A few weeks ago, just before the holidays, I photographed a mini-engagement session for some new friends at Austin’s French Legation. As I mentioned before in my other blog, the French Legation is significant in many ways; in 1839 France recognized The Republic of Texas as an independent nation and entered into an alliance treaty with the new republic. France soon sent a special envoy to Austin, Texas – Jean Pierre Isador Alphonse Dubois de Saligny with the special title of chargé d’affaires. He wasted no time contracting the building of the French Legation to Texas, which still stands in the hills just above downtown, east of IH-35.
The couple selected the location from my “Recommended Austin Locations” list that I share with clients and they loved the place. It has great views of the city, plenty of greenery (and in this case, colorful fall/winter leaves too), as well as the historic houses which have been standing for 100+ years.
As I mentioned before, the French Legation has a friendly, talkative staff, including Franke and Sarah, who are helpful and eager to discuss Austin’s history. They are always eager to share information, discuss history with you and give tours and the designated hours of operation. I highly recommend stopping by for a tour of the French Legation. You can also become a “Friend of the French Legation”. Austin French Legation Website: http://www.frenchlegationmuseum.org/
Through a promotion that Austin Americana ran a few months back on Localiter, I had the privilege of meeting Angelica and Cesar, a cute couple with a great story and a lot of affection for one another. They met while she visited Chile (he is from Chile, she from Texas) and fell in love. Now they both live in Austin and love the South Congress area (SoCo, as it is lovingly referred to by locals).
To them, SoCo represents all that is weird and fun about Austin and it’s a place where they’ve had some special dates together. And what else could a person want? There are resale shops, famous hotels (Hotel San Jose), festivals/First Thursday, pizza (Home Slice), Ice Cream (Amy’s), and so much more. So naturally the couple decided that South Congress should be where they get photographed for their engagement session.
We all met up on a cool, windy December afternoon and strolled down South Congress after meeting up at Guero’s Taco Bar, probably one of the most well known attractions in SoCo. Angelica and Cesar had a few things/spots in mind that they wanted to capture in their engagement photo session. These included Amy’s Ice Cream, Home Slice, The Virgin Mural, and some shots of them crossing the street. I think we were able to capture some great stuff. You be the judge…
In the past few years I’ve photographed lots of brides and engaged couples at Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin, Texas. Obviously I can’t share all the photos from these shoots, but I wanted to show off some of the variety of photographs that are possible when shooting at Zilker.
The park has to be one of the most popular places for photography of any kind in Austin. Not only is it a huge repository for plant life centered in Travis County (which is why people are drawn to it) but it’s also one of Austin’s little jewels that’s been around for many years. I’m pretty sure that the creators of Zilker never intended it to be one of the foremost popular venues for photography around Austin, but that’s what it’s become.
ZBG features many different plant species and specific garden areas that are dedicated to a particular theme or cultural plant cultivation, if you will. For example, one of the popular areas of Zilker is the Japanese Garden, which features Koi-filled fish ponds, stone trails leading around bamboo gardens and a structure made of stone and bamboo that only could fit into a Japanese garden . The entire area is shaded by trees and feels like being in another world.
Zilker also features a beautiful rose garden where weddings frequently occur. Colorful roses line the concrete paths that wind down the hill from the main entrance of the park. The Rose Garden area is very open, located at the edge of the tree line bordering the Japanese Garden. It also features a red and white gazebo next to fish ponds and a historic brick structure in the shape of a keyhole that has been apparently transplanted from historic downtown Austin.
Other areas featured at ZBG are the Prehistoric Gardens further down the hill from the main office, which feature “old world” plants, pools and even a beautiful, natural-looking water fall. Toward the front of the park is an area that contains historic Central Texas pioneer homes and work areas made of wood.
Ultimately there are many, many different areas of the Garden that offer photography opportunities for brides or couples. After visiting and photographing friends and family there for years I’ve grown to love and appreciate Zilker for the beautiful part of Austin that it has always been and hopefully will always be!
Things you’ll need to bring if you photograph a bride or couple at Zilker:
- Payment for photographing someone at ZBG
- Bug/Mosquito repellant
- Sun block
-Comfortable walking shoes (ZBG has lots of trails)
- Patience. If the park is busy, you may have to wait for that perfect shot! :)
Hints/Tips: Arrive early and check park closure times (which change with daylight savings time). Park staff require visitors to leave 30 minutes prior to gate closure.
Martin Whitton is a passionate wedding photojournalist who lives and works in Austin, Texas. Email your questions to him at email@example.com.
Town Lake (aka, “Lady Bird Lake”) is one of Austin’s most precious resources and one of her not-so-hidden gems. And it’s one of my favorite outdoor locations to take brides and grooms for engagement photography sessions!
Downloadable PDF trail map here.
Some of the wonderful features offered by the lake are its convenience (located in the heart of Austin near downtown), beauty, cleanliness (clean water, air, environment, etc.), trails for hiking and walking, open space and so much more. I like it for all those reasons and because it makes my photographed subjects (usually newly engaged couples) feel relaxed and somewhat connected to nature, a feeling which manifests in the photos.
