3 Favorite East Bay Locations for Family Portraits

The East Bay is a gold mine of beautiful parks and outdoor locations for family and business portraits. Family photographers like myself tend to like and go to their favorite locations as they know the light and colors of the locations during particular times of day and during different seasons. While I love to try new places as it provides serendipity and a challenge, I tend to take my families to a few favorite locations. I like to match the setting with the needs of the family including the formality of the setting; access issues (dogs, young children, elders); the colors of their home if they want to match their wall art with decor; time of year and look/feel of the setting.

What each of my favs have in common are a variety of looks, props and colors.  For example, at Tilden Park, I like that there are wooded areas, open fields, paths, lakes and buildings. The “props” are the stairs, fences, benches, leaves, trees…And, the colors are the color pallet of the location. This, of course, changes throughout the year as green grassy field might turn brown and green leaves might drop and turn many shades of yellow, orange and brown.  I typically use additional lights to enhance the natural setting and make my subjects have dimension and pop in the photo.

Many photographers hold their favorite locations secret but I’m happy to share.  While I have a variety of places I love to go to, my all time 3 favorite places to photograph in Berkeley are Tilden Park, UC Berkeley and Cordonices Park.

Tilden Park: Here are a few examples family portraits taken at  a few different areas in Tilden Park:Tilden Park during the spring with green grass and flowersSimilar area in Tilden park but during the fall with lots of leaves for a fun leaf fight.
Of course, the photographer’s use of lighting–both using natural light and flash–can dramatically change the look and feel of a place.This was taken at the lawn near Lake Anza and the following family photos were taken just down the road from the lawn.This Senior Portrait was taken near the Tilden Merry Go Round.  What amazing golden light on the trees and the fence works as a great prop.

If you saw this stair case, you’d never think it would be such a great location for a portrait…but it is. This was taken in a parking lot.  What makes it work is the light, posing and composition…oh, ya, and the high school senior is also naturally beautiful.A picnic bench makes a great prop for a senior portrait.

UC Berkeley: The UC Berkeley campus is also rich in variety from lawns with and without trees, to Strawberry Creek, to buildings and paths.  When I was a student at CAL, I used to be a tour guide and I learned about all the different buildings and off-the-beaten-path places on campus. I personally love the nooks and crannies of the campus and I LOVE the architecture as a backdrop for photos.

Here’s an example of a very cool family. The kids had a rock band vibe to them so we did a lot of wandering around finding interesting places to capture their hip, edgy energy. I loved the dramatic architectural elements of the stairs and the roundness of the arch to pose this pregnant couple at UC Berkeley.And, this playful family seemed to thrive on an expansive lawn with a beautiful green background for their portraits.

Cordonices Park: Cordonices Park in North Berkeley is a special place for family photos. The Rose Garden is right there but I don’t really like to photograph at the Rose Garden.  The rest of the park has some fantastic redwood and live oak trees, a creek, bridges, paths and stairs.  The color pallet of the park is mostly brown and green.  There’s always something interesting going on in the park and I suggest different settings based on the personality of the family.  For example, I photographed a couple that was very outdoorsy and they liked to play so I took them to an area with redwood and other trees. Another multigenerational family was celebrating grandma and grandpa’s 50th Anniversary and great grandma’s 90th year so I took them to a part of the park that was easier to get to and less adventurous.  Here are some of the kids from the youngest generation and their parents:   When you’re ready to plan your family portrait session, please call me to consult on a perfect location for your family.

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