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The 8 best photography locations in Banff for your Engagement and Wedding photos

8 best photography locations in Banff

If you’re planning a proposal, already engaged, or getting married in the Rocky Mountains and dreaming about how you want your portraits to look, there are so many amazing Banff photography locations to consider. For more than a dozen years, we’ve been scouting and photographing couples in the most beautiful Banff and area locations, and we’d love to share the 8 best photography locations in Banff!

1. Lake Minnewanka: An Idyllic Setting for Surprise Proposals

Lake Minnewanka is a great location, especially for a surprise proposal. Just a short drive from the Town of Banff, Lake Minnewanka gives you the grand mountain view that people travel far and wide to see. (Not to mention that it’s only a few steps from the parking lot.) Important to keep in mind when planning your engagement or wedding portraits, Lake Minnewanka is a hotspot for tourists, and park rangers routinely close the parking lot during warm weather months as the lot fills. (So you’ll want to be strategic on timing, with a backup plan in case you get turned away.)

You can often escape the crowds by planning for your photo session to be on a weekday or during the winter season. Also worth noting, when planning a surprise proposal, there are limited hiding spots, so be sure to make a detailed plan with your photographer so you can pop the question in a spot with the best light and view. The morning and evening light at Lake Minnewanka create a beautiful ambiance, offering multiple options for your photoshoot.


  1. Easy accessibility, especially if you’re getting married in Banff and wish for a photo location with a big impact.
  2. Suitable for individuals of all abilities. The landscape is gradual, and you can access many locations without needing to go off-road or hike steep terrain.
  3. Lake Minnewanka has significantly fewer tourists during the winter season, allowing for more intimate and secluded photoshoots.


  1. Lake Minnewanka experiences high levels of congestion during the summer months, resulting in busy surroundings and potential delays/parking lot closures. Weekend dates during warm weather months at Lake Minnewanka require much planning and strategy.
  2. Wind gusts can come across the lake are a usual occurrence, which can make styling/hair/posing a challenge, as well as make it very chilly.
Bride posing onto of rocks at Lake Minnewanka one of the 8 best photography locations in Banff

2. Emerald Lake: A Hidden Gem

Emerald Lake is one of the most enchanting locations to photograph couples. The color of the lake is a mesmerizing blend of deep green and aqua-blue hues, resembling a polished glass surface, particularly on overcast days. The mountains provide an epic backdrop, and what sets Emerald Lake apart is its serene atmosphere, unlike the bustling crowds found at Lake Louise, Minnewanka, or Moraine Lake. A mere 5-minute pathway walk from the parking lot leads to a more secluded section, providing an intimate experience for your portraits. Also to note, the nearby Natural Bridge offers additional opportunities for varied settings and views within a 10-minute drive and is usually less bustling with tourists all year round. As a bonus, renting a canoe here is sometimes easier compared to other lakes in the area. This is by far our favourite of the 8 best photography locations in Banff!


  1. A breathtaking aqua-blue lake with a stunning mountain backdrop.
  2. Portraits here pair very well, logistically, when staying at Emerald Lake Lodge.
  3. Even during the peak season, approximately 90% of the trail encircling the lake remains unoccupied and available for your photo session.


  1. The area surrounding the main bridge can become overwhelmingly crowded.
  2. It is located ~half an hour further west of Lake Louise, and the road conditions during winter can be somewhat unpredictable. (Especially when considering a round trip back on the same day.)
  3. The parking lot is much smaller than Lake Minnewanka and tends to experience higher volumes of visitors during the summer months, so you may be walking a little further to the trailhead.
couple standing in front of Emerald lake lodge island one of the 8 best photography locations in Banff

3. Moraine Lake: A Magical Setting for Stunning Photos

Moraine Lake is a natural wonder that captivates with its stunning turquoise waters, towering snow-capped peaks, and pristine alpine surroundings. This glacially-fed lake, renowned for its incredible coloration, is breathtaking, especially during the summer months when the surrounding forests are in full bloom and the lake reflects the sky above. Surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake provides a picturesque, unrivaled backdrop for portraits. An important detail to note is that because Moraine Lake has gained so much popularity in recent years, the road is open only to pre-booked shuttles and guests staying overnight at the lodge. If you’re planning portraits at Moraine Lake, you’ll need to consider logistical details with your photographer far in advance.


