5 Best Photo Opportunities in Seattle

Photo Opportunities Seattle

Lee Van Grack

As a photographer living in the Emerald City, I am frequently asked about the best locations for photography around Seattle. While the photo opportunities in Seattle seem almost endless, some are better than others for capturing a particular mood or scene. Snow-capped mountains, lakes, both saltwater and freshwater beaches, and lush forests surround Seattle, scenic landscapes photography that aficionados love.

There is also an abundance of urban photo ops that shouldn't be missed when visiting city. Here are five spots that will satisfy even the most avid photographer.

1. Romantic Photo: The Space Needle

A classic romantic photo opportunity in Seattle is a twilight shot from the Space Needle's observation deck, perched 520 feet above Seattle. Many couples have gotten engaged at the top of the city's most famous landmark, and the Space Needle offers some of the best views in the city. As you ascend to the observation deck in the elevator, the view becomes more breathtaking with each passing moment. The snow-capped Cascade Range can be seen to the east and the Olympic Mountains are to the west, providing one of the best Seattle photography landscapes. The peaks have snow on them year-round and make a beautiful backdrop for any photo. At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier seems to almost hover above the city. Sweeping views of Puget Sound and the ferries traveling across Elliot Bay make this location ideal for a romantic photo. If you're interested in hearing facts about the city, the elevator operator will offer plenty of them on the ride to the top. You can also tune that out, hold hands and simply bask in the scenic beauty of Seattle on your way up. There are plenty of places to park around Seattle Center, including valet parking, parking garages, and good old-fashioned street parking.

Admission: The cost to get to the top is $18 for adults ages 14-64, $11 for youth ages 4-13, $16 for seniors 65 and over, children under 3 are free
Hours: Open 365 days a year from 9AM-12AM

The Space Needle, 400 Broad St., Seattle, WA 98109, (206) 905-2100

2. Quirky Photo: Fremont Troll

For those interested in fun, quirky, and unique photo opportunities in Seattle, the Fremont Troll is a must. The troll is a huge mixed-media statue located beneath the Aurora Bridge on North 36th Street and Troll Avenue. This unusual piece of public art is off the beaten path and attracts residents and visitors alike. The troll has enormous hands – one of them wrapped around an actual old VW Beetle – and you can easily climb on top for the perfect photo. I lived in Seattle for a number of years before encountering the Fremont Troll. You really do have to see it in person to appreciate the statue and the Fremont neighborhood itself. You'll create a one of a kind memory and have a unique photo to look back on for years to come. Fremont, known to residents as "The Center of the Universe," also has a number of road signs with this beloved nickname printed on them. Posing with one of these signs can be a fun Seattle photo opportunity in and of itself. There is plenty of parking on nearby streets, and Fremont is a great neighborhood to roam.

The Fremont Troll, North 36th St. and Troll Ave., Seattle, WA 98103

3. Family Photo: Seattle Underground Walking Tours

Join a walking tour of Seattle Underground and take advantage of some of the best family photo opportunities in Seattle. How many cities have a series of passageways and old storefronts frozen in time beneath their modern day sidewalks? Seattle's got it, and it's fascinating. Some people have heard about it, some have visited, and some may have seen it on the show Ghost Hunters. There was a great fire in Seattle back in 1889 that destroyed most of the downtown businesses. When the city was rebuilt, it was elevated above what remained from the fire. The passageways and remnants of the city's past make for a unique photo opportunity that the majority of residents and visitors can't say they've experienced. You never know who (or what) may show up in your photo with you. Since it's a walking tour, you will definitely want to wear comfortable footwear and dress for the weather, which usually means a jacket or sweater that can be added or removed according to the temperature variations. The tour lasts a little over an hour, so it isn't recommended for children under the age of 6. Parking in Pioneer Square includes street or garage parking, and you can easily reach the area by bus or the light rail.

Hours: Change seasonally. Please see the website for more information.
Admission: Adults $15.00, Children 7-12 $7.00, Seniors over 60 $12.00, Students 13-17 (or with valid college ID) $12.00

Bill Speidel's Underground Tours begin at 608 First Avenue in Seattle's Pioneer Square between Cherry Street and Yesler Way. (206) 682-4646

4. Scenic Photo: West Seattle

I've taken sunrise and sunset photos all over the city. For the best sunset photography Seattle offers, travel to West Seattle, which offers unobstructed views of the city's skyline across Elliot Bay. At twilight, the downtown skyscrapers light up in hues of gold and orange as the sun goes down. The sky's color changes in waves from purple to pink or orange depending on the day. From this vista, you not only get a scenic shot of Seattle, but you can also watch the sun disappear behind the snow-capped Olympic Mountains to the west. It's the kind of view that really makes you appreciate the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and it's one of the best photo opportunities in Seattle. You can also watch the city lights brighten as the last light drains from the sky. There are many viewpoints to choose from all along the waterfront. Find the one that you like best and go with it. I personally like the gravel pull-out just south of Salty's restaurant. It's tough to beat the view from this location, and not many tourists or locals use this spot for their travel photography.

West Seattle is easily reached by way of the West Seattle Bridge. Exit at Harbor Ave SW and turn right.

5. Classic Photo: Kerry Park

For the classic Seattle landscape, photography buffs should try a shot from Kerry Park. This is often the view you see when the city is shown in movies or on television. The Space Needle dominates the skyline from this location, and the city's personality changes with the weather and light. On a sunny day, Mount Rainier hovers majestically to the south of the city. At twilight, the glaciers of the 14,410-foot volcano take on the various colors of the sky. The mountain appears to change colors depending on the weather and day. Kerry Park is located in the Queen Anne neighborhood. I have photographed Seattle from this spot on many different occasions and I never grow tired of it. When the weather is nice and the moonrise coincides with twilight, you just can't beat the breathtaking view as the moon rises above the city while the sun is going down. Another great aspect of Kerry Park is the interesting mix of residents and visitors hanging out and admiring the city. Photographers can be seen standing around with their tripods trying to capture the perfect scenic Seattle photo, and tourists can be seen aiming their point-and-shoot cameras at friends and family. If you're just visiting the city, or even if you live here, don't miss this shot. You won't be sorry - maybe I'll see you there. There is street parking around the neighborhood. Sometimes it's easier to find parking a few blocks above the park and then walk down on foot. It can be a bit of a challenge, but it's definitely worth it.

Hours: Open 24 hours

Kerry Park, 211 West Highland Drive, Seattle, WA 98109, (206) 684-4075

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