A big part of the consultation process is figuring out where the best spot is for your lifestyle family session, your bridal portraits or your branding session. So I have put together a list of my top places for portrait photography in and around Calgary.
Make it a Mountain Experience
And because Calgary has so much to offer, here are several amazing locations within city limits.
Do note that dogs are not allowed at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary so this is the only Calgary photography outdoor location on this list where furry friends will not be allowed. We will make sure to make a pit stop by the train tracks before entering the sanctuary – a favourite for little boys and girls. Then, once in the sanctuary, there will be water, massive trees, a red brick heritage house and lots of paths to explore and wild life to look for. I always have a hard time spotting all of the birds, but you can hear them singing and I have come across deer as well. Beautiful for weddings and very engaging for little kids.
South End of Nose Hill Park
I love Nose Hill Park and its rolling hills for sunset photography sessions. I specifically like meeting at the South parking lot because it offers some fantastic views of Calgary downtown (after a 10 minute walk uphill). There are also a lot of great trees in that area which will be perfect when fall rolls around. The winding paths look amazing in the photos really guiding your eye to the main focus, you!
Fish Creek is a massive Provincial Park so there are countless parking lots and options from the Bow Valley Ranche area to Bebo Grove and Voltier’s Flats (only to name a few). There are trees, paths, the creek, a pond, and so much green space to work with. Again another fantastic spot to take your kids on an adventure. And something really amazing happens during the winter; frozen waterfalls! I’ll even tell you how to get to the frozen waterfall at Fish Creek Park because they are so easy to get to and so fun for the kids to explore. From the Bow Valley Ranche parking lot, find the path directly across from the old yellow building. When you get to the bridge (which is really close, you can already see it from the parking lot), do not cross it. Turn right before the bridge and keep walking along the water. You will see the frozen waterfalls on your left a few hundred meters further. They are definitely worth exploring and of course look fantastic as a backdrop for portraits.
St Patrick’s Island and East Village
St Patrick’s Island is one of my top spots in Calgary for photography. Since they revamped the whole area, there are a lot of really interesting design features to play with. The woodwork is absolutely stunning. A much more urban look, although you still get a touch of trees and nature. Some of the benches are really funky and I like letting kids play on them instead of just sitting them down on a plain bench. You will also get a really good vantage point on downtown and the Calgary Tower across the river.
If you love big trees, this Calgary park location is for you! There is a little creek going through the park and really adorable small wooden bridges. It is a well traveled park so it is a little harder to find big open spaces without people in the background, but I am familiar with specific spots where you can be surrounded by all of the beautiful trees and you feel like you are completely alone in an enchanted forest. Stunning.
Confederation Park and Bowness Park have a lot of similarities. On top of the gorgeous trees (fall sessions!!!), Bowness Park also offers stunning views of the Bow River and a really nice pond. There is also a cafe on location so I like the idea of turning your photography session into a longer date or family outing. There is also skating there in the winter and it would be a fantastic winter wonderland location.
(Temporarily closed due to COVID-19 measures)
The Central Library is one of the newest and most iconic architectural features in Calgary. I like keeping this one in my back pocket as a backup location if the weather doesn’t cooperate on the day of the session, but I am also looking forward to using it as one of my main locations during the winter. The woodwork is spectacular (that’s the best word I could think of to describe it, but I feel like that’s still not enough)! Top it off with the gorgeous stairs, glass railing that creates a mirror effect and the views of The Bow building and downtown through the really unique windows, this is a prime indoor location in Calgary.
The quintessential Calgary downtown location for a photo shoot. I have taken couples for engagement sessions and wedding photos to Stephen Avenue and it never disappoints. The Bay building and its arches, store windows that turn into mirrors, flower baskets or Christmas lights hanging from the lamp posts, old buildings with so much character. This is the one spot where I don’t mind having a bunch of strangers in the background because I love the hustling, bustling downtown Calgary feel of those photos.
Prince’s Island and Eau Claire
The Peace Bridge. That alone makes this Calgary location worth the detour. But it is also exceptionally gorgeous in the winter. The paths, lamp posts and Christmas lights around Eau Claire make the whole area look like a winter wonderland. The teal colour of the Bow River is the perfect backdrop for a summer photo session. And I always like having downtown in the background. I love the “this was definitely taken in Calgary” feel. We live in such a great city!
This one gets the award for the most underrated Calgary location for engagement and family photography. The Bow Habitat Station and Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery is located at Pearce Estate Park which makes it an ideal spot for a fun filled family day. You can have your photo taken and teach your kids about the Bow River wildlife on the same day! And the little pond at the hatchery looks like a mirror which is always fun. As for the rest of Pearce Estate Park, you will find lots of trails that will lead you to the Bow River, teal water and big rocks perfect for posing. There is also a set of stairs designed as an elegant modern sculpture and a beautiful garden. And somehow, this is still a hidden gem not too many people know about.
Weaselhead Flats is a natural environment park in the S.W. of Calgary. I love that the parking lot overlooks the whole valley. You can really see how big the area is and what an amazing job the city has done at preserving it. I love taking photos at the very top before going down the hill to access the waterfront. The trees, winding paths and bridges offer a huge variety of backdrops for portrait photography. Please note that dogs are allowed on the main trails, but are not allowed on the wide network of side paths located throughout the natural environment park.
Bowmont Park is also a natural environment park. It offers a boardwalk and great views over the Bow River. The boardwalk leads to Waterfall Valley, which is quite small, but a lot of fun for the kids. The water glistens in the sunlight as it trickles down the very unique rock face and looks very pretty. And since I love sharing fun facts; as per the City of Calgary website, it is “an unusual, spongy-looking, geological formation called tufa”.
Carburn Park is located in the S.E. quadrant of Calgary, along the Bow River. It also has two man-made ponds, beautiful trees and really nice pathways all along the river. It is quaint and perfect for a short and sweet family photo session.
Calgary is such a big beautiful city and offers a huge range of locations for family photography and wedding photography. Although I have had the chance to explore so many great areas, I feel like I have only skimmed the surface.
There are other places I have checked out but yet have to take clients to. The new High Park downtown, Griffith Woods or Baker Park would be great for fall family photos. I would love to take a couple to Central Memorial Park for an engagement session or bridal portraits. The Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs are quaint but would make the perfect location for a mini session if you love beautiful flowers as much as I do.
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