Why you should love your photographer...

On your wedding day you will be spending about 85-90% of your entire day with your photographer by your side. They will be guiding you through every step of the day! You want someone there you trust, who is organized, and who you can have fun with!

When you love your photographer and get along with them really well you can let your guard down around them. You can crack silly jokes and laugh and have fun! In doing so, you end up with not only amazing and genuine photos, but you'll have an even better experience!

When you've taken the time to get to know the person photographing you, they will know and understand your specific needs and wants. They will know the best way to capture you and bring out your best smiles, laughs, and natural emotions. Plus who doesn't love making new friends?!

The Top 10 Best Portrait Locations in Salem, Oregon

February 5, 2021

It’s finally here! My top favorite portrait locations in Salem! There are so many more places that are amazing to shoot at and so many outside Salem as well. But I wanted to share with you all some of my favorites right here in town! If you’re stumped on where to have your session and want to stick around the Salem area, I hope this will give you some great options and inspiration.

Bush Park

Bush Park is a huge, lush area that covers about 90 acres and has lots of walking paths, tall gorgeous oak trees, and this amazing historical house! I love using this portrait location in Salem because it offers a wide variety of backgrounds and colors. Depending on the time of year, there are lots of different colors. Flowers in the spring, greens and beautiful sun and tall grass in the summer. Beautiful changing leaves in the fall. There are steps for sitting portraits, wide open grassy fields, tall grass. It has everything and it’s located right in the middle of downtown next to the Salem hospital. This is gorgeous

Minto Brown Island Park

Minto Brown spreads out over 1,200 acres over open and wooded areas! This park is not only the largest park in Salem, but it’s larger than Central Park in New York City! I love the vast open areas of this park and the lush gorgeous backgrounds it offers. There is tall grass which bounces light really well and in the fall the changing colors are breathtaking! There’s a dog park, walking paths and wooden bridges. This park also sits along the Willamette River and provides waterside portrait options! It doesn’t matter what time of year, this park never disappoints!

The Riverfront Park

The Riverfront Park connects over to Minto Brown Island Park by this incredible walking bridge that stretches out over the Willamette River. Located in the heart of downtown Salem, the Riverfront features a playground, the famous Carousel, and wide open fields that often hold fun yearly events. This park is great for portraits with this incredible background of the river, the walking bridge and walking paths lined with trees. Depending on the time of year and the weather, this park can get busy and crowded but it is a great portrait location!

The West Salem Walking Bridge

The West Salem Walking Bridge is a great portrait spot that gives a different and very neat background to your photos! There is so much creativity that this bridge can inspire! It stretches out from the other end of the Riverfront Park over the Willamette River into West Salem’s Wallace Marine Park. Whether you use it for portraits right on the bridge, or use it in the background, it’s beautiful!! One of my favorite things about it, is that on the Riverfront side there is a huge covered spot underneath the bridge along the walkway of the park that provides a great backup location for a rainy day session! If we are caught in the rain we can always tuck under this part of the bridge and still get some great portraits! See below!

Underneath the walking bridge!
Underneath the walking bridge!

Orchard Heights Park

This park was actually a new location to me this last year and I loved it! Orchard Heights Park is located in West Salem and though it has a little bit of a walk to get to this spot in the photos below, this oak tree is soooo worth it!! It’s massive and provides a beautiful background. This 29 acre park has tennis courts, a playground, walking paths, and a baseball field. But the wooded areas that lead to a wide open field provides a gorgeous setting for photos! The light hits this area in the evening just perfectly!

Downtown Salem

There are so many amazing spots right in downtown Salem that makes a great setting for portraits! The US bank building, for example, featured below is a popular spot with the beautiful architecture along the sides and its neutral color. Archive Coffee Bar is great to take photos in or around as well with the super cute tables they have outside along the sidewalk. The vine-covered alleyways and street lamps are so charming and the convention center gives a great urban style. There are so many options and backgrounds to choose from. One of the favorite things my clients like to choose is to start here in downtown for that urban look and then head right down the street to the Riverfront for a nature type background! It’s the best of both worlds right next to each other!

Capitol Park

Capitol Park is one of the most stunning portrait locations in Salem, especially when the cherry blossoms are in bloom in the Spring! Located right across the street from the capitol building, this park has a wide open space where a gorgeous statue sits at one end and the water splash pad at the other end. There are two extra wide paths on either side both lined with a canopy of trees. There is so much variety here! The steps of the capitol building are a great portrait spot as well! This park is one of my favorite places to shoot!

Willamette University

Located just across the backside of the Capitol building, Willamette University sits nestled in the middle of downtown Salem. This campus offers a beautiful variety of nature and architecture. The red brick buildings, the tall trees, and water that runs through are breathtaking. The walking paths and foliage adds a softness and color. There are so many great spots tucked away all over this gorgeous campus. Whether it’s a family session or engagement session, this is a stunning background for all portrait types!

Willamette Valley Vineyard

Willamette Valley Vineyard has one of the most breathtaking views in all of Salem. Sitting atop a hill just on the outskirts, you can see miles of lush green fields and rolling hills. This vineyard has a beautiful backdrop, especially in the summer and early fall months when the vines are lush and full. It’s perfect for senior sessions as well as engagement or families! The balcony spaces gives a gorgeous overlook to the view and the vines are so much to walk through, giving some opportunity for great foreground in the photos. Plus the grape stomp in the summer is a ton of fun to watch! This venue makes you feel like you stepped right out of the city into a gorgeous European getaway. It’s definitely one of the most romantic portrait locations in Salem.

The Gray Lab

Last, but not least, one of my favorite portrait locations in Salem is The Gray Lab! The Gray Lab is an all natural light indoor studio located in downtown Salem. The large open windows provide gorgeous light to come in and fill this all white natural studio space and gives the perfect blank canvas for creativity and portraits. Whether you’d like to bring in your own props, florals, and items to create your own scene, or keep it simple and neutral, this is a great choice! They provide some furniture pieces as well for your use. This is always a great option if you’d like to have a session in the months when the weather isn’t so great or if you love that light and airy neutral background. There are so many ways to be creative here!

If you’d like to book a session with me at the Gray Lab be sure to book well in advance. The Gray Lab books out to photographers all over the area and they are hopping so booking early on will ensure you get the date and time you want.


Love this? Check out my blog on foregrounds and how they MAKE your photos! https://joniloraine.me/2020/10/06/freaking-out-over-foregrounds/


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