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By: Stephanie Wolters

San Diego provides a beautiful backdrop for photographs for any occasion. When today’s brides are looking for a perfect place to shoot their engagement or wedding photos, they don’t have to look far. There are so many gorgeous settings to choose from — the beaches, the cliffs, parks, and downtown. With so many fabulous settings, all a girl has to do is pick which location best represents her and her future husband.

Still, finding a location that best fits you, the bride and groom, can be a challenge. One of the best ways to help you decide is to visit the spot first. Make a day out of it — pack a lunch and a camera, and travel around to some of the different sites available. Spend time at each location to see what kind of vibe you get. Another way to start the process is to think of places where you and your groom enjoy going together. If you are beach people, there is over 70 miles of San Diego Coastline at your disposal. If the beach is not your scene, downtown offers several hip, urban areas in which to take beautiful pictures. Wherever you choose to have your pictures taken, make sure the setting reflects your personalities.

A cute option for a photo location is to revisit the place where you first met. Since there is already sentimental value to this spot, the emotions will shine on camera. Even if you met somewhere that is difficult to visit again, recreating the atmosphere might be possible. Perhaps obtaining one or two tokens from the first meeting place and bringing them to the photo session of an engagement shoot can help recreate the special day when you first met. For a wedding photo session, going back to the place you got engaged is also a great way to honor that memorable day, and give it extra special meaning. Many photographers agree that pictures with emotions and meaning behind them turn out best on camera because the feelings transfer to print.
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OCEAN VIEWS
San Diego County beaches are some of the most beautiful locations in the world. One of the most well known beachfront locations is the Hotel Del Coronado. Here, the beach offers a wonderful variety of scenery combined with ocean views, says photographer Don Cole. If you are into the beach, Cole believes the stretch off the Hotel Del Coronado is the perfect place for gorgeous scenic photos.

Cole also suggests the world famous La Jolla Cove near the Bridge Club. It provides a magnificent view and the beauty of the ocean all rolled into one. If the beach itself isn’t your main draw, the La Jolla Coves can still provide the perfect ocean backdrop for your photo shoot.

Bauman Photography suggests Windansea Beach in La Jolla as the perfect place for oceanfront pictures. The rocky shores are best known for their beautiful scenery and surf breaks created by underwater reefs. The rocks along the beach act as a dividing wall, creating a very secluded area for taking photographs without being disturbed.

Aaron Feldman of True Photography offers some general tips about shooting photos by the ocean. “I have found that the best beaches photographically not only have sand, but have cliffs or tide pools to help frame the image as well.” The framing technique will give the photograph a sense of depth, drawing in the eye. While the focus of the pictures is obviously the bride and groom, a beautifully framed couple can give the extra special touch that makes the photo stand out.
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THE GREAT OUTDOORS
For couples that love the outdoors and landscaping, Balboa Park is a great place to shoot from both the photographer’s perspective and bride and groom’s. With so many different settings throughout the park, there is sure to be a location to please any couple. Shannon Henry of ProVision Studios loves Balboa Park for the beautiful architecture that can frame a photo. “There are so many beautiful angles to shoot from that it adds a real sense of elegance to each image,” she says.

Don Cole likes Balboa Park because of its versatility. If couples really enjoy camping in the desert, the Desert Garden provides the perfect location. And if the couple enjoys hiking, there is a huge grove of pine trees just a short distance from the Desert Garden. The park has lovely landscaping and a natural beauty that glows on camera.

Fallbrook offers a great location for outdoor lovers. Stephanie Sundell with Creative Photography Inc. loves the scene at Arbor Terrace. The location has a wonderful, recently built waterfall that provides a beautiful backdrop for a ceremony. The waterfall stands 30 feet tall and creates a great focal point for photos. Sundell thinks this location provides a great alternative to the park, or an ocean feel for those who want a unique outdoor location.

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THE URBAN FEEL
Some of the best places to shoot are downtown, says Jennifer Spengler of studio m. La Jolla. Downtown provides a variety of different locations with something to please everyone. Feldman of True Photography enjoys the way the downtown area has developed over the years. It now has that mix of new and old architecture and lifestyle, lending itself to the creation of the perfect photograph — taken from any direction.

The Gaslamp district has proven to be a favorite for many photographers asked to do an urban-feel photo shoot. Bauman Photography has a specific location in the Gaslamp Quarter (5th and G) that works best during evening hours. This location has a great urban feel and very unique lighting which looks great against a night sky.

Bauman Photography also suggests the Santa Fe Train Depot as a great urban photo spot. The area is not too crowded which allows for several opportunities to take fantastic shots. Bauman likes the Train Depot because the architecture gives a great look to the pictures and provides a photo with the look of movement fitting with today’s fast-paced lifestyles.

The roof of the Saint James Hotel is a wonderful location to shoot from. The background is great with the skyline as the frame of the photo. The Saint James sign gives a great secondary focal point to draw in the eye of those flipping through the photographic memories of your special day.

Getting an urban feel to your photos doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stand in the middle of downtown surrounded by hundreds of people watching you get your photo taken. studio m. often takes couples to the alley behind their studio and has you walk down it. This still gives an urban look to the photos, but allows you to be more secluded. Keep in mind that there are several different ways to achieve certain photographic looks. Find the one that works for you as a couple and gives you the feeling you want in your pictures.

Spengler has noticed a new trend in the direction that photo shoots are going this year. She sees many couples asking for a more photojournalistic, documentary style of photography. This entails seeking out diverse and unexplored areas to meet the needs of the bride and groom. These photos have a different look to them than the traditionally posed photographs. The unique locations give a sense of spontaneity to a photo, even if it is posed. Some of the ideas Spengler has come up with give great photojournalistic results — standing in the center of a fountain, in crowded parks, or in the middle of busy city streets. These settings provide a very unique look for the couples, achieve fantastic results, and satisfy each and every couple with their photography experience.

While certain locations lend themselves to beautiful photos, they may not represent you as a couple. The key to capturing beautiful pictures is capturing the emotion behind the photo. Find a place that has meaning for you and your groom, and that emotion will translate on film. These pictures are about you, so find a location that makes you excited to be in and let your imaginations run wild.