The lake is named after Lady Bird Johnson who was chair of the Town Lake Beautification Project, a community effort to create hike and bike trails and to plant flowering trees along the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. Mrs. Johnson is also the founder of the National Wildflower Research Center, a non-profit environmental organization formed in 1982.
Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake), downstream and south of the Highland Lakes on the Colorado River, was formed in 1960 by the construction of Longhorn Dam. The surface area covered by the lake is over 400 acres and is owned and operated by the City of Austin in cooperation with the Lower Colorado River Authority. It was created by the City of Austin for the purpose of being a cooling pond for the Holly Street Power Plant.
In the early 1970s the Town Lake Beautification Project was a recommendation made to the Austin City Council in commemoration of the upcoming United States Bicentennial Celebration which would occur in 1976. In 1971 when Roy Butler became Mayor of Austin, he began working with Lady Bird Johnson to form what would later become the Town Lake Beautification Committee. Mrs. Johnson was a primary contributor to the effort of improving the then “Town Lake”, which had become polluted with chemicals from area industry, littered with trash and had been left derelict without major oversight. In 1971, with the assistance of members including Emma Long, Jim Pfluger and Mrs. Roy Butler, the Town Lake Beautification Committee was officially off and running.
With the support of the local community and with new dams in place on the Highland Lakes, the sole purpose and goal of the project was to beautify the banks of Town Lake with trees and trails for Austinites to enjoy. A $2.5 million dollar Capital Improvement Project bond for the years 1975-1977, approved by tax payers provided funding for the undertaking. Town Lake Metropolitan Park resulted as a dividend of the committee’s hard work and foresight – covering an estimated 5 miles of the north and south shores of the lake. The park includes numerous sports parks, outdoor event venues (Auditorium Shores), boat/kayak/canoe rental locations, swimming pools, picnic tables with grills, miles of running trails, pedestrian bridges (one currently under construction), restrooms, Butler Park (on the south side), many varieties of trees, look out points and more.
More History from Wikipedia:
By the 1970s, Town Lake and its shoreline had become neglected, polluted and overgrown with weeds. KTBC referred to the lake as an “eyesore.” During his two terms in office (1971–1975), the Mayor of Austin Roy Butler partnered with former United States First Lady Lady Bird Johnson to establish the Town Lake Beautification Committee with the purpose of transforming the Town Lake area into a useable recreation area. A system of hike and bike trails was built along the shoreline of the lake in the 1970s, establishing (what was then known as) Town Lake as a major recreational attraction for the city of Austin.
One of the most popular features of Metropolitan Park are the miles of hike and bike trails which run along both sides of Town Lake and allow runners and bikers a continuous exercise trail with the best view in town. Living a healthy lifestyle (including regular outdoor exercise) is considered to be in vogue in Austin, as is being seen on the hike and bike trail around Town Lake. Even celebrities like Luke Wilson, Lance Armstrong and our own Texas Governor, Rick Perry are rumored to be runners on Town Lake.
Many people know that the Colorado River is the primary source of water for Town Lake; however, there are also natural artesian springs near Deep Eddy which also act as a source of water for the lake. Today these natural springs are covered by the lake but still flow and can be seen by boat. Only sailing, rowing, kayaking, canoeing and other non-motorized water sports are permitted on Town Lake. Motorized craft of any kind (other than those specially authorized by the City of Austin are not allowed on any part of Town Lake.
Town Lake officially became “Lady Bird Lake” in July 2007 when Austin’s City Council unanimously affirmed the resolution.
Martin Whitton Photography is pleased to announce the release of our beautiful, new wedding book: The Engagement Guestbook!
So, what is it? Well, The Engagement Guestbook is a hardback, coffee table style book which incorporates engagement photos of the couple-to-be along with lined, decorative pages for wedding guests to write personal messages to the bride and groom.
What’s exciting and different about the The Engagement Guestbook you ask? Well, for starters it’s a brand new idea and a new trend in wedding photography to have what our special book provides. Many brides display a framed engagement print at their wedding and also have a special guestbook for guests to write personal notes in. But The Engagement Guestbook combines both of these concepts: Beautiful, personalized photos of the couples’ engagement bound in a hardback book that includes space for guests to write special messages during the wedding ceremony/reception. How great is that?!
Imagine beautiful photos of you and your fiance’ captured by professional photojournalist Martin Whitton. Martin carefully plans every detail of your engagement session at one of the many sought-after venues in and around Austin, photographs you and your fiance’ with style and grace, and then designs your Engagement Guestbook using exciting photographs from your shoot.
We’ve teamed up with new album design professionals to offer the Engagement Guestbook to brides-to-be in the Central Texas Area at an affordable price. Martin Whitton Photography offers you access to samples one of our new books upon request as well. Check out the photos and email or call for details about how you can have your Engagement Guestbook designed and delivered on or before wedding day! We know you’re going to love it!
Martin Whitton is an accomplished wedding photojournalist who lives and works in Austin, Texas. Schedule your own personal photo session with Martin by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.