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Top 10 Outdoor Family Portrait Locations In Orange County

Top 10 Outdoor Family Portrait Locations In Orange County

In this guide, you will find our top 10 outdoor photoshoot locations Orange County and all the details so you can make an informed decision on where you want your family photos taken. 

Top 10 Outdoor Family Portrait Locations In Orange County

I'm guessing you have found this page because you are thinking about getting family portraits. I am excited to share with you ideas and important details that I have gathered from photographing families in Orange County for the past 20 years. Some of my favorite parks are right here in Huntington Beach and Irvine. Additionally, if you live in Orange County or are just visiting you are in luck since we have the best coastline and beaches in California. As a lifelong surfer and OC native, I have discovered some of the best hidden gems along the coast for family photos.

Over the years we have discovered tons of hidden gems within local parks and beaches.  Families are always pleasantly surprised when they show up for their photo session and I take them right to the perfect spot. 

So whether you have just started your journey, are in the beginning stages of planning family portraits, or it's just an idea that you would like to look into further. I am excited to share my favorite 10 outdoor family portrait locations in Orange County. 

As a portrait photographer, I love taking on the challenge of finding the perfect background for families. My thought process begins with knowing every family has their own style, look, and vision they want for portraits. I do my best to match families up with the right location.

I have put together this top 10 outdoor family portrait locations in Orange County guide to help you select a photo location. In this guide, I break down important details of each location. These are all local places where I photograph families, couples, and individuals for their portrait sessions year-round.

I hope this guide helps you choose the best location for your family without the headache. 

Learn more about Christopher Todd Studios' family photography today.

Orange County has so much to offer for diverse and unique portrait locations.  Some of the best places to take pictures in Orange County are located in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach.

  • Parks
  • Beaches
  • Main Streets & piers
  • Unique urban settings

When considering the best location in Orange County for your family session there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Your family's style
  • Best time of year/day for photos
  • Traffic/Crowds at the location
young family posing in park for portrait

1. Huntington Central Park

Location: Huntington Beach near the 405 freeway.

Here you will find over 350 acres of land. The peaceful setting of open grass fields and extensive tree and flower plantings is used for various activities such as picnics, biking, playing, and walking along paved paths. There is a secret garden and a large pond both great for portrait backdrops. This park is serene, beautiful, and perfect for portraits. Read More about Huntington Central Park

What we love: This park is one fo the best Huntington Beach photo spots around. The open space, nature, lighting, and accessibility. Within the park, there are many hidden gems that I will take you to. This location is perfect for any size group. 

Address: 7111 Talbert Ave. Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Best time of day to shoot: Mornings and late afternoon before sunset. This location is great all year round.

Permits and Fees: None

Parking: Easy. Free onsite parking lot.

Restrooms: Yes

Traffic/Crowds: Low. Plenty of space to avoid people in the background. Weekends tend to be busier than midweek.

young family posing in park for portrait

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seal-beach-family-portrait
seal-beach-family-portrait
seal-beach-family-photos

2. Seal Beach Pier & Mainstreet

Location: Between Long Beach and Huntington Beach

Seal Beach is Orange County's most northern beach. This quaint beach town has all the right vibes. Take a stroll down Main St. as you walk toward the municipal pier. Plenty of great backdrops for your portrait session. While these are 2 locations, they can easily be combined in the same session, or simply choose the pier or Main St. if you prefer. Get more details about Seal Beach family portraits.

What we love: This is my favorite iconic pier to take families to. It is one of the longest wooden piers around, perfect for photos. The sunsets are beautiful. We love taking beach family photos at this location. 

Address: 900 Ocean Ave, Seal Beach, CA 90740

Best time of day to shoot: Late afternoon before sunset. This location is great all year round. Fall and winter are my favorite times here in my opinion this is when you get the best sunsets. 

Permits and Fees: None

Parking: Paid parking lot by the pier. Limited free street parking.

Restrooms: Yes

Traffic/Crowds: Medium. Weekends tend to be busier than midweek. Summer has an influx of tourists.

 

couple at newport beach with sons in background

3. Newport Beach Pier

Location: Balboa Penninsula, Newport Beach,

This is a popular beach town amongst locals and tourists. The municipal wooden pier is one of two piers in Newport Beach. This is a great spot for your family portraits. See more photos from a Newport Beach Pier family session.

What we love: The wooden pillars are perfect for a background. Sunsets are a beautiful time for portraits. See more outdoor family photo ideas here. 

Address: 70 Newport Pier, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Best time of day to shoot: Late afternoon before sunset. This location is great for your Newport Beach photo spots in the Fall and Winter.

Permits and Fees: None

Parking: Paid metered street parking. There is a large paid parking lot near the pier. To save time download the Parkmobile app making it easy to pay for parking. You can also pay at the parking kiosk with a credit card. 

