10+ enchanting California locations perfect for a dreamy engagement shoot
Choose from the list of Best Engagement Photography Locations in California curated by Lin & Jirsa Photography.
Few places offer a more diverse array of incredible engagement photography locations than California. From cityscapes and beaches to deserts and mountains, Cali has it all. And the best part? Each of these locations lie within a relatively short distance from one another (especially in Southern California). For photographers as well as their clients, the challenge comes not in finding a beautiful backdrop, but rather in narrowing down the choices from such an expansive list of options.
After having photographed engagement sessions and weddings across the state over the last twelve years, Lin & Jirsa Photography share with WeddingSutra their list of the best engagement photography locations in California.
Please note: Closures and phased re-opening due to COVID-19 has affected accessibility to most of the following places. Please check online for updates before visiting any of these locations.
With its famous “Pirate Tower,” rocky landscapes, and epic sunsets, Victoria Beach is one of the most popular beach locations for engagement photography in Southern California. Be sure to check the surf advisory before heading out as the tide can quickly catch you off guard, and don’t forget your permit, which is mandatory when capturing a portrait session at most California beaches.
Location: 2713 Victoria Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Mission San Juan
As beautiful as it is historic, Mission San Juan Capistrano offers an amazing backdrop for engagement photography. It’s a perfect spot for everything from epic landscape portraits to close up candids. Many a couple have posed under the towering bell wall, which is a go-to spot at the Mission. You’ll also love the long, column-lined corridors, as well as the large fountain and other picturesque courtyards. The train station is within walking distance from the mission and serves as a great area to finish the session.
The Mission does require a permit fee and you must reserve your session at least one week in advance.
Location: 26801 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA)
From its iconic skyline to its unique architectural landmarks like the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown Los Angeles is a tough option to beat on the list of best engagement photography locations in California. While it’s a great place to shoot during the day, the city lights at night make for an ideal backdrop in this urban landscape. Be sure to check out the John Ferraro (Dept. of Water & Power) building just across from Grand Park and the Disney Concert Hall for epic city skyline views.
Location: 111 N Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Langham, Huntington, Pasadena
The Langham, Huntington, Pasadena, represents classic elegance. This historic building is lined by lush gardens and scenic views in all directions, perfect for couples looking for a private, high-end venue. The Langham offers access to the grounds for photos exclusively to the couples who have contracted their wedding with the hotel, though there are exceptions with stipulations, which you can learn more about here.
Location: 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena, California 91106
Many couples like to revisit their colleges for engagement photography sessions, especially if they met on campus. Even for those who didn’t attend the school, college campuses make a great photo location. California is home to over 280 universities and colleges, so there’s no shortage of venues. Most campuses offer a range of beautiful backdrops, from gardens and other green areas to long corridors and large, often historic & elegantly designed study halls. Several of the larger universities feature a solid mix of modern and historic architecture.
Be sure to check on permit guidelines before scheduling a session on campus.
Location: Los Angeles, CA 90095
Location: Los Angeles, CA 90007
For those who love the great outdoors but want to stay closer to the city, regional parks offer a quick escape to a more rural setting with grassy fields, hills, and groves of trees. For an outdoor venue, these parks typically provide plenty of privacy, though they can get crowded with photo sessions during certain times of the year, especially in the summer and fall.
Parks typically require photography permits, so look into acquiring one before arriving on location for an engagement photography session. Some regional parks (such as those located in Orange County) make their photography permits good for up to one year.
Irvine Regional Park
Location: 1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92869
Quail Hill Park & Trail
Location: 34 Shady Canyon Drive, Irvine, CA 92603
Vista Hermosa Natural Park
Location: 100 N Toluca St, Los Angeles, CA 90026
So far, we’ve mostly explored locations in Los Angeles and Orange County. The following options require more travel from the Los Angeles basin, but they’re worth the drive and deserve their place on this list.
Joshua Tree National Park
East of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, not far from Palm Springs, you’ll find one of the premiere national parks in the state of California. Joshua Tree boasts scenic desert views and otherworldly landscapes with ample rock formations, grasslands, dunes, and, of course, Joshua Trees. This is a great engagement photography location, especially during the Spring and Fall when temperatures are most comfortable.
Location: 74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597
Inside Yosemite National Park, you’ll find world famous waterfalls, Half Dome, numerous epic viewpoints, large open meadows, giant sequoias, expansive wilderness areas, and more. In every direction, nature provides countless possibilities for capturing truly epic engagement photos. Just be sure to bring your walking shoes.
Location: Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
What once stood as a recreational bathing facility now lies in concrete ruins that make for a gorgeous backdrop along the San Francisco coastline. Within a short distance from Land’s End Trail and Baker Beach, Sutro Baths is an excellent choice for planning an engagement photography session. The abandoned pools and surrounding walkways add character to this bay area location, and it photographs equally well whether set against an epic sunset or dense fog.
Location: 1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
Known for its hiking trails in the summer and ski slopes during winter, Lake Tahoe might just be the ultimate mountain destination for engagement photos. There’s no shortage of beauty in the surrounding area and the possibilities for gorgeous environmental portraits are endless. The beaches and rocks of Sand Harbor, the trails at Sand Point, or the stunning views of Emerald Bay represent just a few ideal spots to plan your shoot around.
Location: California, 96150
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