TLC’s 90s pop hit told us not to chase waterfalls, but it seems photographers just weren’t listening. When it comes to landscape photography, capturing waterfalls is like a rite of passage. Countless hours are spent set-up at the base of the fast-moving water, fiddling with exposures to snap the streams in a creamy blur.
So where do photographers go to get these winning shots? Well, there are thousands of waterfalls to photograph in almost every climate across the globe. Some are surrounded by lush green rainforest, others sit in the midst of red dirt.
Want to head out and snap some waterfalls yourself? Get inspired with 30 photos of some of the world’s most stunning spots we’ve curated (in no particular order):
Known locally as Mosi-Oa-Tunya, which translates to “the smoke that thunders,” Victoria Falls is a powerful, spectacular, and bucket list waterfall to photograph. Capturing this giant force that projects anywhere from 300-3,000 cubic meters of water per second will leave anyone covered in mist, even from miles away. The falls itself is where the roaring Zambezi River plunges its entire one mile width into a narrow gorge. Try shooting in the afternoon to catch a glimpse of rainbows created by light refracted through the water.
Extending over 73,000 acres, the Plitvice National Park and its 16 lakes interconnected by seriously stunning, cascading waterfalls receive around 1.2 million visitors a year. Ranging in color from green, to grey, to bright blue, the water’s color depends on the season, the weather, and even the number of waterborne microorganisms. The scene will always look different—making it a joy to photograph.
Gullfoss, which literally translates to “gold falls,” is one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls. Located on the Hvítá (White) River in South Iceland, Gullfoss is fueled by Iceland’s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. In winter, photographers will be treated to the frozen waterfall, where waves of glistening ice are a delight to the eyes. In the warmer months, viewers are often spoilt with rainbows, naturally occurring with the large amount of mist from the powerful falls.
No one said capturing waterfalls was a walk in the park, and Sutherland Falls is a real example. The best photographs of Sutherland Falls are aerial photos taken from scenic flights, which will not come so cheap. One other way to get to the falls is through a four-day trek through Milford Track. Whilst tricky to get to, as New Zealand’s highest waterfall, it’s well worth the hassle—an adventurous photographer’s dream.
One of the world’s most notorious waterfalls, Niagara Falls is as well known as it is impressive. With anywhere between 14 million and 20 million visitors per year, a lot of photos are sure to be taken of the natural marvel every year—the challenge? Standing out. While the falls look magnificent at peak season, during the summer, try shooting at different seasons for photos that make a greater impact.
Delicately dividing the border of China and Vietnam, Ban Gioc Detian is the name for not only one but two converging waterfalls. Known as Detian Falls in China and Banyue Falls in Vietnam, together, they make up one of the largest waterfalls in Asia. With so many different streams, try capturing the scene with long exposure—it’s sure to look incredible.
Jim Jim Falls lies within Kakadu National Park, undoubtedly one of Australia’s most well-known landscapes. After navigating the bumpy roads, it’s an easy 1.2 mile walk through a monsoon forest that leads to a deep-plunge pool. Surrounding the pool are 150-metre high cliffs where the falls come from—a surprising feature in the middle of Northern Australia. The falls tend to dry up, so shooting in the wet season is advisable.
Boasting the title of “the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall,” Angel Falls is a popular spot for photographers. Located in Canaima National Park, the waterfall tumbles from close to the mountain’s summit into what is known as the Devil’s Canyon—3211 feet below. Considered one of the world’s most dazzling natural wonders, it’s a true spectacle to photograph.
Being able to see 30,000 gallons of water plummet over a 820 foot cliff (which apparently makes it the world’s highest single-drop waterfall) in the midst of an ancient jungle—with little company—is definitely something to document. The falls are most powerful, of course, during the rainy seasons, from May to July or December to January. Capture Kaieteur in all its glory with an aerial photo.
Spend a few days hiking the land of the Havasupai people—the last Native American tribe to inhabit the Grand Canyon—known for its absurdly beautiful waterfalls. At its red rock heart, find the Havasu Falls with its magnificent turquoise-blue waters, which makes it such a treat to snap. Albeit quite a difficult three-day walk, this is one photographic journey worth blood, sweat, and tears.
Deep in the forests of Kauai is a famous waterfall that most people with a television set would recognize because of its cameo in Steven Spielberg’s widely popular 1993 film, Jurassic Park. Before the film, this Hawaiian beauty was relatively unknown. Now, it’s a desired tourist—and photography—destination. The only reason more people haven’t visited the waterfall is that it’s located on private property, which is only accessible via a helicopter.
Although well known by the locals, the Asik-Asik Falls was relatively unknown until a competition-winning photo brought it to the fore in 2012. As the falls became increasingly more popular, the newfound oasis was named Asik-Asik, meaning “sprinkle-sprinkle” in the local Hiligaynon language. The coolest thing about the falls? Instead of a spring or a body of water above, the falls come streaming out of cracks on the cliff’s wall.
Jiulong Falls, otherwise known as the Nine-Dragon Falls, is a group of falls scattered across a 1.2 miles of the Jiulong River. Thousands of years of sedimentation and scouring have resulted in the varying heights and widths of the ten terraces and their cascades. Capture the falls from the lowest cascade or on a bright, sunny day to highlight its awe-striking colors.
Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, plummeting an impressive 2,425 feet from the top of the upper fall to the base of the lower fall. Being a widely-popular tourist destination, Yosemite Falls is a hot spot for landscape photographers, particularly in late spring when the water flow is at its heaviest.
Misol-Há, which translates to “streaming water”, is one of the Mexico’s most extravagant natural wonders. What’s not to love about a powerful waterfall surrounded by lush vegetation? To get a unique shot, tip a local to lead the way to a small walkway that goes straight to the back of the water curtain. It’s more ideal to go in the dry season as it reveals the best colors of the water and surrounding greeneries.
Seljalandsfoss on Iceland’s southern coast is a mighty force fueled by the glacier-capped Eyjafjallajokull volcano. This waterfall is best known for the easy-to-navigate path that runs directly behind it. A camera rain guard is necessary to take a photo behind the falls. To include the sunlight, shoot at around 4 to 5 in the afternoon.
Kirkjufell (or Church Mountain) and the waterfall named after it, the Kirkjufellsfoss, are two of the most photographed landscapes in Iceland. The best photos of the waterfalls have been taken from two main spots: The first, and probably most famous angle, is reached by a short 5-minute hike to a bridge in front of the waterfall that allows photographers to capture all of the cascades in one frame. The other, on the side of the main road, allows photographers to capture the falls from behind a small lake. Photographer Ajit Menon’s recommends ‘going extra wide (14-16mm field of view).
The Palouse Falls make up an iconic American landscape, often referred to as the official waterfall of Washington State. Located in Washington’s southeast corner, the falls are a random oasis in the midst of arid plains, appearing seemingly out of nowhere through the mountains and into a glacier cut bowl. For landscape photographers, the falls allow a unique opportunity with interesting shapes, colors, and a powerful water flow all adding to the scene’s grandeur.
Standing proud as one of the countries most famous non-alpine scenes, Rhine Falls is an optimal location for landscape photographers because it yields gorgeous and unique images from many different viewpoints. Photograph the falls from a pedestrian-access-only viewing platform on the northern side of the river to include both the falls and the Laufen Castle in the frame or from a mighty rock that stands virtually in the middle of the waterfall, which can be reached by a boat tour and is the perfect location for a ripper shot.
The Fairy Pools are crystal clear, blue pools with a name as dainty as its appearance. These pools attract tourists from across the globe, especially enticing for those wielding cameras. Because it is a popular tourist destination, the Fairy Pools could get crowded, so do try to go early in the morning.
Any photography lover in Indonesia needs to get to Tegenungan Waterfall. The waterfall faces west, meaning it’s best to visit in the afternoon or evening when the light hits the scene best. Capture the falls from many different levels—framing it with the surrounding deep green forest or focusing on its majestic flow from the base.
Free falling for 475 feet, the Vøringfossen is one of Norway’s most popular destinations. Watching huge volumes of water plummet from the Hardangervidda is the definition of idyllic. Beautiful photos of Vøringfossen have also been taken using a drone, so if you’ve got one, use it. Visit the falls in spring, after the snow melts, when the water volume is at its greatest.
Located inside the Morton National Park, Fitzroy Falls is not only the name of the 266-ft waterfall but also the small village where it can be found. Several viewing platforms in the area offer photographers different perspectives from which to capture the beautiful falls and the lush rainforest surrounding it. If you have the time, consider visiting Belmore Falls and Carrington Falls, which are both near Fitzroy.
Good things come in pairs, and King George Falls is no exception. As remote as they come, King George Falls is only accessible by boat or plane, and both of these options make for seriously good photo ops. The best thing about a scene like this is getting to play around in post production—deep reds against lush greens and blues? A dream.
Without a doubt, Litlanesfoss is a geological phenomenon worthy of an SD card’s full memory. The insane basalt columns that surrounds the falls make it quite a well-known location, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to snap. Facing south, deep within a canyon, means battling with lighting is no easy feat. But plan it right, and you’ll be leaving with a winning shot.
The best part about photography Multnomah Falls is getting to play around with the illusion that the foot bridge creates—too cool. Some of the best photos of Multnomah Falls have been taken using long exposures, so don’t leave without a tripod. Sadly, Multnomah Falls are shut for the foreseeable future due to ravaging wildfires that tore through Oregon, so for now, we will just have to admire it in photos.
"Mullafossur Falls is in the small village of Gásadalur on the island of Vágar. It is only 20 minutes away from the airport. This view is 300 meters away from the main road of the village. To take this picture, you just have to walk 300 meters and you’ll see this view," says Saviour Mifsud (SaviourMifsud)
Head to Bigar Cascade Falls to catch something truly out-of-this-world. Capture all the small streams that fall over the moss-covered mound with long exposures, and take advantage of the 12-hour trip going to the falls by capturing the magnificent roads, hills, and mountains that lead to the main attraction.
370 steps to the top of Skogafoss Waterfall might leave your thighs burning, but the shots you’ll get will be well worth the workout. Providing a seriously scenic view over Southern Iceland’s coastline, Skogafoss is a massive waterfall favored by photographers everywhere. Being part of the Golden Circle route, which also includes Seljalandfoss, capture two insane waterfalls in a day.
Possibly the most epic among the waterfalls on the list, the Baatara Gorge Waterfall or “three bridge chasm” in Lebanon is an unreal landscape carved out of ancient limestone. When the mountain snow melts, streams of crystal blue waters shoot through three chasms, separated by naturally formed bridges, and into a eery, dark cave below.
Now, are you ready to go and chase waterfalls? Whether using long-exposure, shooting at sunset, using a drone, or changing things up in post production, it’s impossible to get a bad photo of these glorious sights mother nature has blessed us with. The only problem, really, is where you want to start. What’s your favourite in the list? Do you have any amazing waterfall photos of your own that you can share with us?