Best Locations for Los Angeles Engagement Photos - Elyana Photography (2024)

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30 June, 2020

Best Locations for Los Angeles Engagement Photos

This article is going to cover all of my recommended locations for one's Los Angeles engagement photos. There are so many great places to take engagement photos in Los Angeles County and Orange County. While this is a good thing, it can also feel overwhelming to select a place.

How to Narrow Down Your Favorite Locations:

The first thing I would do is ask yourselves "What type of atmosphere do we want our photos to have?"

If you're drawn to nature, that alone is super broad. So from there, i'd ask "what type of nature are we most drawn to?" The ocean? Grassland/forest-like ares? Desert? Gardens?

Questions like these will help narrow your location search for your Los Angeles engagement photos.

Location Travel Fees:

The engagement session location can be anywhere in the Los Angeles or Orange County Areas. These areas will NOT include a travel fee. Locations outside of these areas WILL include a travel fee. The travel fee price depends on the location and it's distance.

Permit Information (IMPORTANT!):

Should a location or venue require a permit to photograph, it is the client's responsibility to research this and obtain any necessary permits. Please keep in mind that every location has different rules, potential permit requirements, etc. The permit cost is the responsibility of the client. Most locations do not require permits, but there are a select few that do, so please make sure to do all research with regards to location rules/restrictions and permits in advance to guarantee a smooth session!

Please note: Should any location require a ticket to get in, this cost also the responsibility of the client.

Engagement Session Timing

Good light makes a huge difference in photography. The absolute best time to photograph an engagement session is the hour after the sun rises or the hour before the sun sets. These times are known as "the golden hour."

I always recommend sessions to be scheduled during these times because it lends to the most beautiful, soft light. During other parts of the day, the sun is directly overhead, causing harsh shadows, squinting, etc.

With this being said, it's imperative when selecting your location to make sure it doesn't close at a time that interferes with shooting during the golden hour. For example, if the location closes at 4:30 pm and the engagement session is scheduled during summer, this would not be an ideal location to choose. This is because during the summer, the sun doesn't set until around 8 pm, meaning that in order to shoot at that location, we'd have to shoot in harsh lighting conditions. If the engagement session is scheduled in the late fall or winter, it may work since the sun goes down much earlier around then. The key here is to be able to shoot at the location during the golden hour.

Los Angeles & Orange County Engagement Session Locations (No Travel Fee Required)

Garden Atmospheres - Los Angeles Engagement Photos

Arboretum of Los Angeles | Arcadia

This arboretum is located in Arcadia and it's BEAUTIFUL. It's really big offering a wide variety of backdrops, such as desert vibes, gardens, a waterfall, unique plants, huge trees, an open meadow-like area. It offers it all and is an amazing option for Los Angeles engagement photos.

Best Locations for Los Angeles Engagement Photos - Elyana Photography (1)

Descanso Gardens | La Canada Flintridge

This place is similar to the Arboretum. It's equally spacious and offers a wide variety of backdrops. The one thing it offers that is a little different is a Japanese style garden. It also has a huge array of roses available during spring time. The location is very strict when it comes to providing a permit, so that is something to keep in mind.

Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens | San Marino

This place is exquisite. So many different varieties of plants & flowers. This location does require a permit.

Japanese Garden | Long Beach

A beautiful Japanese garden, including a pond, bridge, plants, etc.

UCLA Botanical Garden | Los Angeles

This place is a hidden gem. It's peaceful and makes you feel like you're not even in the hustle bustle of Los Angeles.

Arlington Garden | Pasadena

This and the Arboretum in Arcadia are my two personal favorite gardens in Los Angeles. The great thing about Arlington Garden is that it's very close to the Pasadena Bridge, Downtown Pasadena, and the beautiful Pasadena City Hall (amazing architecture). Two out of these four locations can be done within a 2 hour engagement session, offering a variety of architecture & garden photos. I have a few sessions I have shot here that you can browse through below:

Arlington Garden Engagement Session 1

Arlington Garden Engagement Session 2

Arlington Garden Engagement Session 3

Arlington Garden Engagement Session 4

Arlington Garden Engagement Session 5

Best Locations for Los Angeles Engagement Photos - Elyana Photography (2)
Best Locations for Los Angeles Engagement Photos - Elyana Photography (3)

Noguchi Garden | Costa Mesa

There is a little bit of everything here. It offers unique architecture, forest-like backgrounds, an area filled with succulents offering desert vibes, etc. It is also surrounded by white walls, which reflect beautiful, clean light that contributes to that dreamy "light & airy" quality.

Fullerton Arboretum | Fullerton

This place offers beautiful botanical gardens. It has year-round flowers in full bloom and a variety of natural settings including: bamboo, cactus, large trees, beautiful fields of flowers, and a couple of small ponds.

