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20 Best Places for Engagement Photos in SoCal
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20 Best Places for Engagement Photos in SoCal

When it comes to engagement photos, Southern California is a great place to shoot, if not THE place to shoot. With its diverse landscape and abundance of beautiful locations, you're sure to find the perfect spot for your photos. From mountains, beaches, deserts, the ocean, you've really got it all in SoCal. In this blog post, we will list 10 of the best places for engagement photos in Southern California. So if you're looking for some inspiration, read on!

3 May 2022 / Caius Symboll®

Some of our favorite spots for engagement photos are:

BEACH LOCATIONS

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The Santa Monica Pier

With its iconic Ferris wheel and views of the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Monica Pier is a great place to shoot engagement photos. Maybe when you’re done you could have fun with many activities nearby like the carousel, arcade or finding delicious seafood. The Santa Monica Pier is a great place to shoot engagement photos simply because of it’s beauty. It’s a location that is easily recognizable and will be sure to wow your friends and family.

Best Shooting Time: 1-2 hours before sunset
Close Alternatives: Venice Beach, El Matador State Beach
Pros: Lots to do, many photo opportunities, variety of landscapes, lively, can get dinner afterwords
Cons: crowded, people might get in your shots, heavy traffic, hard to find parking
Rating: 7/10

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Balboa Fun Zone

Bring out your inner child and head to the Balboa Fun Zone located in Newport Beach. It’s a great place to take engagement photos if you’re looking for a more whimsical and light-hearted shoot. With its carousel, arcade games, and Ferris wheel, it’s the perfect place for couples who want to have some fun! Plus, you can’t beat the views of the Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Island.

Best Shooting Time: Evenings on weekdays
Close Alternatives: Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar Beach
Pros: Lots to do, variety of photo opps, lots of room to be creative
Cons: Food is expensive around here, crowded
Rating: 7/10

 

 

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Laguna Beach

Known for it’s many art galleries, coves, and beaches, this small coastal city in SoCal is charming and full of character. Come here for the waves and you’ll stay for the acai bowls. Explore the trails and meander through the costal canyons. Laguna beach really has it all.

Best Shooting Time: 1-2 hours before sunset
Close Alternatives: Hesiler Park, Dana Point
Pros: One of the most beautiful areas in SoCal
Cons: Little hard to find parking
Rating: 8/10

 

 

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El Matador Beach

The large rocks that sit right on the beach are perfect for unique engagement photos and creative compositions. The parking is affordable and the rock formations are pretty. Bring a picnic and sit at the picnic tables as you overlook beautiful El Matador. Located in Malibu,  you’ve got celebrity homes on one side and twisty trails leading to waterfalls, canyons, and other goodies in this SoCal nook.

Best Shooting Time: 1-2 hours before sunset
Close Alternatives: Malibu Pier, Malibu Creek State Park
Pros: many locations to choose from in the area (Escondido Falls, Zuma Beach, Solstice Canyon), easy-ish parking, pretty drive
Cons: parking lot is small so might have to wait for a spot, a little far from central LA
Rating: 8/10

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Venice Canals

Right next to Venice Beach are the Venice Canals. Inspired by the ones in Italy, this spot is romantic. Get in a gondola and float down and see the beautiful houses coast by you. No two brides appear the same here so you’ll get a variety of photos. You’ll want to stroll around here all afternoon.

Best Shooting Time: 1-2 hours before sunset
Close Alternatives: Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, El Matador Beach
Pros: easy parking, right next to the beach, less crowded than Santa Monica
Cons: N/A
Rating: 8/10

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Leo Carrillo State Park

Another hidden gem in Southern California with coastal caves and surfing. Camp under the stars after your photo session or enjoy the nearby reefs. There’s so much to do and see in the 1.5 mile stretch of beach.

Best Shooting Time: 1-2 hours before sunset
Close Alternatives: El Matador Park, Sycamore Park
Pros: Very beautiful, one of the lesser known beaches
Cons: Might get a little wet for the photos (part of the adventure!)
Rating: 8/10

 

 

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Point Dume State Park

This is one of the most popular engagement photo locations in Southern California and it’s easy to see why. With over 4000 acres, Griffith Park has a lot to offer when it comes to engagement photos. From the Observatory to the Greek Theater, there are plenty of iconic locations to choose from. You can also find hiking trails, gardens, and even a golf course if you’re looking for a more active engagement photo shoot. They even shot the movie La La Land here – one of my personal favorites.

