How to Plan the Perfect Couples Session in the Bay Area

Planning Resources

Hi, I’m Torez! A California elopement and couples photographer based in the Bay Area. If you’re here I’m guessing you’d like to know how to plan the perfect couples session in the Bay Area and exactly what that might entail. Well, then look know further!

I was born and raised here in the Bay Area and am so happy to call this place home forever and always. The Bay Area is filled with little gems from San Francisco to the Napa Valley to give you the most unique, fun, and adventurous couples session possible! The option of places to go and things to do is absolute endless and you are bound to find unique and colorful experiences that can be 100% geared towards you!

And that’s the most important part! I want all of the couples that work with me to get a one of a kind experience that feels just like a date out on the town with their friend capturing them in all their awkward but normalness. You want this experience to feel like you but a little turned up if you know what I mean.

Couples Session in the Bay Area: Picking A Location

When it comes to deciding where to have your couples session in the Bay Area it can be the hardest part to decide where. I mean there is no shortage of absolutely beautiful places. And find the right place or places that fit the vibe and what you’re looking for can be a tall task. And that’s why I’m here to help! Below are 10 places that I absolute love throughout the whole Bay Area that can give you a little bit of everything. And I’m sure you’ll find at least one that’ll fit the vibe you’re looking for! I love talking my couples through this decision making process and helping them find the absolute best place for them! If you need more help in this department I’d love to chat and feel free to inquire here!

1. Sutro Baths, San Francisco

I love the Sutro Baths! Especially when you can get a clear sunrise or sunset. It is crazy beautiful and at sunrise you will most likely be the only couple there! There’s a little beach that’s perfect for something a little different, of course there are the baths and then there is also a little trail with lots of wild flowers. Definitely a gem that you should visit whether you plan on taking photos or not!

Man and woman kissing at Sutro Baths during sunset.

2. Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek

A little succulent tucked garden in Walnut Creek a true hidden gem if you’re looking for one. Small but very diverse, it’ll make you feel like you’re in Arizona without actually be there. I definitely recommend the winter months for this spot since the garden closes around 5 especially if you want some really golden lighting.

3. Grizzly Peak, Berkeley

A true local spot. If you grew up in the Bay you know all about Fish Ranch Rd and Grizzly peak and though it may be a little more crowded especially during the evening. The view never ever disappoints. A great spot to see the Bay Area as a whole and when the light start turning. WOW.

4. Alameda Naval Base, Alameda

This spot is definitely a little be more edgy but is definitely a fun date afternoon. The alameda naval base holds some of my favorite spots in the Bay like Almanac Brewery and Rock Wall Wines. A great place to grab a drink have a good time and get some really unique views of the Bay Bridge and something a little more industrial I guess would be the word. If you want a chiller vibe with drinks on standby this is the place for you.

5. Baker Beach, San Francisco

I love this beach, especially for sunrise. I probably wouldn’t recommend sunset between the dozens of people especially on the weekends and nude beachers you might be a little thrown off! But, sunrise – WOW. There will definitely still some souls on the beach and it will be a little chilly but well well worth it.

family posing for family photos

6. Marin Headlands, Marin

Talk about a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. This one I think has to be my favorite! You just get a whole view of the city it’s and a whole view of the most iconic part of San Francisco. This is definitely a spot to be explored on the weekend because people flock to this amazing spot and parking is VERY limited, so just keep that in mind.

7. Reinhardt Regional Park, Oakland

Sometimes I can’t even believe these redwoods are in my own backyard. I’ve taken so many couples and family to this little gem and you’d be surprised at how many are stunned every time. I know we’re in NorCal but I think sometimes we even forget we are and that these beautiful redwoods can be found so many places!

couple laughing while walking in the Redwoods

8. Lake Chabot, Oakland

A really cute quite place, it’s actually really close to the redwoods so depending on the length of time you probably can squeeze in both. I love this little beach and as the sun sets you get the prettiest lighting ever. There may be a few people fishing and hanging around sunset but nothing too crazy and if you go on a weekday there will be next to no one!

Couple dancing by the lake in Oakland, California.

9. Ocean Beach, San Francisco

This beach is huge. I think when you think of California’s coastline and how expansive and massive it is this beach full encompasses that. This is almost always a little busy but if you can get there a little before sunrise you’re sure to find a spot. Sunset can be a little crowded but not impossible just know people will be running around watching you kiss and just have fun on the beach.

