Deal 7: How to make money through your photography
Washington state is my home. So I am biased. I have done probably 80% of my photography in this state. Photographs of the towering mountains, of the spectacular sunsets, of the traffic. So it is with a bit of pride I want to invite you to venture to the Evergreen State for some excellent photography opportunities.
Washington has not one but two mountain ranges; the Cascade range running the length of the state from North to South and the Olympic Mountains which stand isolated on the Olympic Peninsula. The situation of Seattle in between these two ranges gives it a likely spot to start and mountain photo quest. From here, hiking trails to 360 degree views amongst the peaks are only 45 minutes from the city.
While a number of the peaks are volcanic, they each have individual character. Mt.Rainier demands its own National Park and has gorgeous views from all angles with easy drive up locations. Mt. St. Helens, the one which blew its top in 1980, is your only chance to see a recently erupted volcano crater’s rebirth in the USA. Just before arriving in Canada is the North Cascades National Park, with no entrance fee and hundreds of mile of backcountry trails through sharp peak and a plethora of glaciers. Washington state also boasts to having the most photographed mountain in the world; Mt. Shuksan, pictured below (a certainly disputed claim, so let’s just say it’s one of the top three).
Oh yes, rivers. The Cascade Mountains are named as such because of the vast amounts of water pouring down from the snow capped peaks, especially in the Spring and early Summer. Skykomish, Green, Elwha, Snoqualmie, just to name a few. Entire books are written on the named and unnamed waterfalls ripe for your shooting pleasure.
Whales, ferry boats, a mountainous backdrop. Puget Sound itself is not only a lifeline in the region but a great essay in itself. A multitude of beaches string from the state’s capital in Olympia north to the border with Canada and then extending out through the Straight of Juan de Fuca to the open Pacific Ocean. The Puget Sound is a true multiuse waterway with heavy cargo frieghters passing by luxury yaghts and sailboats flushing from the many marinas on the Summer weekends. Under the waves, if you fancy some diving photography, you will not be disappointed by the abundant and varied wildlife waiting in the Sound’s depths.
While battles over development vs habitat conservation continue long past Washington’s famous Spotted Owl years, Washington is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Orcas, octopus, bald eagles, osprey, herons, black bears, grizzly bears, elk, mountain goats and even chipmunks! Sitting at the southern terminus for a number of migrating birds and a favorite northern stopping off point for a number of whale and orca pods, Washington offers birders and wildlife photographers ample opportunity to bring home some fantastic shots.
Seattle was built right on the waters of Puget Sound and in some cases, over it, as fill dirt was hauled up from as far away as San Francisco. The gorgeous waterfront setting, with an advantageous viewpoint from across Elliot Bay at Alki beach or on an approaching ferry boat, gives the city a classic cityscape set against the Cascade mountains. Zeroing in to city life, Pike Place Market is not only a tourist attraction, but a vibrant, colorful working market and a chance to get a feel for the city. Shopping districts, active nightlife, Art Walks and more give ample chances to capture the big city feel.
Washington is not all wet. Once over the Cascade Crest, heading East, the state dries out and opens to a variety of agricultural and recreational uses. Famous for its apples, Washington has long established itself as a quality wine producing region. The fields in the Yakima Valley provide not only a nice diversion from the bustle of western Washington, but a good study in leading lines, focal point with a good way to relax after a day of shooting.
One common thread binding humanity together is our almost universal obsession about the weather. In Washington state, the weather tends to have distinct seasons, although you might not hear that coming from various residents. It is gloomy and gray during the winter, with occasional shows in the lowlands (with world record setting snowfall in the Cascades). Yet it doesn’t last forever. Spring does come and with it the floor of the Skagit Valley, about an hour north of Seattle, bursts into a glorious profusion of yellows, reds and whites as tulips and other flowers come to life.
The flanks of Mt. Rainier as best shot during the Spring and into early summer as wildflowers shake off the cold. Summer itself can be a gamble. Some years it starts in June and other times it will last to mid September. On average, there are two very pleasant months with a bit of chill on either side. Still, July sees only approximately .75” of rainfall across the entire state and days with nearly 16 hours of light to shoot in, not including pre-dawn and dusk.
Autumn is stormy and a great chance to catch lightening storms. Autumn colors aren’t as profuse as the hills of the East Coast, I will admit, but leaving the city behind and heading to the mountains will reveal a quality display. When winter finally sets in, the snow draped mountains and forests offer endless wandering and photo opportunities for those with a warm jacket and a sense of adventure.
