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Best Photoshoot Locations in the San Francisco Bay Area – South Bay

If you’ve followed me for a while you know that I’m obsessed with location scouting (see here) and finding the best backdrops for photos in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve been collecting my favorite locations over my 7 years in business and have shared them with my clients for years, but last year I decided it was time to share them with you all!

My hope is that my location guides save you time, give you new inspiration, and help you level up your photography! Because it all really starts with light and location, and now I’ve done most of the work for you!

Along with sample photos and highlights of each location I also include the best time of day to visit, an interactive Google map, ideas for what to wear, where to park, and other tips and tricks! You can check out the full length location guides in my shop for photographers, or for a sneak peek you can check out a few of my favorite locations in each area by reading through my blog. (Here are the San Francisco + East Bay blog posts.)

Keep reading for a peek at 2 of my favorite locations in the South Bay, and don’t forget to pin this blog to your location scouting Pinterest board for safe keeping. It’ll come in handy!

My top 2 photography locations in the South Bay – San Jose + Palo Alto

Psst – Make sure to grab my South Bay Location Guide!

Rainbow Mural in San Jose

San Jose has a bunch of different murals, but this one is definitely my favorite because of the stripes of bright rainbow colors! The words say “We are community.” This mural can be found on Lightston Alley at Post St in San Jose. There are a few other murals at the location as well, but they’re a little on the darker side. This spot is best in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky so that you can capture even shaded light.

For this location I highly recommend wearing solid colors or simple prints that will stand out in front of the colors you want to use. One thing to keep in mind at this location is that the far right side of the mural tends to have a lot of large dumpsters and trash cans in front of it (it is an alleyway after all!), so you may not be able to capture those colors as much. Though if you photograph at an angle like the image below, you can still grab a bit of the purple and pink tones!

Elizabeth Gamble Garden in Palo Alto

This location never ceases to amaze me with its changing landscape! Elizabeth Gamble Garden is located at 1431 Waverly Street in Palo Alto, and is free and open to the public to visit during daylight hours. Sometimes parts of it will be blocked off for small weddings or events, and sometimes it can get quite busy with other photographers and photoshoots, so for these reasons I recommend visiting on a weekday evening around golden hour.

Depending on the season you’ll find different blooming flowers, plants, pathways, greenhouses, fences, and even a tiny bit of architecture. Make sure to time your arrival based on the seasonal blooms that you want in your photos. I highly recommend fall to catch the dahlias blooming (as seen in the photos below). Winter won’t have as many colors and blooms.

For outfits I’d recommend choosing solid colors in softer tones and flowy fabrics to go with the garden feel. I suggest avoiding green since there is so much greenery in the garden already.

See more photos from this fall engagement session here, or check out a wedding I photographed at the garden here.

So, that’s 2 locations. How about 21 more?

Grab my South Bay Location Guide for 21 more amazing photoshoot locations! 

I’ll share everything you need to know about each location: area highlights, addresses and cross streets, the best time of day to shoot, example photos from my own sessions, what to wear, insider tips, and more! Grab it for just $24, and check out my other San Francisco Bay Area Location Guides and goodies while you’re at it! (It’s a business expense! 😉)

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i'm sarah (she/her) , your new quirky, color-loving friend!

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My goal with every client is to cultivate a fun, creative, and approachable vibe. All types of people, all types of bodies, and all types of love are welcome here.

Color and creativity fuel my soul, and whimsical details make my heart happy! I believe in finding joy in the everyday, that real emotions are better than perfectly posed, and that building real connections with my clients is what allows me to create honest photos and capture genuine moments.

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