California is an epic place for a destination wedding. But it’s also got some amazing engagement photo locations. Whether you’re a photographer in search of some new locations or you’re a bride looking for engagement photos ideas, I’m excited to share some of my favorites. These are my favorite top engagement photo locations in the Bay Area.
Even in the winter, Vasona Lake Engagement photos are absolutely beautiful. As long as the sun is out, you can’t go wrong with this location. It is a county park, so you do need a permit to legally shoot here. But it’s worth it for Vasona Lake Engagement photos. Check out Randi + Brandon’s session or Shane + Morgan’s photos to see more. We come here all the time for Bay Area engagement photos and we highly recommend it to you!
Lately, I’ve been super into urban engagement photos. So naturally, that takes us to San Francisco. And I love the clean, neutral colored neighborhood in Pacific Heights for really high end, luxury engagement photos. If you haven’t thought of Pacific Heights engagement photos, you’re missing out. Be sure to respect the residents’ properties by not photographing their house numbers or allowing your clients to sit on any stoops or porches. There’s plenty of beauty from the streets and sidewalks!
One of our 2021 wedding couples suggested we check out this spot, and GIRL it’s probably one of my absolute favorite engagement photo locations in the Bay Area. Not only is it a historic property. But it’s free to wander and there is no permit required. I especially love all the textures and neutral colors along with lots of PINK. And it’s right next door to Fisherman’s Wharf and a stunning view of the Monterey harbor. I loved Sonia + Alex’s Monterey Engagement photos – see more here!
By far, Carmel engagement photos are our number one requested destinations. Specifically, we love Garrapta State Park engagement photos in Carmel Highlands. You can’t beat the drop dead gorgeous views of the Carmel cliffside at sunset. And there’s a sweet, shaded trail on the other side of the highway for a first location until the sun gets lower. We always meet up with our clients at Starbucks on Rio Road in Carmel and caravan down to the parking lot. With no service out there, it can be easy to get lost, so we recommend meeting up beforehand.
In my opinion, this spot is a hidden gem for San Francisco engagement photos. A lot of people know about the piers — that iconic view of the Transamerica building and the Embarcadero cityscape is absolutely perfect. But the secret is the Promenade behind all the ferry buildings. One of our couples had requested the Ferry Building for their photos, but it was closed due to COVID. So we explored the area a little bit for Kat + Colin’s San Francisco engagement photos and found gorgeous spots with white buildings and colorful contrast. Park near the Ferry Building and walk along the back of those buildings to find these views.
For much of my adult life, Capitola has been my top favorite beach town in the Monterey and Santa Cruz area. That’s why I love Capitola engagement photos. I just love the tiny downtown with some of my favorite restaurants. And the original Pizza My Heart. I especially love the colorful coastal homes lining the cliffside and the historic pier. It’s usually pretty quiet here, and there’s plenty of shade for earlier sessions. See more of what I’m talking about in Jesse + Valerie’s Capitola photos!
If you’re looking for that perfect golden backdrop with soft, natural tones, Coyote Hills Regional Park engagement photos are probably perfect for you. We loved photographing these Fremont engagement photos for our sweet clients in the fall like Corrie + Mark’s Bay Area engagement photos. And as a wedding photographer, I loved that there was plenty of scenic backgrounds for a variety of engagement photos.
For dramatic, sweeping views of our California coast line, Shark Fin Cove engagement photos are to die for. This location is close to popular photo spot Panther Beach, so you can definitely get multiple locations out of this one. But we love Shark Fin Cove for Santa Cruz engagement photos like Brianna + Lukas because of the shady beach for earlier in the day and the stunning cliffside views of the Pacific Ocean and the famous Shark Fin rock formation for golden hour.
Being based in Gilroy, Coyote Creek Trail is our go-to location for most of our engagement photos and family photos. It’s such a beautiful space with tons of golden views and a fun bridge for that extra pop in photos. Cara + Dan’s Morgan Hill engagement photos are proof of that, for sure. And if you want to include your fur baby in your photos, this place is dog friendly! Coyote Creek Trail is part of Anderson Lake County Park, so please be sure you get a permit to photograph here from Santa Clara County Parks.
There’s nothing quite like the beautiful interior of San Francisco City Hall for engagement photos. I love the marble textures, gold fixtures and silky soft light on the top floor of this building. And I wish it was open so we could go back! Right now, San Francisco City Hall isn’t open for photos, but we can’t wait to go back here when it’s safe to do so! If you’re looking for more inspo, Teresa + Peter’s San Francisco City Hall Engagement Photos were amazing.
Those of us who live in the Bay Area don’t really get to experience the beauty of the desert all that much. Unless you drive 10+ hours to Palm Springs! But right in the heart of the Bay is a beautiful place called the Stanford Cactus Garden very close to the Stanford University campus. It’s a stunning little gem with pretty golden light and those warm, desert vibes. Check out Summer + Ryan’s Stanford Cactus Garden photos for more inspo!
Want to know why we love engagement photos so much? In our nearly 10 years of experience, we’ve learned that most people aren’t naturally comfortable in front of the camera. Especially when two strangers are on the other side telling you to do some wacky things! Engagement photos aren’t just another thing you have to do… they are an opportunity to get to know us as your wedding photographer, experience our posing strategy, and get comfy with a camera pointed at you. It’s such an important part of the wedding photography process! Interested in having us take your engagement photos? Contact us today.
Hey girl! We’re Michael + Angela, the sweetheart team of wedding + portrait photographers based in the Bay Area, California. Top three fun facts about us: we love Taylor Swift, Taco Bell and puppies. And that’s just the start! We love being California wedding photographers, and we are looking forward to traveling for all our destination weddings next year. Interested in having us as your wedding photographers? Contact us today to see if your date is available!