10. Palace of the Arts, San Francisco

I honestly had never been to this spot until maybe 3 years ago. I had seen about it, heard about it, but for the life of me could not figure out where it was lol. That’s because it’s kind of hidden in a neighbor in San Francisco. Still so beautiful thought. You will most likely not be the only ones taking photos here but that’s totally ok because there’s lots of space and depending on the time of day usually not that many people.

Couples Session in the Bay Area: Picking an Activity

Now I’m all for the poses, for the smiling, running around, laughing and just having fun. But, the best way to have a fun and unique session is to pick activity. You may be like what exactly does that mean? Well, it means planning to have a picnic, getting a drink at a brewery, or riding around on skateboards. Picking something for you and your partner to do so that you’re not just standing around smiling but that you two are engaging in something fun, easy, and that you enjoy to do together.

This will make all the difference in the world because then you’re not just getting ready or dressing up for photos. You’re getting ready and dressed up to have a fun night or day out that you just happen to be getting photos of. Those memories that are created will go far beyond the photos that will be captured that day.

So, there in lies the question what should you do? You can do anything you want, I mean at least for the most part. We can go to a beer or wine tasting. Maybe grab some ice cream from your favorite spot? What about having a really nice relaxing picnic in a park? You can hop on scooters and ride through the city. Or you can jump into the freezing old Bay Area water and then sit by a warm bonfire. You can grab a slice or whole pizza (I don’t judge) and hang. Or we can simply just a explore a new place together dance along the beach and just enjoy your partner’s presence.

There are so many things big and little that can make your couples session unique to you and you should take advantage of that. Celebrate this season and bask in all that is being with each other.

Couples Session in the Bay Area: Picking Outfits

couple holding each other during their couples session in the bay area

When it comes to picking outfits I feel like this part really stumps peoples so please let me give you my absolute best tips for pulling your whole look together as a whole!

Outfits

My go to advice is always if you feel good you’ll feel confident and that’s the most important part. Dresses for women add movement to photos which always looks good! I love to see layers and accessories. Anything from jackets, vest, belts, necklaces, bracelets, etc. Those little details help pull a whole outfit together!

If you’re really struggling think timeless and simple. That means no big bold prints, patterns, team jerseys, piece of clothing that indicate a specific period time. If that makes sense! I also always suggest a color palette usually dependent on the location. That what if you’re getting photographed in the redwoods you’re not wearing brown and green but rather something that stands out a smidge on it’s own.

If you’re still loss I’m your photographer would be happy to help you out! At the end of the day these are your photos and if you don’t feel comfortable in a dress don’t wear one, if you want one casual look and one formal look do it! You will be looking at this photos hopefully for years to come so let’s make sure you love what you’re wearing in them.

Makeup

I love wearing makeup! But, not everyone does! So, do what feel most authentic and natural to you! If you don’t wear makeup normally and don’t want to then don’t. It’s totally up to you. However, this is also a great opportunity to maybe test out a makeup artist you may want to hire for your wedding if these are you engagement photos. Or maybe you do want to wear makeup you just don’t really own any personally! No worries, you can always go to your local Sephora or Ulta or even ask your photographer they might know someone. At Sephora, it costs I believe around $60 and takes about an hour depending on how you’re getting your makeup done and they make it so easy.

Hair

Not going to lie I really don’t know that much about hair. I have very curly hair so that limits my knowledge on what products and styles would work best. However, what I will say is most women opt to have their hair down and I would look for a pomade or spray that can keep the frizz at Bay. For me personally, I will edit any like crazy baby hair out but if we can tackle them before that then all the better.

Depending on the location you may want to take wind into consideration. I know one couple I had, the women did a braid on one side which really helped as the wind gusted around us. Again, whenever makes you feel the most confident.

Nails

This one is for everyone especially if there are your engagement photos! You’re going to make sure your nails don’t look busted – to put it bluntly. Whether you can them done or you keep them clean yourself just make sure that they look clean and cared for.

Final Thoughts

There are definitely a lot more details that go into planning a couples session that you may even realize at this point! And that’s totally ok! Just take everything one step at a step and make decisions that you feel confident in. Take location, then outfit and then worry about all the little stuff in between.

And if you’re still feeling overwhelmed or need help that what I’m here for! I love walking my couples through each and every step. Being their sounding board for outfits, makeup, and hair. Getting in on the research for the perfect activity, place, and vendors to help out! I’m more than just your average photographer.

If you’d like to book a session or even just chat about the possibility of booking one my door (figuratively of course) is always open! Feel free to fill out the form below and I’ll get back to you the next day!

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