Do You Need Location Ideas for Senior Pictures in Arizona? | 7 of the Best Locations in East Valley and Metro Phoenix

Creativity is the only limit when it comes to planning the perfect senior portrait photo shoot, so day or night, sunrise or sunset, indoors or out, it’s all about your personality and preference. We're talking about some of my favorite locations for senior pictures in the East Valley...

From Average to Awesome: Surprising East Valley Locations That Will Make Your Senior Pictures Shine

If 2021 (or even 2022!) is your graduation year, it’s time to talk photos. How do you want to capture the memories of your high school years? What things and places spark special memories? When you’re planning outfits, make-up, and the setting for your senior portraits, every detail is important—because everything that goes into your photo shoot is a reflection of the person you’ve become and the places you’re going.

The Importance of Location

There are lots of reasons to talk about location. It’s a pretty big deal. After all, aside from you (the star of the show), the locations you choose for your photos will garner a good amount of attention from anyone who sees your pics. But when I talk about location, I’m not talking about national landmarks or vacation hotspots. Instead, I’m talking about photography hotspots!

What’re those? Those are the secret treasure troves, the hidden gems, and the out-of-the-way locales photographers discover and add to their library of shooting locations. Oh yes, serious recon work goes into building the ever-changing knowledge base of perfectly-photographic places that are recommended to clients.

Here’s why my clients don’t need to stress. I’ve had years of experience in the East Valley, and I’ve tromped through ditches, hiked trails, and scoured city streets in search of the very best places for photographs. In fact, I look for new places to shoot every day! I’m not saying I’m Frodo, but I could lead you on quite an adventure around the city—and suggest any number of picture locations that you’re sure to love.

Fantastic Locations Are All Around Us

The great news is that we don’t have to travel far to get awesome senior pics in a location you love. Just step outside and look around! We are lucky enough to be surrounded by mountains, trails, trees, cacti, and trendy urban centers if you’re looking to highlight your city-loving style. We even have lakes and waterfalls nearby! Whatever your personality, however you want to showcase your fashion, interests, and hobbies, we’ll find the perfect setting to accentuate the things that make you YOU.

Ditches, Diners, Streams & Streetlights

With a bit of creativity, just about any location can look beautiful. In fact, one of my favorite local destinations for photo shoots is in a ditch. Yep, a ditch. When I first tell my clients this, I get anything from dubious looks to nervous laughs—but when I pull out images of some of my previous clients in “the ditch,” new clients are convinced. That’s because in the art of photography, in focusing in on the beauty in the details and in leaning into the personalities of my clients, I am able to capture unique moments that can’t be replicated with anyone else.

This is no ordinary ditch. Savannah poses among wildflowers and desert landscaping, drawing on her natural beauty—which shines inside and out! This location works great for senior portraits as well as graduation photos.

Best Locations Senior Pictures East Mesa

Best Locations Senior Pictures Graduation

Just Add Water

If you’re sticking with the nature theme, there are some great locations where we can get your feet wet, literally. Not to far from my office, we have this lovely stream and lake. If you saw it in person, you’d likely walk right past it and never give it a second look for a photo shoot location.  Yet it’s a favorite of many of my seniors. I remember this afternoon perfectly. I asked Kaitlyn if she wanted to be in the water or just splash her feet from the side. I turned around to this…pure joy, pure heaven as she played in the water! If you know this girl, this is just her personality. It just fits!

Best Locations Senior Pictures Lake Mesa

Now, not everyone jumps in to splash like Kaitlyn–that was a first! However, it’s just as awesome to sit on the edge and splash or enjoy the natural beauty like these two beautiful young ladies. It’s all about your personality and what makes you the most comfortable. That’s the top priority! Alynna had the perfect dress hidden away in the back of her closet, never worn, but was absolutely perfect sitting by the water waiting for me to catch the perfect splash!

Best Locations Senior Pictures Girls Mesa

Best Locations Senior Pictures Mesa Lake

At a nearby lake in Chandler, we created one of my all-time favorite images ever with Adrienne. By Arizona standards, it was really cold that day, but she was a trooper! Don’t let the warmth of the image fool you though, she was covered in goosebumps but “it was so worth it” I say from my warm, dry spot on the rocks. LOL! Nah, I know it is Adrienne’s favorites too!

Best Locations Senior Pictures Az Lake

On-Location Doesn’t Have to Mean Outdoors

Local businesses can be fun venues, too, but this a tricky one, because we’ll definitely want to plan ahead and get permission from the owners before making concrete plans. Love cafes and sidewalk eateries? How about bookstores? Totally into the ‘50s? Check into taking pics at a local retro diner to show off your personality. Rae’s personality shines in the photos below as she poses for her senior pictures at Chase’s Diner in Mesa, AZ. Not only is this charming restaurant a step back in time, it offers up hearty and delicious portions, along with hospitable service. (Pro tip: Arrive hungry and order the gigantic slice of chocolate cake!)

