5 Best Photo Opportunites in Scottsdale

Photo Opportunites Scottsdale

Lee Van Grack

Amid the Sonoran Desert, palms, bougainvillea and velvety golf courses bloom, and make for great photo opportunities. Scottsdale is also known for scenic red-rock crags and chic resorts.

Dust can threaten cameras in Arizona. Keep your bag closed unless in active use. Travel photographers should take a hand blower and soft cloth to keep lenses pristine.

1. Romantic Pinnacle Peak

Away from the city center's lights, the sunsets blaze and the stars spark. The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North serves up acres of scenic desert landscape. At night, flames seem to dance on the courtyard's reflecting pond, drawing the eye to the sharp silhouette of Pinnacle Peak.

Scottsdale best photo ops unfold from the resort's patio. Even the simplest point-and-shoot can chronicle the moon, fire and stars there without a tripod. Prop your camera on a table or ledge, set a long exposure and the highest possible ISO, then push the self-timer to eliminate jarring.

Catch some local color at nearby Greasewood Flat, a salty 120-year-old bunkhouse that still serves beer, barbecue and foot-stomping good times. It provides a rich source of portraits and action shots, plus gritty close-ups of ironworks, weathered wood and busted wagon wheels.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
10600 East Crescent Moon Dr
Scottsdale, AZ 85262

Greasewood Flat
27375 N. Alma School Pkwy
Scottsdale, AZ
Daily 11AM-1AM

2. Quirky Arcosanti and Cosanti

An alternative to urban sprawl, this experimental town blossoms in Arizona's high desert. Italian Architect Paolo Soleri pioneered much of the "green build" movement, and Arcosanti has been his lab since 1970. Residents help fund the ambitious project with their world-famous bells cast from clay and bronze. They also welcome overnight guests and conduct workshops in silt sculpture, building techniques and "arcological" philosophy.

Dr. Soleri also maintains Cosanti, a studio in Scottsdale's Paradise Valley. This Arizona historic site showcases his innovative designs and boasts an indoor-outdoor gallery. Bring a wide-angle lens to photograph the eclectic art in the foreground and the earth-cast architecture behind.

6433 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Open Mon-Sat 9AM-5PM, Sun 11AM-5PM

3. Family-friendly Old Town Scottsdale

The original town site of Scottsdale provides plenty of Wild West photos ops. Start your scenic walking tour at the Little Red Schoolhouse, now the Scottsdale Historical Museum, and the old bank, currently the Rusty Spur Saloon (its vault stashes liquor). The rustic façade of Saba's Western Store especially attracts travel photographers.

Volunteers built the 1933 mission church nearby – Our Lady of Perpetual Help – with 50-pound adobe bricks mixed onsite. Check out the red and turquoise stagecoach atop Cavalliere Blacksmith Shop, and the stately olive trees along Second Street, ideal for urban landscape photography. Finish with the shiny, steel, Jetson-esque architecture of Scottsdale's Museum of Contemporary Art.

Scottsdale Historical Museum
7333 E Scottsdale Mall
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Open Wed-Sun 10AM-2PM (Sep & Jun), 10AM-5PM (Oct-May)

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
7374 East Second St
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Seasonal hours
Adults $7, students $5

4. Scenic Camelback Mountain

The distinctive red hump of Camelback Mountain rises over Phoenix and Scottsdale. Birds, lizards and cottontail rabbits skitter over its steep sandstone flanks, along with hikers intent on stunning landscape photography.

Pack plenty of water, especially for the more strenuous trails: summit (2.4 miles roundtrip, 1,264-foot elevation gain) and Cholla (3 miles roundtrip, 1,200-foot elevation gain). These trails offer some of the best photo opportunities Scottsdale offers to the outdoor adventurer. Trails are open from sunrise to sunset or 7PM.

5. Classic Taliesin West

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright left his stamp on the Valley of the Sun. Conceptually, he urged developers not to stack buildings on the ridges – preserving sight lines – and favoring desert hues. And more concretely, he built his desert masterpiece, Taliesin West, a winter home, studio and architectural campus in the McDowell foothills of northwest Scottsdale. Today, visitors can experience firsthand his brilliant ability to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces.

Light plays a powerful role in his organic architecture, from sheets of it spilling through windows to stained glass designed by Wright. The self-timer method can produce luminous, richly colored results sans tripod. The result: Scottsdale travel photography at its best.

Taliesin West
12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85259
Tours run daily from 9AM-4PM
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