If you’re like me, you get calls all the time to make portraits at your client’s favorite park. The trouble is that your client doesn’t think about the park as a place for pictures, they just think about them as a fun place with pretty things. Rose gardens are also highly requested spots. Let’s look at the problems with parks and rose gardens and how to get around it.

It’s Just a Backdrop

When it comes down to it, any location for portraiture is just a backdrop for your subject and its job is to be simple and not detract from the subject, which is your client. the problem with so many parks is that they are fairly flat and as you look review your pictures afterward you’ll see lots of cars parked in the background. The car itself isn’t necessarily a problem, but the sun reflecting off the windshields and chrome sure does detract from your subject.

All you can focus on in this portrait is the bright spot on the car.

This portrait is also made in the rose garden and demonstrates the problem perfectly: rose bushes just aren’t that high. They are low to the ground, and their color draws the viewer downward in the photo away from your subject’s eyes. This will require most of your pictures to be made sitting, or shooting from above, which gets old real quick.

Look for Slopes

When my clients request a particular park, I make sure that the park has a good slope to it so the cars won’t be at eye level. If it doesn’t, I explain the situation to my client and recommend another park nearby. My clients always appreciate my forethought and realize that I’m doing my best to make a flattering portrait before the shoot even begins, and that leads to them trusting me more and making better portraits.


Whatever location you choose to shoot in, be sure it’s got simple backdrops that don’t distract from your subjects. Look for slopes and avoid flat parks.

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