5 Great Engagement Photo Locations in Southern California

If you're anything like me, you know that location is everything when it comes to photos. When you're photographer asks, "So what location do you have in mind for our shoot?" and you draw a blank... fear not! Here's 5 great locations that I've found in my sessions that work fabulously for engagement sessions.

1. Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park, Coto de Caza

If you're looking for a dreamy, whimsical location for your shoot, then this is your spot! This park is BEAUTIFUL for engagement shoots. With rolling green hills (especially in the spring time) and great trails to hike along for private locations, I promise you won't be disappointed. I love doing shoots at this park, particularly during the golden hour as the sun is setting, because it's perfect for those romantic and dreamy in-the-sun photos.

2. Serrano Creek Park, Lake Forest 

This location is GREAT for moody engagement shoots. I personally love this location because of the grand forest you can wander through. As the sun shines through the trees in the late evening, it's absolutely breathtaking. Typically when my couples want a foresty/moody location but don't want to travel up to the mountains for a shoot, Serrano Creek Park gets the job done! 

3. Julian 

While a bit of a drive for Orange County folk, it's totally worth it if you're looking for a magical mountain, country location. Julian is not only known for it's beautiful landscape, it's actually most popular for it's delicious apple pie! Every time I make the trek out there with my couples, I make it a priority to at least stop and get a slice of pie to enjoy as a refreshment. But Julian is also great for it's small town country feel. With barns almost every few miles, it's easy to find a nice location for some beautiful backgrounds in your photos. (Tip: Be careful of poison ivy when traveling of the beaten trail! It's very present in Julian!)

4. Laguna Canyon Park, Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is literally my second home. I try and get out there as much as possible! One of those reasons is because of the drive there. As you drive down Laguna Canyon road, you have to drive on a nice windy road through these GLORIOUS hills. It's stunning! Not only that, but there's actually trails you can pull off and hike (many of which the locals do their morning or afternoon walks on). This location is great again for a whimsical get away and also does well for a warm, sunny California shoot. Plus, it's not all that far from the ocean either, so pack your sandals for a nice sunset beach session afterwards!

5. Big Bear

Okay, I know this location can be a pain to get to at times because lots of SoCal residents try and make it up there in the winter/summer time (especially after snowfall...) but trust me. This location never disappoints if your looking for a rustic, mountain shoot. I recommend heading up there when there's snow on the ground and finding a nice trail to hike for some awesome photos. While it may be cold, bring a blanket to wrap the two of you in! It makes for cuddly romantic photos that you will love to have. Not only that, but Big Bear is also great in the summer time for nice adventurous shoots. Pack your picnic blanket and set it down in a meadow of trees with your future spouse and admire nature around you as your photographer captures it all for you!

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It's important to communicate with your photographer the exact theme you are looking for with your photos. Once your photographer knows that, they'll be able to help your vision and dream come to life! If you aren't sure what theme you have in mind, think of a place that you enjoy going most with your future spouse. Remember: This is about you and your spouse celebrating your love together. So get excited for your wedding day and celebrate your engagement in an awesome place that clearly illustrates that dream that you have for your big day!

- Dani