Best Locations for Portraits in Minneapolis

Having lived in the Minneapolis area for 14 years, I've had a lot of time to explore and develop a few favorite spots, some well-known, others less frequented. Years ago when I first started taking more photos, I played around with some of these locations, often with a tripod or placing my camera on a nice, sturdy rock. I also used to be super into photographing graffiti around the cities. I'd go on graffiti hunts and long bike rides in search of city art in my free time.

Here's a list of recommended locations in Minneapolis:

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

If you're looking to take photos near something that screams Minneapolis, visit that spoon. Up close and personal or distant and blurred, either one is epic! There are tons of ways to get creative with both the lighting and the backdrop in this area.

woman in a white gown sitting against a brick structure and looking away
This photo was taken in the shade by a large brick structure in the middle of the day. I love the contrast of her white gown and the dark brick!

Stone Arch Bridge & Below

An iconic location for photos, sure. But the area around the bridge is just as cool. Heading here you can expect to likely have some blurry people passing by in the background. But head underneath? A less traveled photographic paradise. Great for romantic photos.

My mom took this photo of my family less than a month after my son came into the world. I love the lines of the Stone Arch Bridge and the city backdrop!

This photo was taken in my pre-photographer days (below the bridge) when one of my good friends got engaged. It was so fun to play around with my camera, even though there was so much I still didn't know about the art!

The North Loop

For a flirty, hipster urban vibe, head to the North Loop. As a bonus, the area is generally less crowded than other parts of Minneapolis. There's a store near St. Anthony West and Nicollet Island called I Like You. It's an adorable gift shop with the words "I like you" plastered all over a white brick.

Parking Ramps

Here are a couple ramps I would love to experiment with: The top of the North Loop Ramp and the Hennepin Parking Ramp (Hennepin @10th). I've always wanted to do a shoothe top of a parking ramp during golden hour.

This photo was taken during a family session at Boom Island Park. I even got in the water to get this shot! I LOVE capturing candids!

Boom Island Park

I love this area! I had my own family photos taken here last year. You can get lovely photos of the city in the background, cutesy photos walking across a bridge, playful dock photos, and more. There's so much variety!

Photo taken in Boom Island Park in a grassy field about an hour before sunset.

Minnehaha Falls & Beyond

I lived near Minnehaha Falls for six years before moving to Maple Grove and photographed the area year round! Photos with the falls in the background are gorgeous, but what most people don't know is that the surrounding area is just as incredible. There's a path that leads all the way to the beach, and along the way you'll find the creek, a bizarre rock formation, and steps littered with graffiti. I took a few of my own maternity photos here.

This photo was taken during a senior portrait session. We walked along the trail by Minnehaha Falls until we came to some giant concrete steps by the river. I love how BA this looks with the graffiti and her body language.

Mississippi River

Another location where I've played with some self portraits over the years. There's a set of steps off the bike path that leads to the river. I've visited it several time and rarely bump into anyone. Calm, serene, off the beaten path.

I took my own maternity photos down here years ago with a tripod! I'd love to do a session at this tucked away spot during golden hour.

Lake Hiawatha & Lake Nokomis

These lakes have it all. From dreamy beach photos and springtime blossoms to sunsets by the water and cute bridges, there are all kinds of vibes you can create all within the same area.

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This photo was taken at Lake Hiawatha as the sun was setting. I love the warmth in this photo and the simple beauty!

More often than not, my clients don't have a location preference. I choose a location for a session based on what I learn about a family, driving distance for the family, and the desired colors, backdrop, and vibe.

Looking for a Minneapolis Newborn & Family Photographer?

I love working in Minneapolis and can't wait to create candid captures for you! Send me an email at or call/text 612.599.8349 to reach out.


Based in Elk River, MN, Kara Joy Photography is a lifestyle & documentary photographer who specializes in newborn & family photography. She's known for capturing raw emotion & authentic expressions through a laid-back approach. Her unforced images have a glaze that is natural yet polished. The cherry on top? A quick turnaround time.

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