March 15, 2013 11:10 am
Thanks, Peter for a wonderful article and great shots! I live across the border 12 minutes from Washington State in Delta, BC. Twice a week, I take my vehicles across the border to Blaine, Washington to get gas (much cheaper than here in BC). Bellingham, Washington, 20 miles south of the border is like our second home, we go there shopping frequently. I believe the Pacific Northwest which includes Washington, Oregon, BC, etc., is a nature's gift for photo enthusiasts just as you have demonstrated in your article. We visited Mt. St. Helens a few years ago and took some very memorable shots that have become some of my all-time favorites. The Pike's Peak Market in downtown Seattle offers never ending opportunities for taking wonderful images of people, fish, etc., from various angles. This summer, we plan to explore the sites around Mt. Baker. However, after having said all that, I invite everyone, if you still have time after your visit to Seattle, to head north and cross the border to British Columbia where you will also find more opportunities to enjoy the beauty of nature at its very best.
December 11, 2011 10:26 pm
I live in Washington State too! No wonder some refer to it as "God's country." It is an absolutely beautiful place. I am about an hour's drive from Mt. Rainier. In addition, I also think the Oregon Coast is beautiful place for landscape photography.
December 6, 2011 06:12 pm
I've really enjoyed developing my skills as a photographer in NW Washington. I found myself so drawn to the area that I recently moved to Port Angeles. I can't imagine ever running out of beautiful scenery to photograph.
May 6, 2011 09:16 pm
Amazing, love the rolling hills shot! I'm on the way lol
May 4, 2011 02:35 am
Thank you so much for posting a wonderful article about my home state! I was born here and just moved back. It amazes me how I can always find new places to shoot photographs :]
April 30, 2011 02:03 pm
Thank you for the lovely photos of our favorite vacation setting. We live in Minnesota, and took a seven week trip to Seattle,in spring of 2010 with our travel trailer. I was able to learn more about my new Cannon SLR and got some nice shots. We plan to go back again very soon. There is so much to see and enjoy.
I am always learning something new about my camera, photography in general, and post processing.
April 30, 2011 12:22 pm
I've sat many times having picnics looking at Mt. Shuksan (and taking photos!) at that exact spot up at Mt. Baker.
It's an absolutely Spectacular, magnificent, wonderful, incredible, beautiful, inspiring, breath-taking spot (just kidding John!)
However, don't forget your northern neighbor. British Columbia also has the diversity of Washington State and is as photogenic as anywhere on the planet I live there of course!
April 30, 2011 09:42 am
Awesome article and photos. I am from Washington State too. I live in Washington DC now, but long to go home. It's been ten years since I have lived there, last in Seattle but originally from Kennewick on the dry side. I would go home in a heartbeat if the job market was better. Thanks for sharing the beautiful images.
April 30, 2011 03:23 am
Good to hear from USA... state wise. It is such a huge country that it can be difficult for non-US people (I'm french) to get a precise picture of what really are the USA : 50 different states, 50!
Hope we'll be able to get 49 other article like this one.
BTW, I have to admit I did not know anything about Mt. Shuksan, starting by its name!
April 30, 2011 02:02 am
Ahh, this reminds me to get out there today to get some images of the cherry blossoms along Lake Washington.
April 29, 2011 12:07 pm
As usual, people who live on the west side of Washington state forget about the east side. Peter does include the Yakima valley (in one shot only), but the north eastern part of the state has mountains, lakes, waterfalls, wildlife and gorgeous autumn foliage. I live 20 miles west of Spokane where the diverse topography of the land is truly spectacular.
April 29, 2011 11:41 am
We love Washington too! Can’t get enough of it’s beautiful places, and we’ve only just begun exploring. (from California)
April 29, 2011 10:55 am
I am also proud to call Washington State my home for the last 16 years and you have described it
perfectly. Thank you for the good article and the beautiful pictures. Makes me want to pick up my
camera and start shooting (even in the rain).
April 29, 2011 10:16 am
For Heaven's sake, people, think of some other adjectives besides "awesome". Spectacular, magnificent, wonderful, incredible, beautiful, inspiring, breath-taking are only a few. Get out of the "awesome" rut.
April 29, 2011 10:08 am
And you can take pictures in the Cascade mountains in the morning, the Olympics at noon and Ocean Beaches in the afternoon OF THE SAME DAY.
