Picture Perfect: Discover 5 fantastic photo ops right here in the city

Picture Perfect: Discover 5 fantastic photo ops right here in the city on Where Rockies

Travel Alberta

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With its deep roots in agriculture and as the executive headquarters of the oil and gas industry, Calgary can present a cold, industrial exterior. But there is a beauty to this city that is just begging to be photographed. Sprinkled throughout Calgary are more than 8,500 hectares of parkland and natural areas. The Bow River winds its way through the city, creating many scenic photo ops. The city also has over 1,300 works of public art, just begging to be the backdrop of your next photo. So as you get ready to explore the city, keep an eye out for these fantastic photo ops.


Peace Bridge

A nighttime shot of the Peace Bridge from underneath the bridge. This is a unique angle for this popular photo op in the city.

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The Peace Bridge looks like a giant, red finger trap crossing the Bow River. Since it’s installation in 2012, it has become an iconic image representing the City of Calgary. Walk or bike across this bridge, which connects the neighbourhood of Sunnyside with downtown. Take a photo through the bridge to see Calgary’s skyline in the background or visit at night to see the city lights behind the well-lit bridge. There are many angles to explore of this quintessentially Calgary photograph.


The Wandering Island

The Fish Ladder staircase at Wandering Island in Calgary. This park blends urban and natural spaces with displays of public art, making it a fantastic photo op in Calgary.

This island was completely submerged by the devastating floods of 2013, leaving this park in great need of repair and inaccessible. In 2020, the park reopened, and it was completely revitalized by artists Caitlind r.c. Brown, Wayne Garrett, and Lane Shordee. Now, the park is a hidden oasis that blends art and ecology known as The Wandering Island. Whether you’re looking to photograph nature in an urban setting, or you want to discover unique artwork like the fish ladder staircase or the submerged rock ford artwork, bring your curiosity to explore the slow art of The Wandering Island.


Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

A blue heron takes off at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, which is a great photo op in Calgary

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Since 1929, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre has been providing migratory birds a place to layover. The park has recorded 270 species of birds, 21 species of mammals, and 347 species of plants since its inception. This area is perfect for photography, especially in the spring as migratory birds make their way to their summer grounds, often stopping to spend some time here during their journey. The leisurely trails along the wetlands make for great nature photography. You’ll forget you’re in the middle of the city!


Prince’s Island Park

A couple walks in Prince's Island Park with flowers in the foreground and the cityscape in the background. This park is an excellent photo op in Calgary.

Travel Alberta | Chris Amat

This park in the middle of the Bow River is a popular place for leisurely strolls, summer festivals, and spring flowers. Prince’s Island Park boasts 20 hectares of natural space, complete with walking trails, playgrounds, the River Café, and stunning gardens.  Photographing this urban oasis makes for some great shots, but there are also great opportunities to get the downtown core from within the park, giving this area a unique juxtaposition of urban and natural.


Family of Man

A family dances under the Family of Man public art installation in Calgary. This dynamic photo shows off the potential of this photo op in the city.

Calgary is home to an impressive public art scene. One of those pieces is the Family of Man, a large, whimsical, 21 feet tall set of sculptures originally created by Mario Armengol for the British Pavilions at Expo 67. After the event was over, the city moved the statues to their current location downtown. They make for a fun photograph with their size and movement. Other great public art pieces to photograph downtown include Wonderland by Jaume Plensa, Women are Persons! By Barbara Paterson, and Family of Horses by Harry O'Hanlon.


Superior Snapshots

Want to photograph these iconic locations for yourself? Here are some tips to take great photos with your phone.

  • Clean your lens. Your photo won’t be in focus if your lens is dirty! If you’re pulling a cell phone out of a pocket, take a moment to clean the lens before taking a shot. Tap the screen where you want to focus the shot to let the camera know what you’re looking to capture.
  • Take a step back. Does the cityscape look tiny in your photo, but massive in real life? Try stepping back and zooming in on your subject. This perspective will make the skyscrapers look a lot bigger—almost as impressive as they really are!
  • See the light. Where is the light shining? Is the angle harsh? Is your shadow in the photo you’re trying to take? Dawn and dusk make for great lighting, but take a moment to make sure your subject is in the light and there aren’t any unnecessary shadows. You may have to move around a bit to find the perfect spot, but the effort will make your photo pop.

Kate Barker