Say “Cheese!” If you are looking for the best places to take pictures — or if you’re thinking about jumping into the Memphis photography scene — look no further. We’ve got your guide to all things photography right here.
Memphis is an amateur photographer’s dream come true. Majestic river vistas and a downtown bathed in neon lights make striking backdrops for selfies, quick-action pictures and panoramic photos alike. While the whole town is photogenic, there are certain landmarks that really show off our good side. And, frankly, they make taking pictures an absolute dream.
If you haven’t discovered them yet, here are 10 spots that lend themselves well to a camera lens. (And just for fun, we’ve included a few bonus spots as well!)
Wolf River Greenway
Although you may not associate Memphis with greenery, there’s plenty of nature to be found throughout the Bluff City. One of the best ways to get a view of our softer side is to visit the Wolf River Greenway, which features more than 36 miles of trails and connects the communities bordering the bottomlands, hardwood forest and wetland areas around its namesake river.
(Humphreys Blvd. between Walnut Grove and Shady Grove)
Not far from the Wolf River Greenway, Shelby Farms Park might be the best location for playground photos in the South. But don’t just take our word for it — the Woodland Conservancy Park was named one of the “16 Best Playgrounds in the World” by Mental Floss magazine. What’s more, the surrounding woods, lakes, and wetlands offer myriad opportunities to catch some additional nature shots. The key word when it comes to Shelby Farms: variety. One photoshoot here can make it look like you visited several locations.
(500 North Pine Lake Drive, Memphis, TN 38134)
Heart Bridge Crosstown
Memphis is a city filled with beautiful murals by extremely talented artists. Take this one, for example. (Though the question really should be, who doesn’t love Memphis?) Check out the highly appealing “I love Memphis” mural at Heart Bridge Crosstown. The mural is big in size and is great for a group shot with your friends. Just be sure to #BringYourSoul when you go!
Location: 419 N. Watkins Street
Mud Island River Park
River views and city views? Yes, please! Mud Island blends urban surroundings with natural features in a major way. With the Memphis skyline on one side and the Mississippi River on the other, you can’t screw up a scenic shot here! Don’t forget to check out the scale model of the Lower Mississippi River while you’re in the area. The pavilion on-site once hosted the Memphis Belle.
(125 North Front Street)
South Main Arts District
If you prefer your urban scenes with historical context, the South Main Arts District makes an excellent canvas. Public art pieces and city landmarks like the National Civil Rights Hall of Fame will bring a depth to your photos that’s hard to ignore. This location is perfect if you’re looking for unique-to-the-city backdrops that resemble giant art pieces or cool, old school architecture. If you take photos here, you really will create one-of-a-kind art that drips with Memphis magic.
(South Main St. and G.E. Patterson)
It may seem odd or even a little morbid at first, since photographing at a cemetery isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this really is one of the most photographic spots in Memphis. Hint: It’s really incredible in the fall. If it sounds right up your alley, Elmwood Cemetery’s unique grave markers and numerous sculptures give off a picturesque serenity you won’t want to miss. The fact that the grounds are also home to a bird sanctuary and an arboretum brings even more beauty to the peaceful surroundings. Come spend some time in one of the most unlikely yet creative spots around (but, maybe make sure you come during daylight hours)!
(824 S. Dudley Street, Memphis, TN 38104)
Located in midtown Memphis, Overton Park offers a huge band-shell amphitheater, an old-growth forest and a zoo — not to mention the Brooks Museum of Art and a quirky mid-century building. Of course, there’s plenty of regular old park space and wide-open fields where you can shoot photos as well. The sky is literally the limit when it comes to taking unique photos here.
(Midtown Memphis, between Poplar, North Parkway and East Parkway)
Summer Avenue is one of those great all-American streets. For a glimpse into Memphis’ past, look no further than Summer Avenue’s 6 miles of antique stores and thrift shops. Don’t miss the drive-in theater and mom-and-pop restaurants along the way!
High on a bluff that overlooks the sweeping Mississippi River stands a large, beautiful home that was once the site of an old military hospital. Just as its name suggests, the Metal Museum is dedicated to the art and craft of fine metalwork, and the remarkable works of art on the premises lend themselves well to being captured on film. Keep in mind that it’s free to enter the grounds during the times when the museum is open to the public. That said, there’s a fee to take professional photos on the grounds. Keep that in mind before bringing people with you.
(374 Metal Museum Drive, Memphis, Tenn.)
Once called the Madison Hotel, this well-known photography spot is now known as the Hu. Hotel. Thankfully, the name change has done nothing to diminish its beautiful views. Just steps from Beale Street, the Orpheum and the FedEx Forum, the Hu. Hotel Rooftop presents breathtaking views of the Memphis city skyline. If you’re seeking somewhere to plan your next photography stop and get inspired while you’re at it, drop by the rooftop.
(79 Madison Ave., Memphis, Tenn.)
Although the landmarks outlined above provide a solid starting point, there are dozens more just waiting to be discovered. Everywhere you look in Memphis, you’ll find beauty ready to be captured. Here are a few bonus spots to add to your must-visit list:
Big River Crossing
Nearly one mile in length, this bridge is the longest public pedestrian bridge crossing the Mississippi. And its views are as spectacular as you might imagine. Day or night, this stunning pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi River offers some of the best photo ops in town. Head out on Big River Crossing during daylight hours for an unparalleled view of the Memphis skyline, the bluffs and the river itself. At night, the bridge is brilliantly lit up, which makes it the perfect spot for a memorable selfie.
One of America’s most iconic thoroughfares, Beale Street offers endless chances to indulge your inner shutterbug. Whether you’re interested in people-watching, photographing historic buildings, capturing some energetic live music shots or getting a selfie with the Elvis statue, you’ll never run out of pictures to take. Beale Street offers three blocks of restaurants, shops and nightclubs bursting with photographic possibilities. The whole district is a melting pot of culture, color and creativity. The biggest problem? — you might never want to leave.
The Memphis Pyramid
Since reopening in 2015, Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in Memphis has become a major tourist spot and not just because it’s a premier destination for shopping and dining. The Pyramid is one of the city’s most unique and photogenic structures, and getting a great shot of it can be challenging but rewarding. Plus, the outdoor observation deck near the top offers an impressive view of the Memphis skyline.
“Hope Will Lead Us There” Mural
Memphis has no shortage of jaw-dropping street art, and a tour of the city’s murals provides seemingly endless fodder for photographers. One of our favorite pieces is the relatively new “Hope Will Lead Us There” mural, which is located on the back side of Streets Ministries on Pontotoc Avenue. The work of artist Erin Williams, this mural is big enough for a memorable group shot with an uplifting message.
The Peabody Hotel
A stunning, historic hotel that first opened its doors in 1869, the Peabody checks off a lot of photographic boxes. Photo ops abound in the interior, which is home to some of the most incredible architecture in the city. The Peabody Hotel’s iconic red rooftop sign is itself a mainstay, whether you photograph it from elsewhere in the city or while on the roof of the hotel itself. And if you’re able to catch a glimpse of the daily Peabody Duck March at 11 a.m. or 5 p.m., this one-of-a-kind local tradition is not to be missed.
Memphis Riverboats has been offering sightseeing tours and dinner cruises on the Mississippi River since the 1950s. The riverboats — modeled after the classic paddlewheel steamboats of the 19th century — are stunning photographic subjects, and the sightseeing tours offer some unique views of the city to boot.
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