The Riparian Preserve, located at Greenfield and Guadalupe, is a delight for both adventurers and photographer. With interesting trees and plants, desert landscaping, water features, meandering trails, wildlife, an observatory, a bridge and a park, there are plenty of aspects to photograph in and of themselves.

For a portrait photographer, these aspects create interesting and dynamic backgrounds for a variety of subjects. I often photograph people at the Riparian Preserve, as it is a fun little oasis in the middle of Gilbert that provides unique and attractive backgrounds.

Visit the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert

Visit the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert

The Riparian Preserve is a popular spot for photographers seeking to capture wildlife in addition to people. It’s a natural environment safe for any age, and entertaining for all. With multiple entry points to the Riparian Preserve, photographers can work simultaneously without worry of being in each other’s frames. Because of its variety of features, the Preserve offers photographers diversity in their portfolios and tremendous possibilities in their posing.

While there are plenty of paved pathways at the Riparian, be prepared to possibly go “off road” in your journey to find neat places to photograph. Wear covered shoes made for uneven terrain. You may even find some places that you might get wet.

One way to photograph people is to make the background a blur of colors. This is a look achievable with any consumer grade DSLR camera, although there are some neat accessories to mobile devices that might make this look possible as well.

Another way is to photograph so the background is more readily apparent. This look is easily accomplished with mobile phones and professional grade cameras. What you choose is completely up to you and your subject’s aesthetic. I personally like offering a mix of the two to my clients.

A basic tenet of portrait photography, for the novice and professional alike, is to try working during the golden hours: the first hour at sunup and the last hour before sundown. There are multiple websites and apps that can make determining this time frame quite simple.

When the light is low in the sky, fewer unflattering facial shadows are cast and the light is warm, pretty and soft – perfect for portraits. If photographing during the golden hours proves impossible, look for even blocks of shade to capture subjects within. This will prevent unseemly shadows and create a nice smooth look for portraits. Avoid mottled lighting – that mixed lighting that branches off a tree or a sparsely flowering plant might cast.

The Riparian Preserve has a wealth of shade, so if working during the golden hour proves tricky, finding even lighting shouldn’t be too problematic. I recommend scouting your locations beforehand at the time you intend to shoot so that you may work efficiently and successfully when you are photographing your subject. The Riparian Preserve is quite large so be prepared to discover many gems in this lovely Gilbert location.

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

2757 E. Guadalupe Rd. | Gilbert, AZ 85234
Phone: 480-503-6200
Park open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Habitat Area open dawn to dusk