Favorite Places: The Ballard Locks

If you send me an email asking for a recommendation on where to schedule your family photo session, chances are that I’m going to recommend the Ballard Locks. The Locks is without a doubt my favorite Seattle park.  Here is why:

  • It’s beautiful.  The huge trees, stunning rose gardens and classic brick buildings make this location work in every season, rain or shine.
  • It has paved pathways.  This is something most people don’t think about when scheduling a photo session, but the paved pathways at the Locks are awesome.  For one, they don’t get muddy.  So those cute outfits you picked out for your family session will stay cute… even if it’s just rained or even if your child decides to roll around on the ground mid-session.  And, the dark color of the pavement makes for flattering images.  I know it sounds weird, but most parks are really green, and while green is pretty in the background, standing or sitting on it is going to give you green looking skin in a photo.  Sitting on pavement however, is going to make your skin look amazing.  And don’t we all want to look amazing?
  • It’s rarely crowded.  When most people visit the Locks, they go straight for the fish latter and rarely ever take time to stroll through the park.  That means that even on a busy summer day, the park area, where I like to shoot, is never crowded.  So we don’t have to worry about strangers photo-bombing your family portraits!

Sandra Coan: The Ballard Locks


Sold on the Locks?  Why not make a day of it?  Here are some of my favorite things to do in and around the Ballard Locks.


  • Visit the fish latter.  July is the best time to see the salmon, and it’s always an impressive site.  If you are scheduling a summer session at the Locks, be sure to schedule in some extra time to see the salmon run!
  • Go to the beach.  Beautiful Golden Gardens is a quick five minutes drive from the Locks.
  • The Farmers Market.  If you are scheduling a session on a Sunday, be sure to pop into downtown Ballard afterword and visit the farmers market!  Such fun!
  • Go out for a meal.  Ballard is teaming with great restaurants.  My family LOVES The Hi-Life and The Stoneburner.  Both places have great food and are very family friendly.  We also enjoy the Lock Spot and the Totem House, and will often order our food to go and pic-nic at the Locks!

I hope this is helpful!  And remember, July, August and September are the best months for outside portraits in Seattle.  Send me an email today and get on the books!

Sandra Coan: The Ballard Locks