Orange County Engagement Locations Options

Tips for Choosing Your Engagement Photography Location

When deciding on your engagement photography location(s), there are a few things to keep in mind.

 

Tip 1) Choose Fewer Locations, More Time at Each Location – The more time you spend in transit, the more time you are not taking pictures. The result is fewer pictures and potentially less-perfected pictures because of the rush to fit in multiple locations within a specific time frame. We limit our engagement sessions to two locations. If you require a third location, an additional hour is necessary.

Tip 2) Choose Private Locations – Locations that are busy present complications. In busy public places like Union Square or Pershing Square, it takes time for backgrounds to clear and at certain times, it’s entirely impossible to get a clean shot. This results in much fewer images and potentially images with strangers in the background. The second thing to consider is that public places are not always the most comfortable places to be in front of the camera. With strangers (and often times security) watching, it’s hard to let your guard down and act naturally in front of the camera. This is another obstacle to overcome and often shows up in the pictures.

Tip 3) Choose Simple Locations and Backgrounds – The main goal of an engagement session is to bring out the personalities of the couple and capture their interaction. Often times, all that this requires is a simple, clean background. Shots of you two laughing and having fun don’t require epic backgrounds. Below are a few examples:

engagement-photography

Tip 4) Choose Locations without Security or Lighting Restrictions – Many public places limit your ability to use off camera lights. These locations include Union Square, Pershing Square, Disneyland, many Bookstores and many other locations. Using off camera lights is how we create many of our artistic effects including mood lighting and backlighting. It’s also how we create flattering light for portraits via reflectors and diffused flash. Having restrictions on these techniques limits our ability to utilize all of our skills and tools available. Also, if a location requires a permit, be sure to take that into consideration. Sneaking around and getting kicked out of a location significantly affects the flow (and the overall positive vibe) of an engagement session.

Orange County Locations

Orange County is a city full of beautiful beaches and green parks. Deciding where exactly to take your engagement photos can be challenging when you have so many options. We’ve narrowed down the numerous Orange County locations and put together some of our favorite engagement photo locations. Check out some of our recent engagement shoots on our blog!  For Los Angeles locations, please click here.

For some of our favorite Orange County Wedding Venues, click here.

As you view the locations below, notice that we have indicated a traffic/crowd ratings of low, medium and high. Here’s what they mean:
Low*:  Low traffic areas are great because we have the freedom use any area at any time without having to wait for crowds to clear. Some clients also feel much more comfortable in these locations without onlookers.
Medium**: Medium traffic areas can sometimes be busy depending on the weather and day of the week. If it happens to be busy, we may get fewer shots because we have to wait for certain spots to open up.
High***: Shooting here can be a challenge because of the many tourists and photographers utilizing the same space. As a high traffic location, expect fewer photos because of longer wait times for clear shots.

Engagement Photos At Victoria Beach

Our number one most requested shot is located at Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach. Breathtaking tide pools and sunsets can be found here. Victoria also features a unique tower next to the cliff.

Best time to visit: Winter and spring are the best times to get an image similar to the one found on top of this page. Summer and fall require additional planning because access to the tide pools vary due to tide levels. Book well in advance in summer and fall because there are only a few days in each month to access the tide pools.
Permit Fees: $100 (for all of Laguna Beach)
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds: Medium**
Example Shoots : Click here to see shoots at this location on our blog.

Engagement Photos At Willow Canyon

For those who love the great outdoors, there are grassy fields, hills, and oak groves. There are several locations along Laguna Canyon Road to stop and shoot. First stop, Willow Canyon. There is an option for so much for creativity at this engagement photo location.

Best time to visit: If you want more green then plan for the winter and spring. Wildflowers grow for a limited time in the spring.
Permit Fees: None
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds: Low*
Example Shoots : Click here to see shoots at this location on our blog.

Engagement Photos AT James Dilley Preserve

James Dilley Preserve and similar to Willow Canyon but with more open space, tall grass, and trees. This is a beautiful engagement location during the spring.

Best time to visit: If you want more green then plan for the winter and spring. Wildflowers grow for a limited time in the spring.
Permit Fees: None
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds: Low*
Example Shoots: Click here to see shoots at this location on our blog.

Engagement Photos At Heisler Park

This well-groomed park sits on top of the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Heisler Park is known for its beautiful sunsets, great for a sunset engagement session. There are several coves to chose from with tide pools and sand.

Best time to visit: Heisler is beautiful any time of the year
Permit Fees: $100 (for all of Laguna Beach)
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds: Medium**
Example Shoots: Click here to see shoots this location on our blog.

Engagement Photos At Caspers Wilderness Park

The lush trees and open fields make for great engagement photos. Caspers Wilderness Park is located in San Juan Capistrano. The park is a popular campsite with many trails to explore.

