Graduation is fast approaching for New Mexico seniors, with less than four months until cap-and-gown day.
As with any special occasion, good photos are a must-have. And, as the saying goes, the key to many great photos is location, location, location.
The Journal spoke to two local photographers to ask about some of their favorite spots for portraits around the state.
Kate Buckles is a photographer based in Albuquerque, and after eight years in business, she knows more than a few good spots for a great shoot.
“I primarily focus on anything family-related — so seniors, families, newborns, maternity, that type of thing,” Buckles said. “So my goal as a photographer is to be able to stick with you your whole life.”
Buckles said a big determining factor for a location is the season at the time of the shoot. But for senior portraits especially, she likes to have a lot of variety.
Daniel Quat is a Santa Fe-based photographer who has been shooting for over 50 years. Quat emphasized the importance of the photographer’s experience and knowledge of the area when deciding to schedule a photo session.
“Explore the photographer’s work, explore their experience, look at their reviews before you pick somebody,” Quat said. “Don’t just pick someone out of Google and call them and say, ‘How much do you charge?’ Don’t make it all about the price, really look at their experience.”
Downtown or Old Town — Albuquerque
The city of Albuquerque itself, Buckles said, can offer lots of great choices and is one of her favorite areas to shoot senior portraits. She said she recently did a photoshoot in Downtown Albuquerque, and loved the dynamic environment. Old Town also has a myriad of possibilities, she said.
“Old Town is really fun, you can get so much variety in a small walking space. You can get everything from a cool brick wall to a little more New Mexican feeling to just a cool alleyway,” Buckles said.
Canyon Road — Santa Fe
Just southeast of the Santa Fe Plaza, a street filled with art galleries can also make for some great art itself, according to Quat. He recounted a photoshoot he did with a family on Canyon Road, praising the area for its worthiness as a photo-friendly spot.
“There’s actually a lot of buildings and … beautiful Southwest details you can find on Canyon Road,” Quat said, citing the greenery and variety of backdrops he was able to incorporate during his time with the family.
Foothills — Albuquerque
When Buckles does go out away from the city center for a shoot, she tends to head toward the bosque or in the other direction, to the Foothills trail system.
“The beauty of the Foothills is it’s evergreen, right? So you can’t really tell the difference in the Foothills from June to January,” Buckles said.
White Ridge — San Ysidro
A hidden gem about 45 minutes outside of Albuquerque,the White Ridge Bike Trails area is another spot Buckles goes to for great photos.
“You don’t even know it’s there, you drive up this amazing dirt road … and you park and you still can’t see it,” Buckles said.
Intricate rock formations and wide plains turn a trip to seemingly nowhere into a unique photo session. A large mass of white stone with a small cave mouth provides a textured background for portraits.
“New Mexico is so cool for that stuff,” Buckles said about the abundance and variety of these remote spots.
Ghost Ranch — Abiquiú
About an hour outside of Santa Fe, Ghost Ranch near Abiquiú is another favorite of Quat’s. A wide open area full of large and colorful rock formations, wide open spaces and vegetation, the area is especially good for equestrian-themed shoots. The ranch offers day passes on its website.
“Sometimes if (my clients are) into horses … we might even go for a ride out in Ghost Ranch,” Quat said.