 

Best Shooting Time: Early morning or 1-2 hours before sunset
Close Alternatives: El Matador State Park, Venice Beach
Pros: near wild flowers, beautiful cliffs, windy trails, sandy beach
Cons: Can get windy (could be good for photos honestly), limited street parking and usually full
Rating: 8/10

CITY LOCATIONS

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Los Angeles Arboretum

Open everyday except for Christmas, this rustic and chic historical site is located near the San Gabriel Mountains in Arcadia. It’s a botanical garden with over 127 acres of beauty. If just visiting, it could take four hours just to see all of it, unless you take a break at the cute cafe inside.

Best Shooting Time: Evening
Close Alternatives:  CalTech, Huntington Library
Pros: unique, well manicured, beautiful, animals
Cons: no more than 10 people allowed
Rating: 7/10

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Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the most iconic buildings in Downtown LA. With its unique architecture, designed by Frank Gehry, it makes for a great engagement photo shoot location. Plus, you can visit the nearby MOCA or The Broad museum for some added culture to your engagement photos.

Best Shooting Time: Early morning or right before sunset
Close Alternatives: Cathedral of Our Lady, Bradbury Building
Pros: very unique photos, close to lots of cool locations in DTLA
Cons: closes for events and rain, heavy traffic
Rating: 8/10

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Pasadena City Hall:

If you’re looking for a more classic engagement photo shoot location, Pasadena City Hall is a great choice. With its grand staircase and beautiful architecture, it’s the perfect place to get some stunning engagement photos. Plus, it’s conveniently located in the heart of Pasadena, known for it’s Victorian and art deco buildings. Visit the Norton Simon Museum for Asian and European Art or the Rose Bowl.

Best Shooting Time: Evenings on weekdays
Close Alternatives: the Arboretum, CalTech, Huntington Library
Pros: beautiful photo opportunities, easy parking, close to central LA
Cons: A business license is required during weekdays for professional photographers, closed for events, can get crowded,
Rating: 7/10

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Griffith Observatory – Griffith Park

This is one of the most popular engagement photo locations in Southern California and it’s easy to see why. With over 4000 acres, Griffith Park has a lot to offer when it comes to engagement photos. And the Observatory is its gem. They even shot the movie La La Land here – one of my personal favorites.

Best Shooting Time: Early morning or 1-2 hours before sunset
Permit: Will need a permit for inside, outside is okay
Close Alternatives: Hollywood Sign, Walk of Fame
Pros: classic Hollywood vibes, variety of photos
Cons: crowded, hard to find parking unless you hike
Rating: 5/10

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LACMA Lights

This is a group of lights in downtown LA called Urban Light. These lights used to be one the streets of LA in the 1920s and 1930s. Easily recognizable as one of LAs premier monuments, you’ll have to come for your engagement pics, though we recommend pairing this with another close location to get more variety of photos.

Best Shooting Time: One hour after sunset
Close Alternatives: Petersons Auto Museum, DTLA, Beverly Hills
Pros: Easy access and free, very unique and photogenic
Cons: crowded with influencers, might not be get wide shots cause lots of people
Rating: 6/10

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UCLA’s Campus

Easily one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, if not the most beautiful in the US, there are so many unique great locations around. Check out Royce Hall, Powell Library, Kerckoff Hall, and the Sculpture Garden.

Best Shooting Time: 1-2 hours before sunset, weekends could be crowded with students
Close Alternatives: Greystone Mansion
Pros: Lots of unique, beautiful variety in locations
Cons: parking is $8 for 2 hours in lot 5
Rating: 7/10

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Union Station

If you’re the urban or traveling couple, this place is definitely for you. It’s super unique. Nobody would think to go to this famous train station for engagement pictures. If you’re die hard LA couple then this also is great for you. Bring some luggage as props. There is beautiful Spanish architecture inside and gorgeous gardens on the outskirts.