April 29, 2011 09:39 am
There are actually 3 MT ranges in Washington - you are forgetting the Blue Mountains on the East side.
April 29, 2011 07:37 am
Ken - Most water I've ever seen over Palouse Falls this spring. I've lived here (Cheney) almost 30 years and never tire of the scenery.
April 29, 2011 07:30 am
Thanks for the timely posting of this article. I lived in the Pacific NW for 21 years and I fondly remember many of those sights. We will be visiting in a week or so and I was building a shot list for the trip, this has triggered a couple of new ideas for me. Thank you.
April 29, 2011 07:17 am
A wonderful reflection of Mt. Shuksan. We tried for 45 minutes to get s imilar shot without tourists and did not get quite the same reflection at any rate. The amazing thing is that if you spin about 100 degrees, you get a very similar view of the more conic Mt. Baker. A walk could be done in 30 minutes, but stopping to take pics around Baker can suck up a lot of time.
The Cascades & Olympics are the 2 biggest, but add the Okanogan Range (foothills to the Cascades), the Kettle River Range (home to Sherman Pass), and the western end of the Selkirks, as well as the Blues. Wolves range into the northern strip and i have seen big horn sheep, moose, and wolverines in Eastern Washington. Waterfalls abound but Dry Falls is fascinating geology.
Larch and aspen on the east side make for colorful displays, though never as thick or as large as anything out east.
Boats abound, for work and play. Rodeos can be interesting (great angles on bucking bulls), including Omak's Suicide Race (be quick in poor lighting for pictures on that one).
Microsoft, Boeing, Mountains, or slat water? Take them all plus more. And you can drive to places like Snoqualmie Falls on Interstate 90.
Why do I live in Illinois?
April 29, 2011 06:52 am
Being from Puget Sound area, I LOVE Washington state. There are so many amazing places to take photos, and some of them are seriously underrated!
Try going to the downtown Tacoma area! You'd be surprised at what you find! There's the Spanish Steps, the Theater district, the graffiti garage, Union Station...endless possibilities!
April 29, 2011 05:44 am
I think Ken above, when talking about Polo Use Falls is actually talking about the locally infamous Palouse Falls. Not sure but wanted to clarify.
I have been living in Washington for the past 7.5 years as a NJ transplant. Having lived in Chicago, Boulder, Phoenix, Houston and back east, and Washington is the most scenic and beautiful by far. I would argue the beauty of Colorado but Washington has the advantage since it remains moist most of the year making everything green all over whereby Colorado tends to get pretty brown. Washington also has the advantage of plenty of overcast and grey days making the light a little more usable throughout the day as opposed to places awash with sunlight. Access to Rocky coastlines, two mountain ranges, a dry eastern half of the state and proximity to Canada and photogenic Oregon make it one of the best places to live and photograph. I live in Tacoma and consider myself very fortunate. Yes, fortunate to live in Tacoma I said (directed towards my fellow Washingtonians). As I drive west down the street leading to my own street on the western slope of Tacoma I look down a hill towards Puget Sound which is a few blocks downhill. The Olympic Mountains stand large in the background behind the Narrows Bridge but as I go up the hill heading east, reaching the top of the block, stands Mt. Rainier, monopolizing the view when it is "out". There is nothing like seeing two mountain ranges in front of you daily and wouldn't trade this for anything.
Oh and if anyone is thinking of moving out here to Washington, it rains too much and it's ugly and grey everyday so forget about it.
April 29, 2011 05:14 am
Washington sure is beautiful!!! =) And make sure you don't forget about our side, over here. It might be "drier," but "dry," would be a word reserved for the southeast... up here in the northeast corner, it can get pretty wet from September through May!! =)
April 28, 2011 01:56 pm
This article makes me happy that the weather is starting to get a bit nicer. It's been a loooooooong winter.
April 27, 2011 01:28 am
Pacific Northwest has a lot to offer....from the ocean,moutain range, and the puget sound area... photography is everywhere...
April 26, 2011 11:52 am
Peter, I love your pictures. I returned ot Washington to retire about a year ago. Living on the east sde means being a little further from the mountains but the scenery is still fantastic. Polo use Falls has been spectacular this spring. I also got to see and grab a few shots of sandhill cranes about 10 minutes from my home in Richland. What I really like are the sunrises and sunsets here in the dessert part of the state.
Thanks for the article.
