Our Favorite Locations
There are many beautiful places to photograph in the state of Oregon, and Portland is one of our favorite areas. Whether you’re taking selfies or want to shoot a video, you should consider checking out these 12 awesome locations in and around Portland, Oregon.
Vera Kantz East Bank Promenade
The best time to photograph at the Vera Kantz East Bank Promenade is at night. Start your photography on the upper promenade just as total blackness is falling. Then, move on to the many bridges that surround this promenade. If you can choose a night when there is very little wind as the reflections in the Willamette River will be more pronounced.
The Hoyt Arboretum
There are over 12 miles of hiking trails at the Hoyt Arboretum. One of our favorite locations near Portland, this 190-acre park is a photographer’s paradise because it contains over 2,500 species of trees collected from six continents. Hike along the 12 miles of trails, and you will find a multitude of image-capturing opportunities. This is especially true in the fall when the maples put on their fall colors, but you can find opportunities throughout the year. Consider going to this ridge-top location early in the morning for great wildlife shots.
Portland Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary
The Portland Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary offers an excellent place to capture photos as an old-growth forest fills it with many types of wildlife. The sanctuary also has many cages filled with rehabilitating birds that you will want to photograph. While it can be cold, you can capture beautiful winter photos here because very few people have trudged ahead of you.
Portland Art Museum
Except in a very few select areas, the Portland Art Museum, which is open every day but Mondays, is a fabulous place to take low-light creative images. The best time to go, however, is on the third Wednesday of each month when the museum hosts their Photography Council Brown Bag Series from 12 to 1. When you attend one of these meetings, you will learn more about photography while having a terrific place to practice.
The Oregon Zoo is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi River, and you will love to capture some of the details of the historical buildings along with the animals at this location. The narrow-gauge railroad is also a fun thing to photograph, and you can also capture many outstanding people photographs. Special events, like Brewlights at Halloween and Zoolights during the winter holidays, make this a place you will want to return to with your camera many times. Consider going in the morning during the summer and later in the day during the winter when the animals will be most active.
St John’s Bridge and Cathedral Park
The unique lines of the bridge make St. John’s Bridge and Cathedral Park a great place to capture images and videos. The best time to photograph here is early in the morning as the mist leads to exciting photos, and the morning light dances through the trees. You may want to come back later in the day to capture amazing dog photos as they play in the off-leash area.
Pioneer Courthouse Square
One of our favorite locations in downtwon Portland, there are many great places to take photos at Pioneer Courthouse Square, and you can usually find something interesting to photograph there with minimal difficulty almost all year long and at any time of day. One favorite is to shoot during the Festival of Flowers when over 20,000 flowers decorate various locations around this square that is affectionately called Portland’s living room. Another favorite time to photograph is in the morning when the Farmer’s Market is opening from June through October.
This 620-foot tall waterfall gives you many great photogenic opportunities, especially if you take the short hike to the top. The crowds can get thick during the middle of the day, especially on the weekends, so consider going early on a weekday if possible. Continue hiking on the Wahkeena Falls trail for even more opportunities you will not want to miss. Spring and fall are both excellent times to visit this location.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Regardless of the type of photography you enjoy, the Tom McCall Waterfront Park has much to offer. You can capture fantastic river images here, especially during the Portland Dragon Boat Festival in September. The colorful water fountain lets you play with water images. The memorial garden can be a great place to capture emotional photographs.
Portland Saturday Market
The Portland Saturday Market is the largest continuously operating arts-and-crafts fair in the nation, and it is a delightful place to take photos because you are never sure what you will see there. This weekend market that is open from March through Christmas Eve, and it is open the entire week before Christmas. From July to October, you will want to take your camera and capture the activities in the kid’s area along with other street performers.
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
This 9.49-acre park near Portland is a great place to capture bird pictures as it is home to many bald eagles, great blue herons, wood ducks, geese, and ducks. Late September and early October is a great time to go to this park as the trees put on their annual show. The real highlight, however, comes in mid-April through mid-May when over 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants bloom. The park is open from dawn to dusk, so take advantage of the golden hour to capture outstanding shots.
The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother
Popularly known as The Grotto, this 62-acre facility is also a beautiful botanical garden. You may want to start your visit on the lower level, where you will find a cave with a reproduction of Michaelangelo’s Pieta. Head to the facility’s north wall for amazing views of the Cascade Mountain Range before hiking on the trail to capture the 14 Stations of the Cross. Then, pay the small fee to ride the elevator to the upper level to capture many flower images. There are two times of the year when you will want to be sure this stop is on your itinerary. The first is during spring when the flowers are in bloom. Then, come back in December for the Festival of Lights.
With so many great opportunities, you will want to take your camera with you everywhere you go in Portland.