Toledo/Northwest Ohio Photo Locations
January 18, 2022
We are blessed in our region with breathtaking waterfront views and unique landmarks … making for absolutely beautiful professional photo opportunities! To help you prepare for your upcoming portrait session, I am pleased to share this guide of some of my favorite Toledo/Northwest Ohio photo locations!
The most common question I receive after a client books a portrait session with me is, “do you have any recommendations for locations?” The answer is YES! I first survey my clients about their visual interests and preferred aesthetic or “vibe” for their portrait results. Are they seeking an urban style with architectural features, or do they prefer a prairie of flowers and tall grasses? Things to also consider include their home decor style and color palette … although I am a lover of soft tones and neutral textures!
Even more important than the “backdrop” of the location, I prioritize the availability of LIGHT. Since I love to photograph outdoors, abundant light is always best! Photography is the recording of light … so it is a must to achieve the results you will consistently see in my work. Keep in mind that the light and the weather conditions are ever-changing. At the time of the session, I will utilize the light creatively to design a cohesive gallery full of beautiful images which capture your emotions.
It is important to obtain permission to photograph at any location. Photographers and clients alike must be respectful of any rules on the grounds and to secure any necessary permits well in advance. Some locations may require an admission or permit fee, so plan accordingly!
Here are a few of my favorite Toledo/Northwest Ohio photo locations.
Toledo Museum of Art
Everyone loves the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) for the grand staircase and substantial columns. BONUS: ALLLLL the beautiful paths and surrounding landscape on the grounds!
Toledo Botanical Garden
Each time I visit the Toledo Botanical Garden, the scenery changes. Florals bloom at different times, but the structures on the grounds are beautiful no matter the time of year.
The go-to for a truly urban feeling. With tall buildings, exposed brick, and unique structures everywhere you look, downtown Toledo is a whole vibe.
The perfect mix of urban and natural landscape, Middlegrounds Metropark is placed just beneath the magnificent blue Anthony Wayne (commonly called High Level) Bridge.
Wildwood Preserve Metropark
Lovely walking trails, a covered bridge, and The Manor House with its lovely surrounding garden makes Wildwood Preserve Metropark a nice Toledo location. What I love most about it … a white carriage house and the landscape of pretty florals. Just overlook that the building now houses the public restrooms. ☺️
The Toledo Zoo
A great example of a place to secure permission to photograph on the grounds after you pay your admission each visit. But, what could be better than historic buildings surrounded by beautiful creatures at The Toledo Zoo??
Maumee Bay State Park
Maumee Bay State Park is probably the most requested location at which I will photograph each season. There is such variety … with unique photo opportunities at sunrise and sunset. Breathtaking views of Lake Erie, tall grasses, rocky landscapes, and eye-catching structures make this a fantastic location choice!
Full of tall grasses and wildflowers during the summer months, Pearson Park has a lovely natural landscape for portraits.
Port Clinton, Ohio
Downtown Port Clinton
One of the stops along the Lake Erie coast, The City of Port Clinton offers a public beach and fun architectural backdrops within walking distance! We are so lucky to have these waterfront communities in our back yard!
Gideon Owen Wine Company
If nothing else, make your dinner reservations here following your sunset portrait session! The owners of the historic Gideon Owen Wine Company in Catawba Island have graciously allowed me to use their breathtaking grounds. Many updates and additions have been made to the facility in recent years … making it a beautiful venue for weddings and other special events! (P.S. I frequently photograph these weddings! 😉) Again, always request permission before you arrive.
Twin Oast Brewing
A sister company to Gideon Owen Wine Company, Twin Oast Brewery is a place you will want to visit again and again in every season! Featuring two oasts (kilns used for drying hops), the grounds are covered in beautiful perennials leading down a stone staircase. GOR-GEOUS. Take a walk through the orchards which boast vibrant colors in the fall. P.S. … rent a heated igloo during the winter months for a unique dining experience!
East Harbor State Park
In my opinion, the light filtered through the trees along East Harbor’s beach is some of the prettiest around. I love some good reflective light bouncing off the sand, helping me to achieve that sunny glow which is sought after.
Lakeside Chautauqua is a historic community that offers a variety of activities year-round for both families and groups of all sizes. Oh … and it’s BEAUTIFUL. Plan ahead for parking and your admission during the peak season.
The lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on Lake Erie and is a sight to be seen in Marblehead, Ohio. Enjoy views of Cedar Point and a unique bend around the coast. While the lighthouse is unique to see, the grounds are also particularly appealing for a photographer to be creative.
A downtown location with a classy, small-community charm. Perrysburg offers some unique storefronts, small alleys, and overlooks to the Maumee River at the local parks – all within walking distance.
Oak Openings Metropark Preserve
This Metropark located in Swanton, Ohio is the largest of the Toledo-area parks. Affectionately known as “The Spot”, thousands of pine trees planted in straight rows make for a visually appealing backdrop. If you are interested in photos here, plan for them sooner rather than later! These pines are not native to the region and are nearing the end of their life. They are especially impressive along the trail which divides the pines from the deciduous trees. A very unique, calming spot to visit!
Another waterfront city offers unique lake views and super cool warehouse buildings downtown. Check out the pier at the community park.
For those local to Fremont, there are some pretty cool buildings with lots of character, as well as a black and white wall mural honoring a local artist.
Speaking of murals … Sylvania has some pretty bold features right downtown! Additionally, Heritage Sylvania has some really neat historical buildings which are well-maintained.
I love this charming town … very close to my place of business and a place where I frequently like to shop at the local boutiques! Storefronts are unique (especially my fave, Whimsy and Blue, which is painted to match its name), and the exposed brick alley is perfect for any session. Within walking distance are two unique bridges over the Portage River.
Creek Bend Farm
Operated by the Sandusky County Park District, Creek Bend Farm offers scenic, short paths among tall grasses, wildflowers, and a stream. Beautiful red barns are a highlight on the grounds, in addition to a lovely small wooden walking bridge.
Local Flower Farms & Greenhouses
Visit these local stops for a colorful backdrop! Call ahead to inquire about a creative fee to use the grounds, and be sure to patronize the shops or flower farm during your visit! These are great options for covered sessions during rainy weather and are great considerations for seasonal sessions!
Bench’s Greenhouse & Nursery
GardenView Flowers U-Pick Farm
Hoen’s Garden Center
A great way to celebrate the accomplishments of a graduate, to honor your alma mater, … or to do an unrelated session among the very unique architecture!
The University of Toledo
Bowling Green State University
Private Residences & Indoor Photo Locations
Lifestyle sessions at private residences offer the most personal touches in terms of location for your portrait session … allowing you to feel the most comfortable in your home environment. This is particularly special for newborn lifestyle sessions.
When weather is a factor, you may seek indoor options. Aside from indoor studio rentals, rental properties, hotels, and public restaurants or coffee shops are great options. Consider a local business or warehouse space which has unique character, like tall windows and original hardwood floors. Additionally, local museums or lobbies may have great opportunities for ample light.
Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion
Beyond Northwest Ohio
I am always up for traveling and exploring new spaces to get creative! Contact Amy Simkus Photography today for a customized portrait session quote!
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Interested in booking a portrait session at one of these Toledo/Northwest Ohio photo locations or beyond? Contact Amy Simkus Photography today to inquire!
The content in this post is solely based upon the personal experience and opinion of Amy Simkus. Amy Simkus Photography is not in receipt of any compensation for any endorsement within this post.