My Top 5 Photo Shoot Locations in San Diego

One of the most common questions I get asked when scheduling a photo shoot is where to do the shoot. I enjoy shooting outdoors most because I love incorporating nature with my subjects. San Diego has a pretty saturated market of photographers so some of the most beautiful locations are well known spots for photo shoots, but I have been known to shoot and edit in such a way that makes it look like you’re the only family there. Here are my top 5 spots in San Diego for photo shoots.

Oh, and I have a special surprise at the end of this post. I’m taking part in a blog circle with some photographer friends. This month, I’m linking to the talented Anna Rasmussen, who has a fantastic post about family portrait locations as well!

  1. Coronado Beach at Hotel Del

I love the variety that this beach offers. The water and sand, the long beach grass, the rocks, and Hotel Del itself… they all make for beautiful backgrounds. I recommend shooting in this area during golden hour, all the way through when the sun sets and just 10 minutes afterwards. Depending on the cloud coverage that evening, the colors after the sun sets can be amazing and there are beautiful reflections from the sky on the sand from where the water has washed back. Be prepared to get your feet wet in this location, and if you have young kids, be prepared that they will get a bit soaked because it’s too temping to be so close to the water and only just get your feet wet (but I hold off getting too close until the end of the shoot)! I also love it because Hotel Del’s beautiful architecture makes for a wonderful background as well, so I always position my clients to face both sides at various points during a shoot.

  1. La Jolla – Scripps Pier or La Jolla Cove

I love shooting at the beach, and shooting under this pier gives an extra sense of depth with gorgeous leading lines. The downside is that it can often be crowded. It’s a hot spot for family, couple, and landscape photographers, any and all, love coming to this spot, especially when the sun sets. However, this location doesn’t depend on a golden sunset to create beautiful images. Even on overcast days, this location is a beautiful backdrop. Parking can be a bit tricky, so give yourself some extra time to park and then walk a bit to the stairs to come down to the beach. The parking for La Jolla Cove can be challenging at times as well. There are more options for street parking, but depending on when you go, they can get filled pretty quickly. La Jolla Cove has a variety of spots, both on the beach, and near the rocks. With the variety, it also gives the flexibility of shooting away from the crowds.

  1. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve

I love the long golden grass and paths in this location. If this is the location you pick, I will be meeting you about an hour before the sun is scheduled to set that day. Once the sun passes over the hills, then we have just a bit of time left to get some final shots. I will capture images of both sitting and standing/exploring in this location, so be prepared to sit and walk through dirt and dust. This is one of my favorite spots during the fall months. The most beautiful golden light comes through this location. There are multiple entrances, so I will let you know which one to meet at, and just be prepared to pay the $3.00 entrance fee when entering. Parking is plentiful so there are no issues there, but be aware that you’ll need to take a 5-10 minute walk to get to the spot where we will start shooting from the parking lot.

  1. Presidio Park

This park is a popular spot for families to be photographed. It’s one of my favorite spots because of the lush green trees, beautiful columns, stone and dirt paths, and open field. Depending on the time of year for the shoot, you could see up to 3 other photographers shooting in this location, but we all usually work around each other and I haven’t had any issues with that. I do like to build in a little bit of time though to accommodate for that. With the grass, just make sure to wear shoes that won’t sink in. I always have my clients walk through the grass, around and under the trees, and along the dirt paths across the street. This location is better when the sun is out as it comes through the dangling branches of the trees and gives some beautiful backlight.

  1. Fiesta Island

There are multiple areas within Fiesta Island that work well for a shoot, but I love shooting inland in the fields. I typically shoot at golden hour at this location, as it just enhances the golden warmth of the fields. If you’re looking for a more rustic, open, earthy shoot with beautiful warm tones, this is the spot for you! The bonus is that there is plenty of parking and it’s not crowded. We were fortunate with the rain this year and got these beautiful wild flowers. I’ve never seen the fields so green before! This only lasted a couple months ago, so if you’d like to shoot in an open green wildflower field like that, definitely reach out during the spring after a good winter rainy season. The image with all the green was taken in April, and the one right next to it, with the golden hues, was taken just a month later in mid-May.

I also love shooting at Liberty Station and Balboa Park. I love the architecture in both places, but I also love the fact that it has a mix of beautiful buildings as well as natural elements, and both have wonderful light. I’m always game for new locations too, so if you have any suggestions, I’m happy to hear them.

And don’t forget to follow along the blog circle. There’s a group of seven of us this month, and next up is my friend Anna in Okinawa. Click here to check out her blog post: Okinawa Family Portrait Photographer

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