Your Guide to Photographing the Pacific Northwest


When you think of the Pacific Northwest, the chances are good that you think of snow-capped mountains, gorgeous coastlines, thick forests, and iconic waterfalls. And given that there is so much variety and so many breathtaking locations for photographers in this region, it’s understandable that people have a tough time deciding what areas to visit. If you’re counted amongst the many photographers that need to know the must-see locations in the Pacific Northwest, consider this guide as your short-list of fodder for your camera.


Multnomah Falls

Though Multnomah Falls isn’t the tallest or biggest waterfall in the world, it’s certainly among the most beautiful. Its waters cascade down two levels of basalt cliffs, making a 620-foot drop that is breathtaking, to say the least. Of course, when the falls are framed with the Benson Footbridge in the shot, the drama is taken up a notch. Given the height of the falls, a wide-angle lens is a good choice, that way you can incorporate the totality of the falls, along with the bridge and surrounding foliage. What’s great about the falls (apart from its beauty) is that it’s easily accessible right off Interstate-84 east of Portland. With well-maintained footpaths above and below the falls, there’s no shortage of vantage points to capture this breathtaking natural wonder.

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Thor’s Well

A natural hole in the rocks along Oregon’s Pacific coast, Thor’s Well is a geological wonder that looks as though the ocean’s waters drain right into the Earth’s core. It’s a dramatic site, to say the least, particularly at sunset when Golden Hour lights up the western sky to provide the ideal backdrop for photos of this rugged area. Thor’s Well is on Cape Perpetua, about three miles south of Yachats, Oregon. The bowl-shaped feature has been carved out of the basalt rock that makes up the shoreline, and it’s unusual behavior of never filling up - despite a constant inflow of water from the ocean - makes it the subject of much lore and nicknames, like the “Gate to Hell.” Yet, Thor’s Well is likely just a cave whose roof and floor collapsed at some point in the past, leaving huge openings through which the ocean’s waters can enter and exit.

However it was created, it’s a must-see spot for photographers in the Pacific Northwest.



Cannon Beach

A third must-see spot for photographers in the Pacific Northwest is Cannon Beach. If you’re a child of the 80s, this place is synonymous with the classic 1985 movie, The Goonies. But to think that this beach is just a beach is a misnomer… Sure, there’s a long, wide beach to enjoy, but it also offers waterfalls at Hug Point, Haystack Rock and other enormous rock formations keeping watch offshore, and the possibility of seeing scores of wildlife (and some excellent sunsets, too). There’s countless coves in the area, the breathtaking Ecola State Park to the north, tide pools to the south, lighthouses, sea caves, and other natural and manmade treasures that you can capture with your camera as well. Though Cannon Beach is just one of many, many places for photographers to see in the Pacific Northwest, it certainly ranks among the very best!