Picking a location – PNW Photographer

UPDATED 3/24/2022 to add more locations and additional photos to show favorite spots!


Locations can be a part of your portrait story, not just a pretty backdrop. I like to give you the option to choose where we have your portrait session for a few reasons:

  • You’re comfortable where you are and it shows in your photographs.
  • You recall and create meaningful memories with each person in your family in a space that you’ve been to before.
  • You know where things are, how to get there, and what to do!

But if you don’t have a preference on a location and you’d rather I decide or if you’re from out of town, I’ve compiled a brief list of locations around Tacoma with photos and descriptions to help you decide where you want to tell your story. Keep in mind that we are not limited to these locations! I’m willing and able to shoot anywhere! The only thing that may limit us is admission, fees or photography permits such as conservatories or private gardens.

As with any public park, please be safe and go during daylight if you want to visit the locations on your own. Grab a friend for a walk and be aware of your surroundings.

Point Defiance Park, Tacoma

Perfect in any season. The changing colors of autumn leaves by the pond make a beautiful backdrop. So many Tacoma families have fond memories of watching the ducks and walking the paths of Point Defiance Park. In the spring and summertime, the blooming roses and arches give an intimate feel. Even in the wintertime, the bare, twisty branches in the rose garden can offer a dark and mysterious vibe.

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Titlow Park and Beach, Tacoma

When the tide is just right, Titlow Beach has a lot of space to explore and play. Beautiful in any season because of the water and the forested trails, the park gives a perfect NW variety of picture spots.

Dune Peninsula and Ruston Way, Tacoma

Dune Peninsula Park is one of Tacoma’s newest parks. Formerly a toxic wasteland, the amazing efforts by the city turned it into a serene spot for biking, whale-watching, and taking in the beautiful mountain views. Ruston Way Waterfront is lovely for a local beach walk and bird watching.

 

Discovery Park, Seattle

While quite a trek from Tacoma, Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle is one of my favorite locations to shoot. It faces the west, giving us the much desired golden and blue hour dreamy feel. This park has it all: forest, beach, tall grass, buildings painted butter yellow, and even a lighthouse with a trail access. If you don’t mind walking, this is 534 acre park is a gorgeous choice.

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Chambers Bay Park & Beach, University Place

One of the most interesting parks near Tacoma is Chambers Bay. Formerly a sand and gravel quarry, the park’s large skeletal concrete structures separate the park from the golf course and line a trail leading to the bridge and a beach below.

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Charlotte’s Blueberry Park, Tacoma

Best in the fall between September and November, Charlotte’s Blueberry Park is a hidden Tacoma gem. The bushes are fully of U-Pick blueberries in July and August, but by September the leaves are firey red and perfect for fall minis. The park is large with lots of places to explore.

Swan Creek Park, Tacoma

Hidden where Pioneer Way and Waller Road meet in Tacoma, Swan Creek Park is a quiet little swimming hole surrounded by trees. You might want to bring a towel because shoes are bound to come off. There are trails and little bridges to explore as well.

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Wright Park, Tacoma (conservatory + fee)

Like Point Defiance, Wright Park is gorgeous in all seasons. The yellow leaves of the ginkgo tree brighten up the park even on the darkest days. The conservatory fee is only $25/30 minutes which is so worth paying (it’s for a good cause, too!) if you love plants and need an indoor location. The 27-acre arboretum has lots of beautiful spots to sit and enjoy being with your family.

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Downtown Tacoma/Urban/City

(Opera Alley, steps of UW, glass bridge & museum)

Tacoma’s downtown area is so unique and interesting. Urban sessions aren’t just for individuals. Documentary sessions or even Lifestyle sessions can take place in the city. If nature is not your thing, let’s explore the town!

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Home & Neighborhood

There’s no place like home. You know your family best and where they would feel most comfortable. I love just sitting on your front porch or hanging out in bed.

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Ft. Steilacoom Park, Lakewood

Fort Steilacoom Park has so much to offer with the old barns, winding trails through the trees, a lake view, and tall grass. I recently took a family there to watch the sun come up over Mt. Rainier and it was spectacular! The best times at this park are early mornings or late evenings.

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Wild Hearts Farm (+fee)

A local family designed their property specifically for photographers and clients. With options like tire swings and wooden swings, an old truck, a vintage trailer, gardens with ever changing flowers and a natural light, rain free dome, they’ve made endless possibilities.

