Hello, my name is Chris Dillon. As the photographer for Fritz’s Adventure, taking pictures isn’t just my job, it’s also my hobby.
I’m always on the hunt for a good sunset photo or abandoned building to take a moody picture of. I really enjoy hunting for these things when I travel. They get me off the beaten path and give me an excuse to see a side of a place that isn’t often publicized.
As a local of Branson, let me tell you about some of my favorite places to take photos that I don’t think you’ll hear about on websites or brochures. I can’t guarantee that that photos I’ve taken around the Ozarks are any good, but I sure enjoyed trying to take find them!
Let’s say you wake up on vacation in Branson. Everyone else is asleep, and you want to run out for 20 minutes, soak in the new day’s sun, grab coffee, and make it back in time for everyone else to wake up.
Well, right in the heart of Branson, just north of the Branson Landing, is Northbeach Park. From the park, Taneycomo Lake is calm as glass. It’s foggy in the summer, and that atmosphere for photographs is palpable!
To be honest, all of the Landing and Downtown Branson are great in the morning. Since a lot of things don’t open until 10a.m., you’ll have free range to hop in the middle of empty streets and find interesting perspectives.
Just across the lake from Downtown Branson is a gnarly hill called Knox Drive, and there’s a walking path out to an old overlook that makes a great spot to see the Downtown area, nestled in the elbow of of Taneycomo. So many old historical photos of Branson have been taken from this spot, and now you can compare them to your modern vista.
But let’s go to the other end of Branson, out west. Henning Conservation Area has a very popular fire tower that makes for a great view any time of day…but particularly in the morning. When you look back east across town, you’re looking at the sun coming up over Branson. Again, if it’s foggy, it’s even better.
Table Rock Dam that forms Table Rock Lake is an imposing concrete wall that’s fun to photograph, but did you know you can actually walk on top of it to get a good sunrise shot of Taneycomo down beneath you?
MID – DAY
But what about in the middle of the day when the light isn’t so dramatic? Are there any good, general areas with things to snap photos of? Sure! Let’s talk about bridges.
Roark Creek flows out to Taneycomo, and you can park at the edge of Stockstill Park and make your way to Roark right where Hwy 65 passes over you.
Down below is a scenic area of Roark Creek. Pro tip: bring wading shoes because the water is shallow and feels great! And it’s fun to go amphibious, getting angles from standing in the water. Keep your eye out for waterfowl.
But perhaps a better spot to hunt for waterfowl is in Hollister at Hulland Park. It’s a bit swampy, and goes out to a dramatic wide shot of the Branson / Hollister Bridge. Feel free to try and snap pictures of boats as they zip by.
Another great photo op when the sun is high is the Butterfly Palace. It’s delightfully tricky to try and capture butterflies in flight. If you don’t succeed, well, even a sitting butterfly is great subject matter!
If you are out by Table Rock Lake, take a hike on the White River Trails, particularly the southern trailhead where they trail is an exposed glade beneath Baird Mountain–an old rock quarry. In June, the wildflowers are great. If you go up into the woods, there are a few old pieces of equipment to try and get artsy shots of.
Pro-tip: get a cheap set of macro rings for your lens mount or a macro lens for your cell phone. When there’s nothing great to see or the light isn’t good, you can ALWAYS find something interesting by going macro!
Okay, you’ve had a busy day playing around Branson, the sun is getting low and you’re going hunting for a good picture in the fading light before dinner.
Here are some suggestions:
First of all, anywhere near water is always good, and Table Rock Lake is the biggest body of water around. There’s a trail at the Table Rock State Park that wraps you around the coves so that you can be looking into the setting sun, reflecting off the water, or get on the other side of the cove for more side-light.
My favorite coffee shop is Vintage Paris, and it’s right across from the Scenic Overlook where you can get the Table Rock Dam with the sinking sun. This shot is not new, and you won’t be the only one with this particular photo, but now you won’t be someone without it!
If you’re on the Strip of Branson, the Branson Ferris Wheel is always a dramatic subject in the fading light, especially if there is ANY sort of cloud in the sky.
There’s a city park aptly called, Sunset Park where you can take a short hike into the woods and get up into the bluffs. The light reflecting off the bluff faces makes great bounce light for portraits!
Okay, the sun has set and the light is gone.
No more photo opportunities, right?
Well, actually, put a prime lens on or flip your phone over to night shot mode and find areas under street lights to get some night time shots.
The Branson Landing is always good, or Downing Street in Hollister. But Silver Dollar City, or Big Cedar Lodge are fun places to spend an evening, with just enough street lighting to make photos challenging, but possible.
I hope you can find some time to hunt for good photos while you’re in Branson. I live here and I never get tired of it.
Don’t forget to come to Fritz’s Adventure, and know that we love it when you take pictures of your family on the attractions. We can’t let you climb with your camera, but there are lots of great vantages from the floor or mezzanine to get great moments. Just don’t forget to put the camera down and slide, climb, and zip yourself!