Chamonix is a justifiably popular destination for a photo shoot. Iconic mountains combined with ease of access and the huge variety that the valley offers is an incredible combination. However, you could be forgiven for thinking that Chamonix is the only place in Europe where you can capture great images, when in fact there are many other places that are just as awesome. If you’re looking for somewhere other than Chamonix to shoot some catalogue or brand photos this year, you might want to consider the following spots.
1 – Engelberg, Switzerland
In many ways Engelberg is pretty similar to Chamonix. Situated an hour and a half from Zurich right on the northern edge of the Alps, Engelberg is a true all season destination that has world class mountains and facilities. Through the winter Engelberg is a freerider’s heaven. There are two options for access to the mountains – the Titlis side which has the majority of slopes and lifts and the Brunni side which is lower and more compact. Titlis Mountain has some incredible terrain; the Laub, Steinberg and the enormous Galtiberg, which offers the skier 2000 metres of vertical descent, all rank as some of the best off piste runs in the Alps. The Brunni side has more trees and is the perfect place to hit when storms come rolling in which they do fairly often – Engelberg’s upper slopes have an average snowfall of 11 metres.
So Engelberg in winter is snow sure, has great off piste and has options whatever the weather and conditions. It’s also incredibly beautiful. The lifts usually run well into May which further extends its value as a place to shoot. During summer the valley turns into a scene of classic Alpine beauty. Brilliant hiking trails wind through the mountains that also attract trail runners and mountain bikers. Wild flowers reach their peak in July and there’s even a small lake just outside town to add an extra dimension to a mountain photo shoot.
Airport – Zurich.
Accommodation – Loads of options, check out Ski Lodge Engelberg.
2 – Lyngen, Norway
The Lyngen Peninsula is a fantasy world of deep fjords and incredible mountains that rise straight out of the sea. One of the most beautiful and pristine mountain areas in Europe, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Lyngen was cut off from civilisation and difficult to get to. The fact that Tromso, the ‘capital of the north’, is only an hour’s drive away means Lyngen is actually quite easy to reach. Direct flights from many European cities, including Gatwick, means you can be off the plane and into the incredible scenery very quickly. There’s an abundance of good cabins in the area to stay in and endless opportunities for capturing incredible images. The arctic light is really something special, especially in spring and by the time May rolls around the midnight sun appears which means there are many more hours in the day to get stuff done. The area is plum in the middle of the prime Aurora zone too so if you happen to visit during the winter, evenings can present great photo opportunities too.
Airport – Tromso.
Accommodation – There are plenty of good cabins in the area that provide enough space for people and gear. Check out the Visit Lyngen Fjord website.
3 – The Cairngorms, Scotland
You might think a little risky suggesting a location in the Highlands but I think the Cairngorms have so much to offer. Desolate plateau, plunging cliffs, lonely valleys, and the biggest area of old Caledonian woodland left in Scotland. The weather is often drier too in the Cairngorms than further west and Aviemore provides a good base that is easily accessible from most places in the UK due to the A9 and the nearby proximity of Inverness airport.
Within a short distance of Aviemore there are so many different zones; Loch an Eilein and Loch Morlich provide a nice lake backdrop and the funicular at the ski centre gets you into the mountains in minutes. Best of all though is the Rothiemurchus Forest. An extensive collection of biking trails and footpaths weave their way through with countless opportunities for photo stops. Plus the forest provides good shelter when conditions in the mountains are bad. Anyone who has spent time in the Rothiemurchus will know it’s just a magical place to be. The Cairngorms are very much a one-off in the British Isles and I think that makes them a great place for a UK brand to be associated with.
Airport – Inverness is well served by other UK airport and is approx 45 minutes away.
Accommodation – Plenty of options in and around Aviemore including cabins and cottages.
4 – Hemsedal, Norway
Hemsedal is a best known as a ski resort but, like many ski resorts, is starting to come into its own as a summer destination too. Within a relatively short drive from Oslo, Hemsedal is fairly easy to get to. Flying in and out of Oslo Gardemoen airport is a pleasure; no crowds, lots of space and seldom any delayed flights.
Hemsedal has many things to offer as a photo shoot location including beautiful scenery, an excellent network of lifts in the winter and trails in the summer, together with relatively low mountains that are easy to access. The backcountry skiing and ice climbing in winter is world class and in summer the hiking, trail running and mountain biking is also excellent. Plus the weather is often good as Hemsedal lies on the colder, drier side of the Norwegian mountains. Best of all though it has that magical light that seems to pervade in Scandinavia and that alone makes it a great place to capture images.
Airport – Oslo Gardermoen
Accommodation – Apartments and cabins are available at the base of the ski area and in Hemsedal town itself. Try Hemsedal.com for starters.
5 – Annecy, France
Right on the edge of the Alps, halfway between Geneva and Chamonix, Annecy offers everything you could want in a photo shoot destination. Although the town of Annecy itself can be notoriously busy, the southern end of the lake is much quieter and offers plenty of options for shooting images in a variety of environments. The lake provides a deep green backdrop to everything in Annecy and the access into the mountains is super easy; either drive to the top of one of the nearby passes for incredible shots over the lake or take the 45 minute drive up to the ski resort of La Clusaz for winter snow or summer hiking and biking. Another reason to choose Annecy is the opportunity for lifestyle shots. Annecy itself is a beautiful old town with a very strong, timeless identity that should work really well as an urban location.
Airport – Geneva is just 1 hour away