With spring in the air we’ve got a lot of upcoming engagement sessions around here and the most asked question by our couples is, “Where should we take our engagement photos?” If you’ve already got location ideas then stick with those as they’re probably places that are special to you and that’s always the best place to start for an engagement session. But, if you’re in need of ideas then keep reading to learn about our five favorite portrait spots in San Francisco.
So, what makes a great location? For starters, we love places where the couple can really shine. Your engagement photos are about your relationship and this moment in your life right before taking your next big step: marriage. We want you to look back at these pictures in 20, 30, 50 years and remember what it felt like to be here. Sometimes that means picking a spot where you can do a favorite activity (hiking, sipping coffee, playing with dogs) and other times that means picking a spot that reminds you of where you’re living. It can include iconic locations that show off the Golden Gate Bridge, City Hall, the Palace of Fine Arts… BUT keep in mind that sometimes the place can overwhelm the couple, and we definitely want you guys to be the star of the show.
The other key factor for a great location (in my opinion) is finding a spot that offers a number of visual options within walking distance. We want you guys to look great and act like yourselves which can take a little bit of “warming up.” Being able to photograph in a place that allows us to explore and move around will help us get to know one another so you can feel comfortable and relax. Imagine the alternative: a laundry list of places to jump out and take a quick photo, which really does nothing for creating images that reflect your personalities and dynamic as a couple.
OK, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are our top five locations that we love for San Francisco engagement sessions. We’ll tackle Oakland and the East Bay in another post.
5. The Design District
What do we love most about the Design District? ALL the textured walls: graffiti, brick, plant, painted cement, you name it and it’s all there. This part of the city gets great light and has so many amazing patterns and colors to use as backdrops that are perfect for taking photos. And, here’s a pro-tip: it’s basically EMPTY on the weekends which means easy parking, lots of opportunities for walking through the streets and a mostly private session.
4. The Presidio
For a place that was a military base for more than 200 years it sure is beautiful. It has a little something for everyone: rows of beautiful white houses, easy access to the beach and that gorgeous coastline, and of course, the STUNNING forested areas (hello, eucalyptus!). Lover’s Lane with the Wood Line is a popular spot (for good reason) so expect to run into some other people on the weekends, but an extra bonus is that everything in the Presidio is very close so you can vary up your locations easily.
3. Bernal Hill
This is definitely my favorite place for expansive city views. Bernal has a lot of different vantage points so you can work with the light at a number of different times throughout the day but sunset is still pretty epic. It’s super dog friendly (maybe too dog friendly as there are a lot of dogs off-leash) and a fun rope swing to bring out your inner child.
2. Golden Gate Park
This is almost cheating. The amount of gorgeous places to take photos in the park are endless… You can head to an actual place like the Conservatory of Flowers (see the recent wedding we did there) or the Botanical Garden (just to name a couple) OR you can just wander through the park and find all the secret gardens, exotic plants, romantic lakes and grassy meadows.
1. Your Neighborhood
Lastly, probably our favorite place to photograph engagement sessions is in your neighborhood! Where you live is such a huge part of your story and we want to document that! Show me your local coffee shop or bar. San Francisco has such distinctive neighborhoods that it’s easy to pop out your front door and see what we find. Plus, I think going for a walk around the block without an agenda allows for more moments of spontaneity, and the added bonus is that you’ll probably never see your neighborhood the same way again!
So there you have it - our favorite San Francisco engagement locations! Stay tuned for an East Bay list next. And, I’d love to hear your favorite places!