Five Photo Shoot Locations Near Albuquerque

One of the first things that couples consider after getting engaged is if they want to have an engagement photos shoot or not. Something great about having an engagement session is that you can pick somewhere completely different than where you’ll be having your wedding photos taken. After living in Albuquerque for almost six years, I have found some awesome locations for photo shoots. There are so many options in this beautiful state, and city alone. Whether you prefer to have your session out in nature or somewhere more urban, it’s a great milestone to capture memories. Here are Five Photo Shoot Locations Near Albuquerque to consider for your engagement photo shoot.

engaged couple in red rock canyon

1 – The Jemez Pueblo Red Rocks

If you have ever driven up to Jemez Springs you know exactly which red rocks I am talking about. As you pass through the Jemez Pueblo there is this beautiful area with some of the most remarkable red rocks I have ever seen. The visitor center across the street is where you pay for your hiking pass which is $5 per person.

If you plan to do a photo shoot here, you need to get a permit ahead of time. The current rate is more than it used to be at $350 for a photo shoot permit. This is a new policy as of 2023. The land is protected, and they are trying to keep people from being disrespectful out there. If you consider this location, please make sure to get your permit secured ahead of time.

My husband and I eloped in Sedona, Arizona. You can understand why this is one of my favorite spots here in New Mexico. Our own little slice of Sedona if you will! The red rocks are just so vibrant and unreal. A wonderful spot to consider for your photo shoot if you can swing the permit fee.

2 – The Sandia Foothills

When you think of Albuquerque you can’t help but think of green chile, hot air balloons, and of course the Sandia Mountains! There are so many different places to go at the foothills. Whether you want to go for a longer hike or stay at the base for some epic shots at sunset. 

When you drive along the Tramway there are open spaces at practically every turn. The more south you go along the foothills, the more large boulders there are. This is something to consider when choosing where you would like to go.

The Sandia, or “watermelon” Mountain is just stunning at sunset. At the beginning of your photo shoot it may be pretty bright out with minimal shade. This is something to think about during the summer when it can get pretty hot if the sun is beating down on you so always bring water. Around July every year is when gnats get bad at the foothills, so I would suggest avoiding shooting there during that time.

If you have never seen the Sandias at sunset, here’s what to expect. As long as there are no clouds in the west to cover the sun, right at sunset for less than 5 minutes the mountain will glow pink! That is when the scene is just stunning for a photo shoot. If it is cloudy out you may not get the glowing mountain shot, but clouds always are a great way to get some moody shots. Either way, shooting at the foothills is beautiful and easy access!

3 – Downtown Albuquerque

This location is a little different from the other five photo shoot locations near Albuquerque, but it shouldn’t be missed. Most of my work is in nature, but I love shooting in a more urban setting. Downtown is such a cool place, and every street and ally gives you something different to use as a backdrop. Many of my couples opt for the nature setting, but when I get to shoot downtown, I do a little happy dance.

I love tall buildings, brick walls, neon signs, walls covered in art, you name it. There is a lot of art on buildings downtown that is constantly changing. It is always a good idea to quickly scout ahead of time to get a game plan for certain streets you want. If there are several spots downtown that you like it is easy to just hop in the car and drive to a few different areas fairly quickly during your session.

Whether it is an alley, a rooftop, or even a busy area along Central, downtown has so much to offer and we will get some rad shots!

4 – The Sandia Peak

Back to the mountains! If you have never been to Albuquerque before, you must take the Sandia Peak Tram up to the top of the mountain. They have a restaurant up there called Ten3 to check out. The tram ride takes about 13 minutes to get all the way up there. Always expect it to be much cooler up there than at the foothills. In the winter you can pretty much guarantee snow too!

To purchase tickets to the tram you can do so the day before you plan to head up there. Round trip tickets for adults are $34 each. The day of your photo shoot you want to give yourselves time to get up there with your photographer before your session starts. There are trails, but it is slightly steep up there so make sure you wear appropriate footwear to get around.  

For photo shoots, the peak is just amazing. On the Albuquerque side you can watch the sunset and you have this amazing view of the whole entire city. On the other side it overlooks Cedar Crest which is a woodsier view vs Albuquerque’s desert landscape.

5 – The Rio Grande River

Like the foothills, the Rio Grande River, or The Bosque, has so many different open spaces that you can have a photo shoot at. The river and foliage changes throughout the year, so you want to take that into consideration. In the summer the river can get pretty low so it may not be as pretty as when it is fuller in the spring. The snow from up north melts after winter which makes the river fuller.

The foliage can be a little tricky to time perfectly. In the fall the leaves turn orange and yellow which is my favorite! It usually happens the last week of October, but it can vary. For couples wanting the fall look you’ll need to be a little flexible with scheduling your photo shoot. In the spring and summer, the leaves are very green and in the winter all the leaves are fallen so it’s mostly brown. It can be pretty any time of year, just different options depending on what you are looking for.

If you plan to go into the river, make sure you wear shoes as it can be muddy, and you don’t know what people have thrown in there. In the spring and early summer, the water moves a lot faster because the river is fuller. Be safe when going in the water! If the river really dries up in the summer, there are many areas where you can walk across it and not even get wet.

That’s it, Five Photo Shoot Locations Near Albuquerque, but there are still so many other options. Are you going to have your engagement photo shoot at one of these spots? Leave me a comment below if you do, I’d love to hear about your experience!

No matter where you plan to have your photo shoot always be respectful of the area you are in. Practice Leave No Trace ethics, especially when out on a trail or open space.

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  1. Abriana says:

    If you don’t mind me asking what rooftops?

  2. Kayla B Stevens says:

    Please tell me how I can get to the Red Rocks for my wedding. Anything else you can tell me about that location will be helpful. Getting married in June.

    • Crystal Cousin says:

      Hello! The red rocks are in the Jemez Pueblo. There is a $350 photography permit there now. I believe that includes 4 hours of shooting and 5 people, then it is like $25 for each additional person or something. You can get info about that at the Jemez Pueblo Welcome/Visitor center.

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