My Top Five Spots for Asheville Photo Sessions

There is a reason people come to visit Asheville and the WNC area, and it is more than just beer. It is gorgeous here! We have seasons, four glorious seasons. As a family photographer, obviously Spring and Fall are my favorite. There is moderate weather, longer days, beautiful wildflowers, and an insane leaf season. So many opportunities for family portraits that really capture the elements and the vitality of Asheville, North Carolina.

When writing this post, I was having a hard time narrowing down my top five places that I love to do family photoshoots. Asheville is wonderful, but so is Brevard, Hendersonville, Weaverville, Lake Lure, Fairview…I could keep going. Exploring this area just never gets old. Whenever a client books me as their family photographer, I always take the time to figure out what is important to them as a family, and what kind of photos they are wanting me to capture.

I always get super excited when a family says they want a family photographer that can not only capture the beautiful landscape, but also create a story through photos of where they are in their journey. Photography is so important to me because it freezes time, even if just for a moment. I love being able to get photos of couples before their family grows, or families just after they have had their first, second, third baby. And then there are the families that have teenagers about to start their own journey and the family wants photographs to document this huge moment in time. And of course photos of pets are always the cherry on top.

And Asheville is just the most perfect backdrop for all of these moments. So, let’s get down to business. You have decided to hire a family photographer. You have found the perfect fit, a photographer whose style matches the photos you are envisioning. You have set a date. Now, a crucial element, location.

Before we get to my favorite locations for Asheville family photo sessions, take a moment to consider your family’s capabilities. Is your partner, child, or pet going to be happy and photo ready after an hour drive on a windy road up the Blue Ridge mountains? Is it essential to have mountain views, or would an open field with flowers be more your vibe? Do you want the drama of a cascading waterfall, or are you worried that your three year old is going to slip on the rocks?

These are a few things to consider, and I would highly recommend looking at your photographer’s portfolio and seeing what locations you might love from their previous family photoshoots. Google is your best friend, and Alltrails can be a super helpful app if you are considering a hike or adventure family session.

So, after a few trials and errors, I give you my top five favorite places for photos in the Asheville and surrounding areas.

Man and woman in wedding dress kiss in front of waterfall during an elopement in Asheville, NC.
Man and woman hold hands and flowers in the air while facing waterfall during Asheville elopement.
A man and woman face tall waterfall during elopement ceremony in Asheville, NC.
Black and white image of a man and woman kissing in front of waterfall after elopement in Asheville.

#1 - WNC Waterfalls

There are so many waterfalls in this area and they are all magical. Some are harder to get to. Some are a farther drive. A few you can drive right up to. Some are hidden and require a good bit of hiking. But each and every one is a stunning backdrop for family photos, or couples, or senior portraits. If you are looking for a unique and adventurous family photo session this clicks both boxes. A few things to consider when booking a waterfall photoshoot. Depending on the waterfall and the season, it can get really crowded during peak days/times. Try going on a weekday either really early or as close to sunset as possible. Also plan ahead for the conditions. There could be weather. There is also almost always a mist from the larger waterfalls. And occasionally there is a wet foot from a slip or maybe you get the urge to take a dip or run under the falls. Bring extra clothes, and snacks, always snacks.

Man and woman embrace with mountains behind them and clouds surrounding them in Asheville, NC.
Man in uniform hugs woman as she looks at photographer during mountain elopement session.
Close up of two hands holding with mountains behind during Blue Ridge Parkway photoshoot.
Man and woman kiss with Blue Ridge Mountains behind them during elopement ceremony in Asheville.

#2 - Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway never gets old to me. It is amazing how a mountainous road can be an attraction but it never disappoints. There are lots of places to simply park and take in the views. You can also find tons of places to hike and find the most amazing panoramic views of the seemingly endless mountains. Keep in mind that while the Blue Ridge Parkway is long and beautiful spots are abundant, many are popular and can get really crowded. If it is rainy or depending on the time of day/year it can also get really foggy and that fog can be thick, completely obstructing the view. Also, be prepared to drive about 2 miles an hour during leaf season when people come in droves for a chance to view the foliage.

