While you can certainly have a photo session year round in the Fredericksburg region, autumn is when it really shines! Summer just swelters with humidity. Spring can be snowy and wet. Winter is icy and cold. Between idyllic temperatures and beautiful fall foliage, it truly doesn’t get better than Fredericksburg in the fall!


Local photographer, Sara Robichaud, gave us a few inside tips on how to make the most of the season to create amazing pictures. These tips work well for families, headshots, engagement photos, maternity pictures, and more!


“As far as outfits go, always think coordinating and NOT matching,” She suggests. “Mix in plenty of colors, textures, patterns and colors to really tie you images together, and make them pop. Don’t forget to accessorize! For families, start off with mom’s outfit and work from there. Also, plan ahead! Know the time of year you’d like your session to be, and contact a photographer before that season hits. Sometimes photographers are booked far out in advance, or they only take a select number of sessions. As far as a location, if you have a location you’d like to be photographed at, ask them [the photographer] if they can shoot there. Some places may require a fee, and many others are free.”


Speaking of locations… If you’re on the look-out for prime fall photo session spots, these places are a must!


Downtown Fredericksburg There are dozens of great spots to choose from in downtown! If you want a fun, unconventional photo try using a mural as a backdrop. Just make sure your outfit doesn’t compete with the artwork. Conversely, the historic brick all over downtown is a great traditional, neutral background that adds lots of character and charm. The steps of Historic Market Square are a slam dunk location for just about any photoshoot, from professional headshots, senior portraits, family photos to engagement photos. There are also a few restaurants that now offer rooftop seating with pretty views of downtown. Be sure to call ahead and give the restaurant heads up, if you’re pursuing that option. There’s nowhere like downtown Fredericksburg!


Alum Springs Park– Be sure to dress comfortably! Alum Springs has an amazing rock formation that make a one-of-a-kind backdrop. You just need to walk a bit through the woods to get there! Located just a few short miles outside of downtown Fredericksburg, it’s a great spot for traditional pictures and pet photography. There’s just something about the creek that runs through Alum Springs that dogs and children love! If you’re looking for classic photos in a beautiful place, Alum Springs can deliver. If you’re looking for playful, messy pictures Alum Springs is great for those, too.


Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont- What better place for engagement, bridal or family photos than a location with a love story as rich as Belmont’s? “He was one of the most successful painters of his time, sought out by the rich and famous. She was a beautiful, young art student, and his biggest fan. They fell in love on an ocean liner and spent their lives sharing art.” The magnificent Stafford estate and grounds date back to the 1790s. No detail has been left undone! Please note, a $30 fee is charged for professional photography sessions (some at an additional charge.). No photography is allowed inside the home itself. To make an appointment, contact Special Events Manager Meghan Pcsolyar mpcsolya@umw.edu, 540-654-1848. Be sure to share your photos using #garimelchersbelmont.


Chatham Manor– If you’re in Stafford, you must check out the beautiful Chatham Manor and its surrounding grounds! We love the 1920’s colonial revival east garden, which is perfect for all kinds of photoshoots. The real gem at Chatham Manor, however, is the magnificent panoramic view from the front terraces, of the Rappahannock River and downtown Fredericksburg! Please note, permits are required for special events and non-traditional uses of the park. Check with your photographer beforehand to see if the photos you want to shoot would require one.


Government Island– This park in North Stafford is great for kids, or for those who wish to wear heels in their pictures! The trail that winds through the park leading to the island, is long and flat. There is also a bridge overlooking marshland, which is great for solo images (like headshots), or small groups. Once you get into the island the terrain becomes more difficult, but the views are totally worth it!


Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve Per their website, “Crow’s Nest is, simply, a beautiful place and considered highly significant from numerous standpoints.” This Stafford locationboasts tidal wetlands and hardwood forests. Perfect for capturing pretty fall foliage!


Lake Anna State ParkLocated in Spotsylvania county, this beautiful park clocks in at 3,127 acres, with an amazing 10 miles of lake frontage! The picturesque lake is the perfect backdrop for romantic engagement or bridal photos, especially during the “golden hour,” at dusk. I think we can all agree that there’s just something magical about fall foliage reflected off of the water.


Salamander Loop– If you’re looking for easy trails bursting with fall colors, you’re looking for Salamander Loop, in Spotsylvania. This simple trail is only a half mile long and relatively flat. Perfect for kids, older family members, and dogs! Please note, dogs must be kept on leash. This is a great location for spring photos as well as it’s known for wildflowers!


Wineries- Nothing says wedding like a Virginia winery! Wilderness Run Vineyards, in Spotsylvania, and Potomac Point Winery, in Stafford, are ideal locations for bridal or engagement photos that are traditional, rustic, and charming! Because these wineries are stay busy with weddings, tastings, and other events be sure to contact them before planning a photoshoot.


Interested in trying your hand at outdoor photography? The Virginia Department of Conservation and Research has put together a short show on aspects of outdoor photography (PDF). It covers exposure, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, depth of field, focal length, and more. You can find out more and download the file here.



Written by Brenda Sapanghila
*Image of Chatham Manor from the river side, via www.nps.gov
Last Updated:
May 13, 2020