Where to take engagement or family photos in and around Sacramento area.

by Eugene G in

I often get asked where either my clients or their families can take photos around Sacramento for either engagements or family photos.

Here's a list of some of the spots within a 50-mile radius, starting with Sacramento downtown:

Capitol Building and International Peace Rose Garden:

You literally can spend hours here and continue exploring because there's a lot to it, from roses, to flower beds, to benches, to bamboo groves, to statues,  to even fountains if you're so inclined.  Best time to be here is anytime the light is good, unless there's an event nearby or a wedding taking place, even then there's plenty of space. 

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Old Sacramento:

Train Depot, upgraded (board) walk, Delta King boat (limited access), old building facades, alleyways and brick, LOTS of brick. We've done entire photo sessions in here and were never disappointed. Best time to go would be on a weekday 2-5pm. Weekends just get very crowded.

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K Street:

Not very from Old Sacramento, K street mall is another stop. It may not work for everyone, but if you're looking for city-type photos and playing with a blurry background for special bokeh effect, it's a great spot. There are also lots of places to sit if sitting is your thing... but this place can be crowded at times. You can also sneak away into one of the many alleys too for some gritty backdrops. Oh and obviously there's a light rail track running in the middle, so there is a chance a train will be zooming by, so it might not be the best place to go with young kids.


William Land Park (near Sac Zoo):

If you like nature and greenery in general, this is a highly recommended spot. Rolling green hills at an adjacent golf course, tall evergreen, eucalyptus and oak trees to ponds and fall foliage that seems to be popular in this kid-friendly park. Parking is free and ample. Best time to come, anytime really, although it does get busier on weekends.

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WPA Rock Garden:

Literally inside the Land Park, this place can have its own zip code because it's packed with all kinds of well-taken care of garden plants. Split-rail fence lines up the west side of the garden and offers photo ops for smaller groups or couples. Tiny garden ponds can be found in the center of the garden, as well as a variety of adult succulent plants. Willow trees and winding paths make their way throughout the entire garden. When the sun is setting, this place is magical. Come a little earlier if looking for sunset photos, there's a tree line on the horizon, which hides the sun-rays quicker than usual. 



Gibson Ranch County park:

A very family-friendly park with lots to do, they host events like family campouts, concerts, Tough Mudder events, weddings and more, but during the golden hour, this place is even better. Lots of scenic views, barns, old oak trees, horses, bridges, a small lake and that's not even half of what's there. Like with most wide open spaces, this park is most photogenic during the sunset or sunrise hours. Be aware, it's open certain hours and entrance is $5 a car.

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Historic Folsom/Rainbow Bridge:

A good variety of historic buildings, some newer ones and good 'ol street scenery. If you make your way down Riley St, it will turn to Greenback lane and that's where Rainbow bridge is. You can even make your way down to the water of the American River and get some different perspectives, or even incorporate those large and rounded rocks dipped permanently in the river. 

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Davis, CA downtown:

If you're looking for city-scapes and a small-town feel with some unique textures, downtown Davis is a very good choice. I don't have a specific intersection or block to recommend, but the area between B and H streets and 5th and 1st will give you enough to explore and lots of options. I've had luck finding most random spots in back alleys and corners, so you may want to explore before doing a session here. Parking can be hard to find, but not impossible. Oh, and did I mentioned bicycles? Let's say they're everywhere you look.

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UC Davis Arboretum:

This is probably one of my favorite locations, not just due to its sheer size but the many micro-locations with the completely different scenery. You can find ponds and creeks here, colorful tree groves and plants, redwoods, gazebos, gardens etc. It's part of the UCD campus, so if you keep walking around, you have a good chance of stumbling on campus architecture. 

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Apple Hill, Carson Ranch specifically:

Apple Hill is another popular and very large destination. I have yet to explore most of it, except a few ranches there. Carson Ranch has a lot going on nature-wise that's photogenic and during sunset hours it's not very busy since the ranch closes around 5-6pm. Parking is free. This area shows it's best features in the fall or spring but can work anytime during good light. 

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There are more spots that can be on this list, but the ones listed above are easy to find, are within Sacramento area and have been proven to work time and time again. You can also get out to Lake Tahoe or to the Pacific Coast, but that will require a little more travel.

The best part of the locations above, they always change and you can always find something new just a few steps away from where you started.  I'll try to update this list once I narrow down more locations that I like.