13 of our favourite locations to shoot and explore in BC
Whether you’re a photographer looking for an inspiring new location to shoot at, a nature lover wanting to try a new hike, or you’re planning your next family vacay to BC, we’re SO excited to share some of our favourite spots with you! This post is geared towards photographers, but we’ve included helpful tips for anyone wanting to checkout these spots!
1. Golden Ears Provincial Park, Maple Ridge
Golden ears is one of our go-to locations in the lower mainland of Vancouver. With a variety of forest trails, a hike to a waterfall, and the lake with epic mountain views, there’s so many options of new places to scout!
If you’re planning to shoot there in the winter, just be aware that the road does close down in any snowy/icy conditions, so you’ll want to look online before you go and make sure the gate is open! (The main horse corral is a great backup. It’s the first parking lot as you enter the park, just before the gate, so even when the road is shut down you’ll still be able to hike + explore in there!
2. Pitt Lake, Pitt Meadows
While the lake itself doesn’t have much of a shore to shoot at, there’s little pull offs on the side of the road + trails around the lake with gorgeous mountain views. It takes a little bit of exploring to find your own favourite spots, but Pitt Lake is a great go-to for mountain views in the valley!
Be prepared that you might run into other photographers shooting here. Pitt lake has become a pretty popular place for the local photographers to shoot at, so you may have to share the space! I’ve run into other photographers here a few times during shoots, which is always a nice surprise, but it also makes shooting a little more tricky! If you’re photographing a super shy couple I’d suggest coming up with a plan B (like the forest trails at golden ears!) incase it’s a busy day at Pitt lake.
3. Nairn Falls, Pemberton
Nairn falls is about a 20 minute drive north of whistler, just a few minutes before you get to Pemberton. The trail to the falls is an easy beginner trail that takes about 25-30 minutes. The main falls have a viewing platform, and are totally worth hiking up to just to see the main falls, but the BEST spot to shoot at is at the lower falls. You’ll have to keep an eye out for the little hidden trail that goes to the lower falls, but if you’re looking for it it’s pretty hard to miss.
4. Flood Hope Falls, Hope
Flood hope falls is a little hidden gem just off of the freeway out in Hope. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from Vancouver but once you’ve parked its only a 5-7 minute walk from your car to the falls making it one of the most easily accessible and semi-private waterfalls we’ve found in BC.
5. Tonquin Trail, Tofino
Sooo I’m pretty much obsessed with Tofino and Tonquin Park has become on of my favourite places to explore when we go! The mix of cliffs, old growth forest + sandy beaches gives it an Oregon-coast vibe, and there’s a few hidden beaches along the trail that make for amazing photos! [The adorable couple in the photos below are my friends Nora + Marcus, two local photographers in Tofino! If you’re headed there for a trip and are looking for someone local to do your photos, I highly recommend reaching out to Nora, she’s the biggest sweetheart and so so talented!]
6. Pender Hill, Sunshine Coast
If you’ve never heard of the Sunshine Coast before, (I never had either, until meeting Sean, and ironically now we call this small beach town home!) it’s a 40 minute ferry ride from West Vancouver, and then the trail head is about a 1-1.5 hour GORGEOUS windy drive up the coast from the Langdale ferry terminal to Garden Bay.
My favourite local spot to hike, shoot, and pretty much just soak in the EPICNESS is Pender hill. We jokingly call it the sweaty twenty, or dirty thirty, because it’s a fairly gruelling 30 minute hike, but we’ve made it up in 20 minutes when we’ve had to practically run the whole thing to make it in time for the sunset.
It’s one of those hikes where you make it to the top and just need a few minutes to take in the view, it’s THAT awesome. (Ok, let’s be real, I always need a few minutes to catch my breath, but soaking in the view is a great excuse while I sit there gasping for air. HAH.)
7. Ruby Lake, Sunshine Coast
If you’re headed up to Pender hill, you’ll want to make time to see Ruby Lake too! It’s only a 15-20 minute drive from Pender hill, and the lake is perfect for a beach day, or for a photo shoot! There’s a beach area and boat launch/dock that would work for shooting but if you want to make an adventure of it, take a boat over to the little islands! Last year I bought a few tiny blow up dingy’s from Canadian Tire, and my friends Laura + Dean hopped into one dingy while I loaded all my gear (and a case of beer) into the other. It made for the BEST adventure day + sunset shoot, and is still one of my favourite shoots to date.
