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Old Ellicott City

Main St,
Ellicott City, MD 21043
Great for Portraits
and in our standard portraits service area.

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Old Ellicott City, situated in Howard County, Maryland, boasts a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the late 18th century. Founded in 1772 by three Quaker brothers, John, Andrew, and Joseph Ellicott, the city has since evolved into a thriving tourist destination, offering a charming and picturesque setting for all types of portrait photography.

The Ellicott brothers, hailing from a family of successful mill owners in Pennsylvania, recognized the potential of the Patapsco River’s swift currents for powering mills. Consequently, they established Ellicott’s Mills, one of the largest milling and manufacturing towns in the early United States. The city played a pivotal role in the development of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad, with the first 13 miles of track being laid in the area in 1830. The city’s unique topography, featuring hilly terrain and the river valley, led to the creation of an ingenious system of inclined planes, which enabled trains to traverse the steep inclines.

Today, Old Ellicott City is a historic treasure, with a collection of well-preserved 18th and 19th-century buildings that now house charming boutiques, galleries, and eateries. Its narrow, winding streets and the picturesque Patapsco River offer a splendid backdrop for portrait photography, making it a popular spot for engagements, weddings, family photos, and more.

The cobblestone streets, stone buildings, and rustic bridges create a romantic, timeless atmosphere, while the vibrant street life and eclectic shops provide a lively, modern vibe. These contrasting elements make Old Ellicott City a versatile location that can accommodate various portrait styles and preferences.

Visitors should be prepared for a considerable amount of walking, as the city’s hilly terrain and uneven pathways may prove challenging for some. Additionally, the narrow, bustling streets and limited indoor spaces may necessitate the use of natural light sources for photography. Photographers should plan their sessions accordingly, taking advantage of the warm, golden light during the early morning or late afternoon hours for optimal results.

Location Limitations:

The narrow streets and bustling tourist activity will make supplemental lighting equipment difficult, or impossible to use. It is best to expect to work almost exclusively with natural light in this location.

Old Ellicott City

Main St
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Portrait Permits & Costs

Permit Required:
Portraits Service Area:

Old Ellicott City is in our standard portraits service area.


Event Bookings:
Location Type:
Best from:
Year Round

Parking info:

The best places to park are in Lot A, the parking lot to the south of Ellicott Mills Dr, or Lot D, the parking lot off of Main Street. Beginning the session near Lot D will provide quicker access to the historic street settings, while beginning in Lot A will offer some natural settings and quicker access to the old Frederick Rd Bridge which spans the Patapsco River.

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Captured at Old Ellicott City

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