One thing to consider is that this location closes at 4:30 pm each day. So this is only a location I recommend for engagement sessions scheduled in the Fall/Winter since the sun sets earlier during that time, meaning we can still shoot during the golden hour. This site also doesn't allow any dogs.

Another great location nearby if you'd like to do two locations is Craig Regional Park.

South Coast Botanic Gardens

Massive garden with a romantic atmosphere. Lots of variety here.

Seaside Atmospheres - Los Angeles Engagement Photos

Manhattan Beach | Manhattan Beach

This beach has a beautiful pier. It does get insanely crowded on the weekends, so I only recommend photographing here on a weekday.

Venice Beach | Venice

Venice beach is fun and quirky. I will say that it has A LOT going on and can get extremely crowded, so I only recommend shooting here on a weekday. The good thing about Venice Beach is that it has options. It has the Venice Canals, where small boats can be accessed. It also has the Venice boardwalk, which is filled with life and character. The beach is nearby. Lastly, Abbot Kinney is close by, which is a street filled with cute restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques.

Venice Beach Engagement Session

El Matador State Beach | Malibu

This is by far my favorite beach in SoCal! El Matador in Malibu has BEAUTIFUL, really unique rock formations where light bursts through! Like Manhattan Beach, It also gets insanely crowded on the weekends, so I only recommend photographing here on a weekday. Overall though, this beach gets AMAZING light.

El Matador Beach Engagement Session

Point Dume Beach | Malibu

Point Dume has amazing cliffs nearby. It's a good combination of beach photos on the sand and photos with amazing views/rock formations. One thing to keep in mind here is that it gets VERY windy at this location since it's on a cliff overlooking the ocean. With that said, I only recommend this location for situations where one's hair will be in an updo or out of one's face.

Point Dume Engagement Session 1

Point Dume Engagement Session 2

Treasure Island Beach | Laguna Beach

Another beach with amazing rock formations.

Bluff Cove in Palos Verdes

Breathtaking location with Sea-view cliffs, mountains.

Montage Laguna Beach

The Montage Laguna Beach is a luxury Laguna Beach hotel in Orange County, California. It sits on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This allows for photos walking down to the ocean (includes some trees along the pathway and benches overlooking the view) and photos down by the water on the sand.

Victoria Beach | Laguna Beach

This is a beautiful beach that has the Victorian La Tour, a stair tower commonly referred to as a lighthouse structure. This tower was built back in the 1920's.

Crystal Cove Park | Newport Beach

This park offers a variety of backdrops, including trails and hills inland, as well as rock formations down by the beach.

Salt Creek Beach | Dana Point

This beach has access to some rock formations.

Thousand Steps Beach | Laguna Beach

This is a classic beach setting that tends to have less foot traffic then other beaches.

Heisler Park | Laguna Beach

This is an oceanfront park that stretches along the coastlines and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. We can also access the beach from the park, adding some variety.

Pirate Cove's Beach

The beach is known for its stunning cliffs, rocky outcroppings, and crystal-clear waters. For engagement photos, Pirate's Cove Beach provides a stunning and dramatic backdrop.

Grassland or Forest Atmospheres - LA Engagement Photos

Oak Canyon Nature Center | Anaheim Hills

This park offers a ton of trees, as well as hiking trails, a little stream of water, little bridges, walkways, etc.

Northwest Open Space | San Juan Capistrano

Northwest Open Space is approximately 500 acres of nature at its finest. I highly recommend having your session here towards the end of winter to the beginning of spring. The reason being is that there are a lot of trees, but during this time of year, the orange trees are filled with oranges, adding some great color in the background. The fields of flowers will also be in boom.

I wouldn't recommend having an engagement session at this particular location another time of the year, as there will still be trees, but much of the fields will have a dry/brown look to them as the flowers and oranges won't be in season.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park | Trabuco Canyon

This park includes woodland canyons, rock formations, grassland hills, cacti, trees, riverbeds, etc. It also has the possibility for us to end up in Red Rock Canyon as the two locations connect. An important thing to note is that this park doesn't allow animals. If you were planning on bringing your pup, this location would unfortunately not allow that.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park | Laguna Beach

This place has great rock formations, hiking trails, and trees. Something to note is that it's easy to get lost once in the park, so I often suggest meeting at a location nearby and driving there together. Also, the park typically closes at 5. With that said, I recommend this location during the Fall time when the golden hour is earlier.

Orcutt Ranch | West Hills

This place has a little bit of everything - some unique architecture, bamboo gardens, greenery, big trees, etc.

Best Locations for Los Angeles Engagement Photos - Elyana Photography (4)

Thomas F Riley Wilderness Park | Coto de Caza

This place has a forest-like quality, hiking trails, tall grass, bridges, and a lot of trees.

Redwood Grove | Yorba Linda

This place has a forest-like feel and amazing trees. If you're drawn to Big Bear or Yosemite, but don't want to make the long drive, this place has a similar feel.

