Throwing Shade

These spots are photographers' best-kept-secrets for photo sessions on the Coast

A piano outside of Smith & Lens in downtown Bay St. Louis is a great place to stop and enjoy the music and snap photos.
A piano outside of Smith & Lens in downtown Bay St. Louis is a great place to stop and enjoy the music and snap photos.

When you’re a young journalist with a pretty nice camera and a lot of student loan debt, a side hustle is inevitable.

Lucky for me, photography is something I love.

In 2017, I booked more than 20 weddings and countless portrait sessions for clients in South Mississippi and beyond.

I love finding cool spots for photos that aren’t typical Coast cliche.

After all, you can only have so many portraits on the beach with everyone wearing white polo shirts and khakis.

Here’s a list of not-so-common places to take your family, high school senior, or future bride or groom for a portrait session with your favorite photographer.

‘Parking garage’ in Bay St. Louis

Parking garage 1
The Municipal Parking Garage at the Longfellow Civic Center on Court Street in Bay St. Louis is a great place for photo shoots. Justin Mitchell



The Longfellow Civic Center has come a long way since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the original building in a different part of town. Edgy and modern with clean lines and lots of greenery, the possibilities at this location are endless. Every section creates a different look, and I’ve used it for countless photo sessions, and the results are always unique. This is, without a doubt, my favorite place to take clients, especially people who are not from the Bay and have never seen the building.

Tip: Go on Sundays or at sunset during the week. It’s usually empty and you can really utilize the space. The center is often booked for weddings and other events and can’t be used during those times.

parking garage 3
The Municipal Parking Garage at the Longfellow Civic Center on Court Street in Bay St. Louis is a great place for photo shoots. Justin Mitchell



Parking garage 2
The Municipal Parking Garage at the Longfellow Civic Center on Court Street in Bay St. Louis is a great place for photo shoots. Justin Mitchell



‘Skate park’ in downtown Gulfport

If you have a high school student looking for cool portraits to share on Instagram and Twitter, go to the slab in downtown Gulfport where skateboarders practice and hang out with friends. The backdrop? People skating, the big Port of Gulfport cranes and the Mississippi Sound. I took my friend Cayce there for her senior portraits, and the end result was super fly.

Skate Park
If you're looking for a unique spot to take a cool senior for photos, the slab-turned-skate park in Gulfport is just the place. Justin Mitchell



Beach at sunset for soon-to-be mothers

Beach pictures can be a bit cliche for us Coasties, but I still love going out at low tide at sunset and taking photos of people. My favorite photos from the beach are expectant mothers. A long dress, flowy fabric, tide pools and the sunset create a stunning portrait that looks great on a canvas in baby’s new room.

Tip: The sun sets to the west, so take your client to the beach in Biloxi as the sun is going down over Bay St. Louis for the perfect silhouette picture.

Beach photography
Take pregnant clients to the beach at sunset, then edit the photo in black-and-white. You won't be sorry. Justin Mitchell.



If you are planning a family photo shoot on the beach, here are some tips of what not to do from one of our staff photographers.



Graffiti just off Beauvoir Road

Years ago, I wrote a story about artist Adam Cook, who painted concrete blocks in a vacant area off Beauvoir Road. The space is a best-kept secret among youngsters who want to take cool selfies. But you can use them for a super cool portrait session for kids or families.

Adam cook
Adam Cook believes in beautifying the world around him. He painted these murals on partial walls that remain from a building to add color and vibrancy to the deserted field. Amanda McCoy amccoy@sunherald.com File



Old Broadwater Sun golf course

It just looks like grass and trees from Pass Road, but the course is full of colorful shrubs, vines, overgrown pastures, mossy trees and a pond. I saw an alligator hanging out once in the summer, so be careful, but you can’t beat this course for an outdoorsy look. I’ve used it for couples and for maternity shoots.

Broadwater Sun Course
The location of the old Broadwater Sun golf course is a great spot for couples photography and pregnancy photography. Justin Mitchell



Coolest alley in downtown Biloxi

Downtown Biloxi alley
This alley in downtown Biloxi near the Kress building is great for fashion shots or senior portraits. Justin Mitchell



From senior sessions to fashion shoots to headshots, there’s an alley in downtown Biloxi that is awesome for street photography.

It’s located in the Vieux Marche, right across the street from the Kress building. I first stumbled upon the building years ago while I was at a bar in the area. I loved what it looked like at night and came back during the day to take some test shots. I’ve used it ever since.

One side is splattered with graffiti and white paint, and the other a clean, brick wall. There are lots of low-hanging electrical lines, so be careful.

Most recently, I used the alley to photograph my friend DeRae Graham, who writes a blog about her life called Shades of Shame.

Lot next to Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge

Yes, the spot where there’s a portable bathroom. Yes, the spots where you park your car. The overgrown, grassy lot is STUNNING in photographs. Trust me on this one.

OS lot 2
An overgrown lot across from the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge and Ocean Springs yacht club is a great spot for senior photography and bridal portraits. Justin Mitchell



OS lot 1
An overgrown lot across from the Biloxi - Ocean Springs bridge and Ocean Springs yacht club is a great spot for senior photography and bridal portraits. Justin Mitchell



Community garden in Bay St. Louis

The cool spot spearheaded by Elise Deano is so much fun for kids. It features plants, a community pantry, live chickens and cool rainbow beads. If your kids are into activities, there’s also a hopscotch area that’s fun for pictures.

Community garden
The community garden on Court Street in Bay St. Louis is a great place for a fun family photo session. Justin Mitchell



Your wedding venue

If you’re booking a bridal session before your wedding, try using your venue so your photographer has more time to explore it before the wedding day. Some venues I’ve photographed recently are the White House Hotel, The Camellia in north Hancock County and Oak Crest Mansion Inn in Pass Christian.

Tip: If you would like to use these venues, call about booking and pricing.

michelle rocky 1
The Camellia barn in north Hancock County is a new wedding and events venue. Justin Mitchell



White House Hotel
The White House Hotel in Biloxi is always a beautiful spot and has several different options for photos. Take bridals on the staircase and get a cool couple's shot at the bar. Do family portraits near the pool area in the green space outside. Justin Mitchell



Camellia
The property at The Camellia barn in northern Hancock County is worth the drive for a photo session. Justin Mitchell



Downtown areas in general

Downtown Gulfport buildings
Old, uninhabited buildings in downtown Gulfport are the perfect spots for bridal photography. Justin Mitchell



From Fishbone Alley in downtown Gulfport to the Government Street in downtown Ocean Springs, using your favorite watering hole or your favorite coffee spot as a backdrop for photos can be really fun and quite unique.

Don’t be afraid to take photos at your favorite spot. Most businesses love it and will let you take photographs inside and outside of the establishment. It’s always polite to call and ask first, though.

downtown bay greenery
The greenery outside of the Mockingbird Cafe and Smith & Lens in downtown Bay St. Louis is perfect for photo sessions. Justin Mitchell



Government Street Grocery
The patio or outside of a bar can provide cool color and fun lighting for a couple's shoot. Justin Mitchell



New Orleans

New Orleans
Take a couple or family to the streets of New Orleans for a photo session. It's worth the drive. Justin Mitchell



The drive isn’t far, and I love the vibe of the city. Find a band playing on the streets in downtown during a busy weekend and tell your couple to dance, if they’re cool with that short of thing.



Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @JustinMitchell_

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