10 Best Engagement Photo Locations near San Jose, CA

March 21, 2024

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It’s me, Whit. Lover of love, travel and the two coming together. My story goes well beyond the beautiful images you see. 


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If you’re in the San Jose area and looking for the perfect spot to take your engagement photos, you’ve hit the jackpot. As a South San Jose native, I’ve put together a list of my top 10 best engagement photo locations near San Jose that’ll make your photos pop. These spots are all about the beautiful outdoors, from stunning gardens to breathtaking hills. And don’t worry, I’ve included details like how much it might cost to snap photos there and how to book. Let’s dive in!

Villa Montalvo

Nestled in the Saratoga hills, Villa Montalvo is an Italian Mediterranean revival mansion surrounded by elegant gardens and serene walking paths. Its artistic history and architectural beauty offer a variety of photo ops, from the grand front of the mansion to the intimate nooks within its gardens.

Permits & Reservations: Villa Montalvo requires a photo permit and reservation to book engagement photos at their property, unless you are getting married there. Permits for 1-5 people are $200. You can find the photography permit form here.

Santa Teresa Foothills

These foothills provide a rugged, natural landscape that contrasts beautifully with the urban environment of San Jose. In the late winter & throughout spring, these hills will be shades of emerald green. The rest of the year, you can expect grassy browns & tans. The golden grasses, green shrubs, and the rolling hills that light up beautifully at golden hour create a breathtaking setting for photos that feel open and free. Growing up near this area, I have several recommended locations along the foothills for photos. If grassy hills are what you’re thinking, I’ll provide exact location details upon booking.

Permits & Reservations: Every location is different with regards to permits and fees. Some are free and some require a permit and/or parking fee. I will point you in the right direction as needed upon booking.

Calero County Park

This park is a mix of chaparral, oak woodlands, and grassland areas, surrounding a reservoir that offers stunning water reflections. The diverse landscapes here can capture the adventurous spirit of a couple, with trails that meander through areas rich in natural beauty and wildlife.

Henry Cowell State Park

Famous for its ancient redwoods, this park is like stepping into another world. The towering trees create a cathedral-like canopy, offering a forest backdrop that’s perfect for capturing love stories. The light filtering through the redwood leaves adds a magical touch to any photo.

Permits & Reservations: Henry Cowell is a California State Park and requires a $100 photo permit for simple shoots, aka, engagement photography. For more information on filling out your permit application, visit here.

De Valle Regional Park

With its expansive lake and lush surroundings, this park provides a stunning backdrop for couples. The sparkling waters of the lake, surrounded by verdant hills, create a serene and romantic setting. Whether you’re capturing moments along the water’s edge at sunrise or nestled in the wildflowers that bloom in spring, Del Valle’s natural beauty enhances the love and connection between couples. The park’s diverse landscapes, from its open grassy areas to its shaded, wooded spots, offer a variety of scenes for every style of engagement photo.

Permits & Reservations: Visit the East Bay parks website for information and applications. The fee for individual/portrait photography permits is $100. The permit is good for 12 months from the issue date, and the issue date is typically the date of the first photo shoot you send in a request for.

Shark Fin Cove

Located a bit out of San Jose but well worth the drive, this beach is known for its distinctive shark-fin-shaped rock. The rugged coastline, with its dramatic cliffs and crashing waves, offers a striking contrast to the softer, more intimate moments captured during an engagement shoot.

Windy Hill

True to its name, Windy Hill offers expansive views that sweep across the Bay Area. The open grasslands and the distinctive wind-swept trees create a dynamic and vibrant setting. At sunset, the sky turns into a canvas of colors, providing a stunning backdrop for silhouetted shots.

Permits & Reservations: Visit the Open Space website for permit application and information. A 4-hour film and photography permit is $175 and must be applied for at least 2 weeks in advance.


This historic estate boasts manicured gardens, reflecting pools, and an impressive country house. The garden’s seasonal blooms and the architectural elegance of the house offer a variety of timeless backdrops. It’s a location that exudes romance and sophistication.

Permits & Reservations: A permit and reservation is required. Reach out to a Filoli representative to book a time and day for your engagement photos.

Coyote Valley

This area offers a glimpse into the agricultural heartland of San Jose, with its vast open fields and backdrop of distant mountains. The rustic charm of Coyote Valley is ideal for couples looking for a laid-back, natural setting that reflects the valley’s beauty.

Permits & Reservations: Permits are required for photography and filming at Coyote Valley. Please email in**@op****************.org or call (408) 224-7476 for more information.

Foothills and Local Parks

The myriad of local parks and foothills around San Jose, each with its unique landscape and beauty, offer endless possibilities. From the serene Almaden Quicksilver County Park with its mining history and natural features to the lush greenery and picnic areas of Vasona Lake County Park, there’s a setting for every couple’s style and story.

I take the time to scout each of these engagement photo locations personally, ensuring I can provide you with exact details, from the best spots within each location to the ideal time of day to capture the perfect light. When you book with me, you’re not just getting a photographer; you’re getting a guide to the most beautiful settings in and around San Jose. With an extensive list of over 100 locations (many of which I keep near and dear to my heart to protect the privacy of the location) we’ll work together to select the perfect scene that fits your vision and style.

Ready to capture your love in a beautiful, meaningful way? Let’s talk! Book your San Jose engagement photos with me and let’s create something unforgettable. Your love story deserves a beautiful backdrop, and I’m here to help you find it.

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About Me • About Me • About Me •



My heart and passion for this work is summed up by the act of service. From the first wedding I ever photographed to ones years later—I’ve yet to come down from the high of being part of a couple’s best day and putting it in digital form to look back on for a lifetime. I take my craft seriously, and that means serving you in all aspects on your wedding day, and the days leading up to it.

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