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How to Photograph Slot Canyons: 20 Inspiring Examples

Slot canyons can be magical places to make photographs. With sculpted sandstone walls glowing with light bouncing down into gloomy interiors, what’s not to love? Each canyon is different, but they all offer a seemingly never-ending array of unique photo opportunities. In the video below, I offer my top five tips for taking stunning slot canyon photos. I've got a few more bonus tips after that, as well as 20 inspiring examples of slot canyon photography. At the end of the article, I also have two videos that are available exclusively for PRO members.

Equipment for slot canyons

Bulky, heavy equipment can make things difficult when you are in a tight slot. Bring along a small bag with a camera body and maybe two lenses, such as a wide-angle zoom and a short telephoto zoom for intimate detail shots. You'll want a tripod for slot canyon photography, as many slots are dark and you'll need long exposures to make effective photographs.

Slot canyon safety

Because of the risk of flash floods, under no circumstances should you ever enter a slot canyon when there is a chance of rain in the general vicinity. Most popular slot canyons can be entered without any technical expertise, but use caution: some require difficult rock scrambling and maybe even a little bit of climbing. Don’t enter technical canyons without the proper skills and equipment (or a licensed guide). Use your common sense, and avoid areas of canyons that you think may be beyond your abilities.

20 inspiring examples of slot canyon photography

Here are 20 examples of slot canyon photography that I hope will inspire you on your next slot canyon visit. The photos are by me, and by Photo Masters team members Joseph Rossbach and Kurt Budliger.

PRO field and processing tutorials

In the two videos below, I first take you into the field with me as I photograph inside a slot canyon in the Utah wilderness. Then I take you into the digital darkroom, sharing some processing considerations unique to slot canyon photography. These videos are only available to my PRO subscribers. A PRO subscription takes a deeper look at how compelling photos are made, and unlocks access to these videos as well as a number of my other courses and tutorials.

In this first video, I offer several more tips about slot canyon photography. You can learn more about my general landscape photography techniques in my Ultimate Landscape Photography Course, which is available as part of your PRO membership.

In this second video, I share some processing tips for bringing your slot canyon photos to life using Adobe Lightroom or Camera Raw.

If you want to learn more about my basic digital darkroom workflow, check out my Digital Darkroom Course, which is part of your PRO membership. You can also explore the many other processing mini-tutorials found on this site.

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