The San Francisco Bay Area is home to literally thousands of incredible photoshoot locations, many of which are world famous. But pregnancy is a truly unrepeatable experience, a singular moment for a family and a mother.

The location for an outdoor maternity photo session should be chosen with intention.

This article highlights some iconic SF favorites. If you are looking for somewhere more off-the-beaten-path, you might be interested in my guide to Secret San Francisco Photo Locations.

What makes for a great maternity photoshoot location?

An Intimate Feel

Pregnancy may feel public in many ways (hard not to notice that bump), but the journey is quite personal. Some of the locations on this list have quiet nooks and overlooked corners that remain relatively private. Others require care when choosing the day of the week and the time of the day. But beyond the physical presence of other people, each of these photoshoot locations offers spaces that allow for photos that feel intimate. This is about framing, lighting, and natural elements.

Visual Elements and Leading Lines

During maternity, a life is literally being created within you. If any event is likely to make you feel spiritual and connected, this is probably it!

Lines and patterns found in the environment can create powerful visual cues within a photograph. By properly using these elements and these lines, a maternity photographer is able to draw attention inward towards you or outwards from you.

A Short Walk

Each body and each pregnancy is different. For a lot of moms-to-be, the later weeks of pregnancy are not a time for a strenuous hike. These favorite maternity photoshoot locations are chosen specifically for easy access.

Man squeezes baby to cheek in front of sunset and rocky beach.

I’m David, and I photograph Bay Area families that are super proud of where they live. My easygoing presence puts everyone at ease, and I focus on candid emotion and moments of connection. No posing, no stress.

Lands End & Sutro Baths

Glow with the sunrise

Lands End is are world-renowned for sunset photoshoots. But it seems that the incredible sunrises are yet to be discovered. Crowds are simply not a factor for sunrise maternity sessions at Lands End or Sutro Baths. It is not hard to focus inwards and relax into your body when there’s no one around! Beginning about an hour after sunrise, warm light floods through the forest and pours over the reflection pools.

History, birds, and reflections

Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Lands End and Sutro Baths are powerful places. The westernmost point of San Francisco, this is the traditional homeland and sacred space of the Ohlone people. It feels like the right place to celebrate the emergence of new life.

One of my favorite elements at Sutro Baths here is the birds. From swooping hawks to diving cormorants to formations of pelicans, it is easy to connect with the environment and to reflect that relationship in the pictures we make together. 

And the reflection pools…well, they inspire reflection!

If you would like to learn more, try my location guides for Sutro Baths or Lands End.

Are you the one who always takes the pictures?

You deserve to be in photos with your family

Palace of Fine Arts

Iconic and elegant

There is nowhere else quite like it. The Palace of Fine Arts was built to look like a decaying ruin of ancient Rome. Soaring columns and arches flanked by redwoods and a quiet duck pond. Sunshine beams in through the unique geometric architecture during all hours of the morning and afternoon, creating an ever-changing pattern of light. This feels like the natural edge of elegance…a grand ruin in decay.

Big spaces & quiet corners

The most iconic Palace of Fine Arts photos are wide angle, capturing the grand spaces. These are ideal for impactful maternity photos. But there are endless quiet corners amongst the stonework and the trees, meaning that we can usually find space for those more reflective moments too.

Weekday afternoons or mornings anytime are best for a more private feel.
For more information about parking and safety, read the Palace of Fine Arts section of my SF Photoshoot Location Guide.

Lover’s Lane Wood Line

Unique and exotic

The Lover’s Lane Wood Line is actually a giant work of art. Crafted by Andy Goldsworthy, felled logs create an undulating path through a dense forest. Walking the Presidio Wood Line is like walking through a sculpture. 

While the felled logs create obvious leading lines, the soaring eucalyptus trees create unique framing for lifestyle maternity portraits, drawing the eye both down to you and up to the sky. The energy here is incredible! 

A great place for young kids

When toddlers join your maternity session, I try to suggest locations that are compact and contained. The dense forest of the Lover’s Lane Wood Line helps keep their ever-changing focus within a small radius. And there is plenty to keep them interested! From balancing on logs to pulling huge strands of papery bark from the trees to exploring the little often-present enclosures built of sticks and bark, little kids are never bored at Lover’s Lane.

Click to learn more in my Lovers’ Lane Photoshoot Location Guide.

San Francisco Botanical Gardens

Ethereal and intimate

Tucked into Golden Gate Park, The San Francisco Botanical Gardens feel like a magical refuge from the cacophony of city life. Of the all locations on this list, this is the quietest and the most intimate. The light is soft, the surroundings are aesthetic, and the focus is on you and that beautiful bump.

Step into the light of the Moon Viewing Platform, meander through the depths of an ancient redwood grove, or sit under the canopy of a flowering hardwood tree – all within a five minute walk of the other. No matter what your pregnancy journey has meant to you, no matter the season or the weather, there is a place in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens to match your energy and tell your story.

Things to know

As of this writing, the gardens are open from 7:30 am until 7 pm. Please check the SF Botanical Gardens Website for the most up-to-date information. Entrance is free for locals, so bring an ID with your San Francisco address. Street parking is easy and plentiful on weekdays and before 9 am on weekend mornings. Avoid the Botanical Gardens during the busy weekend afternoons.

Baker Beach

The Classic Golden Gate Bridge View

San Francisco’s Baker Beach may hold the most famous view of the Golden Gate Bridge (a contentious opinion, of course :). And I love that we can incorporate its towers and arches as a unique reminder of place in your maternity photos. I do not treat the bridge as the focus of your, the focus is you and that beautiful bump that you are carrying. Instead, the Golden Gate Bridge serves as a leading line, a framing element, or an aesthetic reminder of the city just out of view.

P.S. If you’re loving the idea of a beach maternity session with a view of the bridge, I wrote this article just for you – 10 Golden Gate Bridge Beach Views.

The City Meets the Pacific

Baker Beach is a place of colliding energy. Gold-tinted sunrise and sunset light pour across us. The Pacific Ocean brings crashing waves to our bare, sandy feet. West winds blow salt spray through our hair. If your maternity story feels deeply rooted in both a coastal lifestyle and in this beautiful city, Baker Beach might be the place to tell it.

If you want all the details, check out my Baker Beach Photoshoot Location Guide.

A little farther

If you feeling adventurous and looking for a unique location for your pregnancy photos, somewhere a bit out of the ordinary, here are a few favorite locations that require either a bit of extra driving or a short hike. If you are interested in one of these, just let me know when you schedule your maternity session.

  • Mile Rock Beach
  • Marshall’s Beach
  • Hawk Hill
  • Kirby Cove
  • Half Moon Bay