When most people think of Las Vegas, they think of the strip, the casinos and all the glory of it’s neon signs. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, they say, but what if you’re not into that? What if what you want is for the news of your decision to be heralded to literal mountaintops? When my friend Tyler decided to propose to his girlfriend Alexa in Las Vegas, it wasn’t because of the lights and glam and chaos, but because it was the perfect launchpad for the outdoor adventure of their dreams: one that included rafting canyons in Utah, hiking through red rocks, and endless hiking trails and they wanted engagement photos that reflected their interests and the plan was created: a Valley of Fire engagement session!
As such, when he suggested that we actually get the fuck OUT of town for his engagement session photos, I was ecstatic. It’s not that I don’t enjoy photographing on the Las Vegas strip – I was there last year to photograph Kerry and Patrick all over the strip – but I always get REALLY excited about photographing new places and a Valley of Fire engagement session sounded like the perfect thing to really get my creative juices going. We barely even TOUCHED the grandeur that the Valley of Fire State Park has to offer. There are 46,000 acres of gorgeous red sandstone that is, in short, unworldly. It’s like something from another planet to be honest. Every direction you look is scenic and even though we barely even explored 1% of what the park has to offer, I was completely wowed. There are slot canyons to be explored, white domes to scramble on and the sand is oh so silty and soft.
Engagement Session Locations in and around Las Vegas
If the late wild nights and neon signs of Las Vegas aren’t what you are looking for, the area offers a ton of excellent locations for engagement sessions and family portrait sessions outside of the city.
The Valley of Fire State Park is world renown for a reason: the 40,000 acres of stark red formations are breathtaking to behold. It’s an incredibly unique location and landscape about an hour outside of the strip. A photo permit ($50) is required, in addition to the park entrance fee.
The Nellis Sand Dunes are an OHV recreation area that offer 10,000 acres of white sand dunes relatively close to Las Vegas. If you want something glamorous, ethereal or bohemian, this is the location for you.
Want your engagement session to feel like Las Vegas but NOT be Las Vegas? Look no farther than the Neon Museum. The museum and it’s founding organization is dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying, and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment. They host weekly portrait hours where a limited number of guests and their own personal photographers are allowed into the area without other guests for a nominal fee of $50, in addition to your ticket prices.
My favorite area of downtown to take couples to is the midtown arts district. In addition to having some of my favorites bars and restaurants (Esther’s Kitchen!) in the city, it also offers fun urban textures, lots of murals and graffiti art with that perfect urban feel without the insanity of the strip.