Say Cheese! Here are the 12 best places to take photos in RVA

The Richmond skyline always makes for a great scene to photograph.
The Richmond skyline always makes for a great scene to photograph.(Bill Draper)
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 1:37 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2022 at 1:38 PM EDT
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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 stunning in person, but also make incredible backdrops for photos.

Whether you’re a professional photographer looking to expand your portfolio, a high school student figuring out where to take homecoming pictures, or just someone in need of a killer selfie, we have the places for you.

Richmond photographer Maura Varley-Twyman shared her tips about ways to make the most out of these beautiful locations.

Libby Hill Park

This iconic Richmond setting gives a beautiful overlook of the city skyline. The sunsets here can be absolutely breathtaking. Maura recommends snapping your pics during the late afternoon to capture these beautiful sky views.

This park is extremely picturesque ... and public! Maura mentioned that it can get crowded with families and photographers so definitely plan ahead.

Coming here during the fall makes for a great background of the changing leaves. Wearing autumn colors to complement this setting is the way to go.

James River

We’re called “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 paired with the urban skyline is picture perfect.

If you’re taking photos here, be sure to play around with light at different times of the day. The shimmering water on a sunny morning versus the stunning sunset reflections in the evening make for a great contrast.

Maura shoots here often and has gotten some of her favorite shots on the big rocks in locations such as Pony Pasture and Belle Isle. Reminder to take caution while moving across the rocks because you could slip and get wet or damage your camera.

Canal Walk

The Canal Walk is a Richmond staple with lots of opportunities for incredible urban shots. This area offers a great city vibe that works well in any season. It’s also in a very central location; a Canal Walk photoshoot could be easily paired with other shoots around RVA, says Maura.

Some things to think about: parking is limited so you might need to pay. Also, the city is a lively environment with lots of people walking their dogs, going on runs, and getting to work. You may need to pause for passersby while snapping your photos.

Maymont Park

Maymont is one of the most scenic places in Richmond, making it the perfect location to take photos. Maura talked about how much variety there is in the imagery here. From the traditional arched bridges in the Japanese Gardens to the classic Victorian feel of the famous Mansion, there is so much you can do with this space.

It’s important to note that there is a $35 permit fee for photoshoots at Maymont.

In order to capture all of the incredible flora and fauna here, Maura says you’ll get the best results by visiting in the Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Hollywood Cemetery

This unique, historic location has so many opportunities to get great shots. With convenient access from Richmond, you can easily travel here to capture elegant, 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 do photography in a cemetery, the Hollywood Cemetery is a truly charming Richmond landmark with lots of history and natural beauty.

Brown’s Island

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

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

Mural walls can also be included in photoshoots here. At the same time, you can snap captivating images of the river, bridges, and skyline.

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

Since it’s so popular, this is another spot that tends to get crowded.

Richmond Mural Walls

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

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

Drive around the city and snap some shots with your favorites! There is so much incredible art to discover.

Capitol Building

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

The area is very spacious, making it compatible with large groups such as proms or wedding parties. Also, any outfit you wear against the white background is sure to pop, making you the clear focal point of the picture.

Something unique about this location is its versatility. The Capitol sits in the heart of Richmond and is surrounded by large buildings, giving the area an overall urban feel. But the hills alongside 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 stark white building in the background.

In the daylight, the bright look of the Capitol sitting atop the hill is a truly beautiful sight.

Richmond Main Street Station

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

The staircases and overhead bridges are cool spots to experiment with posing and perspective.

You can also try getting some city shots at night with the lighting from the nearby lamp posts, or go inside the building. It’s 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 conservatory, fountains, and hundreds of flowers in bloom make this location feel like a fantasy.

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

RVA Pipeline

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

Pipeline is a metal catwalk located on top of a giant storm-water pipe in downtown Richmond. The narrow pathway takes you through scenic natural settings and passes over top the “Pipeline” rapids — a common spot for rafters and kayakers.

This RVA staple is the perfect place for a photoshoot.


Carytown is a great place to walk around and explore the variety of shops and restaurants. Maybe even catch a movie at the famous Byrd Theater. This area with its adorable storefronts and beautiful murals is the perfect place to take pictures while you’re walking around town.

Photography allows us to capture the beauty all around us — something that Richmond has no shortage of. NBC12 encourages you to explore RVA and snap some great shots. Be sure to send your photos to us HERE on Send it to 12 so we can showcase them online, on air and across social media.

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

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