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Best Beach Locations for a Photo Shoot in North County San Diego

You have secured a date for your family photo session. Now the fun begins! San Diego has an abundance of beautiful beaches to choose from.

I. Are you comfortable with getting sandy, windy and wet? The beach has all three. Things can get messy by the end of a session. Your photos may show your family in various stages of looking like human sugar cookies or with hair blowing every which way. Are you ok with this natural look that the beach creates?

II. Consider the ages and mobility of those being photographed

Older kids are more flexible when it comes to walking or hiking in to the perfect photo spot. Younger kids do really well in a location where they won’t have to walk as far. Some older adults may find walking in the sand a bit challenging.

III. Let’s talk about traffic

San Diego is beautiful, but the traffic can be horrendous. It's important to choose a beach that will be convenient for you to reach at your scheduled session time (or conversely, to be realistic about the travel time necessary to arrive at the location - I advise adding 20 minutes to allow for traffic delays).

III. Are you active or retired military?

Some of the area's best beaches for photos are located on San Diego military bases. These beaches are typically quiet, and have large, wide expanses of sand that make for beautiful photos.

I. Carlsbad State Beach.

San Diego has perfect beaches for family photography. I like to shoot on beaches with wide expanses of sand. My favorite beaches are Coronado & Crystal Pier (seasonally), although I am open to traveling to other locations. I like to time the beach shoots at Low Tide to ensure that there is a spectacular amount of reflection from the sand. In the summer beach sessions tend to be best around the sunrise golden hour.

Carlsbad beach family photographer

II. Oceanside Harbor Beach

Oceanside Harbor has a big wide open beach and a wonderful rock jetty. You can walk out on the jetty for photos, or stay closer to the shore. Either way, the relaxed atmosphere provides a great location for your beach photography session.

oceanside beach family photographer

sunset beach photos in oceanside ca

III. Torrey Pines State Beach

With its stunning cliffs and beautiful rocky beach, Torrey Pines is a great location for beach photos. Avoid weekends (and the months of July and August) as the beach can be super crowded. In addition, Torrey Pines State Beach is best at low tide; the beach disappears at high tide and you won't have room to run or play.


dad playing with toddler at Torrey Pines state beach

III. Breakers Beach on Naval Air Station North Island

The base beach on North Island is one of San Diego's hidden secrets. The beach offers the same views as the public beach on Coronado Island, with none of the crowds.

north island family photo session

IV. Del Mar Beach on Camp Pendleton

Del Mar Beach is another good location for Marine families. The rock jetty provides space for play and exploring. The beach itself is open and wide, with some nice opportunities for great reflections at low tide.

boy playing on rock jetty at Del Mar beach Camp Pendleton photographer

family walking towards ocean at sunset family photos

Hopefully this gives you some great ideas about where to have your next family photography session. I'm always on the look out for beautiful spaces in tucked away places to create magical photos for you and your family.


MJ Falvey is a beach photographer who documents stories of love and connection. She specializes in in active, vibrant, and joyful photography of people and pets on San Diego's beautiful beaches, especially those of North County San Diego: Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and La Jolla.

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