I'm Dolly — a Nashville based family & branding photographer AND a systems + workflow educator (and Podcast Host) for creatives who want to be more streamlined and organized with Systems, Workflows & SOPS to better impact the backend of their businesses. I'm here to help you look awesome (for your photos) & feel great about workflows!
Greetings to all families who are planning out their next (or first) trip to Music City, USA! If you’re envisioning capturing some family portraits in the heart of Nashville, you’re in for a treat. Join me, Dolly DeLong, your trusted Nashville, Tennessee, and Franklin Family photographer, as I unveil invaluable insights to make your family photography trip a more streamlined experience. From optimal timing for your shoot to permits, navigating various city areas, and parking fees, let’s delve into helpful tips for orchestrating your dream family photoshoot in Nashville and its surrounding areas. After all, I want you to enjoy the photo session experience and not dread it!
When it comes to family photos, the timing is important. Nashville’s distinct seasons offer scenic and gorgeous backdrops for your portraits. Whether it’s the bloom of spring, the golden hues of fall, the warm embrace of summer, or the coziness of winter, align your shoot with the season that echoes your family’s personality!
Now, getting photos of your family may be in a short window of time (because you may be cramming in a lot of touristy things to do because you’re in Nashville) so factor in a backup location in the event of RAIN! Sure, the season of the year may be perfect, but sometimes Tennessee weather can literally take you for an emotional rollercoaster of seasonal feelings (like for example one day it’s in the 60s, and the next day the heat index is a blazing 100,000,000 million degrees, and then the next day is a Monsoon with Tornado warnings)
I mean, I love Nashville and all, but goodness gracious with the weather!
*For me, the best times of the day I like to shoot are = early in the morning and 1 to 2 hours before Sunset!*
So be sure to be super mindful of any potential weather conditions and be open to renting out an indoor space in the event shooting outdoors is not feasible!
(For example, below is a Nashville studio rental space that families can rent for their photography sessions, so be able to think OUTSIDE of the box if you want to take family photos but you know that the weather may be iffy):
Before your photography venture, acquaint yourself with the permit requisites of your chosen location. Nashville showcases an array of iconic venues – from parks to historic sites. Research and prepare for the permitting process to ensure a seamless photoshoot experience devoid of unexpected hiccups.
Nothing is more embarrassing to your potential photographer than you all show up to a specific location and have to leave because no one knew that a permit was required (and certain areas of Nashville have cracked down on annoying video production teams + photographers who do not abide by the permit rules).
So be mindful of this one puzzle piece when planning out your Nashville family photography session (and of course, ask your preferred photographer you are booking, he or she should be able to help you navigate this specific planning piece seamlessly!)
A tangible example is this = Cheekwood Gardens is a popular photography destination for many visiting families, but Cheekwood requires a photography permit of at least $300 to shoot there (which is understandable)! So be sure to do your research AHEAD of time when planning your Nashville family photography session! Here are some of my favorite Cheekwood images I did for a family who was visiting from California:
While Nashville’s gems may seem proximate on a map, consider the driving duration between destinations. Unpredictable traffic can disrupt your shoot’s flow. Skillfully design your itinerary, allowing for ample travel time. This guarantees a relaxed, unhurried photoshoot and minimizes undue stress.
Another thing to consider is this; if you decide you want to do hair and makeup for your session you need to factor in the time it takes to do hair and makeup, where you will get your hair and makeup done, and how long it will take for you to drive to the location of your shoot.
Although everything looks very close together on maps, it actually can take upwards of 45 minutes to an hour to get from North Nashville to South Nashville.
EXAMPLE: I only bring this up because you may want to shoot at the Scenic downtown Nashville Bridge and then you may want some Downtown Historic Franklin photos in your session as well (there is a huge driving time between these sessions plus the factor of finding parking plus factor in the day of the week it is)!
Photo example (downtown Nashville and Franklin) (side by side)
Though downtown Nashville offers a captivating backdrop, steer clear of weekend events and bustling crowds. In 2022, over 15 Million (YES MILLION) people visited Nashville because it is and continues to grow in popularity not only for its music scene but there are so many things to do in Nashville (outdoors, college + pro sports, colleges, academics, the food scene, etc.)
And 1,000s of people are crawling all over downtown Nashville over the weekends, so why not consider opting for a weekday session to capture the city’s iconic skyline sans the weekend hustle and bustle?
Another thing to consider is the time of day to photograph your family photography session! I would recommend an EARLY morning session (that way you are beating the heat in the spring, summer, and early Fall) and you are beating a lot of crowds and traffic as well! This example below was taken in the middle of the day during the WEEK when a lot of tourists were actually INSIDE (because of the heat + and because there were not any events)! So this was an ideal time to take Downtown Nashville Family Photos!
In your preparations, account for parking fees in your budget. As with any thriving city, Nashville’s parking expenses can accumulate. By accounting for these costs, you’ll eliminate financial surprises and ensure smooth transitions between various photoshoot locations.
I always recommend that families get an Uber when navigating in downtown Nashville for their photo session (that way they do not have to worry about parking). And they can just be dropped off at the specific photo location.
Another facet to consider is this, this was mentioned in a previous point, but you also need to consider budgeting for a permit (just in case the location you desire to shoot at requires a permit), and also factor in a hair and makeup artist to work with just in case these are milestone photos that you want to treasure in the years to come.
You can also consider hiring a professional stylist for your family photos just in case you want these photos to be elevated and more timeless (This is actually quite a popular option for visiting families!)
I know that there are so many more factors to consider when planning out your family photography session in Nashville, Tennesee, but these are the top five points I love sharing with families who are planning a fun trip to Music City!
I am so fortunate to get to serve families from all over the United States who are visiting Nashville for the first time, and I want to make sure that they have an amazing and wonderful experience in my city! So I will leave you with this point: the most important thing I want to convey is this = Have fun at your photo session and make sure you stay super communicative with your preferred Nashville family photographer so that they know how to best serve you and your family!
Okay so now that you have been armed with tips to help you prepare for a Nashville family photography session, I also wanted to share another popular blog post on my favorite Nashville locations to photograph family portraits! Check it out below ⬇️
🔖If you would like to read further blog posts on how to prep for your family sessions check out this blog post:
Dolly DeLong is a Nashville-based branding photographer for small business owners, a family photographer, and a creative business owner who educates other creative business owners on all things systems, SOPs, and workflows. Dolly loves serving business owners + families with her bold, elevated, and radiant photography. She also loves educating other creative business owners on how to set up systems and workflows that will ultimately help them save time in their business. She does this by producing weekly blog posts and weekly podcast episodes on The Systems & Workflow Magic Podcast.
She has a heart for serving the larger business community. Dolly shares her knowledge of tools like Dubsado, Email Marketing, and Business Systems with new creative business owners & family photographers in an encouraging and supportive way because she believes that anyone can find joy in systems, workflows, and SOPS! Plus BONUS: Systems is where the MAGIC happens! You CAN streamline & automate the backend of your creative business with ease!
Dolly’s faith and love for her family motivate her to help other business owners find the joy and freedom she’s found in running a successful small business.
Whenever she has a spare moment, she enjoys watching TV (i.e. Survivor), loves eating way too many sweets, and listens to podcasts while running or walking. To work with Dolly DeLong Photography for a branding photography session, fill out her contact form
Or maybe you're not really sure how you'd use your new collection of branded images? Download my free planning guide to learn how to plan an elevated brand photography session to impact your business!