Got an awesome location where you’d love to have a shoot in the West? Contact me today and let’s make it happen!
My wife grew up in California. But as it is true for most people, she didn’t know her ‘home’ as well as she should have. She knew France like the back of her hand, and had travelled extensively in Europe, but ironically had never been to Yosemite or even the Redwoods – some of the most beautiful spots on the planet were right in her ‘backyard’ growing up!
When we settled in California last year, I made it my mission as a new American resident and photographer, to discover the incredible natural landscapes of our home and the surrounding states. We even went on a month-long road trip visiting the majority of the Western States before we moved permanently here. It was breathtaking for me, and eye opening for her.
As we drove the 12,000 loop and saw the beautiful natural sites, incredible national parks, and stunning locales, I started mentally making a list of all the awesome places I would DIE to shoot a couple. I realized that I was doing some of the best location scouting without even trying! So the other day, I went through my images again, and collected some information about all those awesome spots.
The list was long and varied – some of the places are just stunning, some are so unique they’re almost like another planet, and some I think would be just the perfect backdrop for lovely couple photo shoot. It was hard to trim it down to my top 5, but I did my best. And now I’m sharing them with you.
Mixing business with pleasure
If you’ve heard of any of these places, if you (like me) are dying for a unique photo shoot, or even if you have some other locations in the Western States that I just HAVE to check out, shoot me an email with your best ideas. Let’s make it happen!
1. Horseshoe Bend
• Where to stay: Page, AZ. Unremarkable…except for the kickass tex-mex and desert views.
• Description: A surprising u-bend crevasse in the red desert along the Colorado river. It’s like The Grand Canyon, but better. Intimate and “doable” in just a few hours, this place has impressive natural beauty.
• Why couples should do a photo shoot here: Sunrise or sunset – both ends of the day produce spectacular golden, desert light. I love the tones of the red rocks which would give a soft romantic tone, contrasting with the hardness of the stone. And, it’s super easy to access – just a short 10 minutes from parking – but looks like it’s totally lost in the desert.
2. Lake Tahoe
• Where to stay: for rocky shores and nature lover’s hikes, check out Incline Village or hit the casinos and slopes from South Lake
• Description: Blue, Blue, Blue, and then more Blue. This is the largest alpine lake in North America which literally glimmers like a giant sapphire in the summer. In the winter, parts of it freeze over making for romantic contrast with the wooded shores.
• Why couples should do a photo shoot here: The romantic ‘alone in the woods’ feeling is easy to find, but you also have the big, beautiful, blue backdrop of the lake. When the sun is setting over the lake, it just lights up the interesting boulders on the lake shore. Fun, gorgeous and easy.
3. Grand Tetons
• Where to stay: A mountain lodge in Jackson, WY or cozying up to buffalo in Yellowstone National Park
• Description: Yellowstone may be the international star in this region, but the Grand Tetons are what really captured my attention. These sharp teeth of granite create one of the most dramatic backdrops of the Rockies that I’ve come across.
• Why couples should do a photo shoot here: Snow-peaked, crazy beautiful mountains in the background. Wild fields and golden aspens in the foreground. In the fall, the orange melts with yellow, brown and grey, turning the landscape into a veritable painting. This location doesn’t seem to be overly popular with photographers (yet!), so you’re sure to have some original images.
4. Pacific Coast Highway
• Where to stay: Redwoods and rocky cliffs near Big Sur, CA or near the dramatic points of Cannon Beach, OR
• Description: Classic Americana at its best. Dramatic coastlines of the Pacific Ocean mixed with sleepy villages and the occasional hip urban city. And the whole thing is gorgeous.
• Why couples should do a photo shoot here: Okay, this one is kind of cheating, because the PCH is massive (655 miles/1054 km) and basically stretches up and down the entire west coast, so the long sandy beaches of San Diego have an entirely different vibe from the craggy rock karsts of central Oregon. I can’t help it. I loved the whole freaking thing. And I’d love to shoot an adventurous couple anywhere along it. I do have a small preference for the wild cliffs or central CA and misty dunes up north, though…
5. Joshua Tree National Park
• Where to stay: Chic oasis for the rich and famous – Palm Springs, CA or camping under the stars in the park
• Description: the closest thing I’ll ever get to a foreign planet…complete with it’s namesake bizarro trees, piles of rock, and some spectacularly lunar views stretching for 100 miles in each direction. It’s weird, it’s wild and it’s one of the least crowded National Parks I’ve visited.
• Why couples should do a photo shoot here: Can you imagine a silky, flowing gown contrasting with the tough landscape and spiny cacti? How intriguing and beautiful! The faded-earthy colors perfectly set off skin tones, and the short walks, hikes, and climbs produce varied views in a relatively small area. Awesome.
Sebastien Bicard is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer based in Paris and California. He specializes in international travel and destination weddings worldwide.