As I look back over my 18 years of event photography journey, the question I get asked the most is "where should we go for our engagement session?" I have to admit there is a ton of places to go in LA County, so I thought I would discuss some of my favorites here. There are pros and cons to all of them and if you think you still have a question about one or another just reach our to me anytime. I am happy to discuss them. Just remember, the location is not as important as your own comfort in being captured, your clothing choices and your ability to relax and be yourselves.
Some things to take into consideration are what do you want the look of your photos to be. Do you want coastal/beach look, city/industrial look, forest/rustic look or a combination of these. Also keep in mind that most are not aware of this, state property including almost all beach locations require a photography permit. Even some cites cite this as well, but you will have to consider this in your decision based on costs and where or not you want to just go for it and pay the ticket if we are caught. I know places that I would recommend and chances are you won't have to worry, but there are others like El Matador and Malibu State Park that you are begging for trouble.
So let's jump into this. As this is going to be an ongoing process of adding locations and writing up reviews for them all, you will see that some of the links will simply take you to shoots we have done and others will take you to reviews and more information. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions as we continue to grow this archive.
Malibu is one of the most common locations. El Matador is probably the most commonly requested but I have a few other local options to avoid the crowding and again the concern for either paying state beach shooting fees or paying fines for being caught. The link above will take you to a few shoots that include a limited number of shots at this beach. You will also see some photos from one of two secret locations in this area, that I have been lucky not to chased away for not having permits.
As you can see, the overall look can be quite different at this location. Fog can be very unexpected. The last few shots here show a ton of fog that made it very cold and overall did not meet the clients wants for the look of their photos. Making our way up the hill and across the street, not maybe 100 feet away and we did the milk weed photos. Fog was gone and the sun shined clear. They were able to relax and we got what was needed. Since engagement season fall into the December through February range fog can be areal concern, but it is also not as crowded.
Not far from here are two other locations that I recommend to my clients. You will see some of these photos in these couples's shoots as well. Take a look at these other locations and options of the backgrounds as well.
Lethal Weapon Beach. What? Yes, I call this the Lethal Weapon Beach. It's a hidden beach behind what appears to be a private beach entrance. Why Lethal Weapon? Well if you are familiar with this movie starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, you will remember a scene where a helicopter flies up the coast and one of Mel Gibson's old Nam buddies is drinking milk and gets shot through the window, himself and his milk carton. This beach is directly below this Malibu landmark house.
Before I share my favorite location to shoot in Malibu, let's also consider Leo Carillo State Beach. Again, like all state beaches this is one that getting a permit for is really something you should consider because the several lifeguard stations will report you to local authorities and then its a ticking clock before you will be asked to leave or worse. Just an FYI, neither of the couples below are models. We don't do stylized shoots to promote ourselves and aspiring models. These are real couples that are either engaged or currently dating and wanting some romantic memories.
Now for the one that I love the most. Why? It offers great private beach areas to shoot as well as a fantastic tree nearby that allows for a mixture of backgrounds over just having a beach shoot. This location is not far from the university, which no longer allows you to shoot on their campus, so if you look back at some of these shoots you will have to keep in mind that Pepperdine University is restricted.
The last location I will mention for Malibu is Point Dume. This location had been one I was aware of but had never had a client request. We can't wait for their upcoming wedding finally in 2022. This engagement was captured on January 1, 2021. We also did an engagement video for them as well as it was a live engagement or proposal in process. See this full shoot here. This location is a favorite of locals and others to visit. This was shot as mentioned on New Years Day at Sunset and it was jam packed and despite others setting up the area, many walked into it and didn't seem to care that this couple was entering into a huge step of the rest of their lives.