When in Cali: 7 Best Locations to Shoot in California
Claudia V. Mercado, Writer
November 7th, 2016

Ask any native for the best places to shoot in California and you’ll probably get an endless list. There’s a reason many flock to California; be it the weather, the people, or simply the lifestyle. Los Angeles alone can easily populate this list with architecturally pristine museums, iconic monuments or hip and swanky street life. One thing is for sure, California is a beautiful state with many variations in landscape and culture.

Whether you’re looking to shoot aerials, capture texture or document street style, California has you covered. Southern California is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation, a drive up the 101 freeway offers miles and miles of breath-taking coastline, and Northern California boasts the famous Redwoods and Yosemite National Park. Although this list can go on and on, here are seven of the best locations to shoot in California.

1. Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur

Any beach in California for that matter, offers any person with a camera opportunity for amazing shots. However, Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur would have to top the list. The keyhole rock formation is one of the most photographed, and for good reason. Pfeiffer Beach also has purple sand shores. Any spot along the 90-mile stretch of Big Sur’s coastline is a sight to see, and shoot.

Big Sur Sunset by Joe Parks. Mar 14, 2015
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Big Sur Sunset. Mar 14, 2015

Photo by Joe Parks

2. Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

The desert is always a favorite place for location shooting among amateur and pro photographers. Covering about 3,000 square miles, Death Valley located in Eastern California is known for being the hottest place in the state (best time to visit, Winter!) and for the the very photogenic Zabriskie Point, known for its erosional landscape that makes for great scenic shots.

Zabrinskie Point, Death Valley by J. Johnson. Aug 31, 2014
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Zabrinskie Point, Death Valley. Aug 31, 2014

Photo by J. Johnson

3. Joshua Tree National Park

Another desert makes the list. A favorite spot among photographers and basically any LA area resident. Joshua Tree, named after the tree that inhabits this desert, is perfect for night photography as its altitude makes it easy to capture the stars.

Do Not Touch! Joshua Tree Cholla Cactus groves
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Do Not Touch! Joshua Tree Cholla Cactus groves. Joshua Tree Park. 26 June 2014

Photo by Stephen Ippolito

4. Natural Bridges, Vallecito

A two-mile hike will lead you to a spectacular sight too beautiful not to photograph. Located in Calaveras County, these limestone caverns will make for captivating photographs.

Dripping Rock by Bodey Marcoccia. 16 July 2011
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Dripping Rock. 16 July 2011

Photo by Bodey Marcoccia

5. San Francisco

There’s a special place in any Californian’s heart for the city by the Bay. Street photography is a breeze in the Mission District, the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood and Chinatown. No photographer can resist the Golden Gate Bridge, literally any point of view will make for a great photo, be it a low angle from the shore of Ocean Beach or a panoramic shot of the city lights while standing on the bridge.

Just Stop
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Just Stop

Photo by Moshe Levis

6. Mossbrae Falls, Dunsmuir

Truly a hidden gem. Mossbrae Falls is one, if not thee most beautiful waterfalls one could see, even if only in photographs. Any image of this scenic waterfall is unreal.

Mossbrae Falls by Che Wei Chang. 1 September 2012
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Mossbrae Falls. 1 September 2012

Photo by Che Wei Chang

7. Mono Lake, Mono County

A desert lake, Mono Lake boasts some pretty amazing coral formations that can be seen above the water and provide any photographer with a noteworthy subject. Many photographers that have captured the exquisiteness of Mono Lake note the varying colors and landscapes that also photograph well at night.

Night on Mono Lake by Wayne Stadler. Sep 3, 2014
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Night on Mono Lake. Sep 3, 2014

Photo by Wayne Stadler

Honorable mention: The Hollywood sign. Yes, it’s been done. But as a loyal LA native and novice photographer, the Hollywood sign is the perfect location for getting shots of the City of Angels. There’s just too much history not to record through photography.

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