Sacramento is California’s capital, but it has always been in the shadows as a “cowtown.” This is changing…and quickly. Over the past eight years, Sacramento has restructured and is drawing in more and more photographers as they see how diverse our demographic has become and how welcoming our community is to artists. We are known as the ‘Farm-to-Fork Capital’ and the culture is rich. While embracing the agriculture our community produces, we are an extremely modern city that is always evolving and looking forward to what is next and finding ways to stay relevant.

We have been blessed to have a photography studio based in the heart of Sacramento. Although we have to endure the heat of the summer, we are conveniently located near some of the world’s most beautiful locations. From calm rivers and lakes, to high cliffs and magnificent beaches, Sacramento is our studio’s hub for a quick trip to any of these incredible scenes. While we focus on our couple’s connections (and frankly the backdrop shouldn’t matter), it is still fun to explore these backdrops as each spot allows our creativity to flourish.

Here are nine locations that you should definitely look into when booking your engagement photography session in and around Sacramento.

1. Sutter Buttes – Live Oak, California

This location is about 30 mins north of Sacramento and makes for insane sunsets. Most of the land is private, so you must get permission to drive up to the top. It is worth the effort as the views are 360!

sutter buttes live oak california engagement photography location
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
sutter buttes live oak california engagement photography location
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
sutter buttes live oak california engagement photography location
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography

2. Upper Donner Lake

This lake is about an hour east of Sacramento. This overlooks the lake and makes for beautiful sunsets. In the winter you must be careful as roads are often closed or unsafe. Summer is your best bet for these kinds of shots.

upper donner lake california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
upper donner lake california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
upper donner lake california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography

3. Dunes Beach in Half Moon Bay

This is about a 2-3 hour drive south west of Sacramento’s hub. The rocks are red and when the tide is low they are so fun to climb and shoot on and around.

Address: Young Ave and Cabrillo Hwy N, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

dunes beach half moon bay best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
dunes beach half moon bay best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
dunes beach half moon bay best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography

4. Carmel Beach along Hwy 1

Watch out for the fog, but on a clear day this beach is incredible. You MUST obtain a photography permit to shoot here or the fines are huge, but it’s worth the effort.

carmel beach highway one best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
carmel beach highway one best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
carmel beach highway one best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography

5. The American River

You can’t go wrong photographing on the American River. This is the heart of Sacramento and our pride and joy. In the summer you can start at Old Sacramento and shoot on the banks. If you have access to a boat, the shots are endless.

american river california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
american river california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
american river california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography

6. Lower Valley Floor in Yosemite Valley

Only a 2-hour trip south and you are in Yosemite. From Half Dome and El Capitan to the endless falls and beautiful river, Yosemite Valley floor is a treat. Make sure to plan for a longer shoot as often tourists are abundant. We like to park in one location and hop on and off the bus. Also, you lose the light an hour early on the valley floor, so plan ahead. Don’t forget your photography permit. You WILL be shut down without it as photographers are coming to Yosemite in droves.

Yosemite Valley Floor best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
Yosemite Valley Floor best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
Yosemite Valley Floor best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography

7. Sacramento Greenbelts

There are a million greenbelts (protected land) throughout the greater Sacramento area. This is all public and protected land. In the spring these greenbelts are lush (and can be a bit wet so watch out) and full of tall grass and flowers. As they dry out they are just as lovely as they golden grain is abundant. Watch out for rattlesnakes as well!!

sacramento greenbelts best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
sacramento greenbelts best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
sacramento greenbelts best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography

8. The UC Davis Arboretum

This is a HOT spot for photographers so beware. We like to shoot on the western end as it tends to be quiet and allows for a golden sunset. There is a river, a pond and even redtree grove. Just please respect the plant life and those trying to escape to a quiet surrender. We have seen photographers drag in furniture and destroy nature… don’t be that person.

Address: 920 Garrod Dr, Davis, CA 95616

UC Davis Arboretum best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
UC Davis Arboretum best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
UC Davis Arboretum best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography

9. Apple Hill

Only a 30 min drive east and you are in the middle of heaven. This is another hot photography spot as the colors are abundant in the fall. All the land is private so it is important to contact the owners in advance. They may require you to buy a bottle or 3 of their wine… but hey!! WINE!! From vineyards to orchards you just can’t go wrong. Avoid the weekends as you will get stuck on the roads due to traffic. Engagement sessions are best done Monday – Thursday.

apple hill california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
apple hill california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
apple hill california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography
apple hill california best engagement photography locations
Photo by Dee and Kris Photography

Conclusion

As you can see, Sacramento and its surrounding neighbors are just incredible locations to photograph. We encourage you to check them out, but always respect the land and its owners. Get permits to shoot when necessary as California in general is cracking down on photographers. Our natural resources are something to cherish and respect so that photographers can use for years to come.

You can see more of Dee and Kris’ work via the links below:

Dee and Kris Photography: Website | Instagram | Facebook