As a newbie to the New Orleans wedding photographer life, I asked Jared and JB to help show me around — I openly told them, show me the town. This is generally how we do engagement sessions with locals and it always pays off. New Orleans venues have tons of character to them and stumbling around the French Quarter is one of the best ways to get to know the area. You can snag a virtual tour from most wedding venues right now with all that’s going on.
New Orleans is a city within Jefferson Parrish, Louisiana and is made up of beautiful, historic neighborhoods. With a world-famous French Market, Café du Monde, St. Louis Cathedral, and more, I couldn’t resist getting a tour from the locals. Founded by the French in 1718, the city retains a lot of the character and culture of it’s original founders.
There are plenty of places to go for engagement sessions, and one of our favorites is this bar that’s been open since 1732. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is right on Bourbon St, and a great spot to start an engagement session or a bar crawl for your wedding or bachelor/bachelorette party. You’ll find all of the craziness during Mardi Gras right on Bourbon Street, pretty much year-round.
Open 24 hours a day, the bar doesn’t close. With an open-air feel, the history of the bar shines in the exposed brick and the old shutters. Jared and JP often frequent here for a drink after work or before heading to some of the gay bars in the Quarter.
Engagement sessions always work best, in my mind, when you let couples be themselves and foster vulnerability and confidence. This requires a feeling of safety first and foremost. Breaking the ice, being humble, friendly, reading the room (always, especially as people come in and out or the environment changes). There’s a lot to navigating just letting folks be themselves in the most natural of ways. Sometimes it’s pure patience, and reassurance by providing some sneaks to the back of the camera.
With Jared and JB it was super easy. The two just genuinely love each other. Whether it’s highs or lows for them, they choose each other. Love at its core really is making the constant choice to love one another, and these two embody that.
Their love goes deeper for just one another. This city is their playground and filled with a community they deeply love. Walking around, we had a harder time bumping into people the two didn’t know versus folks they knew. Everywhere we went, the two kept greeting us and giving hugs.
One of our favorite hotels, Le Richelieu Hotel, is located right in the Quarter. With a pool in the courtyard, and historic rooms.
Walking around the French Quarter is the perfect way to do an engagement session. No two sessions will ever look alike, there are so many nooks and crannies throughout the corner and tons of beautiful backdrops.
With old brick, historic buildings and tons of greenery, the French Quarter gives a wedding photographer tons of gorgeous spaces to snag beautiful images. Stopping in and out of bars, restaurants, hotels, and courtyards, there are endless possibilities for images just walking around for 10 or 15 minutes.
Make your way out into the Quarter when it’s not jam-packed with people. As a wedding photographer, knowing the times of second lines, and other parades that might make an engagement session either more challenging or more fun is always really important.
Whether you’re running around the sidewalks or jumping in the street and joining a second line or a parade, enjoy the French Quarter and let your couple decide the vibe of their session. You can either go super intimate with all the nooks and crannies, the alleyways or go wild with the second lines and parades. You must check out Royat Street while you’re in the Big Easy.
While Bourbon Street is definitely a tourist favorite, run around to a few other neighborhoods, and streets. With art galleries and tons of beautiful nooks, dart down St. Philips Street, or Dumaine Street. The VooDoo Museum is located on Dumaine, along with Tennessee Williams’ old house.
Be mindful that much of the Quarter is private property and some of the areas require a permit. In particular, Jackson Square requires a permit and park staff do enforce it. Beautiful engagement or wedding photography doesn’t require beautiful parks like Jackson Square though, just walking around you’ll find courtyards or other places that are equally beautiful and a little more unique. Esplanade Avenue is a favorite of mine and has more greenery on it than much of the Quarter does.
Next to Jackson Square, is St. Louis Cathedral, a national historic landmark. One of the oldest churches in the United States, it’s also absolutely stunning and one of the best places for a church wedding. There’s also the New Orleans Chapel for something a little more intimate.
Make sure to stop by Vieux Carré for a to-go cocktail and use the gorgeous balconies to your advantage. The balconies remind me of small cities in France, romantic, beautiful, historic balconies. Many have plants and will be dressed for different holidays.
You can go down to the Mississippi River after venturing through the world famous Cafe Du Monde. It’s a short walk from the Quarter and there’s a stunning view of the bridge and the river. Up the river, Baton Rouge is a little more modern and built up by comparison. The capitol is another great spot for city-view and urban engagement sessions.
While New Orleans has grown quite a bit over the years, the French Quarter is also the oldest neighborhood in the city. With very little reconstruction to the exterior of buildings and meticulous preservation, there are times when walking down the street will feel like walking back in history.
During the 19th century, jazz blossomed in the French Quarter. To this day you’ll still find some of the greatest jazz musicians playing live music on a street corner or in a cafe. Jazz isn’t the only form of art that comes from the Quarter — there are tons of visual artists and poets offering their art all over.
N Rampart Street is the northern border of the French Quarter, with the Mississippi River as the southern border. N Rampart Street is also where you’ll find Louis Armstrong Park, a gorgeous park dedicated to jazz legends. Definitely check out some of the creole cottages along Royal Street and Decatur Street.
There’s so much color and vibrancy in New Orleans. Whether we’re talking about people, food, music or landscapes and buildings, the city is one of the most vibrant cities out there. Stumbling around the city you’ll find historic buildings and beignets, crawfish. You can’t go wrong with any restaurant — coffee and food is a treat.
We absolutely loved Cafe du Monde and talk about it in another blog post, as well as some of the more hidden spots we’ll keep secret, potentially. Honestly, don’t go by Yelp or anything. Walk around the Quarter and just find something that looks good — there are plenty of options.
Going to their favorite places, I learned that people-watching is pure gold in the Quarter. Grab a book and head to any corner you like and pop a squat to read or find a good bench to hunker down on. There are tons of artists and musicians to settle down near to enjoy while you read your favorite book.
You can always head over to the river to enjoy some water and grab a coffee from Cafe du Monde, don’t forget your beignets. Staying in the quarter is such a treat, but we also love the Hotel Pontchartrain which is just a trolley ride away.
If you loved joining us as Jared and JB ran around the French Quarter, check out this blog post about French Quarter New Orleans wedding venues.