Best Shooting Time: Sunset or early in the morning
Close Alternatives: LACMA, UCLA, Griffith Park
Pros: Very unique and urban, you still stand out from your friends,
Cons: can get crowded though people can add to the vibe of your photos
Rating: 7/10

NATURE LOCATIONS

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Point Vicente Lighthouse – Rancho Palos Verdes

This is a great location for couples who want dramatic engagement photos with blue ocean views.. Atop of the bluffs of the Palos Verdes Hills, coastal towns carry a cozy sweet vibe mixed with just enough salty ocean air. What a joy it is to shoot at this location because of the contrasting rugged cliffs and vast ocean views.

 

Best Shooting Time: 1-2 hours before sunset
Close Alternatives: Hermosa Beach, Cabrillo Beach
Pros: Stunning landscapes, pretty drive, cute town, easy parking, not too many people
Cons: could be a bit windy
Rating: 8/10

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Malibu Creek State Park

When people picture Malibu, they usually see sandy beaches in their head. But this state park is a hidden gem that will surely amaze. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, it’s a nature’s paradise here. Come to fish, swim, rock climb, horseback ride, hiking and more.

 

Best Shooting Time: Early morning or 1 hour before sunset
Close Alternatives: Thousand Oaks, Malibu Lagoon Beach
Pros: calming nature, unique and many photos opps
Rating: 8/10

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Lacy Park

Located in the San Rafael Hills, you’ll find a decades old rose harbor here and people enjoying their day. This is a more laidback, less flashy engagement spot, so if you fit the bill, Lacy Park welcomes you with open arms. You could even play tennis after!

 

Best Shooting Time: 1-2 hour before sunset
Close Alternatives: El Molino Viejo, The Huntington Library
Pros: calming nature, simple vibes
Cons: niche engagement location
Rating: 7/10

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Joshua Tree National Park

Go to Jtree to experience something you’ve never experienced before. The rock formations, the funky trees are all part of the experience. Make sure to stay for the night to witness the breathtaking stars. Joshua Tree will bring you the most beautiful and unique photos opps.

Best Shooting Time: Early morning or 1 hour before sunset
Close Alternatives: Palm Springs windmills, Moorten Botanical Garden
Pros: beautiful and unique photos opportunities, calming nature
Cons: far from central LA, it’s a dessert so gotta bring lots of water
Rating: 7/10

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Carbon Canyon Regional Park

An enchanting forest located in Brea, you’ll find tall trees, bright greens, and more in this engagement location. With so much to do in this park, it won’t disappoint.

Best Shooting Time: Morning or before sunset
Pros: easy hiking to get to the pretty area, lots to do
Cons: Orange County Park Permit required
Rating: 7/10

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Vasquez Rocks

If you want engagement photos that are truly unique, then Vasquez Rocks is the place for you. This unusual rock formation is located in Agua Dulce and has been used as a filming location for many movies and TV shows. Bring a picnic, wear your best outfit, take some pics, and wonder how the rocks slant up (nature, of course)

 

Best Shooting Time: Early morning or 1 hour before sunset
Close Alternatives: the Arboretum, CalTech, Huntington Library
Pros: calming nature, unique photos opps, easy parking
Cons: far from modern amenities, niche photo opps (don’t come here if you don’t like nature)
Rating: 8/10

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We hope you found your dream location in this guide. Now go out and get those engagement photos taken! Congratulations on this special time in your life. We are so excited for you and your fiance, embarking on this love adventure and making sure it’s remembered. Cheers to a beautiful future ahead!

Choosing a Wedding Photographer

From the moment your guests arrive at the reception hall, they are in for an experience like no other. Your wedding day should be a memorable one that you can share with loved ones forever – we want every person attending this special occasion to feel welcomed and loved by all who attend it too! So let us capture those moments of joyous celebration as well as any tearful goodbyes on film so future generations can see how much love existed on your day. Choose Symboll as your wedding photographer. Interested in wedding videography? We do that too. Thank you so much for reading! We can’t wait for you to have a blast on your day!

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