Best Oregon Engagement Photo Locations

Couples


Welcome to my list of the best Oregon engagement photo locations! Throughout my photography career, I’ve traveled far and wide around Oregon and compiled this list of stunning backdrops. These spots range from the Gorge, the coast, the mountains, and the city (with a few extras in between).

Your engagement session is the perfect opportunity to practice getting comfortable in front of the camera before your wedding day and to get comfortable with your photographer if you are booking the same person for both the engagement and the wedding. I highly recommend taking advantage of some of the locations that are a bit of a drive and making a day or weekend getaway out of it! This year, I booked a couple’s session for myself, and we chose a location in the Columbia Gorge and stayed in Hood River to enjoy the breweries, wineries, and nearby hiking trails.

The biggest concern couples usually bring to me is that they don’t know how to pose in front of the camera. I’m here to assure you that almost everyone feels this way, and it’s my job to guide you through poses and prompts that will give you photos you love. It can also be fun to bring props to your session, such as a bottle of champagne to pop and celebrate your engagement, or lay out an elaborate picnic with a view. There are endless options and I’m all ears to make the engagement session of your dreams come true!

This list is comprehensive, so feel free to use these links to jump to the best Oregon engagement photo locations in:

Columbia River Gorge

Oregon Coast

Mt Hood

Portland

Outside of Portland

Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is probably my overall favorite of all the Oregon engagement photo locations. I feel like it’s the perfect embodiment of the PNW with the river and the greenery surrounding. No matter the season or the weather, we will create something magical here.

Government Cove

Government Cove is a very popular choice for Oregon engagement session locations. It’s only about an hour from Portland, making it a pretty easy drive without putting too many miles on your car. It will involve a short uphill walk, but there are a few different areas that offer different types of views. Government Cove features tall, mossy rocks and views of the Columbia Gorge. It has gotten quite busy over the last few years, however, there is always room in different areas of the peninsula. Check out some more photos and sessions from Government Cove here.

Rowena Crest + Tom McCall Preserve

Rowena Crest is heavenly during wildflower season (late April-May). This one is a bit of a longer drive, but SO worth it. Although all areas of the gorge are usually windy, it seems like this one is always the windiest. Nonetheless, I always make an effort to shoot here at least once a year because the land features are so different from the areas closer to Portland. It tends to be drier and have less trees, but the rock features are super interesting and Tom McCall Preserve itself is on the Rowena plateau. Take a closer look at photos taken during a wildflower engagement session at Rowena Crest here.

Hamilton Island + Beacon Rock State Park

These two areas are very close to each other, a bit west of Stevenson, WA. The Washington side of the gorge has quickly become a favorite of mine because of the taller cliffs you can see in Oregon in the background. Although a bit less green after the 2017 Eagle Creek fire, the scenery is stunning and bouncing back. The Hamilton Island trail can be muddy at times but is still very usable. Just be prepared if you’re coming in the spring or following recent rainfall. Check out this blog to see more from a September session on Hamilton Island.

Credit to Han Kat Studios for the bottom 3 photos in the set above. She took these lovely couples photos for my boyfriend and me in the spring!

Oregon Coast

The coast is one of the dreamiest Oregon engagement photo locations I can imagine. Firstly, it is a beautiful destination to make a trip out of. Secondly, as the lighting changes from harsh, mid-day sun, to golden hour, then to soft blue hour light, the photos change so much to provide variety.

Cannon Beach + Ecola State Park

Cannon Beach is a classic beach location. Whether you’re an Oregon local or traveling in for a destination engagement session, these will perfectly capture the essence of Oregon. In the summer, it will be very crowded here, so I recommend choosing this location on a weekday or even trying a sunrise session for softer lighting. Check out more photos from a Cannon Beach engagement session here.

Cape Kiwanda

I love Cape Kiwanda for its orange-toned rock features and the tidal area at the base of the cliffs. This location can give you a lot more variety because you can use the rocks, open beach, and find some grassy areas to offer all different colors in your session. We can also climb up Cape Kiwanda, but take note that many areas are now fenced off for safety. Within the areas available to the public, we can explore and take in the views!

Mt. Hood

Timberline Lodge

The best time for engagement photos at Mt. Hood is going to be mid- to late-summer. Even in June, there is still a good amount of snow surrounding Timberline Lodge. There is easy access to photos like the ones below. You’ll drive up to Timberline’s parking lot, and you’ll immediately be greeted with these views. There are some other trails that you can go up from here, so if you’re up from an incline check those out as well! That may help you get away from crowds. In addition to an engagement session here, Timberline Lodge also hosts weddings!

Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake is a gorgeous location to give you both mountain and water views. It’s a very popular place in the summer for kayaking, paddle boarding, playing on the beach, and camping. Again, this location can get very crowded so it’s best to shoot in off-peak times such as early morning or weekdays. You can park very close to where these photos were taken, making it easy to get back to the car or change outfits.

Portland

Forest Park – Hoyt Arboretum

Forest Park is a crowd favorite for locals and visitors alike. I usually recommend the Hoyt Arboretum area and we can go from there. Near the main road, there is a pavilion and paved area where you can sit among the trees. If you follow the trail to the Redwood Observation Deck, there are several gorgeous areas to stop. The Redwood Deck can also be rented for intimate wedding ceremonies. I suggest shooting here before the sun starts setting because it can get dark quickly beneath all of the old growth trees. A great option would be to start at the deck, and work your way back up to the top as the sun lowers.

Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion is a classic Portland spot that includes a bit of historical architecture while also being surrounded by nature. The property also overlooks the city, so there is opportunity for another gorgeous backdrop (including Mt. Hood!) if the conditions are right. Since the view is off to the east, this can be a good location to shoot at in the morning.

Cathedral Park

Cathedral Park is a Portland staple when it comes to Oregon engagement photo locations. Beneath the St. Johns Bridge, this park has a lawn with paved paths winding throughout. You can get very close to the water here as well. Fall is one of my favorite seasons for engagement photos at Cathedral Park because of all the deciduous leaves changing colors! The classic photo beneath the bridge is stunning with the architecture that was built for bridge supports.

Pearl District

If you’re looking for engagement photo locations in the city, we can explore the streets of the Pearl District. It’s easy to find shade and shoot at any time of the day, but golden hour is always amazing as well, allowing sun to come through the trees and buildings in the background. To avoid traffic and people walking around, you may want to consider an early morning session.

Slabtown

With Slabtown being a newer area, the buildings and features are more modern. Although the photos I have to show for Slabtown are from senior sessions rather than engagement sessions, I can envision so many fun things for a couple here! You can enjoy a coffee together (and maybe even mix a coffee shop session in with this location) and walk through the streets of northwest Portland. To add some more variety to this location, we can walk up 23rd Avenue with the lively streets and romantic string lights hung in the trees.

Waterfront + Bridges

Along the Willamette River, there are several places that are great for photos. We could spend our session walking in a loop and crossing a couple of bridges. Tillikum Crossing offers a modern look. Other areas are the Eastbank Esplanade, OMSI Dock (views of the Hawthorne Bridge), or the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This is perfect for a couple who loves Portland and you want your engagement photos to show that!

Parking Garages

Rooftop parking garages have become a popular idea all over Pinterest. They are a fun way to mix a city engagement session with some stunning views as well. I usually recommend pairing a parking garage with another city location from this list. The photos below were all taken on the Crown Plaza parking garage, which is right next to Keller Auditorium and has views of the KOIN Tower. Just be cautious with parking garages, as I have heard of people being asked to leave depending on who is managing it. Definitely have a backup plan for areas like this that may or may not be fully open to the public.

Outside of Portland

There are some great parks in the surrounding areas of Portland. If you live in the suburbs or would rather avoid going into the city, here are some of my favorite Oregon engagement photo locations. It’s important to note that some of these parks do not allow dogs or walking off-trail since they are designated as nature preserves. Always check their rules before planning to bring animals with you.

Graham Oaks Nature Park – Wilsonville

Graham Oaks is by far my most popular choice for anyone who loves the look of tall, grassy fields. The grass is tall throughout the summer and gets cut as fall begins. Either way, this park always has beautiful areas whether it’s grassy or a background of trees. A short walk in, there is a big, beautiful oak tree that I always like to snap a few photos with. The whole area is very accessible, with paved paths for much of the way.

Canemah Bluff Nature Park – Oregon City

Canemah Bluff is nestled in a neighborhood in Oregon City, which then looks over the Willamette River towards I-205. Similar to many of the other nature parks, there is tall grass and a path that takes a loop through some different scenery. The thing I love about Canemah Bluff is that it has a view of the water from the main overlook. In the fall, this is a beautiful area with oranges and yellows in the forested area on the southwest side.

Stevens Meadows – Lake Oswego

Stevens Meadows is a very small area without much diversity in backdrops, but it also offers tall grass in the summer. The background features trees, and right outside the fence to enter there is a paved path and some larger trees. If this is the area you live in, it’s a great option to stay local. Since it’s smaller, it may also be less crowded.

Orenco Woods Nature Park – Hillsboro

Orenco Woods Nature Park is a pretty spot for all types of sessions. My favorite feature is the pedestrian bridge because it adds an element of urban and modern architecture to an otherwise very rural looking nature park. In the summer, there will also be some tall grass. There are also some big trees that offer shade on a bright, sunny day.

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