Restrooms: Yes

Traffic/Crowds: High traffic. Summer is the peak season. Very crowded with locals and tourists. Could impact your photos with people in the background.

 

couple at newport beach with sons in background
newport-beach-family-portrait

Getting busy families together for portraits can feel impossible!

We offer flexible scheduling and our 3 step planning process that will make your photography experience fun and relaxing. 

You will be enjoying those beautiful portraits you have been wanting on your walls in no time. 

twin boys sitting on log with fall leaves
twin boys sitting on log with fall leaves

4. Irvine Regional Park

Location: Orange, CA

Rolling foothills, Oak, and Sycamore trees surround this park. Creating a variety of natural scenery and wildlife. There is plenty of shade and open space to create a full portrait session. In addition, there is a creek and a pond inside the park. This leisure park is serene and beautiful. Learn more about family portraits at Irvine Regional Park.

What we love: The leaves turn golden yellow in the fall. Plenty of nature and natural backgrounds. Outdoor photoshoot ideas here include: fall leaves, walking around the lake, and using natural foliage in the backdrop. I like to meet families in a designated parking lot. They are numbered so this makes it easy to connect. I will lead you through an easy section of the park on a small loop targeting all the best spots for your photos. 

Address: 1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92869

Best time of day to shoot: Mornings and early afternoon. This location is great all year round.

Permits and Fees: None

Parking: Paid parking lot on site. Parking fees: $3 per vehicle entry Monday - Friday; $5 Saturday - Sunday; Higher for some holidays and events.

Restrooms: Yes

Traffic/Crowds: Low. Plenty of space to avoid people in the background. Weekends tend to be busier than midweek.

 

teenage boy hugging to dogs on beach
teenage boy hugging to dogs on beach
Father and Son Portrait Laguna Beach

5. Laguna Beach

Location: Shaws Cove

This Laguna Beach cove is tucked away off PCH. To get here you have to go through a small neighborhood. Shaws Cove is the perfect hidden spot that only locals know about. Crystal blue waters, beautiful cliffs, and tide pools make this an ideal portrait location. Get more details about photo sessions at Laguna Beach.

What we love: This is one of the best photo spots in Orange County for beach family pictures. It is beautiful and the bluffs in the background make Laguna Beach unique. The sunsets here are stunning. Laguna Beach photo spots here are unforgettable. 

Address: Just off PCH in Laguna Beach

Best time of day to shoot: Early afternoon based on the tidal chart. This location is best in the Fall and Winter. Spring and early summer can be overcast and have a heavy marine layer. Before each photoshoot here I check the tidal chart and plan accordingly. 

Permits and Fees: Yes you need a Laguna Beach photography permit. The cost is  $100. This permit covers up to 2 hours of photography. We can help you arrange a permit with the city.

Parking: Paid metered street parking. Some free street parking in the nearby neighborhood. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to find parking, especially if you are going for the golden hour during sunset. 

Restrooms: No

Traffic/Crowds: High traffic. Summer is the peak season. Very crowded with locals and tourists. Could impact your photos with people in the background. Other Laguna Beach photoshoot locations to consider are Heisler Park, Treasure Island, or Main Beach. 

outdoor family photo young girl wearing light purple dress and little boy wearing blue sweater

6. Noguchi Garden

Location: Costa Mesa, California  just off the 405 freeway

One of the most unique places to take pictures in Orange County is Noguchi Garden in Costa Mesa, California. This outdoor urban garden is 1.6 acres of open space surrounded by office buildings and tall corporate buildings. Here you will find lush foliage, tranquil pathways, and peaceful courtyards. Just a short walk to Southcoast Plaza and fine dining. 

What we love: The modern outdoor sculpture garden has a variety of backgrounds. A perfect location to create unique portraits of your family.  The lighting here is great. One of the most unique photoshoot locations in the heart of Orange County. 

Address: 611 Anton Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Best time of day to shoot: Early in the morning or late afternoon. All-year-round.

Permits and Fees: None

Parking: Easy. 2 paid parking structures. 

Restrooms: No

Traffic/Crowds: Medium. Because this is an outdoor space with office buildings there is some foot traffic midweek. The best time would be Sunday morning.

outdoor family photo young girl wearing light purple dress and little boy wearing blue sweater
brothers embracing smiling
young boys playing hopscotch
young brothers looking at each other standing in front of murial

7. The LAB Anti-Mall

Location: Costa Mesa

This modern airy outdoor mall known as the Anti-mall is a unique colorful place. Lots of modern nooks and crannies here.