  1. Undoubtedly the most awe-inspiring, iconic location for photography is within the Banff National Park.
  2. All photography vistas and viewpoints are located within close proximity of each other.


  1. Moraine Lake attracts a large number of international visitors, so be prepared for onlookers.
  2. Due to limited space for parking, you must shuttle up to Moraine Lake (unless you’re a lodge guest!). The shuttle schedules don’t work well with the best session time windows for light/sunset.
  3. Mobility is required to hike up to the most well-known, iconic viewpoint. It’s not a long hike but requires some effort.

Moraine Lake is one of the 8 best photography locations in Banff

4. Peyto Lake: A Hidden Gem for Breathtaking Wedding Photos

Peyto Lake is another gorgeous turquoise lake in Banff National Park with a view that creates a statement piece. The sunset at Peyto Lake can be spectacular since the view is situated in a different position with the sun from the other lakes. Despite blizzards or rain driving up to the lot, there are often unexpected breaks in the weather at Peyto due to the position of the mountain range it sits within. While it’s not guaranteed, it’s always worth a try! Petyo is relatively easy to reach, and depending on what viewpoint you want, can include more or less of a walk/low-impact hike.


  1. Fewer visitors venture this far, resulting in a more intimate experience with fewer photo bombers.
  2. By hiking a little further on smaller trails, you can reach secluded spots away from tourist crowds.


  1. If the weather isn’t great, it can be disheartening to drive the long distance.
  2. In winter months, you should be prepared for any/all weather and hiking situations.
  3. The wind at Peyto Lake can be piercingly cold, so be sure to dress in layers to keep warm between shots.
a couple standing at Peyto lake, one of the 8 best photography locations in Banff

5. Two Jack Lake: A Classic Mountian View

Two Jack Lake, located a short 15 minutes from the town of Banff, offers an incredible view for portraits without any hiking required. This location is an ideal place for portraits in the winter or summer months. For those who love the mountains in the winter, the lake is a great choice for a fun ice skating portrait session. Surrounded by lush forest, the view lakeside as well as a stunning view from the road above makes Two Jack Lake a Banff photo location that offers a variety of looks.


  1. Versatile throughout the seasons – this location is perfect for winter or summer weather.
  2. Convenient location – accessed easily off the main road. No hiking is necessary.


  1. As any popular location easily accessed in Banff National Park, be prepared to potentially navigate other tourists and traffic.
  2. Cold wind blowing across the frozen lake in winter months can bring extra chill, so wear layers!
Couple standing at Two Jack Lake in Banff holding hands during summer engagement session

6. Lake Louise: An Internationally Renowned, Iconic Backdrop

Lake Louise is undoubtedly one of the most renowned locations in Banff National Park for capturing stunning portraits. The location offers a pristine, emerald-green lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It really is something out of a postcard and serves as an awe-inspiring backdrop for your wedding or engagement portraits. It is important to note, however, that achieving the ideal conditions can be challenging. You’ll want to talk in-depth with your photographer about navigating tourist crowds, as the lake and Chateau Lake Louse draw a significant number of people year-round. The parking lot (if not staying as a guest) is usually full already at the beginning of the day in warmer months so tourists must park and shuttle in from a lot several kilometers away.


  1. The scenery is breathtaking year-round, whether it’s the vibrant summer landscape or the magical winter wonderland. In the winter, you can walk out on the frozen lake and enjoy ice sculptures on display from Chateau Lake Louise. In the summer, you can book a classic red canoe to incorporate into your portraits.
  2. The proximity of the hotel offers convenient access for warming up following your photo session, or for post-session drinks and cuisine. While currently under construction, Chateau Lake Louise will also offer an upgraded spa experience, to make a relaxing weekend of your session or wedding.