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In Studios, Tacoma

Photographers and other business owners are renting their spaces out to creatives by the hour or day. They’re becoming some of my favorite spots to shoot in because we are allowed the creativity and the freedom to make the space exactly what we want. Rates vary by availability and weekend/weekdays.

 

Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Stores, Libraries

Do you have a favorite restaurant? Have you ever wanted to document your every day life shopping at Target or Costco? It takes a little more planning and permission from the manager, but these sessions are often so much more relaxed and personal.

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Want to go on an adventure? There are places I’ve always wanted to take my sessions. Do you have ideas?

Ferries

Gig Harbor Gondola

Mountain Trails

Waterfalls

Carnivals/Fairs

Orchards

Central Washington/Columbia River/Vantage

Cox Family – Tacoma Family Photographer

With each session, I realize more and more why I love what I do. I mean, I already knew  that photography is a way for me to be creative and to capture life’s fleeting moments. That’s cliché, of course. Important, but nearly every photographer’s slogan. But now that I’ve stepped back from the ultra-posed, Photoshopped, “put your hand here, move your chin there, smile REALLY big”, I’ve started to feel more comfortable in my work. Letting things happen naturally (for the most part) makes everyone look good and gets even dad to loosen up. Sometimes being in front of the camera, we tense up and go for the “cheese.” So to combat that, I offer some poses and minor suggestions, like “push your family off the bench” which gets photos like the featured one above. One of my favorites!

You may recognize a few of these faces from my post last year with the McClain Family. Corissa wanted to make sure she had some photos with her oldest daughter. Another redhead? Absolutely! In the rain? Let’s do it! We took to Tacoma’s Chinese Reconciliation Park on Ruston Way hoping for some nice weather, but May didn’t bring us anything but grey clouds and rain. No problem for this Seahawks loving family. We’re all used to it and the kids didn’t mind getting a little rained on. We even got to cuddle on the beach before the clouds opened up.

 

Preschool Fine Art Portraits – Tacoma School Photographer

I’m going to be honest with you. At the beginning of this year, I nearly lost my path. I had a few shoots lined up and a wedding in the summer, but after that there was nothing. I knew that if I didn’t do something soon that it would take another few years to reach my dream.

Just as I was about to go out and buy some equipment and go down a completely different road, a photographer whom I had taken a class from at a Clickin’ Moms conference in Seattle advertised a new course.

I didn’t hesitate.

I purchased it.

This has to be it. It has to.

The course was for Fine Art School Portraits taught online by a Seattle photographer named Elena S. Blair. During the course, I joined a community of other amazing photographers all around the world who were also in the same rut in their own business or just needed some more income for their company. This course not only gave inspiration to all who took it, but motivation to keep our passion and businesses alive.

I thought it was going to take a few more years for me to gain momentum, but since then, I’ve booked three schools and have one more in negotiation. My dream is becoming realized and I’m so excited to share it.

Here’s some images from one school I recently finished. The comments from the parents and school director alone make me so glad to be doing this.

“I am so impressed with the pictures! I hope we continue to use this photographer in the future!”

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“The pictures are gorgeous!!! My husband and I were out of town when they were taken and their grandma took [my son] to his appointment. I was so surprised to see that [my daughter] had a folder too! Thank you! The pictures are gorgeous!”

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“Thanks for the adorable pictures!”

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Hurley Family – Tacoma Family Photographer

You’ve probably met someone and instantly thought “I want to be their friend!” Right? That’s how I felt when I first met Mike Hurley. Then I met his family.
“Now I totally have to be friends with all of them and I really hope our kids can be friends, too!” I said to my husband. It’s a good thing my girls get along with their kids and that they like homemade tacos. 😉

For our session, the kids and their dads braved the rain and cold last October for a shoot under the trees at Point Defiance Park. Once we were nearly frozen to the bone, we moved up the street to grab some hot cocoa at the Antique Sandwich Company. That place has pockets of beautiful light. We squeezed and scrunched and balanced on the stairwell not caring about the people watching. It was as if it were only me and the five of them in the whole place. Then we climbed the tall stairs to the only private window in the building for some sweet moments of Mike and Tony together, then of the twins. I had an image in my head of the little brother and sister and I was actually able to create it! These are my happy moments.

I have never met more loving, kind, funny, REAL and happy people. All of them. I truly mean it and I hope it shows in my photos of the Hurleys. There’s so much more I’d love to tell you about this little family because they have so much heart and so much history…but theirs is not my story to tell. You’ll just have to see as much as you can in our session.