Photoshoot Locations around Portland, OR & How to Choose One
I feel like this is one of the TOUGHEST decisions there are to make when it comes to planning a photo session. Likely, you’re not having your photos taken once a month, so you don’t get to just move down your list and hit every amazing spot in Portland. You want it to look good, make sure it won’t be too busy (where you feel like you’ve got a million eyeballs on you at all times), so many factors go into it how are you ever to choose!? AHHHHH!
Have no fear! I’ve got a great list for you to get ideas, with descriptions of each place, & tips on how to choose which one you’ll go to for your session! I always think if possible, choose a place based on your personality. Is this place somewhere special to you? Is this place somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? Or, you can think of it like I think of tattoos - you pick one because you like it the best and that’s the only reason!
Disclaimer*** This list is incomplete and there are literally endless locations you can go just in the Portland/Vancouver area. This is not the end-all-be-all, more like a list in progress that I wanted to share and continue to grow as I explore with you!
Tip #1 - Pinterest is Your Friend
Pinterest is the perfect place to go if you have NO idea what you want. Now normally I would encourage you to refrain from sending a long list of Pinterest photos to your photographer for posing/photo ideas, as it can often box them in and ultimately rob you of your experience with them. You hired them for their work, so trust that they can use their creative abilities to give you great photographs! That being said, looking through Pinterest for location or setting inspo is a GREAT way to help weed out what looks you do and don’t like. Do you lean towards more urban settings with winding roads, or epic city skylines? Or do you like more natural settings like open fields and breathtaking landscapes? Once you narrow it down to one of these categories, it will definitely help as you search through your options. You can check out my Pinterest here, where you can look through everything from location and outfit inspo, to wedding decor and style!
Rowena Crest Viewpoint - Columbia River Gorge, OR - Natural
This is one of my absolute favorite places to not only shoot, but just to be at. It has an incredible view of the valley, and has that classic winding road at the bottom that it’s known for. It’s gorgeous any time of the year, however, the summer brings bright yellow and purple blooms and vibrant sunsets. One catch to this spot is that it is (and I cannot stress this enough) VERY windy. So in the winter months it is super cold, so only the bravest and heartiest warriors should venture here between November and March.
Lewisville Park - Battle Ground, WA - Natural
I love going to hangout at Lewisville Park, and it has a ton of great spots for photography. Wide open grassy fields, lush foliage and a cute little creek you can dip your toes in (only in the summertime, the winter you might lose your toes from how cold it is!!) Sunset here produces beautiful bokeh in the trees, so head here if your looking for a dreamy, foresty/park vibe!
Latourell Falls - Columbia River Gorge, OR - Natural
A beautiful waterfall with virtually NO HIKING whatsoever! So easy to get to, no sweating on the way there, and it looks like you worked for it, haha. And, you can get right up in the mist, get soaked to the bone and laugh at how freezing and amazing it is all at the same time. There’s also such cute spots around too (even in the parking lot, folks) that give this location so much variety!
Cannon Beach - Oregon Coast - Natural
This beach is a super popular spot, the iconic Haystack Rock and grassy sand dunes. Even walking around town there are even more spots ready for photos! As beautiful as it is, be aware that anytime in the summer and autumn, it is going to be busy, so talk to your photographer about timing for your session!
Fort Vancouver - Vancouver, WA - Natural
The fort is another great spot that works pretty much all year long. Although there is a certain kind of magic there in the fall! Tall wheat grass, super rich orange leaves, and theres a little orchard just down the path! Theres even a large park just across the street that can offer more variety. This place never gets old!
Tip #2: Think About Timing
When are you going to be booking your session? For couples and engagements, spring is a popular time for photo sessions. For seniors, it’s normally in late summer or early fall going into senior year. And you gotta be some kind of determined if you’re wanting to do your session in the wintertime around here, haha! I’m kidding, it’s definitely possible, even if you wanted to do indoors! If you’re trying to narrow down your choice between a few, as your photographer or look up on google what that area looks like in whatever season your session is taking place. That can definitely make or break a spot if it’s not looking the best during your time there!
Benson State Recreation Area - Columbia River Gorge, OR - Natural
This low-key park is a great place not too far into the gorge, just one exit before Multnomah Falls. A cute little spot right next to a pretty little lake!
Hoyt Arboretum - Portland, OR - Natural
The arboretum is super moody and the perfect representation of the PNW. Towering trees and a gorgeous lookout are the perfect backdrop for dark and moody engagements like these:
Cathedral Park - Portland, OR - Natural/Urban
This place looks good pretty much all year ‘round. It’s bright in the summer, vibrant with color in the fall, moody in the winter, and fresh in the spring. You get a nice mix of urban and natural vibes, with beautiful willow trees, huge concrete supports under the St. John’s Bridge and that famous architectural view from the top of the park.
The Light Room - Portland, OR - Urban
An indoor studio session is always a nice option if you dont want to have to rely on the weather for a great session, or if you are into a really minimal aesthetic. The Light Room is a great studio with beautiful windows, and it's essentially a blank canvas. So you can leave it minimal and all white, or dress it up with flowers, installations, backdrops, etc.
Tip #3: Consider Where You Hang Out Regularly
If nothing is really standing out, think about places you like to go to just hang out and relax. Maybe that's at home, or at your favorite coffee shop. These can help to make your session instantly more comfortable, as you’re already super familiar with the space.
Downtown Vancouver - Vancouver, WA - Urban
There is a ton of variety when shooting in downtown Vancouver. I love shooting (and drinking coffee!) at Compass Coffee. They have awesome windows, and I like to start there and wander around through the parking garage, Esther Short Park, and even a little bit into the neighborhood. It’s a great mix and during the week isn't too busy!
Downtown Portland - Portland, OR - Urban
With more of a big city vibe than Vancouver, downtown Portland can be a really fun backdrop for your photo session. Towering buildings, pretty skylines and bridges, and some more industrial spots. Again, I like starting in one spot and then kind of wandering the area, it's a fun way to find unique spots and give you photos that nobody else will!
Industrial NW - Portland, OR - Urban
This one is for the minimalists too, this area in NW Portland is all just kind of empty gray with plain buildings. I like to treat plainness like a blank canvas that I get to be extra creative with!
Tip #4: Ask Your Photographer!
I love talking with my clients about what they like, where they like to go, and give them recommendations based on that! I want to tailor your experience and your session to YOU, to give you the best results. Click the button below to get in touch with me, we can chat about locations, dates and get you on the calendar for your own Portland photoshoot! & keep an eye out on the blog, I’ll definitely be updating a sharing more location ideas over time!