April 26, 2011 09:21 am
I am also glad you highlighted the wonders of WA state. I lived there for 3 years and just loved taking photos of everything around me from the city to boats to the mountains and beaches. May I just also suggest Second Beach at Olympic National Park...it is just breathtaking. Happy shooting!
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April 26, 2011 07:42 am
Great post! Would love to see a post like this for other states as well!
April 26, 2011 05:52 am
Unbelievable timing - I'm headed to WA next month on vacation! I'm bringing PLENTY of memory for my camera! I was attracted to the state because of the variety of climates in the state and you're reinforcing that with this article!
April 26, 2011 04:51 am
Great article, Peter. As a fellow Washingtonian, I have to agree - there's so much variety in WA. While lighting can be challenging at times, there's always something to shoot. I recently started a hyper-local photo project, mostly around Pike Place Market. Check it out if you have a moment.
April 26, 2011 01:12 am
I've taken more good photographs in the 2 years since I moved to Bellingham than in the previous 10 years I've been a photo buff.
Lately I've been seeing and photographing Bald Eagles right here in town.
April 26, 2011 12:28 am
The pacific northwest is a great photography destination. Our last three fall vacations have been spent in Washington and Oregon and the majority of our home is decorated with it's beauty. Would love to go back for more, but other parts of the country are calling as well.
April 25, 2011 05:29 pm
Unfortunately I do not live in the United States, but in one of the smallest countries in Europe, but I am lucky enough to be able to spend my holidays in the States. Washington State is one of my favourite states, for all it has to offer: great scenery, beautiful city (Seattle), numorous waterfalls and a rugged coastlne. Just perfect! In 6 weeks I will be visiting again!
One question thought: what waterfall is in the second picture? I love waterfalls, and I would like to visit this one as well.
April 25, 2011 03:13 pm
Thanks for showing Washington State a little love. I also live here, Snohomish County, and love all that it offers. Every weekend I get my family to a new spot to explore. Of course my camera is in hand to capture all the memories.
April 25, 2011 12:53 pm
I grew up in Oregon (which is almost as cool as Washington) and really miss the PNW now living in the SE... The beaches here are nice, but give me the mountains & waterfalls & rocky coasts!
April 25, 2011 11:04 am
This is a very timely article. We are full time RV'rs and will be spending the summer till after Labor Day on the Long Beach Peninsula.
Since we just arrived we are kinda getting our sea legs and getting used to the cooler temps. Having just arrived from AZ/CA Desert area these are definitely cooler temps.
However I do believe the photo ops in the area are pretty amazing.
April 25, 2011 10:09 am
as a photographer at heart,I my eyes are really view finders.......and I live in north western washington on a golf course called Semiahmoo in St Andres cottages....3 miles south of canada.....the usual scene on the way to the coffee shop is Mt. Baker to the east.....to the north are the snow capped cascades,and at night we can see the ski runs on Grouse Mt....20 miles north.. It not unusal to see a pod of Orcas or Eagles ...we have rain in the winter,and we don't tan here,we rust. Last week,my Nikon D-90 camera was stolen....I am looking for a new camera and was doing research on the SONY A-55 when I found this website.....and I'm likeing it.
April 25, 2011 09:51 am
Fell in love with the state on my first visit. Kept visiting regularly for the next 10 years. Came to hate leaving so I moved here 15 years ago. But I have to speak gently here as I don't want my Oregon friends to hear me and think I besmirch them as I feel the same way about Oregon and the minuscule bits of Idaho I've seen. That's why I don't say 'Washington State' or 'Seattle.' I say Pacific Northwest. It's awesome!!
April 25, 2011 09:16 am
Yep You are right.. I just spent a week on the Olympic peninsula... and Whidbey Island... I like Deception Pass a lot... When you get a chance come on down to Oregon We have some pretty Awesome Places as well....
April 25, 2011 09:14 am
Good introduction to Washington state. There is a lot to see there if you just get out and do it. It's been almost ten years sinceI lived in the Seattle area, and I miss it every now and again. I left WA for the OR coast followed by AZ and now TX. Where I go next remains to be seen...
April 25, 2011 08:27 am
Fantastic article. I have lived in Seattle for four years, but the city and its environs always make good subject matter for any genre of photography at any time of day or night. There is definitely a constant, scenic beauty to Washington State without a doubt.
April 25, 2011 08:20 am
My home state has a special beauty! Great photos; they show it very well.
April 25, 2011 07:14 am
Awesome shots! I sure am glad I'm moving there in July!
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