Photography and Yosemite National Park’s beautiful landscapes have gone hand in hand since the mid-1800s when photographers like Charles Weed and Carleton Watkins packed large-format cameras with glass plates into Yosemite Valley on mules. Their images were pivotal in sharing and ultimately protecting this landscape for future generations.

Today, modern photographers continue to flock to Yosemite to share its beauty with the world, to preserve memories of friends and families, and to make inspiring art. Amazing photographs lurk around every corner and turn in the trail. There is beauty underfoot in the form of delicate wildflowers and overhead in tall forests and white granite cliffs. Here are some tips on where to get the best photos in Yosemite.

Damian Riley Yosemite

Iconic Yosemite Photography Locations

Surrounded by all of these possibilities, it can be hard to know where to begin looking for a place to shoot. To get started, check out our list of Top 10 Places to Get the Shot. These are famous locations, with iconic views that have mesmerized people for decades. If you’re looking for pictures that are unmistakably Yosemite, this is your list. Remember to keep your camera handy on your way to Yosemite too. For example, if you travel up the Merced River along Highway 140, keep your eyes open for some of the beautiful scenes along the river and near El Portal.

Photographing Yosemite Across the Seasons

Many Yosemite snapshots show the landscape’s beauty under a cloudless blue sky. This is the scene that will greet most summer-time visitors. It makes for beautiful hiking weather and bright, sparkling images. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a truly unique Yosemite shot be sure to plan a trip for late fall, winter, or early spring. Serious photographers delight in the cloudy forecasts that accompany these seasons. They are looking for those ephemeral bursts of light, wisps of fog swirling through the trees in the valley, and the moody images that come with orange and pink clouds at sunset or sunrise.

yosemite moonbow guide
yosemite photography events

Unique Yosemite Photography Events

During particular moments in Nature’s regular rhythm of changing light and flowing water, everything comes together to create the most mystical and unique opportunities for photographers. And when they happen regularly, photographers from around the world travel to Yosemite for the chance to capture these unique moments.

Mist Opportunities: Guide to Seeing a Yosemite Moonbow

Guide to the Natural Yosemite Firefall 2023– Horsetail Fall Firefall

Discover the Best Spots With A Guide

Yosemite is a big place, and with so many beautiful locations and the ever-changing nature of the light, it can be helpful to have someone show you around. While there are many photographers from far away eager to lead trips to Yosemite, consider the advantage of spending that time with a truly local photographer – one that has been exploring this landscape during every spare moment for years, watching the light change with the seasons and developing an intimate knowledge of the park.

Share Your Favorite Photos & Photography Tips

What are your favorite locations and tips for Yosemite photography? There’s a vibrant community at YosemiteNation on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. Make sure you swing by for more photographic inspiration and be sure to share your favorite photos as well. We hope to see you there!

#YOSEMITENATION

Share Your Adventure
Did you know there are more than 25 waterfalls in Yosemite National Park? With winter slowly shifting towards spring we're excited to watch the high country snowmelt start bringing them to life!

Reel by: @andre.becks

#yosemite #yosemitenationalpark #yosemitevalley #yosemitenation #yosemitenp #yosemite_national_park #yosemitenps #yosemitepark #california #californialove❤️ #californialove #roadtrip @YosemiteNation @yosemitenps @visitcalifornia @cahighsierra @visitgoldcountry
Half Dome has many looks in different seasons and from vantage points.  How many of these have you seen?

Great video from @cookdog77

#yosemite #yosemitenationalpark #yosemitevalley #yosemitenation #yosemitenp #yosemite_national_park #yosemitenps #yosemitepark #california #californialove❤️ #californialove #roadtrip @YosemiteNation @yosemitenps @visitcalifornia @cahighsierra @visitgoldcountry #halfdome
When sunrise warms the chilly valley, you might see Tunnel View looking like this! With the cooler evening temperatures and warmer mornings coming in spring, it's about to be a great season for misty scenes in Yosemite!

Reel by: @shadesofrubyv

#yosemite #yosemitenationalpark #yosemitevalley #yosemitenation #yosemitenp #yosemite_national_park #yosemitenps #yosemitepark #california #californialove❤️ #californialove #roadtrip @YosemiteNation @yosemitenps @visitcalifornia @cahighsierra @visitgoldcountry
In the right conditions, these last few weekends in February are typically best for seeing Horsetail Fall's natural "firefall" in Yosemite. Check out the Yosemite Firefall 2024 guide (link in profile) and stay updated on Yosemite's forecast as you plan your visit! 

Keep in mind: Temporary Vehicle Reservations will be required to enter Yosemite during the final three weekends of February (link to info also in profile).

Photo by: @elliotmcgucken

#yosemite #yosemitenationalpark #yosemitevalley #yosemitenation #yosemitenp #yosemite_national_park #yosemitenps #yosemitepark #california #californialove❤️ #californialove #roadtrip @YosemiteNation @yosemitenps @visitcalifornia @cahighsierra @visitgoldcountry
Epic views, no hiking required. With so many accessible trails--and so many wonders visible from the car--Yosemite is an amazing destination for all. 

Keep in mind: Temporary Vehicle Reservations will be required to enter Yosemite during the final three weekends of February (link to info in profile).

Reel by: @matt.schrum

#yosemite #yosemitenationalpark #yosemitevalley #yosemitenation #yosemitenp #yosemite_national_park #yosemitenps #yosemitepark #california #californialove❤️ #californialove #roadtrip @YosemiteNation @yosemitenps @visitcalifornia @cahighsierra @visitgoldcountry