Where in Ottawa: Andrew Hayden Park | A Blog Series on Ottawa's Best Locations for Wedding and Engagement Session

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"Where In Ottawa" is a blog series featuring the best locations to have for your wedding or engagement photo sessions. For each post of this series, we will pick a spot, outline some of the highlights and challenges using the location, and show some photos we have shot for inspiration! 

Andrew Hayden Park is one of those places that everyone in Ottawa has been to at least once! Located on Carling Avenue at Holly Acres Road, the park features typical walking trails, play structures, a bandshell for outdoor concerts, artificial ponds, and a picnic area. It is a stone throw away from the Nepean Sailing Club and a good 20-minute walk from Brittania Beach. Unlike the previous locations featured in this blog series (Pink Lake and Dominion Arboretum), Andrew Haydon Park does not have lush trees and greeneries. Most of the trees are on the edges of the park, and they are not nearly as abundant and thick. What it lacks in greenery, however, it makes up for its family-friendliness. You can often find families having a picnic, kids running around, and joggers and bikers passing through. The Nepean Concert Band plays two or three times each month during the summer season on the park's bandshell, located on one of the three little islands inside its artificial lake. Because of the various waterfowls and shorebirds visiting the area, the park is also a favorite spot for nature photographers. 

So, is it good for engagement sessions or wedding portraits? Without further ado, here is what we at SheenPhotos thoughts on Andrew Haydon Park. 

The good. 

Stunning Backdrop

While Andrew Haydon Park lacks in lush greenery, no one can criticize it for lacking fantastic views. It is by the Rideau River, which already gives it a leg up over other locations. You can have the hills of Gatineau on the other side of the river as your backdrop without having to go over to Quebec! Because of its proximity to the Nepean Sailing Club, there are usually boats sailing by, which makes for fantastic water shots, especially at sunset. Speaking of sunsets; there is no better place to see and include it in your photos than Andrew Haydon Park. You will have an unrestricted view of the sun going down, with its orangey red cast reflected on the water. 

Mini-lake and Mini-islands.

Did we mention that there is an artificial lake and "islands" in this park? Where you have a lake and islands, you will have nice rustic bridges! Couples on bridges can seem cliche, especially with engagement sessions, but using these bridges creatively will, of course, depend on your photographer. There are marshes, too, in this lake with beautiful, tall grass, which can serve as either foreground and background. In the middle of the lake on the western side of the park, there is a fountain, but it is not always on. 

Rugged Shoreline.

We had some terrible flooding this spring, and the last time I was at there in May the water was pretty high.  Typically though, the shoreline is available for visitors to stroll by on. It is not quite a "beach" per se because no fine sand exists, like in Brittania Beach, not too far from there, but the rocky shore will make your photos look a bit more rugged. However, I would caution against running along the beach because you will likely end up with a sprained ankle. There are also huge boulders that separate the grassy area from the shore, which you can incorporate in your photos. 

Suitable for Family.

Andrew Haydon Park is probably one of the most family-friendly locations to have your engagement or wedding photos taken. The grounds are well maintained, with lots of picnic tables, and a playground to keep the kids busy. It is no wonder that it is an attractive location for fall mini-photography sessions among family photographers in the west end. If you want to stage a picnic-themed shoot, especially for couples with young children, this park should be on the top of your list.  Alternatively, if you only want to keep the kids busy as you are having your engagement or wedding photos taken, there is a playground not too far away. Of course, someone will still have to supervise them!

the not so good.

Bird poop everywhere!

It is not unusual to find geese poop when going to a park for a photo shoot. You will be in nature, after all, and while you are not in the wilds, per se, you can expect some animal waste. Andrew Haydon Park, though, is on another level. The last time I was there, I could not walk more than three steps without encountering poop. Of course, this is seasonal, as birds migrate for half the year, but it does limit what you can do creativity-wise if you always have to watch your step. If you are averse to animal waste, do not go here!

Safe Choice.

As far as uniqueness goes, Andrew Haydon Park is a pretty safe choice.  With the right photographer, you will get amazing photos here, no question about that. However, there are a limited amount of unique features here to make your photos distinct. There is a windmill, which you can incorporate in your photos, but beyond that, some creativity will have to be put in to produce the images you want!

MOCHA TREE STUDIOS is based in Ottawa, Ontario, and specialises in romantic and cinematic wedding photography and videography. MOCHA TREE STUDIOS produces stunning and modern photographs and films with dramatic lighting, deep shadows, and romantic tones. MOCHA TREE STUDIOS focuses on capturing candid moments and raw emotions. MOCHA TREE STUDIOS offer services in surrounding areas, including engagements and weddings in Toronto, Montreal, Kingston, Wakefield, and the Ottawa Valley.