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These are 10 of my favorite places in the Phoenix area to take photographs.  Notice I did said “10 Top” and not “Top 10.”  That is just because there are so many spots I wasn’t able to rank them.  So here are 10 random good spots to take some interesting photographs.  No particular order.

1. Taliesin West – North Scottsdale

I love the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and I have been to Taliesin several times.  It is one of my all time favorite photo sites in Phoenix.  The architecture and surrounding landscape are very photogenic.

2. Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix

This is one of my favorite places in Phoenix in general, photographs or not.  But for taking some great photos of desert vegetation the garden is ideal.  They also have exhibits such as the current Chihuly glass, and events such as Dias de los Muertos in November, that make for some very interesting shots.

3. Mesa Arts Center – Mesa

This is another architectural site that I really like photographing.  The combination of materials and textures and the modern feel allow for some great images.

4. Arizona Biltmore Resort - Phoenix

Frank Lloyd Wright and architecture again here.   The buildings and grounds offer some very camera-friendly set ups to shoot.  In my opinion you can’t go wrong with a Wright building anyway. (Note 5-16-10: Wright did not actually design the Biltmore.  the architect is Albert Chase McArthur.  Wright acted as a consultant and the famous concrete blocks that make up much of the Biltmore were his design.)

5. Arizona Falls – Phoenix

This is the SRP canal at 56th St and Indian School in Phoenix.  Might seem like an odd place to photograph, but it has been constructed with contrasting materials of stone and corrugated metal which make great images.  The water adds another element of interest.

6. Downtown Phoenix

This encompasses a lot of area.  I might need to break this one down into 10 spots in downtown Phoenix to photograph.  But just the fact that there are so many options here puts it on my list.

7. Arizona State University – Tempe

There is a lot going on at ASU as well.  Granted it is not as nice of a place to get great shots as the U of A, but I may be a bit biased.  It does have some great buildings such as Gammage Auditorium and the newer Coor Building.  (The “Explore” photo in my header is from the Coor Building)

8. Scottsdale Civic Center

If you haven’t noticed a theme here yet, most of my top sites are architectural.  The Scottsdale Civic Center follows along those lines.  Although they do have several large scale sculptures that you can get some unique shots of as well.  Such as the Love sculpture by Robert Indiana.

9. Uptown Phoenix

Like downtown Phoenix, uptown has a lot going on.  The Heard Museum, Phoenix Museum of Art, Japanese Friendship Garden and main Phoenix Library offer a lot of options for impressive photographs.

10. Hotel Valley Ho – Scottsdale

The trendiness and Scottsdale hot spotiness of this hotel aside, its mid-century modern architecture and tropical feel are cool and fun to photograph.

21 Responses to “10 Top Phoenix Area Photo Spots”

  1. chris

    on September 3 2011

    One of your places is listed at the canal on 56th st. I can tell you that you may want to put a warning on that listing. The police dpt is VERY VERY VERY touchy about people photographing that peice of canal stretch. It if the police want can become a homeland security investigation. not only have I run into this issue I know plenty of other photographers who have. The following link is a rather chilling story about two friends (true story) photographing downtown phx to cure there boredome and becomming subects/persons of interest in a federal homeland security investigation.

  2. chris

    on September 3 2011

  3. Mike

    on September 3 2011

    Chris,

    That is interesting. I have photographed AZ Falls dozens of times and never once had any problems with the police. In fact, SRP used to have on site security at the Falls and they were always very polite and greeted me when I came to photograph. But ultimately this is a public facility and well within the rights of everyone to photograph. Sorry you had a bad experience there, but hopefully it was just a misinformed police officer having a bad day. You can read more about photographer’s rights here.

  4. Mike

    on September 3 2011

    In 2010, after this article was written the federal courts ruled that it was not illegal to photograph federal buildings. Read about it here: http://dcist.com/2010/10/feds_affirm_photographers_rights.php

  5. Jen

    on October 17 2011

    Have you ever taken photos *inside* the library? We’re thinking of places for our family photos coming up and there are many places inside (top floor, near elevator, just in the stacks with books) that would be cool for photos. Are you aware of whether or not that is allowed?

    Thanks! Love your list–lots of good ideas!

  6. Mike

    on October 17 2011

    Hi Jen,

    I have never photographed inside the library. But I have seen photos on Flickr and what not taken inside. I would think you would need permission to do a photo shoot. You could probably just ask at the main desk. Good luck and thanks!

  7. Laura

    on October 18 2011

    New to Phoenix and wanted to find out if you need permits for doing paid shoots in local parks, etc?

  8. Mike

    on October 18 2011

    Laura,

    I am not an expert, but as I understand it you need a permit for commercial photography. But you would not need one for a photo shoot such as a wedding or family portraits. Your best resource is probably the Phoenix film office – http://phoenix.gov/econdev/filmphx/index.html

  9. Melissa

    on January 31 2012

    Mike,

    Do you know of any cool junkyards around Phoenix for a photo shoot?

  10. Christina

    on April 4 2012

    I am wanting to do a junkyard shoot but how do you go about doing it? is there a fee, do you have to get permission ? can anyway give me info on it?

  11. Mike

    on April 4 2012

    Hi Christina,
    I have never photographed in a junkyard before. But I would imagine you would need to get permission since they are a private business. I would find one you want to photograph and give them a call to see if they will allow you to photograph and what, if anything, they charge.

    Good luck.

  12. Jesica

    on April 11 2012

    Hi! I am looking for an open field, almost like a wheat field! Do you know of a location like this in the Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert area? Thanks

  13. Mike

    on April 11 2012

    Jesica,

    I am not sure of any specific fields, but if you head south in Chandler/Gilbert (South of the 202 and east of Lindsey or Val Vista) you should run into a lot of fields. Not sure if there are any crops right now, but just drive around in that area and you should find something.

  14. jaimie

    on July 5 2013

    does anyone know of a good indoor spot for pictues around buckeye or goodyear areas??

  15. LI

    on September 20 2013

    I went with my daughter last week to AZ Falls and she absolutely loved it! It’s so beautiful and one of the hidden gems in the valley. I recommend it!!

  16. Mike

    on September 20 2013

    I agree, it is a fantastic spot. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Brandi

    on November 14 2013

    I have a client that wants to do a family session in downtown phoenix. She wants to just drive around and stop if they see something she likes. Are there any specific places I should go? Finding amazing locations has been my biggest challenge. I appreciate this post!!

  18. Mike

    on November 14 2013

    Hi Brandi,

    Here are a few to try:
    1) Phoenix Museum of Art front courtyard. IF they have kids there is a bright red dinosaur display that might be cool.
    2) Heard Museum – they have a great grassy area with concrete and trees.
    3) The park just north of the downtown post office with the big hanging sculpture. Maybe better at sunset/twilight.
    4) The Sciene Center has some interesting elements, steps, walls, etc.
    5) The Japanese Friendship Garden on 3rd St is beautiful with lots of bridges, trees, grass, ponds and Japanese temple structures. I think the entrance fee is $5 and you may need permission to do a photo shoot. But worht it if you can.

    Good luck!

  19. Laurie barrows

    on November 19 2013

    I’m looking for the location of a bunch of old doors in downtown Mesa.

  20. Mike

    on November 19 2013

    Hi Laurie, I’m not that familiar with downtown Mesa and have not seen a location with old doors. But maybe another reader can respond if they know.

  21. Kasia

    on November 27 2013

    I was wondering if anyone knows of a spots with some type of pine trees, I am looking to do a Holiday Photo shoot and with the lack of snow here in AZ I thought Pine trees might help.

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