Stunningly San Tan: Fab Photo Venues Close to Home
As a senior portrait photographer in the Phoenix and East Valley area, I’ve scouted many vibrant and beautiful locations, and guess what? If you think your senior pictures have to be complicated, far away, and involve exotic locale bookings, you can think again! I’ve gotten some of the best senior portrait images from spots that are so close you barely have to top off the gas tank to get there. And here’s the best part…a lot of times, you only have to turn around or take a few steps for a completely different look, style, or change of scenery. One of my favorites for both daytime and nighttime photo shoots is San Tan Village in Gilbert.
An Unexpected Photo Venue
When locals hear the name, they may initially think of shopping, entertainment, and food. But from a photographer’s point of view, San Tan is so much more! It’s a modern, open-air space that’s full of opportunity. I see a venue that’s quaintly decorated with charming lighting, eclectic chairs, textured walls, modern patterns, unique storefronts, and a pretty footprint that provides lots of symmetry and lines for framing the perfect shot. (Bet you didn’t think of all that last time you went shopping, huh?)
Many Looks, One Location
In the photos below, I took advantage of several of San Tan’s sleek and symmetrical features to offset Marissa’s casual chic style. The daytime lighting was perfect to catch her reflection in a store window, and with just the right angle, I was able to pull in a few of the brightly-colored pottery pieces that are scattered along the sidewalk.
I wanted to get a nice close-up of her jean-jacket style, beautiful smile, and flawless look, so a shot with this gorgeous background was a must. Afterward, we angled for some distance shots and a casual shoulder-drop of the jacket. Key to every one of these shots is the varied and vibrant San Tan background with its lively lines and textures. All of these things worked together to add even more star power to Marissa’s overall classy-meets-trendy style.
Impeccable Style & a Smile for Miles
With Rylee, I focused on her cosmopolitan sense of style, which was complemented perfectly by the glossy black and white lines of the building pictured below. Yep, you guessed it! It’s also located in beautiful and lively San Tan! She chose a perfectly paired outfit of ripped black skinny jeans topped with a feminine lacy black crop top and peep-toe heels, showing off her talent for mixing and matching textures to create her own unique style. With stunning hair and make-up to top off her mod look, she stood out like a runway model against the lines of the building.
Moving from denim to dress-up, Rylee shifted gears and opted for a black mini tank dress with ankle-tie heels. It was perfectly chic and perfectly simple—allowing me to focus on capturing her vibrant personality and impeccable style. I wanted to get a few photos of her from a distance, as well as some casual and unexpected pics, like the one of her sitting on the back of a bench. One of the things I love about going to San Tan is the variety—all within shopping (er, walking) distance!
Night Lights & Playing in the Street
And then there’s Brenley. This 2021 senior couldn’t take a bad picture if she tried! We took things from day to night at San Tan, starting with some playful and flirty shots of her playing in the street. I love the fact that traffic moves slowly at this venue, so there are plenty of gaps, which lets us take advantage of cross-walks, street pavers, and signs that we couldn’t capture in other places.
After dark, we let San Tan’s ambience work in our favor, and we took advantage of the pretty lighting. Using it as a background to bring the lovely Bren into focus, I was able to capture both her serious and lighthearted sides.
Finally, she got to enjoy a gourmet chocolate—and of course, I had to capture a photo of her treating her sweet tooth to a much-deserved break after all her hard modeling work.
The Photographer’s Eye
It’s a blessing and a curse. I’m constantly on the lookout for places that will make excellent photography venues. When you’re at a quaint café drooling over the chocolate cake, I’m looking at the décor and thinking of ways to pull off a vintage shoot incorporating the adorable checked tablecloths and the jukebox. Same thing happens in ditches, beside ponds, and on lunch dates. Lovely, interesting, and artistic places always get bookmarked for a return visit with my camera!
What Seniors Want
Whenever I talk to seniors who are getting ready for their photo shoot, they always tell me they’re looking for “something different, pics that highlight their personality…that aren’t like everyone else’s.” That makes a lot of sense to me. After all, their senior pictures should be just as unique as they are!
Luckily, today’s high school seniors don’t remember the days of the old-school portrait studio. You know the one with the fuzzy bolster pillow to prop your arms on while you posed in a contorted position and held a fake smile while the photographer rolled down a canvas background behind you? Yeah, you remember. We all looked the same. Sure, we had different features and outfits, but the poses and expressions? Those were all the same. (Unfortunately, for many of us, so were the haircuts.)
I love what I do, and I’m thrilled that today’s senior classes aren’t limited to the roll-down canvas backgrounds we had. There’s an entire world out there, and I’m on the lookout for exciting locations to photograph in every day!
All Over the Valley
Stay tuned to the blog for more amazing East Valley and Phoenix-area locations. I’ll be highlighting some of my favorites, as well as brand-new treasures I’ve stumbled upon that have turned out to be spectacular spots for lighting, textures, lines, and just plain fun.
Where will your senior pics be? What location makes you feel most like YOU? Have a special hangout, a fave coffee shop you always hit with your bestie? Tell me about it! Chances are, there are some pretty great opportunities for photos in lots of the places you love. Let’s explore!
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