Mom in orange dress holds child sucking thumb with colorful trees in background.
Pregnant woman in purple dress cups belly standing among rocks and trees.
Mom and dad stand on gravel road as toddler looks at camera over their shoulder during family photoshoot.
Pregnant mom cups belly in purple dress standing in shadows with purple flowers around her.
Mother and father holding small son stand in field with colorful trees behind during Biltmore family photoshoot.

#3 - Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate is a huge tourist attraction to those visiting Asheville and to those that live here, and that’s because it is truly an amazing place. And although it brings in tons of people every day and can therefore get crowded, there are so many incredible spots to get family photos. There is a beautiful trail with mountain views, there is the lawn with the massive Biltmore house as your backdrop. There is the conservatory with amazing light and exotic plants, or the pond and lagoon with all kinds of nature. No matter what time of year, you can find a place with gorgeous flowers or views and because the grounds are so expansive, there are so many secret spots to avoid the crowds. As a local photographer, I have a season pass and can bring in guests after 5pm which is a perfect time for family photos at the Biltmore.

Two girls in white dresses lie in grass looking up at camera during senior portrait photo session in Asheville.
Two girls in white dresses stand on road with trees behind them during senior photo session.
Two girls sit on grassy hill with knees up looking at each other during photoshoot at NC Arboretum.
Girl with long blonde hair looks at camera as she leans against wall at the Asheville Arboretum.
Two girls in graduation gowns lean back to back on grassy hill during senior photoshoot in Asheville.

#4 - NC Arboretum

If the Biltmore seems a little overwhelming, the Arboretum located just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway is a great alternative. The property is stunning and offers such a variety for family photos. The gardens are always changing based on the season, and are immaculately maintained. There are fields that are perfect for picnics, as well as wooded trails that wind throughout the grounds as well as into the Pisgah National Forest. My favorite shots are sunsets with a peak of the mountains in the background. It is a perfect location for families, couples, or senior portraits.

Two young girls with blonde hair sit together on rock in stream during family photoshoot at Botanical Gardens.
Mother and father hold young child as they look down at him at stream at Asheville Botanical Gardens.
Young child with brown shirt sits on blanket in grass looking up during one year cake smash in Asheville.
Man and woman look into each other's eyes with woods and stream behind them during family photoshoot.
Man and woman hold young daughter with woods and bridge behind them during family photos in Asheville, NC.

#5 - Asheville Botanical Gardens

And if you really want to avoid crowds and tourists, another option could be the Asheville Botanical Gardens. Tucked away, just off of the main streets of downtown Asheville, and beside the University of North Carolina Asheville, it is a quaint little trail with natural gardens and native plants throughout. There are gazebos, bridges, fields, wooded trails, and rocks on the water, that are all perfect for family photo sessions. Each season brings something delightful to see there and it easy to get to, and accessible for younger kids, or older family members.

Mother with hat sits in grass with her three children around her during family photoshoot in Asheville.
Man and woman stand together in grass during sunset as they touch pregnant mom's belly at maternity photoshoot.
Pregnant woman stands in front of mountains with the sun shining around her belly during maternity photoshoot.
Man and pregnant woman hold hands facing each other with sunset behind them during maternity photos in Asheville.
Father and two sons sit on rocks with tree behind them during family photo session in Asheville, NC.

And...One More Secret Spot!

So there we have it, my top five spots for family photography in and around Asheville. But wait…if you have made it this far, I have one more secret spot. I can’t give an actual GPS location because then it wouldn’t be a secret, and it doesn’t really have a name, but it is located just a minute or so outside of downtown Asheville and is just the cutest little field with beautiful mountain views, gorgeous light, trees and rocks. It may be right beside a giant parking lot but you would never know it from the photos. It is such a perfect spot for convenient sunset photos without an hour long drive.

If you are on the fence about having your family photos done in Asheville, what are you waiting for? Choose one of these locations (none of them will disappoint), and book it. You won’t regret it, I promise!