San Francisco Portrait Locations

It’s no surprise that San Francisco is absolutely boiling over in amazing portrait locations. From architecture to views to beautiful street scenes, there is something for absolutely every client. So how do you narrow it down?

Below I have compiled a list of some of my favorites. However, let me open by saying that my favorite locations are ALWAYS new locations! Have a favorite neighborhood to stroll around? A cool building that you read about online? A tip from a friend? Let’s incorporate that into the more classic views of the city.


Embarcadero

This area has one of my favorite combinations of cool art & architecture, open urban spaces, and epic sunsets over the water. It’s iconic without being too literal, and the light bouncing around is always incredible. Plus, it’s right off BART!

Bernal Heights

I have always preferred Bernal Heights to Twin Peaks. The views are incredible and it’s usually much emptier! As an added bonus it’s also an off-leash dog area. In classic San Francisco style it’s gorgeous on both sunny and overcast days.

Golden Gate Park

This park is huge and I’m only including a few parts of it below. You could spend hours getting lost in the interiors! First off, the DeYoung museum, with gorgeous grounds and some amazing free photo locations.

The Conservatory of Flowers is nearby and is one of San Francisco’s most gorgeous buildings. The exterior is beautiful and free; you can also pay admission and take photos inside! Be warned, your photographer might need five minutes for her lenses to de-fog once we get into the really humid rooms.

Lands End / Ocean Beach

This part of the city is so good that I had to break it down into a bunch of categories! Beach, trees, ruins, architecture, sunsets, and even a cave. First up is the classic Sutro Baths location, which can get crowded on weekends but can also be almost private on weekdays and off-hours.

Lands End lies just above Sutro Baths and is usually part of the same shoot. Warm light pours in through the amazing trees, and with a few minutes walk there’s also a view of the Golden Gate Bridge!

The Cliff House sits just above Ocean Beach. Both locations have that beautiful neutral tonality and can look so different depending on the day’s weather. Stick with the clean concrete look of the Cliff House for a classier feel, or get your feet wet in the water down below.

Marina & Presidio

Between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Embarcadero is a great historic coastal part of town. Fort Point sits below the bridge and offers stunning views, crashing waves, and a cool old building to explore when open. Fort Mason boasts great trees and hills with walking paths for those romantic strolls.

Chrissy Field is near Fort Point and is a combination of great grass and scenic beach. While not your classic sprawling beach, the views can’t be beat.

The Presidio is a big area ranging from Lovers Lane and Andy Goldsworthy’s Wood Line (below) to historic white buildings, a great lawn, and lots of paths to wander down. A shoot can encompass all of these areas or focus on a favorite spot or two, all while being close to tons of other great SF locations.

Home & Local Favorites

Shoot at home, you friend's home, your airbnb, a favorite local bar -- intimate personal locations are always my favorites! Swing an idea by me and I’ll most likely say yes. Even if you think your home is small, I bet we can find some gorgeous light in there, and the photos will be wonderfully personal.

Take it to the streets

And now for my favorite location: the many streets of San Francisco! Even without a predetermined destination I can always find great light, shapes, and backdrops for gorgeous and unique portraits. Different neighborhoods bring different vibes (and snacks) and I always love to help find the perfect spot.

Honorable Mentions

To keep this post slightly less long, here are a few bonus spots that didn’t quite make the multi-image cut!
In order: Treasure Island, The Exploratorium, Legion of Honor, SF Moma, The Mint.

Clara Rice