7 places to take an Austin-centric holiday photo

Photographers sound off on their favorite locations, just in time for Christmas card season.

When Christmas songs start infiltrating department store speakers and white twinkle lights begin popping up in neighborhood yards, it’s time to think about another seasonal tradition: the holiday card photo shoot.

As you start booking photographers or looking for coordinated outfits, here’s a suggestion: This year, let Austin be the guest star in your photos.

“While I have traveled all over the country as a photographer, photographing families in Austin inspires me the most,” said Michele Anderson of Pinkle Toes Photography (pinkletoes.com). “The city itself has its own personality, which shines through in the images.”

We asked some local photographers to offer their favorite places for an Austin-centric photo shoot. Even if you’re not sending out holiday cards, this list of suggestions could be handy for when friends or relatives visit. Look at it as a two-for-one: You’ll discover new places in Austin and have a unique backdrop for any photos you take.

Roadhouse Relics

The studio/gallery on South First Street belongs to neon artist Todd Sanders, who creates vintage-style pieces there. The neon-filled gallery and vintage sign boneyard — complete with historic Austin neon signs, antique carnival rides and rusty gas pumps — offers a truly original backdrop for a photo shoot. “Roadhouse Relics gives off that retro vibe with great texture combinations and rich colors,” Anderson said. Shoots must be booked ahead of time for a fee. Info: roadhouserelics.com

Bull Creek District Park

Austin is known as a haven for those who love the outdoors, from rock climbers to kayakers to mountain bikers, so a photo shoot in a natural location such as Bull Creek District Park can be a great way to pay tribute to the city. “I love working at Bull Creek because of its versatility and natural feel,” said Shauna Autry of Shauna Autry Photography (autryphotography.com). “I think it truly captures the beautiful naturescape of Austin. It’s a real city treasure.” Info: austinparks.org/our-parks.html?parkid=223

South Congress Avenue

This one may seem obvious, but there are so many varied options along South Congress Avenue, from the “I Love You So Much” mural at Jo’s to the candy-colored boutique facades to the spectacular views of downtown, that it remains a must-consider location for a holiday photo shoot. “South Congress has opportunities for amazing variety,” Anderson said. “And, if you’re there at the right time, it’s the perfect place to capture the Capitol building.” To keep safety a priority, though, Anderson recommends scheduling your visit to avoid peak traffic hours. Info: austintexas.org/listings/south-congress-ave-soco-/4359

The Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake

Austin’s fitness community celebrated when the new boardwalk opened on a stretch of the Butler Hike and Bike Trail in June. But here’s something you may not have known: So did photographers. “This is just a new fun spot that seems very Austin to me,” Autry said of the boardwalk, which runs from South Lakeshore Boulevard east of Interstate 35 to the American-Statesman property to the west. “You have to be patient, as there can be a lot of runners, but at the right time of day the light is perfect and the views are beautiful.” Info: www.thetrailfoundation.org/portfolio/the-boardwalk

Spider House Cafe

From its Christmas lights to its garden statues, this University of Texas campus-area bar and cafe is a treasure trove of cool. “Spider House Cafe is simply all of Austin’s remarkable quirks, rolled up into one funky package,” Anderson said. Contact in advance to set up a shoot. Info: spiderhouseaustin.com

Long Center and Butler Park

The Long Center and Butler Park offer more fantastic views of downtown. If you’re shooting with kids, they’ll love Butler Park, which is home to a fountain, a meadow, a pond and a huge in-ground map of Texas that’s great for fun pictures. “It is very versatile, with lots of great color and textures,” said Autry. “It is never too crowded, so the kids stay relaxed.” Info: austinparks.org/our-parks.html?parkid=684

Barton Creek Greenbelt near Lost Creek Country Club

For a more off-the-beaten-path dose of nature, try the Barton Creek Greenbelt near Lost Creek Country Club, said Kerri Lohmeier of Kerri Lohmeier Photography (kerrilohmeierphotography.com). “I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only photographers that knows about this spot only because, in all the years of shooting, I’ve never seen anyone else,” she said. “Year-round it offers full trees, water, boulders, tall grass, cliffs and seasonal flowers.” Info: texasoutside.com/bartongreenbelt.htm

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