Photo by Annette Matthews
Photo by Annette Matthews

Looking for your 2021 Christmas card backdrop? We asked photographers for their favorite locations in the Valley.

The holidays are here, and that means gathering your loved ones for a time-honored tradition: the Christmas card photo! 

The Copper Courier reached out to talented portrait photographers in the Valley for their expert opinion on where to go this year, so bundle up in your favorite matching flannels and get ready to make the most of Arizona’s stunning natural backdrops. 

(Want a bonus tip for smiling faces in those family photos? Have lots of corny jokes ready to tell in between snaps! One of our favorites to get you started: What happens when it rains cats and dogs? You have to be careful not to step in a poodle.)

Papago Park, Phoenix

(Photo by Jessica Juniper)

“I love Papago because it is centrally located, easy to access (not a lot of hiking), and free,” shared Jessica Juniper, a portrait photographer based in Phoenix. “Whenever a client wants a desert backdrop, this is my first recommendation. And it reminds me of Mars, so that’s a plus.”

Cityscape, Phoenix

(Photo by Jessica Juniper)

Cityscape is the perfect location for urban photos because it is elevated above the streets, which means I don’t get any cars or construction in the background of my photos but I still get all the high-rise glory!” Juniper said. “I also love that all the surrounding buildings are neutral colors because they don’t clash with any clients, no matter what they’re wearing!”

See Juniper’s Instagram for more ideas here

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, Gilbert

(Photo by Annette Matthews)

“Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert is the perfect spot for desert vibes,” said Phoenix photographer Annette Matthews. “Most of my clients come from out of state and want a desert, cacti, or mountains. I love this location because you get the best of so many worlds. There’s a dry lake bed with the cracked ground, the sequoia are perfect and magazine worthy, and then there are some wicked old trees. Just a short walk through the path and you will find small pockets along the way to tuck into and get a few gorgeous photos. Creative possibilities are endless and effortless here.” 

See Matthews’ Instagram for more ideas here

Encanto Park, Phoenix

(Photo by Justice Davis)

“I love photography at Encanto Park because of the nice green scenery and bridges that make for the perfect location for a family photoshoot with the water in the background,” photographer Justice Davis of Ladybug Productions said. “And once the photoshoot is over, the kids are able to enjoy the playground or walk over to Enchanted Island.” 

Sahuaro Ranch Park, Glendale

(Photo by Justice Davis)

“Sahuaro Ranch is a beautiful location and one of my favorite places to shoot couple portraits and family sessions because it has a beautiful rose garden and an endless selection of backdrop locations,” Davis said. “From the historic buildings to the tall beautiful trees … it makes it look like you are somewhere different.” 

See Davis’ Instagram for more ideas here.

Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, Phoenix

(Photo by Kassandra Alvarez)

“For maternity photos, family or anything else, the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration area is my to go!” photographer Kassandra Alvarez shared. “It has different views, and makes you feel you’re in a hidden spot of South Phoenix. It’s beautiful and I am able to show my clients a beautiful spot to bring their families for walks.”

South Mountain T-Bone Trail, Phoenix

(Photo by Kassandra Alvarez)

“This spot I found by accident as I drove by 19th Ave and Dobbins,” Alvarez said. “It was a little hidden trail from the main ones along South Mountain Park. It has absolutely stunning mountain views, and the desert look I love to show up. I recommend it for a sunrise photoshoot. You won’t be disappointed in the pink, orange and purple hues the sun gives in the early morning hours.”

See Alvarez’s Instagram for more ideas here.