8. Squamish Spit
The Squamish spit is a spot you’d easily miss when you drive through town, but once you find it, you’ll be hooked by the mountain views + tall grass! (google maps or an instagram location search will be your best friend for finding any of the spots in this post)
The spit is the perfect spot to walk your dog, or for any shoot! The sun sets much earlier in the mountains (We ALMOST missed the sunset on the day of this shoot because I forgot the sun would dip behind the mountain so early) so for the best golden light I suggest heading here 2-3 hours before the sunset time that day.
9. Manning Park
Sean and I were road tripping home from a Penticton wedding last summer when we drove through Manning park and HOLY GUACAMOLE is it ever pretty. If you want epic mountain views, lakes, alpine forests and a winter wonderland, I highly suggest making a day trip (or stay in a local airbnb for the night!) and explore some of the dirt roads around the lighting lakes.
10. Cox Bay, Tofino
Of all the beaches in Tofino, Cox bay is my absolute favourite to shoot at. The mountain (ok, more like a large hill) at the end of the beach gives it a west-coast-meets-tropical-vibe.
It’s also the busiest beach that I’ve seen in Tofino, so I’d suggest heading over to one of the far ends of the beach, where there’s less people. (You’ll have to park + walk down the main trail to the middle of the beach, and then continue walking for another 10-15 minutes along the beach, so make sure you bring everything you need (outfit changes, extra batteries, ect) with you. There’s a hidden trail that leads to a lookout point at the top of the hill. (Takes 20-30 minutes to reach the top) It can be tricky to find the trailhead + is very muddy + slippery, with some steep sections that have ropes to hang onto. Not for the faint of heart, but SO worth it once you see the view!
11. Chilliwack Lake
The lake itself is gorgeous, but what really makes my heart giddy about shooting here is all of the incredible options along the roadside while you’re driving to the lake! There’s fields, mountain views, long straight roads, and trails that lead through the forest to a waterfall. (Do a little of your own research + google some of the spots around there to see what jumps out to you most, OR spend a day scouting around there! There’s SO much to choose from!)
12. Kaleden Cliffs, Penticton
I had never heard of Kaleden before last year. We shot a wedding at the Kaleden gardens and had the chance to explore + scout around that area, and the Kaleden Cliffs have by far become my favourite spot to shoot in the Penticton area. There’s lakeside trails, incredible viewpoints, and dirt roads that hug the cliffs + side of the lake. (Click here to watch Andrew + Laura’s Wedding Film + see the spots I’m talking about!)
13. Jones Lake
Ahhh, I saved the best for last. Ok, they’re pretty much all the best, but Jones lake is one of my absolute favourite spots I shot at in 2018 and I can’t wait to go back next summer!
It takes about 2 hours to get to Jones lake from Vancouver, including 30-45 minutes up a fairly steep dirt road. (We were just in my little Ford Escape SUV, so any vehicle should be able to make it up there, you don’t need a 4x4.)
It’s a fairly popular lake, with camping all around the lake + parties going on, so leave a little extra time for driving around the lake to find the right spot to shoot at. Luckily we were able to find a spot where there were hardly any people around, but it took another 20 minutes of driving around before we found this gem! (This is another spot you’ll want to go extra early to get that golden light before the sun dips behind the mountains!)
Well that’s all folks! If you found this post helpful, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and we’d literally do a happy dance if you shared this post with your friends!
We’d also love to hear what your favourite spots are, as we’re always looking for new places to explore with our kiddos! Drop your top recommendations in the comments below! :)
Kaylyn + Sean
Based on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of BC, we are Sean + Kaylyn, husband + wife photo + film team who love to laugh loud, travel the world, and play with our 2 hilarious little mini-me's Cohen + Isla.
We believe that marriage is a lifelong adventure with your best friend, (we’ve been married for 10 years!) and we want to capture your love story naturally and genuinely, with no stiff awkward poses, just a FUN date day filled with exploring together, sipping craft beer as the sun goes down, and taking epic photos along the way!
The west coast is home, but we’re available for travel worldwide.