Crystal Cove State Park is located just north of Laguna Beach and offers a number of terrific formal portrait settings as well as a relaxed atmosphere in which to shoot candids. It is free to get into the park and unlike a photo shoot in a studio, the location allows children (adults as well if they so desire) to run around, play and act in a natural non-posed manner.
Upon arrival at the park you need of course to park. The parking structure is on the other side of the highway of where the park is. There is a modest fee for parking. The short walk into the park itself is a wonderful photographic opportunity. The walk includes walking down a paved path in the middle of a nature preserve. Beautiful shots of couples or children holding hands and walking down the path with lusch trees, rocks, and hills as a backdrop create a photographic sense of family unity and direction.
Halfway down the path there is an arched tunnel. A shot of a group standing at the base of the tunnel with the entrance archway framing the shot and light from the tunnel entrance providing backlight, creates an artistic piece which is sure to be a conversational point when framed and mounted in the home.
At the entrance of the park, there are some rustic looking barns and buildings. These buildings give the feel of being at a farm located in the Midwest during the 50s. Shots in these locations are often changed to black and white, or pastel. This creates an authentic retro feel which adds variety and warmth to a photography collection.
After passing the buildings, you arrive at the beach. The beach at the park is large and varied. Rocks that seem to have been built for posing are scattered throughout. Cliffs overhang sections of the beach creating stunning cliff/ocean backgrounds. Unlike many beaches, there are numerous locations to get cliff shots without distracting beach houses in the background.There are also many locations to get just sand/ocean background shots. When at the beach, the best children and couple shots are often obtained when the subjects relax and are sent out to play. Doing this is easier at a place like Crystal Cove then it would be indoors in a studio.