I’ve lived in San Francisco my whole life and over the years I’ve learned about some top tier photo spots that will have your followers swooning for the exact location. In this post, I’ll be sharing with you some of the city’s hidden gems and how to get that best tourist photo!
1: Fort Point - Golden Gate Bridge
Long Ave & Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129
San Francisco’s most iconic landmark has to the Golden Gate Bridge, not only is it the most beautiful bridge in the world, it is the most photographed. It can be shot from various points around the city, from the Marin headlands to Baker’s Beach everyone is fighting for the perfect shot. This is why I love taking pictures at Fort Point, not everyone thinks about this spot when it comes to capturing the bridge meaning there are not as many tourists. You can also get up close and practically under the bridge giving you a different angle for the gram.
Pro tip: Once you snap a picture at the entrance down the hill, continue driving towards the bridge. You’ll see a brick building with a small parking lot and a rusty metal chain. Step over that chain and walk along the path to get extremely close to the bridge. Vertigo was shot here and most people give up before reaching this point but it makes for the best photo!
2: Bernal Heights Park
10 Bernal Heights Blvd San Francisco, CA 94110
It’s been a while since I’ve shot here but Bernal Heights Park overlooks the whole city with a cute little swing that is perfect for IG! I recommend driving to the top until you see a chained off driveway and park along the adjacent road. There are many paths you can take up this hill but this will be the easiest. People come here all day long but my favorite is right as the sun sets. You’ll be able to see the lights come on and cotton candy skies to follow.
Pro Tip: Bring bug spray
3: Mount Davidson Park
Dalewood Way & Myra Way San Francisco, CA 94127
On the subject of parks, I have to drop Mount Davidson in this guide. While it’s not the most sought after location, it is extremely different and perfect for Halloween. There’s plenty of street parking and is always foggy helping set the mood for that spooky shot.
4: Legion of Honor
100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
The Legion of Honor is a historic museum with clean pillars in front making it perfect backdrop for engagement or family photos. I’ve used this spot many times when shooting around the holidays or more formal outfits.
5: Cherry Blossom Fields
Vacaville, CA. Take I-80 East and it’s 1 or 2 exits after Sonic.
At the end of winter or early spring, you might be able to catch some cherry blossom fields out in Vacaville or Fairfield area. Unfortunately, I don't have an exact location because we drove until we saw the flowers and these fields are private property but if you look around the area you’ll be able to find it.
Pro Tip: It’s really muddy so don't drive on to the field unless you have four-wheel drive and wear cheap boots because they will get messed up.
6: Pier 7 & Pier 14
Pier 7 San Francisco, CA 94105
Pier 14 San Francisco, CA 94105
I always forget about these piers but they make for a great backdrop! You have the bay bridge on one side and skyscrapers on the other. No matter what direction you shoot or how far down the pier you go, you’ll be able to get a good pic. The best part - even on the busiest Saturday you can get a shot with no one in the background.
7: Maiden Lane
Maiden Ln San Francisco, CA 94108 - Near Union Square
I hate that I’m including Maiden Lane in this guide because all the little teeny boppers shoot here, but I also shoot here so it is what it is. When I have a lot of outfits to shoot and I need a nice clean backdrop I opt for Maiden Lane. All the designer stores are in the area and there are string lights around the block making it the perfect ambiance for a fashion shoot. The streets around Maiden Lane also have a similar vibe if you don't want to be so obvious with your location.
350 Harbor Dr, Sausalito, CA 94965
Just across the Golden Gate bridge is a cute little city called Sausalito. It’s the place where people dock their boats and yachts making it the perfect place for a summer photo. Getting on the boat is technically considered trespassing, but I won’t tell if you won’t ;) However, I would be careful because some people actually live on these boats so you may be breaking into their house!
9: Mount Tam
3801 Panoramic Hwy Mill Valley, CA 94941
Mount Tam, summertime sunset. Do it. There are so many spots you can stop at, just explore and look for cars parked in a certain area. This is usually a good indication a banger is right around the corner.
10: Treasure Island
Treasure Island San Francisco, CA
Treasure Island is halfway across the Bay Bridge making it the perfect location to capture the city and the bridge in one fellow swoop. It has been under construction these past few months (June 2019) but I wanted to throw it in here in case you are planning far in advance. Wait for the sun to set to capture a colorful sky and be sure to bring a jacket because it does get really cold!
11: Sunflower Fields
Davis, CA. Take I-80 East until you see the flowers on the freeway
I’ve shot at the sunflower fields many times and it's always a blast. They come in season around the summertime and it’s easily spottable on the freeway. Typically I drive towards Davis, CA from San Francisco and stop once I see a nice field. Don’t be scared by the bees, they are there to pollinate and bring bug spray if you’re sensitive to mosquitos!
Random fact: These sunflowers are grown for seeds meaning the flower part is extremely heavy and never face the sun.
12: Breather Spaces
Depending on the type of content you’re shooting, sometimes you just need to be indoors. Breather is an app where you can rent an office or coworking space by the hour. I’ve found some really nice spaces with great lighting for extremely cheap. You’ll get a code a few minutes before and the instructions to enter the buildings are usually pretty straight forward. The best part - you get $45 off your first rental (code: FD6GRV) meaning some places are free!
I hope you guys found this guide helpful! If you’re traveling to SF, welcome. If you’ve lived here for a while, I hope this gave you a new perspective. At times the photo community or social media at large can be really secretive but I want to share what I know with you and hopefully get inspired by your creative content! Please be mindful that some of these locations are private properties and to be respectful when shooting or hanging around the area! Up next I’ll be releasing my long-awaited rooftop guide! Stay tuned <3