The Best Engagement Session Locations in California by Los Angeles Wedding Photographer Brandi Potter
It’s not a secret that California is one of my favorite places to be. Honestly, it gets better with time, because I find more and more things to love about the state every time I go back. I’m pretty excited to be on the West Coast permanently so I can continue exploring and finding new places to shoot. So for now lets go through all of my favorite spots up until this point in time.
1. Glacier Point – Yosemite
If you can get up here at sunrise then it’s totally worth the early start of the day. You avoid the crowds and get one of the best sunrise views I’ve ever seen. There’s just something magical about sunrise in Yosemite, especially from a high vantage point. (See full session here.)
2. Leo Carrillo Beach in Malibu
I LOVE shooting in Malibu. I love the ocean and the rocks and the birds and the sand. All of it is just so magical and beautiful. The best thing about Malibu is that the weather is so versatile. I’ve been to Leo Carrillo and it’s been extremely foggy and I’ve been when the weather has been absolutely perfect. It’s great to be surprised and have something different to work with every time. (See full session here. )
3. Black Sand Beach – San Francisco
I was lucky enough to be able to tag along one of my friends (Seth) engagement sessions recently. We drove up to San Francisco and went to a couple of spots, but the black sands beach was obviously amazing. The walk down is easy-ish, but the hike back up is hellish. Completely worth it, but you should probably do the stair master before choosing this spot.
4. Venice Beach
One of my favorite places in California has always been Venice Beach. I became obsessed with it when I was a senior in high school and started listening to The Doors. The atmosphere and the street vendors are so upbeat and the perfect spot to get that Southern California vibe. (See full session here.)
5. Yosemite Valley
There are so many amazing places in Yosemite, it’s literally the perfect place for any type of shoot. The valley is basically a beautiful playground full of every type of woodsy landscape you could ever hope for. It is important that you stay off of restoration areas though, so keep that in mind while shooting. Practicing the leave no trace policy is so important for all of us to be a part of. (See full session here.)
6. Vasquez Rocks
I love the desert so much so if I can be in the desert with giant rocks then I’m a happy girl. It’s such a cool spot with all kinds of fun shadows to play with. It’s a nice little piece of the desert that’s not terribly far from Los Angeles. (See full session here. )
7. Malibu Pier
Malibu Pier is another really nice beach spot to shoot at. You have the pier itself and then you have the beach area. The sunset is beautiful from the pier and there are even some really great restaurants nearby you can go to after the shoot. (See full session here. )
8. Joshua Tree
OF COURSE Joshua Tree is on this list, and obviously it’s not numbered by best to worst, because otherwise Joshua Tree would be towards the top of the list. It’s such a magical landscape that’s perfect for shooting and exploring in, you’ll want to make an entire weekend of it. (See full session here.)
9. Mariposa Grove – Yosemite
They JUST opened Mariposa Grove back up after several years of renovations. On the way in there are trails with fences up, so PLEASE stay on those. Don’t hop the fence, because destroying all of the new growth after the fires isn’t worth a photo. After you get further into the grove, there are more open areas, and it can be hard to shoot in but seeing the giant sequoias is worth it. Just be very careful not to trample anything.
10. Hawk Hill – San Francisco
We definitely saw why it’s called Hawk Hill when we were shooting. We witnessed several hawks overhead which was pretty cool actually. Hawk Hill overlooks San Francisco and is incredibly easy to get to + it’s gorgeous.
Again with Yosemite. Honestly, it’s just an overall magical place with so many hidden gems. You can’t go wrong if you choose to do your session there, or even to get married there. It’s a wonderland of all things outdoors that’s just waiting to be explored.
12. Literally just drive around and shoot on the side of the road
California is just full of such diverse landscapes you can literally just drive and pull off on the side of the road to shoot, so keep that in mind while looking for locations! (See full session here.)