there are Christmas decorations around so you never run out of places to pause. All of the color makes this one of the most romantic photo session locations in Northern Virginia.
That Yellow Wall
Looking for a modern pop for your photos? This bright yellow brick wall at Big Wheel Bikes will certainly do the trick! No matter the season, and no matter what you wear, this fun statement wall is a fun addition to your set of locations. It’s steps away from Waterfront Park and the cobblestone street, but such an urban twist that you don’t find otherwise in Old Town Alexandria. It’s a go-to spot for me because it’s a blank canvas but with a twist!