From the outside looking in, Denton may not appear to be the most photogenic city. In fact, there are some closed minded individuals that have lived here for years that would argue the same about the entirety of Denton, but those are probably the same people that flock over to Lower Greenville or the Ft. Worth Stockyards every weekend. Little do they know that Denton not only has plenty of nightlife, but also tons of places and backgrounds that make for great photos.
We get emails every so often that ask questions such as, "What's the best place in Denton for my senior portraits?" Or, "Where is a spot that I can create erotic imagery of my friend Jason that doesn't have too many prying eyeballs around?" Well, we have some answers for that first question (but probably not that second one).
Additionally, this weekend will see tons of photographers headed into town for this weekend's Polaroid Convention on the square. So we figured that now would be a great time to share a few of our favorite places to take some photos in town. Read on to find out some of our favorite photo sites in Denton.
The Purple Door
The elusive purple door is one of the most popular portrait spots in downtown Denton. The spot is basically a vibrant door halfway up a concrete wall with a ladder leading up to it. The color pop against the drab grays makes for very interesting framing so long as your subject is willing to climb a couple feet up a ladder. This spot is located in a little alley/alcove on the south side of McKinney St. between Elm and Locust. In the same location is Dan Black's amazing mural that incorporates the plant-life growing in the otherwise urban environment. This location does have parking for local businesses, so if you plan on shooting here, be aware that you may have to shoot around cars, and make sure you are respectful of the space and the people that work there. Be prepared to wait on other photographers or Instagrammer-shot-seekers to have beat you to this location to finish their shots first.
Brightly colored walls are an Instagramers dream. Downtown Denton has its fair share of colorful walls, but if you want a bit of privacy and the some bright colors, head North on Locust St. until you get to Congress. There you will find Texas Roof and Fence in a bright red building with a few awnings on the side. Red not your color? Head east by a few yards and you will find a bright yellow wall that is ready and willing to be a blank canvas to your great photos.
SCRAP Paint Bucket Wall
One of our favorite things about SCRAP's new location (Is it still "new?" They've been there for a while now) is the cheap-as-hell trophies that they have on the first aisle - we like to give them as gifts for when our friends have small victories in life (like when Glen went down a notch in his belt), but our SECOND favorite thing would definitely be the amazing paint bucket wall (that just so happens to be pretty close to the trophies). This colorful wall of circles is a great backdrop for images or just geometric photography in general. Ask nicely, and the director, Kari Meyercord-Westerman may pose for you if you don't have a model on hand. She probably won't as we just made this up, but it wouldn't hurt to ask. SCRAP is located at 420 S. Bell Ave.
The Top of the Courthouse
Forget about taking photos in front of the courthouse. You need to get inside and to the top of it if you want some life-changing photos. Okay, we know this one is tough, but it is possible - and worth it. The top of the courthouse makes for a great spot for getting an aerial viewpoint of the city looking in any direction.
Several years ago, I went to one of author Chuck Klosterman's readings. I believe it was on the tour for his book Eating the Dinosaur. At the reading, Klosterman responded to a question by saying something along the lines of, "Live your life in a manner in which you can jump up and take on an opportunity if it presents itself." At some point in every Dentonite's life, there will be an opportunity to make your way to the top of the Denton County Courthouse. Just make sure you are ready. If you are, you'll be able to create some great images. Visiting the Courthouse on the Square Museum (which is free, by-the-way), and making friends with some of the employees there, certainly wouldn't hurt your chances of making this happen.
The Denton County Courthouse is that big building you see in the middle of town.
Industrial Building in East Denton
The old Austin Baker Sales building on Exposition in East Denton has both rustic textures and pastel colors - two things that are hard to find in the same location. So whether you are looking for a bright background for portraits, colorful geometric lines, or just interesting textures to photograph, this is a great place to check out. Hit it up at the right time, and the awning can provide some nice shade for even lighting on your subjects.
The Chairy Orchard
If you're looking for something a tad more whimsical, The Chairy Orchard in North Denton is perfect for you. Neighbors Judy Smith and Anne Pearson (the same duo behind the fence with shoes on Sherman and the genius that is Rose Costumes) created this den of chairs and also manage the upkeep of the space. Since its inception last year, they have accumulated many more chairs and every once in a while something even weirder will pop-up (like a giant teddy bear for example). Just don't try to sit on one of the chairs that has been nailed to the trees and you should be okay.
The Chairy Orchard is located on Churchill Dr. near Avondale Park. If you are in Avondale Park, walk down the trail until you come across the bridge and take a left when you cross the bridge and hit Churchill. A few yards down is The Chairy Orchard. Feel free to bring your own chair as a donation if you have a particularly awesome one that you are willing to part with.
