Every photo has a setting. One of the most important aspects of photography in Bend is choosing the perfect location. The location will drive all other decisions for the shoot, including which props to take, which clothes the subject should wear, and how to look natural in front of the camera.
Should I Shoot in a Studio? | Photography in Bend, Oregon
While shooting in a studio with a plain background is always an option, it’s not an exciting option. For visually appealing and engaging portraits, you want a location that showcases your personality and the place where you live and work.
Thankfully, Bend has beautiful outdoor and indoor locations where you can take pictures! Here are my five top sites for photography in Bend.
Riverbend Park is a thirteen-acre park that hosts special events throughout the year, provides public access to the Deschutes River, and boasts an expansive network of walking trails that immerse visitors in the gorgeous riparian landscape that the park strives to preserve.
The area features wide-open lawn areas, a picnic shelter, public restrooms, and a sandy beach that’s perfect for a sunny day by the river. The Deschutes River Trail connects to Riverbend Park as well, which includes a specialized soft surface running trail that weaves its way along the traditional ten-foot-wide walking path. The trail leads as far as Farewell Bend Park across the river and to the south canyon walking trails upstream.
What I particularly like about shooting here is the access to both beautiful pathways, shots of the river, and ample shade for placing my subject in. (Read my last blog on How I Can Look Natural in Photos, and refer to the Open Shade sections for more detail!)
Drake Park and Mirror Pond
This popular downtown gathering place hosts many events throughout the spring, summer, and fall, including the District’s Old Fashioned July 4th Celebration.
The area features stunning views of the water, nearly a half-mile of riverfront, acres of open lawn, an outdoor stage, and small picnic tables. Bend fully renovated Drake Park in 2003, so it’s in excellent condition for photoshoots. Pathways throughout the park have been replaced with pavers to make walkways wider, new lighting systems have been installed, bike racks have been installed, a seating and viewing area was added at Mirror Pond, and the High Wheel has made a triumphant return to the park. Today, Drake Park is more beautiful than ever! Photos taken at this iconic location have a breathtaking backdrop, provide easy access to downtown for additional shoots, and offer perfect light for outdoor shots.
Downtown Bend is one of the most popular spots in town for food, brews, and independently owned shops.
Walkable streets and attractions offer a place to try new activities. Bend is known as one of the most charming downtowns in Oregon, thanks to its friendly atmosphere paired with modernity.
Downtown features over 300 businesses. The area’s walkable layout gives photographers and subjects access to hundreds of boutiques for inspiration, as well as a variety of textures and colors perfect for creative photoshoots.
From hundred-year-old buildings with stunning architecture to modern art galleries and cozy coffee and tea shops, you’ll find the perfect shooting spot for your needs downtown.
It’s essential to shoot in open shade, which makes this location ideal. You should be able to find one side of the road shaded by the buildings at most times during the day. Downtown is the perfect location for your lifestyle shoot since it showcases the Bend, Oregon lifestyle and provides excellent branding for business owners.
Old Mill District
The Old Mill District in Bend has been the hub of social life for Central Oregon since the 1990s. The Mill features over 40 shops, 12 restaurants, and an amphitheater featuring almost every kind of entertainment you can imagine. But it’s not just the mall itself that is special. Situated in the midst of a rugged wilderness with miles of hiking trails, rushing rivers, and the breathtaking scenery that makes Oregon so unique, the Old Mill District combines the sophisticated and the primitive and really makes it work!
The Les Schwab Amphitheater offers musical entertainment during the summer months and makes for an expansive shoot location for the rest of the year. Travel & Leisure even named it one of “America’s coolest music venues”.
The Old Mill has a lighter and brighter backdrop than downtown, which is mostly brick and slightly more masculine. The Mill has a feminine touch that brings bright colors and neutral grays into the background. This area provides beautiful landscaping and boasts an abundance of vibrant wildflowers in the spring. With easy access to the river, this location is perfect for both lifestyle and branding shots.
Oregon State University-Cascades is a branch campus of Oregon State University located in Bend. This new campus features stunning modern architecture, an abundance of nature spots, and an array of colors and natural textures. Its variety makes it perfect for photoshoots.
The OSU-Cascades campus is a little-known gem in the photography community since it’s a recent addition to our town. Even when it becomes more widely known, there’s still more to come! Over the next several years, OSU-Cascades will continue to expand. Eventually, it will become a 128-acre campus for up to 5,000 students. OSU plans to add one new building every two years.
The area was once a pumice mine and a Deschutes County demolition landfill. The transformation of the university properties today is deemed of the most innovative university development projects in the country.
Branding Photography in Bend, Oregon
The best thing about living in Bend is that there are new things to discover here every day! My favorite spots for photography in Bend, Oregon might change next month as new spots are discovered. Where are your favorite places to get photos taken in Bend? Drop them in the comments below!