  1. Lake Louise experiences high levels of congestion all year round. To avoid crowds, it’s advisable to arrive very early or late. Alternatively, you can explore different areas around the lake, where the number of visitors decreases significantly.
  2. The parking lot fills up quickly in the summer, making it challenging to find a parking spot directly at Lake Louise. The alternate option of using a shuttle bus may not be ideal for a wedding or portrait session.
  3. Lighting for portraits can be a challenge at Lake Louise. In the morning, the glacier tends to be well-lit while the rest of the lake remains in shade. The weather at Lake Louise is also notoriously unpredictable, and clouds often obscure the glacier at the back, affecting the overall ambiance.
Couple in red canoe on Lake Louise during sunset

7. Bow Lake: An Ideal Location for Secluded Photos

Bow Lake offers a sweeping panoramic mountain view. With gorgeous turquoise waters and stunning views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains, Bow Lake is a great option for couples looking to capture their love in a less tourist-populated area. Except for the main shoreline, the area is generally not very crowded, making it a more secluded location (but be prepared for unpredictable gusts of wind).


  1. The landscape at Bow Lake is absolutely stunning, providing a picturesque backdrop for your photos. If you’re hoping to print large-scale portraits from your session, this view is a timeless classic one.
  2. The proximity of the lake to the road makes it easily accessible, even when wearing a wedding dress and heels. In addition, unlike some of the more popular tourist spots closer to Banff, Bow Lake tends to be quieter and less crowded in general.


  1. It’s important to watch your step as the grass around the lake can be boggy in certain areas.
  2. The weather at Bow Lake can be unpredictable, and it can be disappointing to travel a long way only to encounter unfavorable conditions. (ie. wind)
  3. Winter shots from this location may lack the vibrant blue color of the lake because of snow coverage on ice, resulting in a slightly subdued atmosphere.

8. Surprise Corner: Capturing Iconic Beauty in Banff

A must-have shot for your Banff engagement or wedding portraits, Surprise Corner offers an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. With the backdrop of the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel nestled into the mountainside, Surprise Corner brings an elegant, classic feel to your photos. This lookout point provides a memorable and easily accessible location for couples looking to capture their love against a backdrop that combines timeless, architectural charm with natural beauty.


  1. Accessibility: With its close proximity to anywhere in Banff, you can effortlessly capture a few photos at Surprise Corner, fitting it easily into your wedding day timeline.
  2. Iconic Backdrop: The view of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is instantly recognizable and adds a unique charm to your wedding portraits.


  1. Expect crowds: Being on popular tour bus routes, Surprise Corner sees a significant influx of visitors during peak seasons. If you’re dressed elegantly, be prepared for attention and the presence of others.
  2. Limited parking: During peak seasons, the small parking lot at Suprise Corner can sometimes prove to be challenging in coordinating logistics for couples and their photographers (and possibly videographers, if for your wedding). We suggest planning for the possibility of being dropped off so that time isn’t wasted in the case of your wedding day / and that you won’t be disappointed if the lot is full.
8 best photography locations in Banff

As with planning any photo session in Banff National Park and the surrounding area, always confirm that photo permit requirements are met (for the Town of Banff or the National Park) with your photographer so your session can be uninterrupted in case Parks rangers are checking permits. We would also strongly suggest a conservative plan for weather and weather-appropriate clothing. (Even when the posted temperature is mild, mountain winds can bring unexpected chill.) Especially if you’re traveling into Banff, plan on bringing a lot of layering options.

We hope these 8 best photography locations in Banff gave you some insight into your options as you plan your portrait session or wedding. As always, we’re here to help you plan the most incredible mountain session or wedding photo experience! If you’re coming to Banff National Park for your anniversary, proposal, engagement, or wedding, let’s chat!


David & Breanne

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