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Portland's Best Bridges for Photos

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

If you love the look of the Portland skyline, you need to check out these four bridges for your next photoshoot. Each with a unique color and look, every photographer (and non-photographer) should know about these spots.

1. Broadway Bridge

This rusty red drawbridge provides a scenic view of the city scape on the south side, with a view of the beloved Fremont Bridge on the north side. It looks right over Union Station and is in walking distance from other great photo spots in Portland's Pearl District. Knee-high railings and large steel beams divide pedestrians from the four lanes of traffic and streetcar line on the bridge. During golden hour, the sun peaks through the beam structures, and right after at blue hour, you get tones that perfectly complement the red in the bridge and the buildings in the background. Just make sure to watch out for cyclists sharing the sidewalk.

2. Hawthorne Bridge

One of the oldest bridges in Portland, Hawthorne Bridge is right in the middle of it all. Combine this bridge with locations like the Eastbank Esplanade or parking garages on the west side of the river. It gets a constant flow of cyclists and there is no railing dividing traffic and pedestrians, but the sidewalk is wide enough to not be much of an issue. Perfect spot for midday sun or overcast.

3. Tilikum Crossing

One of the only bridges across the Willamette River in the heart of downtown Portland that doesn't have automobile traffic, Tilikum Crossing is definitely the most peaceful. It's also the newest major bridge in Portland, seen by its sleek modern cable design. There are sidewalks on either side of the streetcar railway, each side having divisions for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Tilikum is a bit on the periphery of the chaos of the city, but just a walk's away is Poet's Beach, a quaint rocky shore that meets the water of the river that can be a nice pairing to this location.

4. St. Johns Bridge

My personal favorite lies far north of all of the other bridges. St. Johns Bridge is located in, you guessed it, St. Johns, Oregon, right above Cathedral Park, another beautiful location for photos. This area is very popular with my clients because of its green gothic charm that towers tall above the park below. Sometimes it can feel a bit precarious to walk along its sidewalks, because they're pretty narrow and there's no railing dividing pedestrians from the rush of traffic. This is not an ideal spot for young kids or people who are afraid of heights, but it is definitely worth it for those willing to make the journey.

All of these Portland bridges bring their own flair and would make a great spot for a high school senior or couples session. As with any location, the general vibe of the spot will vary depending on weather and time of day, but this guide is just to give you a brief overview so you know how to start narrowing down where you want to take your photos.

If you decide to check one of these bridges out, let me know on Instagram @piszportraits; I'd love to connect!


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