Many days Beau Taylor’s alarm goes off well before sunrise. From there he looks out his window. If there are clouds, he’ll head to Joe Tucker Park near his Helena home. If there aren’t he’ll instead take a route to Shoal Creek Park in Montevallo.
His two sons keep him and his wife busy most of the day, but Beau carves out early mornings for exercise and “me” time—and photography too—before returning to his favorite spots with his family later in the day.
It was in the early mornings that he first started to capture the magic of sunrises, and since doing so, he’s uncovered more parks and natural areas around Shelby County to explore with his family too. He likes to share the images he captures on Instagram @wkeeper1117 and hopes they encourage others to discover these places of beauty too. “I’m just incredibly proud that picking up photography and really concentrating on our area has brought so much more attention on just how beautiful Shelby County is, both to my family and to others,” he says.
Here he shares some of his favorites captures with us in hopes that you’ll go see them for yourself too—with bonus points for waking up to get to them before sunrise!
Shoal Creek Park, Montevallo
While most parks in the county showcase woods, trails and creeks, this newly opened one in Montevallo has trails cut in open fields that once were farm land. Beau likes to capture the low lying fog over the fields at sunset and the way spider webs catch sunlight on the horizon.
Buck Creek, Old Town Helena
Beau likes to take his camera to Old Town Helena around sunrise to watch for the two herons and a white egret who fish by the waterfall there that time of day. On one of them he caught this heron standing still waiting for fish before it bobbed down to catch it.
Buck Creek Trail, Alabaster
Beau didn’t know about Buck Creek Trail in Alabaster until recently and often finds other folks who live nearby don’t either. About halfway down the mile-long trail between the senior center and Warrior Park there’s a dammed area with small waterfalls that is especially picturesque.
Cahaba River Park, Helena
Beau and his family first ventured down to his new Helena park the weekend before Memorial Day and found beach access and Cahaba lilies down the river. The next morning Beau came back at sunrise to capture them. “It almost feels like Oak Mountain State Park because it’s so forest-y and has single track trails,” he says.
Limestone Park, Alabaster
Limestone Park in South Alabaster is the place to be at sunset to catch its reflection over the park’s pond. One particular day Beau captured his younger son in the foreground of a show-off sunset with extra cool cloud patterns.
Alabama National Cemetery, Montevallo
This shot came about by total change. One day Beau was leaving Shoal Creek Park going northbound past the American Village when he saw a hot air balloon. He followed it along the road and then got out when it was landing in the cemetery to frame this photo of it behind the gravestones.
Joe Tucker Park, Helena
The lake at Joe Tucker Park in Helena reflects the sunrise for a double layered shot. Beau took this shot from the walking trail on the cemetery side of the park. He and his family also like to walk around the utility roads on the edges of the park and look for flowers and animals.