List of Best San Francisco Bay Area Spots for Photography

I was recently asked to recommend some good San Francisco Bay Area spots for engagement photography. While there are so many cool places in this wondrous area of the world we call home, here’s a list of a few of my favorites ordered from north to south:

SAUSALITO – With beautiful views of San Francisco, the ocean, a really nice fountain, and charming shops, the town of Sausalito is a great place to stroll through with loved ones and create some really nice photography.

THE EMBARCADERO – The waterfront and roadway of the Port of San Francisco, offers spectacular views of the Bay Bridge, Ferry Plaza, Pier 39, and Pac Bell Park. This area is great for portraits, but it also great for landscape-type photography where you want your subjects to appear small in comparison to the background.

GHIRADELLI SQUARE – A landmark in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, Ghiradelli Square, offers lots of different looks for photography, from great brick walls, to long hallways and views of the water.

PALACE OF FINE ARTS – In the Marina District of San Francisco, the Palace of Fine Arts, is a magical gorgeous place. With classic European-style architecture, you feel like you’re in Europe and your photography will reflect that.

BAKER BEACH – A public beach on the western edge of San Francisco. In addition to being a beautiful beach for photography, it offers out of the ordinary views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

LEGION OF HONOR – A museum in San Francisco. It is unique not only for it’s collection of fine art, but also for the building in which it is housed… plenty of rows of beautiful white Grecian columns and very romantic for photography (just like Palace of Fine Arts).

GOLDEN GATE PARK – A huge Grand Central Park-style urban park in San Francisco, with lush trees, mini lakes, and fountains. You can also visit the Japanese Tea Garden and the De Young Museum among other attractions. On weekdays, when the park has less crowds, it is a especially great place for dreamy and vivid photography.

THE PRESIDIO – The Presidio of San Francisco is a park that was once a military base on the north-western tip of the San Francisco. Great views of the Golden Gate Bridge are what you see when you when you look around, but there are many other options for photography… including a water pond, grassy hills, and many brand-new and clean red brick buildings.

SAN FRANCISCO NEIGHBORHOODS – From the Financial District, to the Castro, Union Square, and the Fillmore you can find inspiration for every type of photography.

HALF MOON BAY – Charming downtown area and scenic bluffs overlooking the ocean. Although, you are not allowed to photograph at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay property, there are many great vantage points around the property.

UNIVERSITY AVENUE – The birthplace of Silicon Valley, it is also the road that leads from Hwy 101 to the prestigious Stanford University. It’s a walkable, pedestrian–friendly community bordered by historic residential neighborhoods and tree–lined streets. This is a great location for engagement sessions, as you can get everything from a urban to charming downtown look.

STANFORD CAMPUS – This location in Palo Alto, is especially meaningful for Stanford grads, and it’s generally a great place to photograph. Always nice lighting, and you can get both casual and formal looks here. All around very good location.

SANTANA ROW – An upscale shopping, residential, dining and entertainment complex in San Jose, is a great south bay area location for photography. The colors and textures are amazing. There is a $100 fee involved for shooting permits, but sometimes it can be worth it because there are many great backdrops.

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA – The city named after Mission San Juan Bautista. The best reason to visit here: no parking troubles… but it’s also a beautiful city with an old Mission, an old hotel, many beautiful rustic backgrounds, green pastures, and a charming old downtown… all within walking distance. You can get a great variety of backgrounds and textures in little time.

SANTA CRUZ – From the Boardwalk to various beaches and 15 minutes away from downtown Capitola’s multi-colored beaches houses, Santa Cruz is especially good for vintage looks.

MONTEREY – From Lover’s Point to Downtown to numerous beaches, Monterey is great for photography any time of the year.

DOWNTOWN CARMEL – With beautiful high-class shops, unique walls and backgrounds, and only 5-minutes away from Mission Carmel, Carmel is a beautiful city for photography… oh, and did I forget to mention, there are a variety of different beaches nearby 🙂

Happy Photographing!



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