Santiago Oaks Regional Park | Orange County

This park offers rustic scenery, including hiking trails, streams of waters, wooden brides, etc.

UC Irvine Aldrich Park | Irvine

UCI is a large campus that includes Aldrich Park. Aldrich park is filled with plants, trees, flowers, etc.

Jeffrey Open Space Trail | Laguna Beach

If you're looking for a place with a lot of grass and trails, Jeffrey Open Space Trail is a great option. It has a meadow-like feeling.

Kenneth Hahn Park | Baldwin Hills

This offers meadow like variety, some small ponds and bridges, and some trees. It gets very crowded during weekends, so I'd only recommend shooting here on a weekday.

Malibu State Creek Park | Malibu

This offers a meadow scenery. The grass here tends to be brown, so I will say that this park lends towards warmer looking photographs that are beautiful in their own way, but not recommended if you're looking for pops of color in your images. If you'd like some variety, a possibility would be to take some photos at this park, as well as some at a nearby Malibu beach, such as Point Dume.

Desert Atmosphere - Los Angeles Engagement Photography

Vasquez Rocks | Santa Clarita

This place has a desert environment with spectacular rock formations. You can view an engagement session I shot there below.

Vasquez Rocks Engagement Session

Best Locations for Los Angeles Engagement Photos - Elyana Photography (5)

Architecture Atmosphere - Los Angeles Engagement Photos

The Griffith Observatory | Los Angeles

The Griffith Observatory is iconic with it's picturesque views and beautiful architecture.

The Greystone Mansion | Beverly Hills

This is a private estate that offers breathtaking architecture.

Brand Park Library, Glendale

The library is classy and has beautiful architecture.

CalTech, Pasadena

Gorgeous Gardens and architecture. Early morning session recommended to avoid student crowds.

San Juan Capistrano Mission

This offers Spanish-style architecture that is really romantic. Super beautiful place!

San Juan Capistrano Elopement

Rancho Las Lomas | Silverado

This private residence offers Spanish-style architecture, a beautiful courtyard, s small zoo, gardens, and hacienda-style buildings. This place is remarkable, but something to note is that since it is a private residence and they usually reserve weekends for weddings, an engagement session here has to be scheduled in advance and has a better chance of being scheduled on a weekday.


Variety of photo opportunities with GORGEOUS architecture. Currently unaware of any permits needed here. An early morning session is recommended as it gets crowded with students otherwise.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Urban architecture that acts as a starting point to other sites, such as Grand Park, Broad Museum, Water and Power Department, etc.

Pasadena City Hall | Pasadena

The Pasadena City Hall offers beautiful architecture and a really pretty courtyard. It is also near Arlington Gardens in Pasadena, if you'd like to add variety with some greenery and flowers.

You can view an a few sessions I shot at Pasadena City Hall below!

Pasadena City Hall Comprehensive Photos + Guide

Pasadena City Hall Engagement Session 1

Pasadena City Hall Engagement Session 2

Pasadena City Hall Elopement 1

Pasadena City Hall Elopement 3

Pasadena City Hall Elopement 2

Best Locations for Los Angeles Engagement Photos - Elyana Photography (6)


Your Home

Some couples want to do a at-home session. These tend to be more intimate and laid back. If you want to see examples of what these type of sessions look like, click HERE.

Venice Beach | Venice

Venice beach is fun and quirky. I will say that it has A LOT going on and can get extremely crowded, so I only recommend shooting here on a weekday. The good thing about Venice Beach is that it has options. It has the Venice Canals, where small boats can be accessed. It also has the Venice boardwalk, which is filled with life and character. The beach is nearby. Lastly, Abbot Kinney is close by, which is a street filled with cute restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques.

Venice Beach Engagement Session

Exploring Pasadena

Below is an engagement session centering around exploring downtown Pasadena

Pasadena Exploration Engagement Session

Areas Outside of LA & Orange County (Travel Fee Required)

Glamis Dunes, Imperial Sand Dunes

If you want really dramatic scenic photos with sand dunes as the backdrop, this may be the location for you!

Palm Springs

Lot's of quirky backgrounds & desert backdrops.

Joshua Tree National Park

Amazing desert backdrops.

Yosemite National Park

Romantic meadows, vast rock formations, and forest backdrops. In my humble opinion, Yosemite is truly the most beautiful of locations in all of California. It's a far drive from LA, but if you're up for an adventure, let's do it and capture some magic!

Best Locations for Los Angeles Engagement Photos - Elyana Photography (7)

Salvation Mountain

This isn't for everyone, but those who are drawn to it, LOVE it. It's about a 3 hour drive from LA and in the middle of the desert. It offers lots of fun color!

Balboa Park

Beautiful, Spanish-style architecture.

That covers it! If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email here.

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