I’ve been thinking about my journey in photography and it all comes back to family. The whole reason I began my photography business was because I wanted to document my own family and children. I practiced and perfected my skills on them as they grew up and it truly was such a joy.
As a family photographer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, I feel incredibly fortunate to have so many incredible locations at my fingertips. I literally have shot at hundreds of locations in the past 6 years and each is so uniquely different. From the golden rolling hills of Mount Diablo to the headlands in Marin, Golden Gate Bridge, famous locations like Baker Beach and Crissy Field, to the bunkers in Mill Valley, beaches in Pacifica and the list goes on. I love each one for so many different reasons.
During my family sessions, it’s really important to me that you first and foremost try and relax. Please don’t rush the process or the session. Don’t worry about your kids not smiling, running away or even acting up, it’s ok! I have literally seen it ALLLLLLL! I want to document your family as they are… all of it! There are so many moments during a family session that are missed and not noticed and it’s funny, after delivering a gallery, parents will often say “oh I don’t even remember that or that small detail.” And those little details, are often favorites of parents. Cute, little pig-tail braids, squishy baby rolls, fingers intertwined, hair blowing in the wind and close up snuggles and kisses. It’s all important and tells a story, YOUR story.
As a family photographer in the Bay Area, I decided long ago that I wasn’t going to limit myself to just the East Bay area and instead explore all the amazing locations in San Francisco, Marin County, Pacifica, San Jose and Palo Alto.
Check out some of the highlights below!
East Bay Locations
Most of the locations that I shoot at in the East Bay are open spaces. We have such a large rolodex of them in the area, that it’s really about narrowing down and finding the ones that work the best. When I am looking for a location, the first thing I want is something that has tree coverage of some kind. That can be one tree or multiple.
1. Lafayette, CA — Gorgeous ridge with incredible views of the hills.
This location Lafayette, CA has tons of eucalyptus trees and a large overlook that the sun sets behind. It’s so dreamy and the best part is there are wildflowers here in early spring. It’s as short hike uphill but the views are worth it.
2. Heather Farms Park – Walnut Creek, CA
Heather Farms Park is a classic and a spot I go to often. It’s very easily accessible for all types of families and has a wide variety of spots to shoot at. The front side has large oak trees, wildflowers in the spring, golden leaves in the fall, a cute bridge and a water lined walk way. The possibilities are endless. The back side of Heather Farms park has fallen tree logs to sit on and lots of shrubbery. Its perfect for all those golden hour photo
3. Clayton, California – Open Space with view of the backside of Mt. Diablo State Park
The spot in Clayton, CA is on the backside of Mt. Diablo! I LOVE this location because it has rolling hills but also incredible views Mt. Diablo. When the clouds come out, its even better! I usually start at the bottom of the park and once the sun goes behind the ridge, I move to the top where the sun hasn’t disappeared and finish off the session!
4. Point Richmond, CA – Eucalyptus Grove
Point Richmond, CA is such a hidden gem. If you love the Wood Line in San Francisco but don’t want to drive there, this location is second best! It has the feel of the Lover’s Lane and is great to shoot at for families with young kids because we don’t necessarily have to start 45 minutes before sunset. In fact at this location, I start sometimes 2 hours before sunset.
5. Benicia State Park – CA – Gorgeous ocean views with big rocks
The waterfront in Benicia is such a beautiful spot! I love the versatility here and it’s fun for kids because we incorporate rock throwing and exploring with your family session. There are rocks that line the water that you can sit on and then at the end, I finish on the bluff that overlooks the bridge and ocean.
6. Martinez Waterfront
The Martinez Waterfront is a classic favorite of mine! This location has a short grassy area as well as longer grasses in a wide open field. There are multiple bridges to shoot on as well as benches and old, fallen trees to sit on. The actual rocky waterfront is another great spot to utilize when shooting at the Martinez Waterfront.
7. Danville, California – Mt. Diablo State Park – Views of city
Mt. Diablo! My favorite! The views at this location just can’t be beat. Rolling hills, wildflowers and oak trees; so much versatility and beauty. This spot is a little bit of a walk so be prepared for that. There is also a $10 entrance fee at Mt. Diablo for parking and then from there, we will walk to the locations with views!
8. Shell Ridge Open Space
Shell Ridge Open Space is stunning! If you are wanting a location with a little bit of everything, this is it! Amazing rock features to sit on, rolling hills, wildflowers and everything is very easy to get to. Its a short walk to all the good photo spots. This picture was taken in the Spring during wildflower season. Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek has lupines, mustard flowers and poppies!
9. Danville, CA – 360 views of the hills and Mt. Diablo
A little hidden gem that I love SO much! I have shot here probably 2+ dozen times. It never fails with the views. 360 views of rolling hills, trees and the front shot is dead center of Mt. Diablo. Gorgeous oak tree and lots of open space for your kids to run around and play.
10. Crow Canyon Gardens – Lots of greenery, shrubs and wildflowers
Crow Canyon Gardens in San Ramon is a community garden with a lot of greenery, flowers and shrubs. This is very easily accessible for families with small kids and the light is beautiful!
11. Heather Farms Park – Walnut Creek, CA – Cute, little stream, willow trees, fallen tree logs to sit on and wildflowers in the Spring
This little stream and tree covered walk-way are located in the middle of Heather Farms park. Typically I start on one side of the park and then venture to the other side, stopping along the way at all my favorite spots. There are so many fun spots in this park to shoot at and the best part, is it great for families with young kids because it’s easy to access. It’s flat so you can bring a stroller or wagon.
