January 2, 2020
Baker Beach, Palace of Fine Arts, Lovers’ Lane, Lands End, Crissy Field, Pier 7, Battery Spencer, San Francisco City Hall
San Francisco is one of the best places to have your engagement shoot in Northern California, offering many different scenic locations and iconic views to choose from. As a San Francisco native, I love exploring new places to shoot in the City, but also love revisiting familiar locations because I hate complacency and love the challenge of giving my Couples unique and creative images. Whether you have lived in San Francisco for many years, or are traveling here for vacation, the list below will help introduce you to the most popular locations in San Francisco to help make your pre or post wedding photoshoot a success! And for those who are wanting to stay away from the common, check out this blog post for the best uncommon engagement shoot locations to give your engagement shoot a more unique look!
1. Baker Beach
Baker Beach is the most common location I photograph for engagement sessions in San Francisco. Free and plentiful parking, unparalleled views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and a diverse setting around the area help make this a perfect spot for many.
Beaches aren’t just seen during the day! I especially love photographing at Baker Beach at dusk, where the Bridge lights up and illuminates the blue sky as well!
If you plan it right, the Golden Gate Bridge reflects in the water at low tide and you can take your photographs to a whole new level! On a side note – closer to the Bridge is clothing optional and it is not uncommon to see a nude body on a sunny day (did you see it in this photo hehe)!
2. The Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is the second most common location I shoot at and offers a more elegant look for those who prefer the more formal setting. Its ornate architecture and photographic dome attracts locals and tourists alike, making it also one of the busiest locations on this list.
Opposite the lake facing the dome allows for panoramic views of the entire location, and shooting under the dome allows you to fully appreciate the art deco close up.
This is one of my favorite places to shoot on a sunny day because the shadows and light that filter through the columns offer so many unique opportunities to play!
3. Lovers Lane
With the snake-like trail of logs, Lovers’ Lane provides the perfect outdoor setting for those who love nature and earth tones.
Lovers’ Lane is a gorgeous hidden trail many people ignore, since it is nestled at the edge of the Presidio and is often overlooked as you manage the winding roads of adjacent Presidio Blvd.
4. Lands End
To narrow down locations for the 3.4 miles of Lands End, I’m going to separate it into two places – Sutro Baths and Point Lobos. Both of these locations provide a stunning view of the ocean and offer especially magical light at sunset.
Sutro Baths is the area at the bottom of the Lands End Parking Lot, known for the ruins of the old swimming house.
Point Lobos offers a stand of trees in addition to the ocean view, and overlooks Sutro Baths from above.
5. Crissy Field
The pier on the western end of Crissy Field is called Torpedo Wharf, offering one of the closet views of the Bridge in SF
Crissy Field is a good choice because it has unobscured views of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as a variety of settings to photograph, all within a short walk or drive from each other
6. Pier 7
With its attractive wooden planks and row of street lights, I personally love the symmetry at Pier 7.
With downtown SF in view, the sky seems to burst in vibrancy at sunset and dusk here for some reason
7. Battery Spencer
This place is always crowded (most Instagrammed view of the Bridge?) and takes a little luck to maneuver around other people because of the limited area, but rewards those who are patient.
For those who are early risers, this high vantage point is the best for sunrise, as the morning fog hovering around the span of the Bridge is just so magical.
8. San Francisco City Hall
Pro tip – it closes at 8PM every night (unless rented out) so shooting here after 4PM more or less allows you to have the place mostly all to yourself!
The grand staircase without a doubt is the prized spot throughout the entire building, but with 5 different levels there are so many photo opportunities even if the staircase is overflowing (which is common during the day)
I’ve photographed here over 200x and always love the challenge of photographing it differently.
9. Stow Lake
Golden Gate Park offers many locations for an engagement shoot, but the most common ones are Stow Lake and the Japanese Tea Garden. Stow Lake is known for its mini waterfall and stone bridges that are popular backdrops for photos. The Japanese Tea Garden requires an entrance fee ($5-$7/person) but has a unique wheel bridge (and a secret grove of bamboo) that everyone loves!
10. Japanese Tea Garden
The Japanese Tea Garden is a very picturesque backdrop, offering numerous settings for your engagement shoot. Full of nature, it is hard not to get carried away at this small yet impressive garden
And one more for good luck 😀
11. Legion of Honor
Known for its white columns, the Legion of Honor is a great engagement shoot location for those who prefer a more elegant and modern aesthetic. The columns definitely serve as the main backdrop here, but about 70 yards away is an overview of the SF Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge