Say “cheese! Here are the 12 best places to take pictures in RVA

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – From urban skylines to vibrant sunsets over the James River, central Virginia has so much beauty all around. These must-see spots around Richmond are beautiful in person, but also make incredible backdrops for photos.

Whether you’re a professional photographer looking to expand your portfolio, a high school student looking for where to take homecoming photos, or just someone who needs a killer selfie, we’ve got the spots for you.

Richmond photographer Maura Varley-Twyman shared his advice on how to make the most of these beautiful places.

Libby Hill Park

This iconic Richmond setting offers beautiful views of the city skyline. The sunsets here can be absolutely stunning. Maura recommends taking your photos in the late afternoon to capture those beautiful sky views.

This park is extremely picturesque… and public! Maura mentioned that there can be lots of families and photographers, so plan ahead.

Coming here in the fall provides a great background of changing leaves. Wearing fall colors to complement this frame is the way to go.

James River

We call ourselves “The River City” for a reason! The James River is one of the best and most beautiful photo spots in all of Virginia. The natural beauty of this environment combined with the urban skyline is perfect.

If you take photos here, be sure to play with the light at different times of the day. The sparkling water of a sunny morning and the stunning reflections of the sunset in the evening create a striking contrast.

Maura shoots here often and has gotten some of her favorite shots on the big rocks at places like Pony Pasture and Belle Isle. Reminder to be careful when moving over the rocks as you could slip and get wet or damage your camera.

Canal walk

The Canal Walk is a must in Richmond with plenty of opportunities for amazing city shots. This area offers a great urban vibe that works well in any season. It’s also in a very central location; a Canal Walk photo session could easily be combined with other sessions around RVA, explains Maura.

Some things to think about: Parking is limited so you may have to pay. Additionally, the city is a bustling environment with lots of people walking their dogs, going for a run, and commuting to work. You may need to pause for passers-by while you take your photos.

Maymont Park

Maymont is one of the most scenic places in Richmond, making it the perfect place to take photos. Maura talked about the variety of images here. From the traditional arched bridges of Japanese gardens to the classic Victorian atmosphere of the famous mansion, there is so much you can do with this space.

It is important to note that there is a $35 permit fee for photo shoots at Maymont.

In order to capture all of the incredible flora and fauna here, Maura says you’ll get the best results visiting in the spring, summer, and fall.

Hollywood Cemetery

This unique and historic location offers plenty of opportunities to get great photos. With convenient access from Richmond, you can easily get there to capture stylish outdoor images.

Maura recommends arriving in the late afternoon. This will allow you to see the sunset over the landscape and get shots of the evening sun pouring through the stained glass windows.

While it may seem odd to photograph in a cemetery, Hollywood Cemetery is a truly charming Richmond landmark with lots of history and natural beauty.

Brown’s Island

This place is a popular place for senior photos and prom photos. Maura says it’s one of her favorites because it’s so diverse.

“We can capture urban and natural images in one place,” she said.

Wall murals can also be included in photo shoots here. At the same time, you can take captivating images of the river, bridges, and the skyline.

Maura says it’s best to go in the late afternoon.

Since it’s so popular, it’s another place that tends to get crowded.

Richmond Mural Walls

If you want your photos to stand out with a pop of vibrant color, be sure to check out RVA’s murals! These murals are beautiful in any season and are sure to produce unique and fun images that reflect Richmond’s incredible art scene.

Taking photos here, Maura says, allows for creativity, the use of props, and allows models to show their personality through whatever murals they choose.

Drive around the city and take photos with your favorites! There is so much amazing art to discover.

Capitol building

With its white columns and grand staircase, the Virginia State Capitol provides an elegant backdrop for all kinds of photo ops.

The area is very spacious, making it suitable for large groups such as balls or wedding parties. Plus, any outfit you wear against the white background is sure to stand out, making you the clear focal point of the picture.

Something unique about this place is its versatility. The Capitol is located in the heart of Richmond and is surrounded by tall buildings, giving the neighborhood an overall urban feel. But the hills along the building are lined with trees and flowers, creating a shady grove that works well for more natural shots if you don’t want the white building in the background.

In daylight, the glowing appearance of the Capitol sitting atop the hill is a truly magnificent sight.

Richmond Main Street Station

This historic landmark was built in 1901 and is one of Richmond’s most recognizable symbols. The clock tower makes for an amazing photo, especially with the warm tones of the stone and roof against a clear blue sky.

Stairs and hanging bridges are cool places to experiment with posing and perspective.

You can also try to take photos of the city at night with the illumination of nearby streetlights or entering the building. It is open to the public.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens has 50 acres of spacious gardens to explore. Stone gazebos, a glass domed roof veranda, fountains and hundreds of blooming flowers make this place a fantasy.

The garden has exhibitions throughout the year, so be sure to plan ahead and see what’s available. Some seasons feature monarch butterfly displays while others feature Christmas light shows. Any of them would make a great photo.

RVA pipe

A truly unique urban adventure that offers stunning views of the James River and native wildlife.

Pipeline is a metal walkway located atop a giant stormwater pipe in downtown Richmond. The narrow trail takes you through scenic natural landscapes and passes over “Pipeline” rapids – a common spot for rafters and kayakers.

This must-see RVA is the perfect place for a photo shoot.


Carytown is a great place to stroll and explore the variety of shops and restaurants. Maybe even catch a movie at the famous Byrd Theatre. This area with its adorable shop windows and beautiful murals is the perfect place to snap some photos as you wander around town.

Photography allows us to capture the beauty around us, which Richmond has no shortage of. NBC12 encourages you to explore RVA and take great photos. Be sure to send us your photos HERE at Send It At 12 so we can feature them online, on air and on social media.

Special thanks to Maura for sharing her tips and work, and to all the other featured photographers for capturing great images.

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