12. Mt. Diablo – Oak Trees
This spot is a little tough to access so if you have young kids, it may not be the best option. With older kids, you can walk to it pretty easily. It was these amazing oak trees as well as stunning views on the city! Mt. Diablo never falls. This spot is accessible via Danville entrance.
Locations in San Francisco, CA
13. Baker Beach – San Francisco, CA
Baker Beach is iconic for stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can access the beach from two different parking lots and there is a gorgeous overlook that has beautiful views of the bridge from a higher perspective. Its a favorite of mine and how I always end my sessions here. Baker Beach can be cold and often windy, so dress appropriately!
14. Lovers Lane – The Wood Line in San Francisco
Another iconic spot in San Francisco – The Wood Line, also known as Lovers Lane has gorgeous, towering eucalyptus trees and a fun, windy woodline the runs through the trees. This location is great if you have young children that can’t shoot closer to sunset. I always starts around 2-3 hours before sunset here since there is so much shade. Note: it is often windy and cold, so please dress warm.
14. Park in San Francisco with incredible Bay Views
A little hidden gem with stunning Bay views! I try not to give away all my locations so this one is only shared if a family asks for it. The light through the trees is stunning and this location is great for families with kids as there is plenty of room to explore, play and run around.
15. Stowe Lake in San Francisco, California
If you haven’t heard of Stowe Lake Boathouse, you are missing out! This location is filled with lush greens, waterfalls, stones and boat rentals. I love the versatility here! The shade this location provides is perfect for young families as we don’t necessarily have to start close to sunset and instead, we can start much earlier because the foliage provides so much shade!
16. Sutro Baths, Lands End
Ok, I said Baker Beach was a San Fran icon but this may trump that. If you haven’t been to the Sutro Baths, you are missing out! The steps leading down to the water are a little treacherous but the walk is worth it. Beautiful light, birds, crashing waves, wind, ALL OF IT is a photographers dream! I love this spot for maternity and even some family sessions!
17. Ghirardelli Square – San Francisco, CA
This location is SO fun! If you haven’t visited Ghirardelli Square, I highly recommend it as it’s the perfect day trip for families with kids. They have so many colored walls, steps, painted murals and eclectic buildings. The possibliities are endless here! The beach is just a short walk across the road and often I will start with families in the urban part and then move to the beach for fun at the end.
18. Redwood Grove in the middle of San Francisco city!
This hidden gem is one of a kind! If you want the feel and look of Redwoods, but can’t travel to Oakland, I got you! This is a short walk and easily accessible for families and maternity! I love this spot as it’s not heavily saturated with other photographers or even people in general. It’s quiet and SO gorgeous! It’s green here year round so it’s perfect if you are wanting a forest feel!
19. Urban San Francisco Location with views of the Bay Bridge
I can’t get over the views here! This location is tricky and I’m not sure I’d recommend it for a family but certainly couples or even a high school/college senior session! When shooting in the streets of San Francisco, I do recommend early morning on a weekend as the traffic is minimal and not many people are out. This session was overcast so we didn’t have to worry about sun. A few blocks down from this spot is another street that also has view of the Bay Bridge but much closer up.
20. Baker Beach – San Francisco, CA
A classic location and iconic to San Francisco! Baker Beach is a mile long beach that sits right below the Presidio and has stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you are wanting photos that represent San Francisco with views of the bridge, than this is your spot! Take note, this is a nude beach and is usually full of people — would you believe me if I told you that I photoshopped about 15-20 people out of this photo? When shooting here, because of where the sun sets, I will only starts about 45 minutes before sunset. The sun sets in front of the bridge so we have to wait until the sun is almost at the horizon before turning and shooting against the bridge. At the end, I move up to an overlook with even better views!
21. Conservatory of Flowers – San Francisco, CA
If you’re looking for a location for your family photography session that is indoors, then this is a great option if the weather isn’t looking good. Lots of greenery, natural light and open walk ways for kids and families to walk around.
22. Bernal Heights – San Francisco, CA
First, can we just chat about the views! I mean, nothing beats the view from Bernal Heights! Besides the views being the best part of Bernal Heights, the fact that it’s easy to access is second! Just a short walk from the parking area and it offers both city views as well as Golden Gate Bridge. There is even a small grassy area to switch it up. Perfect for families with young or older kids!
San Jose and the South Bay Locations
23. Ulistac Natural Area
Looking for a location with a nature feel? This is spot has a little bit of everything. A small park nestled in the middle of Santa Clara with beautiful, towering Eucalyptus trees, tall grasses and a small, community garden. Perfect for a family photo session or maternity photo session!
Marin County + Sausalito, California
Pacifica Beach, California Locations
Silicon Valley, Menlo Park, Palo Alto
Oakland, CA Locations
Your Own Home!
These locations you guys, are just a handful of so many amazing places within the Bay Area! I LOVE trying out new places and photographing you all in places that you love also! So please reach out if you have something in mind! I have many, many more that weren’t added to this list so for now, enjoy looking through some of the places I have photographed at over the past few years!
To see more of my favorite places and some amazing locations, check out Redfin’s list of San Francisco’s Hidden Location Gems!
Kaitlyn Rose Photography is a Bay Area Family Photographer specializing in photos filled with beautiful, natural light and real connection. Serving Walnut Creek, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Concord, San Ramon, Oakland, Pleasanton, Dublin, San Jose, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Atherton, Menlo Park, San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, Berekely and the greater San Francisco area. If you would to book a session or get more information, please contact me so I can answer any questions you may have and begin helping plan your lifestyle session.