5 Best Photography Locations in the San Francisco Bay Area

Choosing a suitable location is one of the most important decisions you have to make when getting ready for your outdoor photo shoot. The location will definitely contribute to the whole theme of the shoot, will help to outline your portrait with a solid backdrop and determine all other decisions about the shoot, including which outfit should you wear, time of the day the shoot will take place, props you want to take..


Thankfully, Bay Area in San Francisco offers a wide variety of unique locations to suit every taste and desire. There are literally hundreds of picturesque places to choose from. Below I listed my favorite outdoor photo shoot spots in South Bay area. Based on hundreds family and maternity photo sessions, I have pinpointed their pros and cons.



   1. Gardens in Palo Alto and San Jose


These gorgeous gardens filled with lush vines, bushes, trees, cacti, and flowers.  White gazebo and tree-veiled benches look like secret treasures among this cool greenery. There is so much beauty in the scenery, it creates perfect secluded settings to a family or maternity photo shoot, where you can relax and enjoy hassle-free session.


    2.  Beaches in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay or Pacifica


You have a big family? Want to have fun-themed or romance–themed photo shoot? Beach gives you a landscape that can cater it all. Sunrises and sunsets offer fantastic play of light and tranquil (or, sometimes, dramatic) backdrop. Kids and adults alike love beaches and it is easy to have fun and relaxed session here. Lots of my clients choose this location and love their experience!

On the downside - don’t forget about the wind (say goodbye to your perfect hair), chilly temperatures and humidity. Fog might be a problem as well… In any case, if you don’t mind the above issues, we will work these factors in our advantage and employ them into your photo fairytale. Oh, and there is a chance you might get lucky and have a perfect weather for your session!



   3.  Hills in Los Altos, Palo Alto and San Jose


“Can’t go wrong choice” for a family photo shoot with children – soft lights  and play of the shadows of the oak trees create a magical atmosphere of joy and relaxation.

The rolling hills are changing their colors from bright green during winter-spring to dazzling golden during the summer and fall months. Along with beach locations, hills are my favorite place to take “running” photos.


   4. Downtown: Saratoga, Mountain View, Los Gatos.


Downtown is such a fun place to shoot!

Local scenery gives the feeling of belonging, the casual setting, the glimpse of everyday life. We can focus just on the portrait or create a scene with you and your family harmonically integrated into the city life. Streets with their shadowy trees, old brick walls as a backdrop, weathered city benches, shops and houses with their own personality...This photo shoot location helps to reveal your/your family character and that’s what makes them so interesting.  Downfall of this setting: streets can be crowded, and often it’s hard to keep strangers out of the frame. For some people it might be difficult to relax with constant attention from passers-by.



   5. Parks and Lakes: Mountain View, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga, Los Gatos


Photo shoot in the park often is an easy choice for many of my clients. This location works for any family photo shoot and with children of all ages. Vibrant greenery provides “open” shade protecting you from severe light and, at the same time, give your eyes plenty of light to have that sparkle that looks so intriguing on the photos.



Choosing the right location will tremendously benefit whole photo shoot experience and the quality of the final product.  When you are making the decision I recommend thinking about your favorite places. Where you would feel the most comfortable? What is your vision for the future photos? How convenient is it going to be for you and for your baby if you are doing a baby photo shoot? Answering these questions will help you to make the correct decision.

If you have any questions regarding photo shoot location, please don’t hesitate to contact me at lena.veller@gmail.com . I am sure that together we will find the location, which will be just perfect for you!