Best Places to Take Engagement Photos in the Bay Area
We love taking engagement photos with our couples before their wedding day. It’s a great way to for all of us to get to know each other and an even better experience for our couples to get some time in front of the camera. As wedding photographers we get the opportunity to travel all around the Bay Area and over the years we’ve been just about everywhere. Couples always ask us what some of our favorite places to shoot at are so we decided to put together a list. These are some of the best places to take engagement photos in the San Francisco Bay Area.
To learn more about us and our wedding photography, check out our wedding page here.
San Francisco Locations
Fort Point at Golden Gate Bridge
We’ll never get tired of being at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s no wonder why it’s such a popular destination among out of town visitors. We love shooting engagement photos near Fort Point or along Crissy Field. Similar to some of the other San Francisco locations, it’s best to visit during the week and/or in the tourist offseason (May, October, November).
San Francisco City Hall
We love shooting weddings here and while we’ve never photographed an engagement session at SF City Hall we know it would be absolutely perfect for one. It’s such a beautiful building and the natural light that fills the main rotunda is beautiful. Getting there is easy by BART and public transportation or theres parking below the plaza at the Civic Center Garage.
Palace of Fine Arts
Inspired by Ancient Greek and Roman architecture, Palace of Fine Arts is an iconic Bay Area location and a classy spot to take engagement photos. This place works great as an add on or a second location (pair it with a shoot at the Presidio or Crissy Field). Parking is limited and fills up fast so it’s best to park on the street nearby or at the Presidio across the way.
Sutro Baths and Lands End
This place is beautiful and such a cool piece of San Francisco history. The old ruins at the edge of the ocean are without a doubt the major draw but there are lovely views throughout Lands End too. Keep in mind that it’s crazy busy though! The best time to shoot here is off season and during the week. When weather is nice and it’s a weekend evening expect to share the view with many photographers and their couples.
Marin County Locations
Across the Golden Gate Bridge, lies the beautiful Marin Headlands. Whether you want a viewpoint of the Golden Gate Bridge with the San Francisco skyline in the background or you want some rugged coastline, the headlands pack a punch. Rodeo Beach and nearby Fort Cronkhite is a favorite of ours.
Point Reyes National Seashore
We love Point Reyes. It’s a regular spot for us to go on a day off to hike, enjoy the beach, or grab lunch at Point Reyes Station. It’s a beautiful stretch of coastline with amazing views and cute, little historic ranches. It’s a bit of trek for an engagement session but totally worth it.
Oakland and East Bay Locations
Redwood Regional Park
One of our favorite things about Oakland is the hills and the network of parks that run from Richmond all the way down to Castro Valley. We recommend considering the redwood groves in the Oakland Hills instead of the popular redwood spot Muir Woods. Muir Woods is a mess. Parking is limited and when it fills up you have to take a shuttle. Meanwhile in Redwood Regional Park you can be surrounded by towering redwoods with out any crowds.
Tilden Park is an easy to get to spot if you’re located in Oakland or Berkeley. Grizzly Peak, The Botanic Garden, and Inspiration Point are all awesome and worth thinking about.
East Bay Hills
There is so much open space in the East Bay. We love going for hikes in the wide open, rolling hills and have a few East Bay parks that we frequent. The hills are beautiful almost anytime of the year whether you’re trying to capture the lush green landscape following the winter rains or if you’re looking for those golden California hills in the late Summer. Some spots to consider: Briones Regional Park or Mt. Diablo.
Drive Down the Coast
Big Basin redwoods State Park
If you’re looking for bigger redwoods than the Oakland Hills provide and you don’t want the crowds of Muir Woods, Big Basin is a great place to consider.
This little beach town has a special place in our hearts. Both Christian and I spent time living in Santa Cruz over the years and we never say no to going back. Some good places to consider for engagement photos are Lighthouse Field State Beach along West Cliff Dr. Henry Cowell State Park, or Wilder Ranch State Park.
Make it Personal
Probably our favorite place to shoot is somewhere that’s meaningful to you and your bae. We love when our couples put a personal spin on their engagement session whether it’s an activity they love doing together, a place they love spending time at, or the spot of their first date.
Take this session for example. These two wanted to shoot where they met in North Beach so we took photos throughout the neighborhood where they first fell in love.
Engagement Session Tips
Why is an Engagement Session important?
First off, engagement sessions are by no means necessary. We don’t require our couples to do an engagement session with us before they book their wedding day. We know that we will get great wedding photos without having ever met before. That being said, engagement sessions are really fun and we love doing them. We love getting the chance to meet our couples before their big day and spend some time with them. It’s also a great way for our couples to see how we work and get comfortable in front of the camera.
What should you wear for an Engagement Session?
We’re a big fan of keeping things casual or at least functional. Our main piece of advice is to wear clothing that is appropriate for the location where you will be shooting. Locations in nature will likely involve some level of walking or hiking and form fitting clothing and high heels will make getting from one spot to another tricky and uncomfortable. Our goal is to capture you and your partner in a way that feels true to your everyday life.
When do we need to schedule our engagement session?
Your timeline will depend on what you’re using your engagement photos for. If you’re planning on using a photo for your Save the Date cards, we recommend scheduling your session at least 2 to 3 months before you plan to mail them out. Most folks mail their Save the Dates 4 to 6 months before their wedding day. Our editing turnaround is pretty quick (2-3 weeks) but it’s always smart to build in some extra time in case there is a slowdown with printing and mailing.
Questions? Just ask!
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