Mom and dad holding sons' hands walking on a log on a beach.

Photographers love Baker Beach

Baker Beach in San Francisco is a perfect location for casual beach photos. Capturing sunlight both early and late in the day, family photographers can count on great light for both sunrise and sunset photo sessions. To the west, the Land’s End seacliffs create a stunning backdrop, and to the east is the Golden Gate Bridge. Baker Beach is also unique in providing a number of environments to help spark those unique family photo ideas. Within close proximity, you find sun dappled forest, a historical military outpost, over a mile of beach, and beautiful rock formations. As a San Francisco family photographer, I could spend all day at Baker Beach! 

Baker Beach Weather

Baker Beach is subject to all the usual Bay Area weather anomalies. On any given day, at any given time of the year, the sun can shine or the fog can roll in. It does get a bit more sunshine than Ocean Beach and is somewhat more protected from west winds (which we get a lot of). But because Baker Beach gets sunlight from almost any direction, it is even a great place for family a family photo session, even in the fog! 

If you have Baker Beach family photos on the calendar, here are some resources I would recommend –

Baker Beach weather forecast

Baker Beach weather hourly

There’s no actual Baker Beach webcam, but the ones at Crissy Field come pretty close. If it is foggy at Crissy, it is almost certainly foggy at Baker. But it’s worth noting that sometimes the opposite is not true, so expect the unexpected weather at Baker Beach! 

Crissy Field Webcams

Baker Beach rules and tips

Fortunately, Baker Beach parking is plentiful and straightforward. It’s also free! There is a lower Baker Beach parking lot where you will find space most of the time, and it’s right next to the beach. On a sunny weekend (or Friday) afternoon, you can expect to park in the upper lot, and even occasionally struggle to find a spot. 

The Baker Beach hours are easy – open 24 hours a day! But keep in mind that the Baker Beach parking lot does close at night, and this website is generally kept up to date with the current Baker Beach hours.

Probably the most common question I hear – is Baker Beach dog friendly? Yes, Baker Beach is quite dog friendly! South of Lobos Creek, dogs are required to be on-leash, whereas north of the creek they are allowed off-leash, as long as they are under voice control. This makes Baker Beach great for family photos with your dog. You can learn more about all of the rules for dogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation area by clicking here.

It is worth noting that Baker Beach is clothing optional. Folks looking for casual beach family photos often don’t mind, or in some cases, it prompts us to choose another beach photoshoot location. Generally speaking, it is only the northern end of the beach, closest to the Golden Gate Bridge, that is treated as clothing-optional.

What to wear for beach pictures

This isn’t a complete guide on the topic, as it warrants an entire article of its own (and the web is filled with them). But here are some of my favorite tips. 

1. Coordinate if you’d like, but don’t match exactly. You can create your beach family photo color scheme by choosing three different colors as a swatch. Base your outfits on this. If you tend towards cooler colors (blues), I suggest at least a few splashes of warmer tones (dusty reds, burnt oranges, pastel yellows).

2. Comfortable is best. Whatever you wear, make sure it feels like you. Pretend you are meeting a new friend from work at the beach. You want to make a good impression, but you also want to feel like yourself.

3. Avoid solid white or black. Rich solid colors, off whites, and textured clothing work great. Scarves, shawls, and chunky knits are great.

4. Wear things you’re willing to get sandy and wet. You WILL get sandy, and at my favorite family beach photo sessions, we often also get a bit wet!

5. Pack warm shoes and sandals. If you are looking for casual beach family photos, you want the option to kick off your sandals and splash around at the edge of the water. But you also want some shoes in case it’s cold!

5. Bring warm layers, this is SF! You can always take them off when we start taking pictures, but the more comfortable you are, the better your photos will be. 

Man looks out from behind a professional camera

Thanks for being here. I’m David, and I make soul-stirring photographs for families who find adventure around every corner. Want to learn more about the person behind the camera?