What we love: The unique vibe and colorful backgrounds. This is a fun location for families, or individuals looking for portraits that are not at the beach or park. For fun places to take pictures Orange County is considered to have the best choices. 

Address:  2930 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Best time of day to shoot: Early in the morning or late afternoon. All-year-round.

Permits and Fees: Yes.

Parking: Free & valet parking. Parking lot and street parking are available.

Restrooms: Yes

Traffic/Crowds: Medium. Because this is an outdoor space with small shops there is some foot traffic. Weekdays will be less crowded than weekends. The best time would be Sunday morning.

 

family group photo at the camp in costa mesa
family group photo at the camp in costa mesa
family group photo at the camp in costa mesa

8. The Camp

Location: Costa Mesa

Dedicated to being a retail complex featuring health-conscious & eco-friendly local shops, services & eateries. Unique and bright.

What we love: The unique outdoor space. All the colors and eco-friendly spots.

Address:   2937 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Best time of day to shoot: Early in the morning or late afternoon. All-year-round.

Permits and Fees: Yes.

Parking: Free & valet parking. Parking lot and street parking are available.

Restrooms: Yes

Traffic/Crowds: Medium. Because this is an outdoor space with small shops there is some foot traffic. Weekdays will be less crowded than weekends. The best time would be Sunday morning.

 

young teens with parents family portrait

9. Tewinkle Park

Location: Costa Mesa across from the OC Fair Grounds

This park features 49 acres of open space. This peaceful park is in the heart of Costa Mesa. Featuring a large lake, water fountains, and waterfalls. See photos at Tewinkle Park 

What we love: The huge boulders and lake make a beautiful backdrop. This park is easy to meet at. I begin the photo shoot by the parking lot and take you on a loop through the park, stopping along the way at all the best backdrops. 

Address:  970 Arlington Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Best time of day to shoot: Weekdays late afternoon. Weekend mornings.

Permits and Fees: None

Parking: Easy. Free parking. Parking lot and street parking are available.

Restrooms: No

Traffic/Crowds: Low. Plenty of places to photograph without people in the background. However, can get very crowded on weekends and when the weather is nice.

young teens with parents family portrait
Large family standing on the sand in front of San Clemente Pier.
Large family standing on the sand in front of San Clemente Pier.

10. San Clemente Pier

Location: San Clemente

San Clemente Pier Beach is the main city beach of San Clemente. The beach is wide and sandy on both sides of the pier. There is an active railroad track that runs right behind the beach. This beach also has a nice setting with palm trees and grassy areas near the pier entrance. I like to meet families in the grassy area where we begin our photoshoot. Then we walk down to the sand and under the pier for some more fun photos. Another great spot for photos is by the lifeguard tower and the back side of the rocks near the railroad tracks. Don't worry we stay safely away from the active train tracks.  See our San Clemente Pier photos here. 

What we love: The soft sand and the small grassy area by the parking lot.

Address:  100 S Alameda Ln San Clemente, CA 92672

Best time of day to shoot: Morning or late afternoon. This location is best in the Fall and Winter. Spring and early summer can be overcast and have a heavy marine layer.

Permits and Fees: None

Parking: Paid metered parking lot and metered street parking. Some free street parking in the nearby neighborhood.

Restrooms: Yes

Traffic/Crowds: High traffic. Summer is the peak season. Very crowded with locals and tourists. Could impact your photos with people in the background.

In Conclusion

If you love my Top 10 Outdoor Family Portrait Locations In Orange County or would like some help planning your next family portrait please be sure to connect with us and let us know. We also have a great list of engagement photo locations Orange County. 

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Meet Your Family Photographer

Call Me Chris

The walls in my home are covered with family portraits. Seeing those memories forces me to stop and take a moment to reflect on how special my family is to me, and how truly lucky we all are. 

The photos could be from a family adventure or portraits at the local park.  Doesn't matter.  They just make me feel good. 

It's that feeling of happiness that I strive to create for every family I photograph.  So when you sit down in your favorite chair you can gaze upon a past moment in time that brings you a smile.

As an Orange County photographer, I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to merge my passion and career.

To learn more about me go to my about page for the full story of Christopher Todd Studios.

Male photographer holding camera.

Meet Your Family Photographer

Male photographer holding camera.

Call Me Chris

The walls in my home are covered with family portraits. Seeing those memories forces me to stop and take a moment to reflect on how special my family is to me, and how truly lucky we all are. 

The photos could be from a family adventure or portraits at the local park.  Doesn't matter.  They just make me feel good. 

It's that feeling of happiness that I strive to create for every family I photograph.  So when you sit down in your favorite chair you can gaze upon a past moment in time that brings you a smile.

As an Orange County photographer, I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to merge my passion and career.

To learn more about me go to my about page for the full story of Christopher Todd Studios.

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