From bohemian Venice Beach in the daytime to festive Santa Monica Pier at sunset, Los Angeles offers so many unique locations to take engagement photos. Hannah and Austin wanted some variety in their engagement session—a little sunset romance with some carnival ambiance sprinkled in. Santa Monica Beach just outside LA offered the best of both worlds.
When you envision the Santa Monica Pier, you probably imagine strolling atop the iconic boardwalk with amusement park festivities dancing across the backdrop. But what some people forget is that you get a whole new scene underneath the pier. After capturing a few carnival-themed shots and dipping their toes in the tide, we decided to explore the world beneath the pier right as the sun started dipping below the horizon.
We caught that gorgeous glow between the wooden beams, and I just love the striking composition in these portraits! The way their shadows shimmered across the water as the waves lapped at their feet made their session one of my dreamiest yet—and we didn’t even visit the top of the pier!
11 Location Ideas for Your Santa Monica Engagement Photos
If you want to stick around LA for your engagement session and love all the beach vibes, Santa Monica won’t disappoint. There’s something for everyone couple and personality. Check out some of these locations around Santa Monica to see what fits your style best:
1. Santa Monica Beach State Park
I’m a huge fan of simple beach engagement sessions like Hannah and Austin’s. Their photos are romantic and timeless, making them versatile enough for just about anything: wall displays, frames, albums, stationery and invitations, and more. Your engagement photos are likely your first professional photos together, and Santa Monica Beach offers a breathtaking canvas for your photoshoot.
While Santa Monica beach can get a bit crowded during the day in peak season, there’s a ton of parking, and we can usually find a quiet spot like this during the fall or winter months. Get in touch with me for more information on the best times to book a beach session.
2. Playland Arcade, Pacific Park, and the Loof Hippodrome & Carousel
Pacific Park is an admission free amusement park you see from the pier. The hippodrome (or open-air stadium) features festive architectural elements and is home to the iconic Santa Monica carousel. Playland Arcade—which has appeared in quite a few movies—has tons of classic arcade games like Skeeball, air hockey, Pac-Man, foosball, and more. If you want a fun, laid-back carnival ambiance for your engagement or couple’s session, this is the spot!
3. Santa Monica Pier
As mentioned, you can opt for boardwalk photos atop the Santa Monica Pier, or we can take advantage of the unique composition created by the crossing beams and columns below the pier. Both are beautiful! Our location may depend on the crowds, too. However, this area is large and has plenty of parking available, so we’re sure to find a fantastic spot!
4. Venice Beach
If Santa Monica Beach isn’t working out, Venice Beach is nearby as well. We can hop over there and check out the scene if you prefer. Venice Beach also has a boardwalk, and the area boasts a fun, colorful bohemian style. There’s a skatepark and market area here, too.
5. Rent a Bike, Picnic, or Kayak
If you’re adventure-seekers, bikes, kayaks, and picnic setups lend themselves to playful and romantic engagement photos for a little something extra. You might even try a tandem bike if you’re up for it!
6. Annenberg Community Beach House & Marion Davies Guest House
You probably won’t hit up the community splash pad, but Annenberg Community Beach House is also home to the historic Marion Davies Guest House. The grand 1920s estate features beautiful architectural elements and manicured grounds that may appeal to your style.
7. Third Street Promenade
Looking for a market atmosphere? Visit Third Street Promenade in Downtown Santa Monica! The retail esplanade has tons of upscale dining, shopping, and entertainment options to explore, and it sets the stage for cute couple’s portraits!
8. Route 66 End of the Trail Sign
Go to where Route 66 ends at the Pacific Ocean. A photo or two beneath the Trail End sign might make the perfect save the dates or a cover image for your wedding website. It would also work well with travel décor!
9. Palisades Park
We could also stroll around Palisades Park for views of the bay and Beacon Overlook art pieces. Several sculptures, seating areas, and pergolas, and the Camera Obscura Art Lab make this a must-visit park in Santa Monica.
10. Tongva Park
While Palisades Park boasts stunning bay views, Tongva Park is a fun urban park with winding walkways and views of the Santa Monica Pier. The two parks are next to each other, so you could easily visit both!
11. Santa Monica Place
And finally, if you’re a shopaholic with a penchant for style, we could head over to Santa Monica Place. This al fresco mall is filled with high-end local finds, plus some of your favorites like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom, too. The terraces, palm trees, and staircases are great for photos!
Book Your Santa Monica Pier Engagement Session
As a Los Angeles wedding photographer, I’m passionate about every step of your story together, from marriage proposals to newlywed send-off! I’d love to help you document every moment of it in vivid detail. Learn more about packages and pricing here.