I’ve called Seattle my home for over 20 years and I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else. The city is rich in culture, has great cuisine, and is overflowing with scenic locations. One of the biggest reasons I moved to Seattle was for the photo spots it had to offer.
In addition, if you travel in any direction for a couple of hours, you are rewarded with more amazing views. If you travel north, there is the North Cascades National Park and Vancouver, BC. Driving south will take you to Mt. Rainier National Park. Toward west, there is Olympic National Park, and the east has the rolling hills of The Palouse. Cityscape, waterscape, mountain scape… Seattle has it all!
People often ask me… Does it really rain that much in Seattle? Yes — it rains a lot! But that’s why everything is so beautiful here. Autumn is my favorite season to be in Seattle because of the changing colors and smaller number of tourists. All seasons, however, have something to offer. Winters can bring dramatic storms and a touch of snow. In the summertime, daylight seems to last forever. Spring brings in cherry blossoms and beautiful fields of tulips. There really is no bad time to visit Seattle. So, grab your camera and come check it out. Below are five of my favorite locations to photograph in and around Seattle.
In case you are interested, I currently carry a Sony A7r IV camera body along with the 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master and the 24-105 mm f/4 G lenses. All of the images I am sharing were taken with this setup or something very similar.
Bhy Krackle Park
While Kerry Park gets all the attention, I think Bhy Krackle Park — which is a stone’s throw away — offers a unique perspective on the Emeral City. It is often much less crowded, has plenty of parking, and has a cozy neighborhood feel to it. Late fall or early winter is the best time to visit. This is because the Space Needle can be framed between the branches of the leafless tree on the right. Both sunrise and sunset can be great here. The added benefit of visiting during the fall/winter months is the sun rises late and the sun sets pretty early, so you won’t have to miss breakfast or dinner!
One of my absolute favorite photo spots for snow photography in Seattle is Kubota Garden. After a particularly heavy snow fall, the red bridges look amazing and really pop against the white surrounding. Remember the exposure can be a little tricky in the snow. Usually, I overexpose the shot by 1.5 to 2 stops to ensure the white of the snow looks white and not gray. Kubota Garden is also a wonderful place to visit during the fall, as the many deciduous plants change into brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. As you walk along the lovingly cared-for paths, pause for a bit to take in all the beauty.
West Point Lighthouse
Located right in the heart of Seattle is Discovery Park, which is made up of 534 acres of meadow and forest land. The jewel of Discovery Park is West Point Lighthouse. It is a picturesque Victorian beacon worthy of a visit any time of year. I recommend stopping by the Visitor’s Center to ask for the best route to the lighthouse, as the way can be a bit tricky if you’re unfamiliar with the area. It’s worth the hassle — trust me! It’s not just the lighthouse, but the surrounding area also offers clear views of the Olympic Mountains to the west and Mt. Rainier to the south. Late afternoon light and low tide make the perfect photographic combination. Be sure to walk all the way to the lighthouse and stroll a little beyond to photograph it from multiple perspectives.
Perhaps one of the most famous beaches in all of Seattle, Alki Beach extends from Alki Point to Duwamish Head on Elliott Bay in West Seattle. You will get breathtaking western views of the city and, if you’re lucky, you might even spot a seal or two close to the shore. If you venture on to the western point, you will encounter Alki Point Lighthouse. Time it just right and you’ll be able to frame the lighthouse with a Puget Sound ferry cruising by in the distance. From Alki, I like to photograph the city at sunrise and the lighthouse at sunset. Although, there is no bad time to explore.
I think Volunteer Park is one of the most underrated photographic spots in Seattle. It’s located in Seattle’s eclectic neighborhood of Capital Hill and houses the Seattle Asian Art Museum. There is a unique donut-shaped artwork you can use to perfectly frame the distant Space Needle. Also, be sure to walk to the nearby water tower to see some breathtaking scenes of Puget Sound and the Olympics. Did you know that just next door is Lake View Cemetery? This is the resting place of legendary Chinese American martial artist and movie star, Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee. It’s not only an attraction but also a global pilgrimage destination.
The above are just five of my favorite places to photography in the Emerald City. When you visit Seattle, bring along some rain gear and your sense of adventure. You will get wet, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying all the amazing sights, smells, sounds, and tastes the city has to offer. Seattle should be on every photographer’s bucket list of places to visit as it offers photo spots, history, and culture to satisfy even the most discerning among us.