The Heritage District in Downtown Gilbert is a fan favorite for photography. People love the character and charm. On any given day, you might find a photographer in the Heritage Annex or stopped along the corridor on either the east or west side of Gilbert Road.
The various backgrounds with multiple colors, textures and vibes make for a one stop shop for head shots, couples, and families. Just along the west side of Gilbert Road from Liberty Market to the American Legion are stone facades, weathered wood, a green background and brick. On the east side of the road are columns, steps, benches, arches and wonderfully large light posts.
Most everyone is pretty familiar with the sights to behold around the iconic water tower and along Gilbert Road between Page and Cullumber. Many people use these areas to capture subjects. What about along the north end of the heritage district though? There are some fabulous new amenities along the trail that make for incredible backdrops.
Just south of the trail on the west side of Gilbert Road is a small patch of artificial turf with a curved wall. This spot is perfect to capture a picture with gorgeous bistro-strung lighting and the water tower. You could also use the artificial green as a “lush” backdrop when the rest of Arizona wrestles with being green.
Since the background is to the south, ideal times to shoot would be early in the day and late day to capture the soft low lighting in the sky. Use an online calendar or app to determine first and last light and aim to shoot within the hour of each of those for optimum lighting.
Along the trail are interesting water features that offer playful and promising possibilities for posing. These features are made of stone, rusted metal and concrete so they have a rooted, quirky, industrial feel to them. The posing possibilities are endless. There is a little wall around one of the water features where subjects can sit, stand, jump from, etc. There is a water feature on both sides of Gilbert Road with running water that can be interesting to have a subject pose against. Try to shoot in even shade if you’re photographing at times not affording that beautiful first/last golden light.
The top of the parking structure is a great spot to capture the water tower and the San Tan Mountains. I suggest taking the elevator so subjects don’t get “glisteny” by the time you get to the top floor. If you take subjects to the top of the parking garage be aware of where the light is. You don’t want it too bright and harsh and you don’t want them looking directly into the light, causing them to squint.
I’m a big fan of finding unique little niches and enclaves for portraiture. The stairwell in the parking garage is perfect for capturing a family. When you shoot in the late day, you can shoot into the light and have the western light filter softly through against their backs.
Even in a place as busy as downtown Gilbert with photographers, you can always find your own take on the environment and the north part of the heritage district is a terrific place to start.
See more of Elaine’s photography at elainekesslerphotography.com