If your a photographer planning a trip to the Grand Tetons....you'll want to read this....I'm about to give you directions to the TOP 5 photo and video locations.
When it comes to iconic images of the West there is one place that always comes to mind....The Grand Tetons. It's rustic charm mixed with some of the world's most epic landscapes draw photographers from all over the world traveling to attempt to capture an iconic image for their portfolio....including myself. In the summer of 2016 I was contacted by my friends at Carl Zeiss Lenses (check out the full article on that trip here) to test out some of their new Milvus series primes. I decided that the perfect location to do this would be the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. I jumped in the car and two Redbulls, one bag of Sweedish fish and about twenty podcasts later I was there and ready to shoot (Improve Photography and The Unexplained Podcasts of course).
As you can imagine, The Tetons are freaking huge!!! And to get a good angle at sunset or sunrise plan on getting up super early (at least an hour and a half before first light) and bring bear spray as you will be hiking out in/out the dark in many photo locations. I spent my first day scouting the area and looking at other iconic places to begin my journey. After several days of shooting in multiple locations I feel confident that this list of the Top 5 Grand Tetons Photo locations will help you out.
THE SNAKE RIVER OVERLOOK
The Snake River Overlook was made famous by the incredibly talented and ultra famous black and white landscape photographer Ansel Adams. Uncle Ansel made this place iconic, but note that you cannot get the same shot as he did as the trees have grown much larger and block much of the river at the bottom of the frame. Although this location is technically not in the park, be respectful if flying a drone to achieve a similar Remember that nobody wants a loud drone hovering twenty feet above their head when they traveled across the world/country to experience the spot....not cool man. I tried shooting here at sunrise and sunset, both times getting some amazing photos. The weather in the Tetons is magical and fast moving, if you can line up some amazing clouds at sunset you are golden.
- Go really early to get the best location, there will be ten people around you on a good morning/evening.
- Don't forget your polarizer to cut down on glare from the river if that's not what your going for.
THE GRIZZLY MAZE
Okay, I admit I named this location the Grizzly Maze....well....because that is kind of what it is! The real name of this location is the Willow Flats Overlook . This area has a high population of bears so be safe and never go alone or without preparing for bear country. From this overlook you can see the entire valley and over them looms the majestic Tetons.
- This is a great location for time lapse on a cloudy day, the shadows are amazing across the valley.
- Bring a long lens! Compression is your friend for this vastness. I used a Zeiss Milvus 135mm for the shot above.
This is likely the image you think of when someone talks about the Grand Tetons. At Mormon Row there are several iconic old structures that you will have a great time shooting....and the background is okay too I guess 🙂 This place is outside of Grand Teton National Park and is a great place to visit in the winter when most of the park is inaccessible.
- To get a shot like the one above a long lens is a must! Anything from 85mm-400mm will get a good result.
- Ipad photographers will walk over in front of the structures, the pros will stand way back in the field behind them for compression.
- Be prepared to have lots of people in your shot...yeah guy in the red coat having a picnic in front of the barn I'm talking about you....clone tool friends.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN BOAT RAMP
Yes, I'm sending you to a freaking boat ramp.....but believe me its one of the most picturesque places in Grand Teton National Park and not many people know about it.....until now. The google maps link below will take you to the camp ground and from there you can follow the signs to the boat ramp. The beach is filled with millions of round rocks that makes for some epic foreground. If your lucky enough to go on a calm day you will get some epic glassy waters too.
- Bring some graduated NDs and a polarizer if your wanting to capture the stones under the water.
- There is all kinds of driftwood typically on this beach, mess around with some of it for great foreground elements.
THE EPIC FENCE
Yes, it's really called the "Epic Fence". In reality, this fence runs for miles along Highway 89 and there are great locations if you pull off the road all along this route. The photo above was taken at the "Elk Ranch Flats" turnout, which I will note on the map and include in the link. Keep your eye out for great foreground elements. Keep an eye out for antelope, deer and elk to add to your overall composition.
- Once again, bring a long lens for compression and possible wildlife shots along this stretch.
- Look for places where the fence is sagging or is drifted over with snow exposing the beams in the winter.....this looks awesome.
- Great winter location as its almost always accessible.
Thanks for reading friends! I hope these locations help you on your next adventure to Grand Tetons National Park and the surrounding area! Like these guides? Tell me in the comments below what areas you would like to see covered in the next "Top 5 Photo and Video Locations" article.
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