Although the south Bay Area offers many amazing locations for engagement sessions and family portraits, one stellar spot that I love is Pearson-Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto. Depending on the time of year, a Pearson-Arastradero Preserve engagement session can offer you fields as far as the eye can see of beautiful swaying dead grasses or, if you are there in the winter as we were, rolling lush hills of green. The golden sunset light at Palo Alto’s open preserve offers an abundance of opportunity for beautiful images and I was in heaven exploring for Lizzy and James’ Pearson-Arastradero Preserve engagement session.

Lizzy and James wanted to take photos at a place that was special to them.  They live nearby in downtown Palo Alto, CA and bring their corgi, Oliver, to Pearson-Arastradero Preserve frequently for dog walks. As Oliver was going to figure prominently in their engagement session (and their wedding – more on how you should include your dog in your wedding here), they thought that the fields of the park were perfect for their Pearson-Arastradero Preserve engagement session.

Depending on the time of year, the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve can offer completely different visions for your engagement or family portrait session. In the summer, the wild tall golden grass offers a completely different vibe than the one Lizzy and James had.  As we held their engagement session in the winter, the hills that are normally swaying with golden dead grass were as green as could be. It almost seemed like something out of The Sound of Music.

Since Lizzy and James were wed this weekend, it seemed only fitting to release their Pearson-Arastradero Preserve engagement session blog today! I am thrilled to be their Nestldown wedding photographer and can’t wait to share those images with you!

South Bay Area Engagement Session Locations

The South Bay Area of San Francisco, CA offers a ton of excellent locations for engagement sessions and family portrait sessions.

  • Pearson-Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto offers wide hills that depending on the time of year are either golden with waving dead grass or as lush and green as the eye can see. A walking path will lead you around the park and a photo permit is not required. The park requests that you stay on designated trails.
  • Elizabeth Gamble Garden, located in Palo Alto, offers amazing and easily accessed backdrop for family portraits and engagement sessions alike. The garden is a non-profit maintained by volunteers.  It includes a rose garden, cutting garden, formal herb garden, demonstration bed, wisteria garden, brick and cobblestone paths, giant oak trees and more. They do not require a photo permit but ask that a donation be made to the non-profit for use of the garden. I always suggest that you donate $25 graciously as they are so kind to offer up the area to photographers.
  • Huddart Park outside of Redwood City is a densely forested area that offers great shade regardless of the time of day. Acres of trails offer a variety of coastal mountain variety, including gulches and really varied hillsides.
  • If you are interested in a beach location, Rockaway Beach in Pacifica is a great choice that is close to downtown San Francisco and easily accessible.  The coastline has fantastic depth and contrast due to the cove-like nature of the beach itself and large boulders add interest.  There is direct access to the parking area so it’s easily accessible for a wide range of family portrait needs or engagement sessions.