photographing lake tahoe
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12 Best Lake Tahoe Photo Spots: A Guide To Photographing Lake Tahoe


Lake Tahoe, California

by Coco Tran On September 9, 2023

photographing lake tahoe

Are you visiting the stunning Lake Tahoe and planning on photographing Lake Tahoe? As a seasoned professional photographer with a decade of experience capturing weddings and portraits, I’ve got some useful photo tips and the best photo spots in Tahoe to help you snap stunning shots of breathtaking Lake Tahoe. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a photography enthusiast, these spots will leave you in awe of Lake Tahoe’s natural wonders. let’s dive right in.

photo via Jess Wandering

Photographing Lake Tahoe: Best Lake tahoe photography locations & Lake Tahoe Photography tips

Most of these south lake tahoe photo spots are very famous and popular. However, photographing nature is not as simple as just taking a quick shot. There are numerous elements beyond our control, such as weather, time, and crowds, that must be taken into consideration. It’s easy to get caught up in these technicalities and end up missing the perfect moment.

My best tip is to plan ahead by checking the weather forecast and live webcams of Tahoe. Additionally, ensure you come prepared with all the necessary photography tools. With the right conditions and lighting, you can capture absolutely gorgeous photos. But in case the weather doesn’t cooperate, as I experienced in the Dolomites (Italy) you need to be adaptable and make the best of the situation with the given circumstances.

Now, moving on to Lake Tahoe, it’s a stunning location, and with the right attitude, you’re bound to have an amazing time and take incredible photos! Let’s start with a few photography tips, and then I’ll share the best photo locations and the ideal time of day when the light is perfect.


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Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/photographing-lake-tahoe/

LAKE TAHOE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

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PHOTOGRAPHING LAKE TAHOE

Lake Tahoe Photography Tips

ARRIVE EARLY :

I recommend heading out early in the morning to capture stunning photos with calmer water and fewer people in the background. Arrive early so you have plenty of time to set up your shot or wait for the perfect lighting conditions. patience is key!

USE A POLARIZING FILTER:

For those clear water shots, bring along a polarizing filter to enhance Water Clarity to cut out water glare and make boulders and underwater elements more visible.

This filter will add depth and vibrancy to your images.

CHECK WEATHER AND LIGHTING CONDITIONS :

Before your shoot, make sure to check the weather forecast, wind conditions, and the direction of sunlight.I suggest using live webcams to keep an eye on real-time conditions, helping you plan for the best lighting and overall atmosphere.

USE A 16-35mm LENS:

To cover a wide range of scenes, I recommend bringing a 16-35mm camera lens. This lens is ideal for landscapes, architecture, and environmental portraits.

USE A ND FILTER:

Pack an ND filter (Neutral Density filter) to have more control over the light entering your camera. You can achieve stunning effects by using longer exposure times or wider apertures in bright conditions.

TAKE AERIAL OVER WATER LAKE TAHOE PHOTOS WITH A DRONE:

If possible, consider bringing a drone to capture breathtaking aerial photographs. Drones offer unique angles and compositions that can add a new dimension to your portfolio.

The drone I use is the DJI mavic pro. It’s old but it gets the job done! If you want a tiny drone I recommend this DJI mini 3 drone. 

PROTECT YOUR GEAR WITH A WATERPROOF DRY BAG:

Ensure the safety of your camera and accessories by using a reliable waterproof camera bag or a dry bag.This precaution becomes essential when shooting near water bodies or in unpredictable weather conditions.

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DON’T MISS: BEST THINGS TO DO IN LAKE TAHOE

The Best Lake Tahoe Photo Locations & lake tahoe instagram spots

if you’re seeking lake tahoe’s best photo spots to get those incredible photos of the spectacular Lake Tahoe views I’ve got some of my favorite locations below. You’ll find the lake Tahoe Instagram spots as well as the best photography spots Lake Tahoe.

1. Lake tahoe photo spots : Bonsai Rock

MAP LOCATION: Bonsai Rock

bonsai rock lake tahoe

Prepare to be mesmerized by the surreal beauty of Bonsai Rock, a unique photography spot on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. These rocks, resembling bonsai trees, create an otherworldly setting that’s perfect for capturing unforgettable Lake Tahoe photos. The clear blue waters complemented by the striking rock formations offer a canvas for your creativity. Sunrise and sunset are the ideal times to shoot, as the soft, golden light casts a magical glow over the scene. Parking is along the side of the road, and it’s a short but steep walk down to the water from there.

2. Lake tahoe photo spots : Sand Harbor

MAP LOCATION: Sand Harbor

sand harbor photgraphing lake tahoe

Welcome to photographer’s heaven, Sand Harbor! This world famous destination is one of the best places to take pictures in Lake Tahoe. This sandy haven boasts sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and one-of-a-kind rock formations. Your camera will thank you as you explore this dreamy location, capturing stunning Lake Tahoe photos. Rise early to avoid the crowds and take advantage of the calm waters and smooth reflections. Experiment with various compositions, utilizing the rocks as leading lines to create captivating visuals. Get here early before 7 am to secure a parking spot. I kayaked from Sand Harbor to Secret Cove.

