Insider Tips: Taking Great Photos On Your Park City Vacation


Great photos from vacations make a huge difference. With an image to refresh our memory, we savor the experience for many years to come.  With high resolution cameras in our phones today, great photos are even more accessible.

The problem is, my photos don’t always come out so great. They are either “just okay” or more often, not really worth sharing.  I’d love to have a great vacation and pretty pictures, too.

So I got a few insider tips from photography pros and I thought you might want to hear them, too.   I asked Jared McMillen, Professional Photographer and Owner of McMillen Fine Art on Main Street as well as our own, Emily Summers, Senior Communications Manager and Lara Brucker, Senior Communications Coordinator (and photographer) at Deer Valley Resort for some tips.  

Get out your notebooks and sharpen your pencils. Here they are:

Jared explains, “When shooting in Park City, we find that the best time of day to capture images is primarily the early morning hours.  Sunset can be fantastic, however, can be much more challenging to capture as most of the time shooting will be towards the sunset making exposures tricky. And often times, a quick 20 minute snowshoe outing will lead to fresh snow with no tracks making for amazing imagery.”

Must have shot from your vacation?

McPolin Barn, Park City, UT, winter 2013.

McPolin Barn, Park City, UT, winter 2013.

Jared says, “McPolin Barn — wake up early because you’ll want a sunrise shot.”

“The McPolin Barn is the icon of Park City’s magical landscape; as a resort town with many powder-seeking visitors, we have always felt the winter season is the absolute best time to photograph it.   Snow and colder temperatures brings a glorious soft light, combined with a glistening foreground.  The photographic result is spectacular.”

Jared suggests, “As you travel along 224, you’ll notice that most people jump out of there car and snap a quick picture of the barn.  In fact, most don’t even realize there is a creek that runs in front of the barn adding to the landscape.   A creek side framing of the barn creates a natural leading line that leads you through the photograph.

Slightly west of the road and south of the barn, in the tall grasses next to the creek is a perfect tripod spot. And you’ll want to be photographing the barn at sunrise for optimal light.”

Emily likes:  Main Street but with a caveat — go for an atypical shot.

Colors of Main Street. #parkcity #utah @historicparkcity #mainstreet

A photo posted by Emily Summers (@emilyskisut) on

“Find an unusual angle. For example, the second floor of a restaurant on Main Street makes a great spot for a photo. Rather than looking up, you (and your camera) have a bird’s eye view. Photos from atop the bridge at the bottom of Main Street are fun to capture the crowd below for a concert, the Tour of Utah bike race, or simply to catch your friends waving at you from below.”

Lara says: It’s all about “the set-up.”  

How are you framing your shot?  You can take amazing photos anywhere in Park City and they will come out great when you use some basic photography techniques.

Pool at the St. Regis Deer Valley –

The biggest thing I took away from my years of photography class is the Rule of Thirds. This basically means that you imagine a 3×3 grid on a photo, so split three ways horizontally and vertically.


Horseback riding at Deer Valley –

The way our eyes work they are naturally drawn to where these lines intersect. It’s great to try and get something of interest on those intersections — whether it’s your subject, the ridge line of the mountains or a tree.

“Where should you put the horizon line in your landscape photos? The best to place is either the top or bottom line to get a more interesting photo rather than smack in the middle.”

Lara gave us another gem to make our photos look fabulous. She says, “I love playing with framing with actual objects too, like tree branches or a fence, and shooting in a mountain environment provides plenty of natural opportunities.”


View of Lady Morgan –

I wish I’d learned these tips years ago. As I go back through my photos, I see what appears to be a tree or a sign sticking out of my head, as well as many other rookie mistakes.  This winter, I’ll ask some pros for tips on action photography so we can capture our friends and family on the ski runs at Deer Valley Resort.

Let us know how your photos come out and share them with me @nancy_moneydiva and @Deer_Valley on Twitter and @DeerValleyResort on Instagram.

Be sure to use #deervalleymoment on your social media so we can all enjoy them!

Any of your favorite tips, you’d like to share?  Leave in the comments below.

Nancy L. Anderson, CFP is a financial planner in Park City, Utah. She writes a weekly column for called Transitioning to Retirement.  



5 Responses

  1. Darhl Bova says:

    Great information and love the photos!!!

  2. Kay says:

    Any great family photo spots in PC area right now? Coming up there for Thanksgiving. Thank you.

  3. Cindy says:

    Any great park city locations for spring? We are taking pictures tomorrow.

  4. Deer Valley says:

    Hi Cindy,

    What are you looking for? We have a lot of wonderful backdrops for photos in Park City.

  5. KK says:

    Hello, Looking for a great family photo spot for holiday card in PC. Thank you.

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