Best time to visit: All Year
Permit Fees: None
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds:  Low*
Example Shoots: Click here to see other shoots at this location on our blog.

Engagement Photos In Downtown Laguna Beach

Downtown Laguna is filled with unique shops and it is a great location for a lifestyle shoot. Park like settings, old brick buildings, and the famous red telephone booth can be found here. Downtown Laguna Beach is also a close distance to the beach if you’re hoping for multiple backdrops during your engagement shoot.

Best time to visit: Anytime of the year! An additional 45 minutes is needed in your travel plans, due to the high volume of downtown visitors, in order to arrive on time during the summer months.
Permit Fees: $100 (for all of Laguna Beach)
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds: Medium**
Example Shoots: Click here to see other shoots at this location.

Engagement Photos At Jeffrey Open Space Trail

This is a little-known gem in Irvine and a beautiful park with large grass meadows, a tunnel, and mature trees. Jefferey Open Space Trail stays true to its name with its open fields and trails. Not too far from the beach either makes Jeffrey Open Space Trail perfect for your SoCal engagement shoot.

Best time to visit: Anytime of the year, it is a well-groomed park and looks beautiful all year long.
Permit Fees: None
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds: Low* 
Example Shoots: Click here to see other shoots from this location on our blog.

 

Engagement Photos In Newport Beach

Newport Beach Pier, Balboa Fun Zone, and bike rentals make Newport Beach a few of our favorite locations for a playful engagement shoot. This Newport Beah area is the smaller OC version of the Santa Monica pier.

Best time to visit: Anytime of the year but expect more people in the summer months.
Permit Fees: None
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds: Medium**
Example Shoots: Click here to see other shoots at this location on our blog.

Engagement Photos At A Private Mansion in South Orange County

We have worked out an arrangement with this property owner to use this popular OC Wedding venue for engagement sessions!

Best time to visit: Anytime of the year
Permit Fees: $250
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds: Low*
Note: The private mansion has limited availability, so let us know in advance if you are interested in this location so that we may check the availability for you prior to booking.
Example Shoots: Click here to see shoots at this location on our blog.

Engagement Photos At Mission San Juan Capistrano & Downtown

The San Juan Capistrano Mission is a beautiful historic location and if you want a more old world look then the mission should be your first choice. The train station is within walking distance from the mission and is a great area to finish the session. The Quaint, small-town charm of Downtown San Juan Capistrano is another great location with cute boutique stores and a rustic vibe.

Best time to visit: Anytime of the year but expect more people in the summer months. The mission closes at 5 PM and we like to start our sessions 2 hours before sunset so keep this in mind if you plan on scheduling a session in the Summer.
Permit Fees: $50
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Notes: Fee covers up to five (5) people photographed. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance. Our studio managers can help with the process. The Mission also closes at 5 PM so please plan your session accordingly.
Traffic/Crowds: Medium*
Example Shoots: Click here to see shoots at this location on our blog.

Engagement Photos At Dana Point Harbor

Dana Point has a park, a marina, and hidden sandy cove. The Marina is nice and small and makes for easy navigation around the area. If the mission is your first pick and you want the ocean as your second location then we would recommend Dana Point harbor.

Best time to visit: Anytime of the year but expect more people in the summer months.
Permit Fees: None
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Traffic/Crowds: Low**
Example Shoots: Click here to see other shoots at this location on our blog.

Engagement Photos At Crystal Cove

Beachcombers, small sandy cove in Crystal cove, is the highlight of Crystal Cove. Trees line the path and a long tunnel places you on the west side of PCH. Beachcombers has little cottages on the beach that are great to shoot by.

Best time to visit: Winter – The grass will be green for a limited time. Spring – The grass will start turning a golden color and there will be small crops of the mustard flower. Summer – We would not recommend shooting on the hillside of Crystal Cove after the Santa Ana Winds flatten the grass.
Travel Fees: Travel Fees May Apply
Permit Fees: $75 
Traffic/Crowds:  Low*
Note: These permits are difficult to obtain so they require advance notice.
Example Shoots: Click here to see other shoots at this location on our blog.

Los Angeles Engagement Photo Locations

For Los Angeles County Locations, including Palos Verdes, Downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach, and others, please click here.

Free Ebook | 20 Best Engagement Photography Locations

After 10+ years of experience photographing weddings in Southern California, we have become experts photographing engagement sessions at all of the best locations in Orange County and Los Angeles.

This FREE PDF download is our list of favorite locations, from popular, well-known venues to less-popular, hidden gems. We also include useful information like the following:

– Hours
– Permit Fees
– Description
– Example Shoots

If you or someone you know is thinking about having an engagement session, you’ll definitely want to signup to view this PDF.