I'm a born and raise Bay Area Kid. A Film lover, dog mom, avid reader, vino enthusiast and Trader Joe's #1 fan.
15+ pages of tips and tricks, outfit inspiration and shopping list that's budget-friendly and size inclusive.
One of the first questions that clients always ask me is: “Do you have any locations we could take photos at?”
Yes! I have lived in the Bay Area my entire life and after over 30 years here I am still madly in love with this area. Each part of the bay has it’s own charm and beautiful locations to photograph. From rolling hills of the East Bay to the Redwoods in the South Bay and Ocean Views on the Peninsula and San Francisco – it’s hard to go wrong on location.
Now, location scouting is more than just picking a beautiful location. In fact, we are surrounded by so many state parks, gardens and historic sites that we are lucky to really have a ton of locations to pick from. So when I am evaluating if a new location is perfect for photos there are a few other things I am also considering, I’m asking myself:
Once I am able to answer those questions, I then do a test shoot at that location to make sure that it photographs as beautifully as I expected. If it does, that I am happy to include it on my list! An added bonus to locations is if there is a bathroom – but that doesn’t always happen.
So now here’s the question, how to pick the right location for you and your family?
When thinking about your location, try to think about environments first.
For example, do you like the city or nature more; trees or open space; coast or do you like the mountains? Once you know the environment that speaks to you – picking a location will be a little easier.
Next, think about the purpose of these photos. If these are for holiday cards or fall photos, I totally want to lean into a location that celebrates the season. But if you plan on hanging these in your house, remember you’ll be more inclined to print and hang photos that fit your home.
If you have a house filled with neutral colors, then you’ll want to find a location that’s softer, filled with tans, golds and soft greens. If your home is filled with colors, then lean into gardens and locations with bright colors!
Lastly, and I think this is the most important one that tops all other reasons: does the location mean something special to you? There are times where clients come to me with a specific location in mind, like their home or their favorite coffee shop because they are special locations to them. If you love a location, then you should have your photos taken there!
I wish that every location could be included in my photoshoots – but logistically I am not able to be everywhere! All my photo sessions include one of these locations. With that being said, if you feel called to a location off this list, I will totally travel to a spot that feels special to you.
The list below has no travel fees. If you chose a location off that list, I charge a small travel fee based on mileage. Clients who want a location off that list usually spend an additional $30-60 on travel fees!
Vibe: Trees, grass, simple archways and walking paths. It’s also got a small community garden in the back and lots of tall grass throughout. I love this location, more than anything it gets gorgeous evening light.
Vibe: Tall grass, open spaces & transforms to oranges and gold in the fall.
Vibe: Adobe buildings, cacti, cute little bridges, tons of trees and tall grass. Right behind a hill so the sun drops faster here, if you have a little one that means you can get away with an earlier photoshoot and still get beautiful lighting.
Vibe: Look, downtown Pleasanton is super cute! It’s right next to a small little park with lots of greenery, tall grass and a museum. Right next to is the Meadowlark Dairy, so if you want some cute ice cream photos, you know it will be fun! Think lots of colors, cute and quaint.
Vibe: It’s a small beach with views of the city, ocean and of course some gorgeous plants. If you’re looking for beach photos this one is my favorite locations.
Vibe: Some lake vibes, lots of greenery, really great in spring for some flowers. If you’re open to a little bit of a walk, we can also access a dock for cute photos!
Vibe: Tons of open space, a beautiful bridge, and lots of trees. In the fall this place transforms into gold fields with orange trees.
Note: This location requires a permit through the city of Livermore. It’s pretty easy to obtain, but it’s a $50.00 fee.
Vibe: I’m a big fan of this park! It’s super family friendly with easy parking and so many great locations for photos. From a cute bridge, to a small trail, and my favorite historic buildings and community garden.
Note: This location is better for sessions closer to sunset. In the morning, the lighting is directly on the park, for softer lighting book closer to sunset.
Vibe: Rolling gold hills, trees, hill top views, and old oak trees. This is a beautiful location that gets really dry in the summer, and is beautiful year round. I would avoid bringing your pets here in the summer/fall as foxtails are around and lots of wildlife!
Note: This location is ideal for either REALLY early mornings or closer to sunset. Being on top of the hill means we get tons of light, so you’ll want to book your session at a time where the sun is lower in the sky and not directly on your face.
Vibe: I love this location! It has so much variety, it’s got a tree lined walkway, a huge cactus, an old adobe and of course views of the hillside! It’s hidden in a small neighborhood and really is a local gem for photos.
Vibe: Beautiful redwoods, what more can you ask for?
Vibe: A quiet little trail that get’s the most beautiful sunset lighting. Lots of dark greens and a small open field perfect family photos or maternity photos. The best part, it’s super quiet, we can spend an hour here and probably only see 1 or 2 people come by.
Vibe: The Gardens at Heather Farms is gorgeous! In this garden, there are multiple zones filled with flowers of all types. From roses, to wildflowers, to native plants – if you love greenery this place is the best.
Note: This location requires a $50.00 permit and only allows photography after hours, starting at 4:00PM. It’s included in your invoice!
Vibe: Another little hidden gem! This little park has so much variety. In the back of it you’ll find a small little tree lined lane, in the front there’s a rose garden, nestled between an adobe building and a small cactus garden and in the back there’s a community garden. I am obsessed with this location because each season brings something natural and new!
If none of these locations are calling to you, no worries! I have a long list of locations outside of this list that you can choose from. In fact, we can go anywhere in the Bay Area, locations outside of this list have a small travel fee to cover basically mileage.
When in doubt? The best place for photos is somewhere that is special to you – like your backyard or your local park!