California Desert Engagement Session

When it comes to photographing engagement or couples sessions in Southern California, the only hard part is selecting just one location. Southern California is one of those places in the world that offers so much environmental diversity. As a full-time wedding photographer and educator based out of Southern California, I am constantly aware of how spoiled we are to live in such a beautiful place. If you’re recently engaged and can’t narrow down the perfect location for your photos, this one’s for you! I’ve rounded up the best Southern California engagement photos locations. Let’s get into it.

Engagement Session Locations


Living in Orange County, I’m amazed at how drastically different the landscape is if I drive just 30 minutes one way. If you’re really craving that desert vibe, though, I highly recommend checking out Joshua Tree National Park. (Pro Tip: Make sure to get a permit before your session!) Joshua Tree is definitely a drive from the coast, so make the most of it. The red rocks, Joshua Trees, and dramatic landscape makes you feel as if you’re in a different world.


The mountains in Southern California are so underrated, in my opinion. Northeast of Los Angeles, you’ll find the San Gabriel Mountain Range which is home to numerous peaks (Strawberry Peak, Mt. Disappointment, Mt. Baldy, Mt. San Antonio). There’s the San Bernardino Mountains further East, and the Santa Rosa Mountains pretty much heading directly East of Laguna Beach. Just as the deserts in California can vary in terrain, so do the mountains! From snow-capped peaks, to lush forests of green, and even the drier terrain, you can find it all.


From the hustle and bustle of Downtown Los Angeles, to the quaint streets of Old Towne Orange… there’s no shortage of “downtown vibes”. I’m a huge fan of bringing my couples onto a parking garage rooftop overlooking the city… Especially at night. If you’re wanting to avoid the traffic of LA, check out some of the suburbs for the urban feel. A lot of the cities (like Anaheim and San Clemente) have Spanish-style architecture downtown, which is such a fun twist on the urban vibe.


Alright, this last one is the one you’ve been waiting for 😏 THE BEACH! One of my favorite parts of living in Southern California is the accessibility to sandy toes and salty air. Just as everything else in SoCal, the beaches vary from sandy, to rocky, to dramatic cliffsides, to crashing waves. Some of my personal favorites are Laguna Beach, Victoria Beach, Shaw’s Cove, and the list goes on and on 🤗

Alright, friends. That wraps up my list of the Best Southern California engagement photos locations. Ultimately, just know that you can’t go wrong when choosing! 😉 If you’re like me, and you want to experience allllll the things, maybe take your photos in multiple locations. Exploring is one of my favorite parts of being a photographer – especially in SoCal! Looking for more engagement session and wedding planning tips? Check out my additional resources below. And as always, let’s be friends on Instagram (@sarahyatesphoto).

Additional Resources

Pros and Cons of a First Look
What Not to Wear to Your Engagement Session
My Number One Tip for a Phone-Free Ceremony

Wedding Tips

Best Southern California Engagement Photos Locations

  1. […] still just as obsessed with it as I was 8 years ago. In one of my latest blogs talking about the Best Southern California Engagement Photos Locations, I discussed the vastness of the terrain and environmental diversity – which I love. As a […]

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