A student with a varsity jacket posing for his senior photograph

Best Places to Take Senior Photos in San Diego

Without planning for senior picture locations, you may have cliche backdrops or lackluster pictures. As a professional senior portrait photographer for years, I have created the ultimate list of the best places to take senior photos in San Diego to help you capture this special time in images you’ll cherish forever.

Best Places to Take Senior Photos in San Diego

Beaches like La Jolla Shores, outdoor settings such as Balboa Park, and urban locations like the Gaslamp Quarter let San Diego offer a variety of backdrops to capture senior portraits. There’s also contemporary beauty at Liberty Station, the historic charm of Old Town, and panoramic skyline views from the Coronado Ferry Landing. 

A student posing and standing on the big rocks with some waves crashing in front of him

With so many options for scenic senior photo locations, from natural to urban settings, it’s easy to get creative and find the perfect backdrop to memorialize your graduating year.

LocationBest For
La Jolla ShoresOcean/water, active/sports themes
Coronado BeachBeach Beauty
Solana BeachChic and urban
Balboa ParkArtistic, botanical-inspired
Torrey PinesNatural, rustic
UCSD Eucalyptus GroveScholarly, environmental
Downtown/GaslampCity and urban fashion
Liberty StationCreative/colorful, edgy
Seaport VillageCozy/nostalgic, fun
Old TownWestern, historical
Marston HouseElegance and sophistication
Coronado Ferry LandingCity skyline, water views
Centennial ParkResort town vibes, scenic

Beaches and Coastal Areas

With miles of scenic shoreline, the beautiful beaches in the city present idyllic coastal scenery for senior beach sessions.

La Jolla Shores

The stretch of La Jolla Shores is a fantastic spot for senior photos with scenic backgrounds, soft sand, and the stunning blue ocean. The picturesque Scripps Pier adds a unique touch to the pictures. The natural lighting and ocean backdrop will produce breathtaking results.

Coronado Beach

The two-mile Coronado Beach is known for its pristine white sand and elegant atmosphere. The magnificent Hotel del Coronado is a stunning backdrop that ensures a timeless appeal to your senior portraits.

Solana Beach and Cedros Avenue Design District

For a unique coastal experience, I suggest combining Solana Beach with the Cedros Avenue Design District. You’ll get the best of both worlds: stunning beach landscapes and chic, urban backdrops.

Outdoor Settings

Senior portraits are valuable, so you’ll need equally precious locations to take them. The city’s abundant natural landscape provides excellent outdoor senior photo options.

Balboa Park

I love shooting senior portraits in Balboa Park because of its diverse scenery, including a variety of backdrops, historic buildings, lush gardens, and picturesque fountains. This setting is perfect for capturing your personality and interests. Balboa Park is also ideal for family photos.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Among my favorite locations for senior photoshoots is the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. With its dramatic cliffs, miles of pristine coastline, and rare Torrey Pine trees, it’s an ideal outdoor setting for nature-inspired senior photos.

UCSD Eucalyptus Grove

Whenever I want a tucked-away spot for my senior portrait shoots, I take my clients to the UCSD Eucalyptus Grove. The grove provides a peaceful atmosphere and a perfect natural backdrop. 

A senior student on a beach posing for her senior photograph

Urban and Contemporary Locations

These are also my go-to senior photography locations for urban backdrops with modern architecture.

Downtown San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter

I love recommending Downtown San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter for senior portraits. The mix of modern buildings and historic Victorian-style structures is perfect for a contemporary and urban shoot.

  • Unique alleys
  • A blend of modern and historic architecture

Arts District Liberty Station

One of my favorite spots for senior photoshoots is the Art District Liberty Station. I use this location to provide a colorful backdrop for striking photos.

  • Art installations
  • Repurposed historical buildings

Seaport Village

The Seaport Village waterfront is an excellent location for senior portraits. This bayside area combines a charming coastal ambiance with the feel of a small town. I also set the stage for memorable photos using these elements.

  • Charming coastal atmosphere
  • Quaint cobblestone paths

Historic Locations

About 28.8 million visited San Diego in 2022. To avoid crowds, these historic yet breathtaking backdrops in the city make for stunning and captivating senior portrait photos that last a lifetime.  

Old Town

I find the neighborhood of the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park an ideal location for capturing memorable photos. Whenever I photograph students at this park, I’m able to incorporate these charming elements into their pictures:

  • Colorful Spanish-style buildings
  • Rustic wooden storefronts

Marston House

The quintessential beauty of the Marston House provides an elegant and sophisticated setting for senior portraits. This early 20th-century mansion boasts:

  • Beautifully landscaped gardens
  • Impressive, stately rooms

City Skyline

I recommend incorporating the city skyline to make you look good in senior photos.

A student with a varsity jacket posing for his senior photograph

Coronado Ferry Landing

The Coronado Ferry Landing offers an unobstructed view of the city’s towering buildings and the harbor. To fully utilize this location, I suggest you:

  • Schedule your shoot during golden hour for the best lighting
  • Experiment with different angles and poses to showcase the skyline

Centennial Park

The lively Centennial Park lets you capture the entire downtown skyline as it’s illuminated during sunset. Even if photoshoots only take 30 minutes or one hour, here’s how I make the most out of photography sessions.

  • Incorporate the park’s features, such as trees or benches, for added depth and texture
  • Adjust your aperture to create a bokeh effect, highlighting your subject against the skyline

Related Questions

Why Is San Diego an Ideal Place For Senior Photos?

With its stunning beaches, parks, gardens, and architecture, San Diego offers a fantastic variety of outdoor photo locations for headshots and backdrops to capture unique senior portraits. The city has also proven to be the perfect location for senior photos because of its diverse scenery and nearly perfect weather.

What Is the Best Time of the Year to Take Senior Portraits in San Diego?

Late spring to early summer is the best time for senior sessions in San Diego due to optimal weather, a low chance of rain, and abundant flowers and greenery. In these months, the weather is milder, and crowds are thinner.

How to Choose a Location in San Diego for a Senior Portrait Shoot?

Consider your personality, interests, and style, and choose locations that reflect them. Additionally, consider accessibility, permit requirements, and possible lighting challenges when selecting a site.


The best places for senior photos in San Diego range from beaches to parks to urban settings, offering various options to fit your style. By choosing the best spots, along with a skilled senior portrait photographer, your senior photos will be impressive and memorable.

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