Southern California features some amazing views for family and romantic photographs. Usually, when we think of SoCal portrait locations, we picture the sprawling city of Los Angeles and its many famous architectural marvels. There really are hundreds of beautiful locations to choose from, but there is so much more to be seen outside L.A.
Vasquez Rocks Natural Park Area
While many families and couples I photograph like to consider the classic photography 'hotspots' like Union Station, the Walt Disney Concert Hall or Pasadena City Hall as potential shoot locations, few clients of mine consider the many natural wonders that often hide just outside those Los Angeles City Limits. Recently, I did a photoshoot with a family that wasn't afraid to blaze a trail into wilderness when we shot at the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park near Agua Dulce, California.
Vasquez Rocks Family Photos
Funny enough, my photoshoot with the Pramono's was never meant to be a family photoshoot. I was hired for a simple birthday party waaaay back in March (Wow, it really does seem like ages ago). Of course, you would know that March is right when the Covid-19 Pandemic was really started to kick off in the USA. A few lockdowns later, and there was no longer any birthday party for me to attend. Instead of asking for a refund, Mr. & Mrs. Pramono asked me to help update their family photo album when things became a little safer out there. Fast forward 7 months later, and we are still dealing with Covid-19, but it was more or less safe to go outside again.
I suggested the Vasquez Rocks as a potential shoot location while helping to plan the family's photoshoot. I think I came across it on Pinterest in for some very impressive engagement photos. After considering my suggestion, the Pramono's decided they were game for it, and just like that - the shoot was on!
When is Vasquez Rocks open?
The nice thing about the Vasquez Rocks is that it's open nearly all year round. The entrance to the park does have a gate that gets locked overnight (times change across the season, but it's generally at sunrise/sunset), but this only bars vehicles from entering the park. Walk-ons seem to be permissible at any time. From the gate, getting to the Vasquez Rocks is only a quick 10-15 minute hike over mostly-flat earth.
Another great advantage for photographers shooting at the Vasquez Rocks is that photography is welcomed in the park, and nobody gave me any trouble for hauling around my big 38" Umbrella and heavy-duty Light Stand. However, it would be prudent to prioritize your most important gear to bring, as there are at time tight spots and turns to navigate while hiking toward the Vasquez Rocks.
Vasquez Rocks Photoshoot
Since daylight was alright diminishing as we entered the park, I elected not to go all the way to the Vasquez Rocks and instead chose an overlook about 5 minutes from the front entrance for our photoshoot. With the compression that longer focal length lens like the 85mm provide, those distant rocks can look much closer than they really are. This maximized the time we had for our shoot while still framing a captivating background.
We had about a good 45 minutes to capture our shots. The family was very happy with how they turned out. Since I rarely shoot without my off-camera flash these days, I don't get worried when the sun starts to set. In fact, I appreciate how some of the shots in our set came out after blue hour had set in. Come take a look:
It's always nice when my clients bring a personal touch to their photoshoot (Something I highly encourage among my clients). In this case it happened to be Jago Merah, or "The Red Champion". That's the little remote control car you see in some of the images. Jago Merah is the Pramono's adventure companion, a little toy they bring on their family outings. The Vasquez Rocks was a great backdrop for this little R.C. car, and added a little outside-the-box interest to an otherwise standard fare family photoshoot.
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