Check out my articles on visiting Sand Harbor and Kayaking from Sand Harbor to Secret Cove

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/photographing-lake-tahoe/

3. Lake Tahoe Photography location: Emerald Bay


MAP LOCATION: Emerald Bay

A true gem of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay is a postcard-perfect location that’s a photographer’s dream. It’s the most photographed place in Lake Tahoe and for good reason.  With Fannette Island and its charming as your backdrop, you’re guaranteed to snap some incredible Lake Tahoe photos here. This is best for sunset (one. of the most beautiful and most photographed sunset locations) or middle of the day to get the colors of the water. Don’t miss the scenic overlooks along the road or the hike down to the shoreline for unique perspectives. It reminds me of Horseshoe bend a lot. One of my favorite points is the Inspiration point for photos. 

4. Lake Tahoe Photography location: Secret Cove a Hidden Gem

MAP LOCATION: Secret Cove

Shhh… Let’s uncover a hidden treasure – Secret Cove! Well, it’s not so secret anymore. This is one of the best places to photograph Lake Tahoe. Located on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe, this secluded beach with its clear blue water and smooth boulders is an idyllic spot for intimate and tranquil photos. It is a clothing optional nude beach so don’t be alarmed if you see some people go au-naturale. Use a polarizing filter to enhance the colors and reduce glare from the water, making your Lake Tahoe photos pop with vibrancy. read my article on  Instead of driving to secret cove, I kayaked here from San Harbor. Check out this article on How to get to secret cove by car or kayak. 

photographing lake tahoe

 5. Lake Tahoe Photography location D.L. Bliss State Park: A Nature Wonderland

MAP LOCATION: D.L. Bliss State Park

Prepare to be amazed at D.L. Bliss State Park, a paradise for both nature lovers and photographers alike. Sandy beaches, lush forests, and beautiful cliff views await you. Follow the Rubicon Trail for fantastic Lake Tahoe photos of the azure lake against the majestic backdrop of pine trees. With clear blue waters and stunning views, this park provides the perfect canvas for your photography masterpieces. 

6. Lake Tahoe Photography location : East Shore Trail

MAP LOCATION: East Shore Trail

The East Shore Trail offers a delightful combination of hiking adventure and breathtaking photography spots. Along the trail, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring vistas of Lake Tahoe that will leave you in awe. Embrace the ever-changing light and colors of the lake and surrounding landscapes as you document your journey through your lens. 

 7. Lake Tahoe Photography location: Vikingsholm A Castle by the Lake

MAP LOCATION: Vikingsholm

Time to add a touch of fairytale magic to your Lake Tahoe photography collection! Vikingsholm, a Scandinavian-style castle on the shores of Emerald Bay, serves as an unique backdrop for your photos. Take a guided tour to learn about its rich history and then explore the surrounding area for stunning compositions. The castle’s intricate details and the pristine waters of Emerald Bay will elevate your Lake Tahoe photos to the next level.

8. Lake Tahoe Photography location : Rubicon Point Lighthouse:

MAP LOCATION: Rubicon Point Lighthouse

Hike along the Rubicon Trail, and you’ll discover the charming Rubicon Point Lighthouse perched on a cliff with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. This historic beacon provides a beautiful background for your Lake Tahoe photos. Shoot during the golden hours to capture the warm, glowing light that bathes the lighthouse and the lake in a magical aura. The dramatic landscape surrounding the lighthouse will inspire your creativity.

9. Lake Tahoe Photography location : Fallen Leaf Lake

Location: Fallen Leaf Lake

Nestled amidst the splendor of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake is a hidden gem that promises tranquility and breathtaking reflections. While often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, this serene lake is a true paradise for photographers. Wake up early to capture the stillness of the water and the majestic mountain reflections before the winds begin to dance on the lake’s surface. The pristine surroundings and crystal-clear waters will inspire you to take mesmerizing Lake Tahoe photos.

10. Lake Tahoe Photography location : Eagle Falls

MAP LOCATION: Eagle Falls

Prepare to be awestruck by the majestic beauty of Eagle Falls. This stunning cascade, located on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, offers an incredible opportunity for waterfall photography. The rushing water, surrounded by lush greenery, creates a dynamic and captivating scene that’s sure to elevate your Lake Tahoe photos. Visit during the spring and early summer when the snowmelt feeds the falls, resulting in a powerful flow that’s perfect for long exposure shots.

11. Lake Tahoe Photography location :Flume Trail

Location: Flume Trail

Ready for an unforgettable high-altitude adventure? The Flume Trail is just the ticket! This iconic lake Tahoe mountain biking trail also serves as a playground for photographers. As you traverse along the trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. Take advantage of the elevated perspectives to capture sweeping panoramas and showcase the sheer grandeur of the landscape. Don’t forget to pack your wide-angle lens to fully embrace the vastness of this magnificent location.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/photographing-lake-tahoe/

12. Lake Tahoe Photography location : Cave Rock Sunset Magic

MAP LOCATION: Cave Rock

Cave Rock, an iconic rock formation on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe, is a hidden gem for capturing sunset magic. As the sun begins its descent, the rock takes on a warm, golden glow, creating a captivating silhouette against the colorful sky. The unique shape of the rock and the stunning backdrop of Lake Tahoe make it a prime spot for capturing dramatic and ethereal sunset shots. Arrive early to secure your spot and witness the sky’s transformation as the sun bids farewell to another beautiful day at Lake Tahoe.

13. Lake Tahoe Photography location: Monkey Rock

The trailhead for this hike is located right behind Tunnel Creek Cafe, just south of Incline Village. The short hike to Monkey Rock does have some elevation to it, but the views at the top are completely worth it. Spot the monkey in the distance and tag #RenoTahoe on your post.

Now that you’re armed with all the info you need, it’s time for you to take your camera and capture some amazing photos of lake tahoe! So, get out there, explore, and make the most of your time at this incredible destination.

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