A picture is worth a thousand words, but a photo taken in Moab will leave you speechless.
By Redtail Air Adventures
There are several great reasons why Moab tends to top the charts of beautiful Utah photography locations—stunning color contrasts, unforgettable golden lighting, and enough wide open spaces to make any subject look like the only person in the world.
The second you step among these towering red rocks and canyons, inspiration will hit. Are you ready to plan a Moab photography tour?
Here’s what you need to know to get those perfect shots!
Why Plan a Moab Photography Tour?
Whether you’re planning a formal Moab photography tour for photography clients or just want to capture the beauty of the desert for yourself, there are several reasons why you should consider Moab as your next muse.
One-Of-A-Kind Photo Backdrops
If there’s one thing to know about areas around Moab, it’s that they don’t have any bad angles. No matter where you point your camera, you will find staggering canyon cliffs, intriguing rock formations, dramatic red rock towers, and stunning horizons that work as the main subject or beautiful backdrop for a photo shoot.
The areas around Moab should not be grouped together as one type of backdrop. Yes, you can find desert views in most surrounding areas, but each location offers distinct details that add variety and intrigue to your images.
For example, Arches National Park is where you should go for dramatic wedding photos framed by a gigantic arch in the background, while Canyonlands is your best bet for dreamy horizons stretching for several miles in any direction.
Many areas around Moab stand alone as unique and highly worthwhile shot locations, but put them together on a Moab photography tour, and you’re ready for a highly successful photoshoot session.
Central Hub for Several Photogenic Areas
Even though each area offers unique views, the most photogenic spots around Moab are quite close to each other. If Moab is the center of the wheel, there are many spokes that will take you to stunning photography destinations. For example, Arches National Park is just minutes from Moab, and Canyonlands National Park is less than an hour outside of town—with tons of small but stunning photoshoot sites in between.
Yes, all the locations are within reasonable proximity to each other, but there are only so many hours of good lighting in a day. Especially if you plan to visit multiple photoshoot locations, planning a Moab airplane tour can expedite the transportation aspect of the day, so you can maximize your opportunities behind the camera.
What other landscape can offer as much drama and rugged beauty as Moab? We can’t think of any. The stark color contrast of the dusty red rocks against a vivid blue sky inspires on its own and is only elevated by incorporating a crisp black tux and bright white wedding dress.
Couples are flocking to Moab for their engagement photos or elopement destinations, and we don’t blame them. The style of these shoots tends to fall right at the intersection of dramatic and casual, offering a welcoming way for couples to upgrade their run-of-the-mill photoshoot. It’s perfect for the outdoorsy couple and the partners that care just as much about the memories they’re making during the shoot as they do the end-product photos.
Best Tips for Moab Photography Tours
Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a novice behind the camera, it’s worth putting some time and effort into planning your first Moab photography tour. Here are our best tips!
We highly suggest arriving well before sunrise if you’re planning an early morning shoot. Precious moments of perfect lighting will get that ideal shot, and you don’t want to miss it by underestimating the time it takes to drive, park, and set up.
On top of that, if you’re shooting at a popular location, like Delicate Arch, arriving too late will ensure you need to wait in line to snag photos. Arrive early to avoid having to crop out several heads blocking your shot.
Bring the Correct Gear
Every photographer has their preferred way of shooting in the desert, but it’s nice to have some specific photography tools in your toolbox.
A wide-angle lens will help you capture the expansive landscapes. You may also want to leverage a tripod for steady shots with low light conditions. Some photographers swear by neutral density filters to slow shutter speed and create long exposure shots. Many recommend a polarizing filter to reduce the harsh glare during midday canyon photoshoots.
Budget Your Schedule Wisely
Research the best times and spot(s) for each Moab photography location. Sunrise and sunset are ideal for capturing many red rock sites in a soft, warm light and ensuring that subjects are well-lit with a golden glow. Some areas can still offer great photo opportunities in the middle of the day, but know your itinerary of sites in advance for the best execution of a Moab photography tour.
Best Moab Photography Locations
Are you champing at the bit to get behind the camera in Moab? Our highly-experienced partner photographers, The Hearnes, share their favorite spots to photograph adventure weddings and elopements.
Hitting multiple photography locations in a single day can be unrealistic if you travel by car, especially if you want to work with ideal lighting. Planning transportation via an airplane flight or helicopter tour from Moab will ensure you get the best shots in great lighting without spending several hours in the car chasing the sunset. Not to mention the stunning aerial photos you can take along the way!
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is the perfect kick-off location for your day of Moab photography.
If you plan an Arches National Park photo shoot, arrive well before sunrise! That will help you avoid crowds and catch the best-possible lighting as the sun rises over the majestic rock features.
Luckily, the commute from Moab to Arches National Park is one of the shortest compared to other shoot locations, so the pre-sunrise tasks are much easier. It’s also an excellent option for a quick shoot before the morning flight tour, as the entrance is only about 15 minutes from the airport.
Direct flight time: 40 minutes
Drive time for comparison: 5-hour drive & hike to get into the canyon
Happy Canyon is a great place for a few hours of shooting because there are plenty of exciting backdrops to experiment with. If you hike down the airstrip for a few minutes, you’ll walk along a wash that takes you to a beautiful slick rock canyon that features overlooks in multiple directions. The higher mesas along this photo site also offer dynamic horizon lines that create interesting focal points.
Direct flight Time: 25 minutes
Drive time for comparison: 1.5 hours
Mineral Bottom is an excellent example of a photoshoot site that is best leveraged during the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, as it’s surrounded by high canyon walls that block early morning or late afternoon sun. So if you know you need to have a later start to your morning shoot or want a spot to enjoy after a sunrise session, Mineral Bottom is a great choice.
Many couples also have a great experience celebrating their elopement or adventure wedding at this spot, as it’s a (relatively) short drive from town. If a couple wanted to fly to Mineral Bottom for their ceremony and then have family/guests meet them there, it could be an affordable way to have others participate in the event while still offering a unique experience for the couple.
Canyonlands National Park
In our opinion, Canyonlands National Park is the perfect bookend for your Moab photography tour. This photo spot offers unparalleled sunset views with stunning golden light, as well as the opportunity for a dramatic silhouette with an expansive horizon in the background.
This national park is less crowded than Arches, so fitting in later in the day is less stressful. However, it is about an hour from town, so plan accordingly to catch the sunset. Arrange dinner reservations in Moab ahead of time to celebrate a great day spent photographing one of the most beautiful areas in the West!
While finding that stunning shot is more than possible around Moab, there is still a lot of planning that goes in to a successful Moab photo tour. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to our team for help planning a photography tour!