Best Photo Locations in Banff

As Banff wedding photographers, Troy and I spend LOTS of time in the field looking for new and unique locations for wedding and engagement portraits.
In this series of articles, I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of some of our all-time favorite portrait locations in Canmore, Banff, Lake Moraine, Lake Louise, and other locations in the Yoho and Banff National Parks.

Let’s get started!


Banff is a fabulous place for portrait photography for many reasons:

1. It’s beautiful!
2. It is easily accessible.
3. There are many great locations all within a short drive of each other.
4. There are several picturesque lakes to get our canoe on— Vermillion, Cascade and Johnson Lake being our favorites.
5. Traffic isn’t an issue and it is easy to work around crowds and find peaceful places to stretch and breath!

Don’t get me wrong, Lakes Louise and Moraine are indeed gorgeous, but I’m beginning to wonder if the effort it takes to get there and work around the massive amounts of visitors makes it worth it. Each year it gets harder and harder, while Banff continues to remain the perfect jewel I fell in love with so many years ago.

Today I’m going to talk about Vermillion Lakes.

Vermillion Lakes

Vermillion Lakes is a series of lakes located 5 minutes west of the Banff townsite. You can access it from a well-maintained road that runs 4.3 km around its shores. This scenic road is open all year. There are several docks and benches found along the road where you can stop, relax and take in the fabulous view of Mount Rundle, the iconic mountain that dominates Banff’s skyline.

Vermillion Lakes, PROs:

  • The Lake is easily accessible from the road. This makes it an ideal location for portraits with anyone challenged with a movement disability.
  • It also makes it a great option in the winter as we can keep our guests warm in the car while Troy and I freeze our asses off setting up the photoshoot! (Don’t worry, we’re used to it. It’s Canada after all.)
  • The docks make it a super easy location for getting our red canoe in and out of the water without much fuss or taking too much time.
  • The pictures with our couples in the canoe are big crowd-pleasers.(Think: Very Large Wall Art material!) 
  • The lake is shallow. Even novice paddlers can enjoy the adventure of being on a Rocky Mountain lake and not feel intimidated.
  • Vermillion Lake is a great place to see wildlife. 

True Story: During a Post-wedding portrait shoot with newlyweds,Kirsten and Rommel, a load splash drew our attention to a large grizzly bear who had plunged into the water just a few feet away from us. He paid us no mind and continued to swim clear across the lake. Needless to say, Kirstin and Rommel were glad they weren’t in the canoe on the lake at the time! 

Grizzly crashes a wedding portrait session at Vermillion Lakes, Banff, AB, Canada
Grizzly crashes a wedding portrait session at Vermillion Lakes, Banff, AB, Canada

Vermillion Lakes, Cons:

  • The lake can get very windy!
  • It is a popular location and can get busy in the summer months.


  • There are several docks along the road.  If one is occupied, just keep going!
  • The Fenlands Trail is very close to the Vermillion Lakes Rd. and has some notable locations that are great for photography. The wooden bridge off the trail is one of our favorites. There are many lovely spots along the little creek that follows the trail.
  • The lighting at Vermillion Lakes is best in the morning before 11 am and then again in the late afternoon.
  • It’s probably a good idea to bring bear spray!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the Vermillion Lakes area.

Banff photographers, Burnett Photography. Best Banff portrait locations, Vermillion Lakes, Banff