Little Chapel in the Woods
TWU has plenty of great spots for photography. Aside from the beautiful library and turtle pond, the Little Chapel in the Woods is also on site and is an architectural feat. The building was designed by famed Denton architect O'Neil Ford and was dedicated by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in the late 1930's. The building has tons of stained glass, high ceilings, and some great natural light at certain times of the day. Climb up the spherical stair case to take some photos from a higher vantage point.
The Little Chapel in the Woods is located at 415 Chapel Dr. on the TWU Campus. We suggest going when class isn't in session so parking won't be an issue. Also, check the marquee outside before walking in to make sure you don't interrupt a wedding or something.
The tree-filled area outside is probably even better as a backdrop to your photos. Just be prepared to deal with other photographers in the same area, as this is probably the most popular spot in Denton for photos.
Your Favorite Mural
Denton is full of murals now. In the last year alone, I can count five murals just off the top of my head (and mural counting isn't even one of my strong suits!). That said, you need to find the mural that speaks to you as an individual. While the square includes quite a few popular murals, we like to venture a little further out to some of the lesser photographed ones. Some of our favorites include the La Estrella mural/dedication, the bright/fruity mural on the side of The Cupboard, Keep Denton Beautiful's street murals, SCRAP's mural from Mick Burson, the American flag mural by David Piper Jr. at Faded Blue on Locust, the mural across Hickory from the UNT English building, the black and white mural at The Bearded Monk, and the brand new mural beside Juicy Pig BBQ. The latter (featured above) is so full of so many different scenes that you are sure to find something that suits your fancy no matter what said fancy may be. Our current favorite is probably Eric Mancini's mural on the side of Veronica's Cafe on McKinney St. Go head over there and get some photos followed by a delicious meal.
Old Alton Bridge
Old Alton Bridge is a classic Denton photo location, but one that is well-deserved. This spot in south Denton features a red bridge and is easy to create some classic imagery. However, it is oftentimes crowded with other photographers or high school kids "just hangin'." Just watch our for men that are also ghosts and goats. They are the worst type of photo-bombers.
Jim Christal Bridge
If you're up for a short drive (this is closer to downtown than Old Alton, so this drive is pretty short), check out the railroad bridge over Jim Christal Rd. This graffiti-covered bridge has plenty of character and has a great look around golden hour. Time it right, and you can include a shot of a passing train on the bridge.
Right before this bridge is a "tree tunnel" of sorts where the trees grow over the road to create a very interesting and symmetrical look for your photos.
Always be careful of cars passing by as this bridge is over an actual road that is in use and one that people tend to speed on. There is a place to park right after you pass the bridge.
This bridge is just a short ten minute drive down Oak St. after passing under I-35, Oak turns into Jim Christal. Drive past the airport and navigate a few turns and you will find your way to the tree tunnel and bridge area. Even if you aren't interested in taking photos, it is a nice drive.
The Denton Post Office Windows
This isn't really that hard to find, as we are sure many of you have noticed the greatness that is the Denton post office on McKinney St. We are particularly fond of the large windows with rounded corners on the south facing wall of the building. You can utilize them in all sorts of photographs depending on the look that you are going for. Watch out for your own reflection in the window, though. We love shooting from the inside of the courthouse and having the subject seated in the window with the large Oak tree in the background.
The Denton Post Office is located at 101 E. McKinney St.
YOUR FAVORITE TRAIL
Denton has a plenty of great trails for walking and a few of them are great for photos, too. The trails at the back of Wriggly Field Dog Park and South Lakes Park are perfect for your tree-filled photos. Our favorite has to be Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, though. There you can find plenty of cool reflection photos of the body of water in addition to a nice wide-open field ready for large group portraits or couples walking across a grassy hill at sunset. Additionally, there are often interesting things that work as great photo backdrops along the trails at Clear Creek. What's your favorite trail for backdrops in town? Find the locations of our favorite Denton trails here.
Morrison's Corn-Kits Building
The Morrison's Corn-Kits signage is as iconic to Denton as the courthouse, itself. Heck, we even had it as our logo at one point. However, it can be difficult to feature in a photograph. Over time, we've found that one of the best spots to photograph the famed building is Wye St. in South East Denton. Drive down Wye until you find a small hill that you can climb up. Use a longer (telephoto) lens to compress the background and boom - you've got a portrait of someone right in front of the Morrison's Corn-Kits building.
Those are just a few of our favorite places to take photos in Denton and is in ways a definitive list. What are your favorite places to create images in town? Let us know in the comments!