The East Bay is full of many stylish locations for urban or metropolitan photos, but if you desire a more natural look then the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden is a perfect choice. This is one of my favorite and most varied of East Bay family photo locations. It’s located above the university’s main campus in Strawberry Canyon and features thirty-four acres of plants from all over the world, including Mediterranean, South American, and African tracts. It’s been an establishment and treasure of the university since 1890! Besides family photography it’s also a popular location for weddings and engagement photos like this one I did last year.
The Smith family finds themselves wandering through the grounds and greenhouses often. It’s a favorite place of theirs to visit which made it the perfect place to plan their family photo session. It was actually supposed to rain on this particular day, but since we had already rescheduled due to the nasty fires and heavy smoke last year we decided to go ahead anyway. We gambled on a forecast predicting a sliver of fair weather and we lucked out! The Smiths led me through the gardens and to some of their favorite spots as I captured their family’s radiance. It made my job capturing them together so effortless because they were so at home here.
Some East Bay family photo locations may only be perfect for one backdrop, be it for the ocean, forest, or cityscape. The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden truly has endless possibilities and endless variety: Lush, humid greenhouses of orchids, ferns and carnivorous plans; an English-style ‘Old Rose’ garden with colorful hollyhocks, foxgloves, and petunias; the south-facing cactus desert with spiny succulents; the ‘California Oak Knoll’ with rolling golden fields and old oak trees; and of course the stone amphitheater nestled between a towering grove of redwoods. This garden has so many possible family photo backdrops!
Most of these stunning locations are only accessible by foot, though that also gives plenty of opportunity on the trails to find little hide-aways to tuck into or streams to cross. Many of my favorite photos of the Smiths were taken on these trails with simpler earth-tone backgrounds. It really puts their family in focus without a distraction behind them. Other details are accentuated, too, like the matching crimson-red on mom and daughter or the woolen textures of that cute tiny little peacoat!
The Botanical Gardens is open only until 5pm with the last entry at 4:30, so unfortunately this isn’t the place to catch the summertime ‘Golden Hour’ at sunset. If you plan for a summer session, however, it’s wonderful as everything in the garden is in full bloom! It’s nonetheless a beautiful location for the winter and especially for late fall and early spring when the days are still bright later into the evening. It’s also one of the most accessible of East Bay family photo locations as you can drive right up to it and park a few steps away.
It was a splendid afternoon in the gardens with the Smiths capturing their radiant family. You can see for yourself how lovely their family photos at the Botanical Gardens are below!