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Exploring the Most Beautiful Photo Spots in San Diego

This article and images featuring photo spots in San Diego was contributed by San Diego Photographer Amy Gray Photography

San Diego proudly lives up to its motto, “America’s Finest City,” offering a variety of stunning locations for every photographer’s needs. From the timeless elegance of the historic Hotel Del Coronado’s sandy shores to the vivid, bustling streets of Little Italy, there is a perfect photo spot for any aesthetic. As a native of San Diego, I didn’t truly discover the hidden gems of our beautiful city until I started searching for the ideal photoshoot locations. Whether you’re a local looking for a new scene or a visitor eager to preserve your travel memories, I’m excited to share my favorite photo spots in San Diego with you.

1. Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado is the top of my list! This iconic beachfront hotel is not just a landmark of Victorian architecture (built in 1888!), but also boasts the flattest shoreline in San Diego County. The sun goes down behind the Point Loma peninsula half of the year, adding ten precious minutes of optimal lighting just before sunset. This is my go-to spot for sparkling reflection shots, usually relatively unencumbered by crowds or seaweed. 

Amy Gray Photography's portrait from photo spot in San Diego Hotel del Coronado

2. Pacific Beach at Crystal Pier

For those who dream of classic beach photos, Pacific Beach offers a lively boardwalk and the picturesque Crystal Pier. At sunset on clear days, the soft, golden sunlight peeks through the pier and creates buttery bokeh to make me swoon. I like to hang out in the shade from the pier and capture posed portraits at the start of a stress-free full-hour session, when there’s no concern about finding flattering light. Then, as the sun begins to set, we head out to the shoreline for silhouettes, action shots, and wide-angle compositions that highlight the big sky and water. This is truly a stunning photo spot in San Diego.

Sunset portrait at Crystal Pier by San Diego family photography Amy Gray Photography

3. Balboa Park 

If you’re a fan of diverse architectural styles and lush gardens, Balboa Park is the one of the perfect photo spots in San Diego for you. Its historic buildings, manicured florals, and scenic walkways always provide an eclectic gallery. I especially love Alcazar Garden and a few special nooks off the Prado. Balboa Park is perfect for seniors, couples, and families, and a session here always feels like a scavenger-hunt type adventure. It never gets old.

Family portrait form Balboa Park.  Photo spot in San Diego

4. Little Italy

For a touch of urban sophistication, grunge, or the dark academia vibe (wear your Doc Martins!), Little Italy’s charming streets offer a backdrop to spark creativity. They are bursting with cafés and colorful murals that lend themselves to senior and couple sessions or even formal headshots. Bonus points for adding a plane landing at nearby Lindbergh Field to one of your compositions.

Senior poses in Little Italy, photo spots in San Diego

5. Steele Canyon Bridge

Nestled in the rustic suburbs of San Diego, Steele Canyon Bridge is perfect for those seeking a field or country setting. Break out the cowboy boots (what rattlesnakes?) and enjoy the shade of a giant sycamore tree, climb on wooden fences, walk hand-in-hand on dirt pathways, and climb the rolling hills. In the fall, vibrant leaves give the impression that we actually have seasons in San Diego, and in the spring patches of yellow wildflowers dot the hills.

Family poses by portrait by Amy Gray Photography, San Diego family photographer

6. Windansea, La Jolla

This stunning beach spot is famous for its red cliff formations and beautiful surf breaks. Due to the particular lighting conditions (limited shade), photoshoots at Windansea are best kept under 30 minutes. There’s a little climbing involved, and tides can be unpredictable. However, when sunset hits Windansea it is beach photographer heaven. Even on cloudy days the water is just a little more blue than at other beaches. Don’t want to get wet? If you pick Windansea, that’s just too bad. There’s lots of wave action there, and you’re likely to end up wet to the waist! 

San Diego Beach photography at Windansea, one of the beautiful photo spots in San Diego

7. Presidio Park

Another photo spot in San Diego that is a gem for those who appreciate natural settings with a hint of architectural interest is Presido Park. The Presidio building (now a museum) is leftover from Spanish colonial days and bordered by a patch of woods to the south and grassy picnic spots to the west. Stairways and arches make this a versatile location for senior and family sessions, and it’s great for engagement shoots, too.

Parents kiss child during photography session at Presidio Park by San Diego Family Photographer

While our beach locations remain a perennial favorite for tourists in San Diego, locals cycle through the options! One year we’ll do a beach session, then field, park, and so forth. It’s fun to see families each year and jog the children’s memories—remember when we were at the beach last year? Or remember when we saw the puppy at Balboa Park? Photo sessions are wonderful for the obvious result of heirloom images, but the memories made in some of San Diego’s most beautiful settings are valuable in themselves. San Diego is the ideal canvas for a growing family’s yearly session, with variety to last for decades.

About San Diego Photographer Amy Gray Photography

Amy Gray is a former teacher, mother, and seasoned photographer. She deeply values family, memories, and stories. If you’re in the San Diego area (or visiting), reach out to her about scheduling a session.

San Diego Family Photographer Amy Gray Photography

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