It didn’t take five minutes for Rae to feel comfortable and in her element at Chase’s Diner in Chandler. Before long, our group was laughing, having fun, and I was clicking away catching fun candid pictures of Rae as she enjoyed an old-fashioned shake and a fun evening with her mom.

Best Locations Senior Pictures Retro

Best Locations Senior Pictures Diner

It’s Not All Sunshine

That is to say that not all of your pictures have to take place while the sun is shining! Even to the untrained eye, things look different at night, more mysterious, more magical. The same goes for photographers. Some of my favorite photo shoots have taken place in the evening, allowing me to use light in a different way and capture things like shadows, stars, silhouettes, and more.

The sky was perfect the night of Ashley’s senior portraits, perfect her to twirl under the stars!

Best Locations Senior Pictures Mesa

I love that more dramatic lighting we get too, plus we can include the city lights!

Best Locations Senior Pictures Gilbert

And yet another fun look in Downtown Scottsdale. We’re so lucky to have beautiful locations in every part of the Phoenix area!

Best Locations Scottsdale Senior Pictures

Your Pictures, Your Style

When I go out with a client on a photo shoot, my main objective is fun. Here’s why. If you’re having fun and you’re excited about your senior pictures, if you’re energized about the setting, your outfits, and your look, then you’ll be more relaxed and natural in your pics. And that’s the look you want in your final images. Just look at this post! Many different seniors, all different personalities and looks, but each gorgeous and matching the personality of the senior. That’s the winning ticket!

That’s why so much work goes into your senior portraits on the front end. Part of that work is scouting new and fun locations around the Phoenix area. I’m always on the lookout for interesting backgrounds, unique props, and scenery that would do justice to your photos. Sometimes it’s a funky wall. Other days, it’s a retro soda bar or a neon chair. The great thing about where we live? Our backyard is full of variety, adventure, and beauty. You’d probably be surprised to know that the photographs below were all taken at the same park, mere minutes from home, with a different focus, and with creative takes on lighting and composition.

Best Locations Senior Pictures East Mesa

Creativity is the only limit when it comes to planning the perfect senior portrait photo shoot, so day or night, sunrise or sunset, indoors or out, it’s all about your personality and preference. From there, it’s a wide-open road—and trust me, it’s a fun trip!

7 of My Favorite Locations for Senior Pictures in Metro Phoenix and East Valley

  • Downtown Phoenix near Roosevelt Row & Heritage Square
  • Downtown Gilbert, almost anywhere, lots of options
  • Downtown Chandler along Arizona Avenue, especially at night
  • Downtown Mesa, Mesa Arts Center
  • Eastmark in East Mesa
  • Tumbleweed Park in Chandler
  • Riparian Preserve in Gilbert
  • Love this!! Location is so important, and most people don’t realize that some of the simplest places turn out to be the best!!

    • I love finding everyday mundane spots and making them into gorgeous locations for photo shoots! It’s fun to see clients’ reactions when they know where we were at and what it looked like in real life, then see that the final senior portraits look so much different!

  • You have some awesome locations for senior portraits in Arizona! I love taking places that others walk right by and turn them into something awesome!

  • You certainly answered the “Where to take senior pictures in Arizona” question. These locations are wonderful and your seniors are lucky to have a photographer with such a keen eye!

  • Michelle, Always love your work. And yes location, location, location it is not just for real estate! Such a huge difference in normal and great senior photos.

  • Such cute location ideas! I love seeing something beautiful come from what others view as not “ideal”.

  • I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page layout of your site? Its very well written; I love all the information! But you’ve got an awful lot of text for only having a couple of pictures.

    • Hey Shawn, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. However I do wonder if you’re responding to the correct post since this post about locations for senior portraits has more than 10 images.

  • Highly descriptive post, I love your ideas! Will there be a part 2?

    • Hey Catherine! Yes, actually we’re always trying to share great locations for senior pictures so definitely keep checking back!

  • Hi there very nice site!! I love your photos and I will bookmark your website so I’ll be able to see more beautiful senior photos!

    • Hi Shawnee! I try to post every week so make sure you come back to read more about senior portrait sessions!

Leave a Reply

Now Trending...

I loved seeing all the ideas for cheer senior pictures Aracely had to offer! From smiles to serious looks to a few bold and sassy expressions, she’s got it all—and she’s not afraid to share it with the camera.

Today I've asked Christina Hayes from Nizhoni Day Spa to help us out with some information about spray tans. If you've looked through any of my photo shoot prep materials, you'll know that self-tanners are a big no-no! Christina's beautiful spray tans though, wow!!! They blend beautifully with your skin tones and give you a natural glow!

When I asked Ashley about her favorite activities and sports in school, she enthusiastically told me about her involvement in cheerleading, so of course we had to capture some memories of her in her Warriors cheer uniform, complete with silver and red poms and a bow on the side!

Welcome! I’m your bestie behind the camera! Lots of great info, so hang out for awhile!


Chandler Senior Portrait Photographer