5 Places to Shoot in San Francisco

I’ve lived in the Bay Area for my entire life. When I got into photography, I wasn’t really sure what kind of photography I wanted to do. Then I saw some street-style photos of San Francisco. I was intrigued and decided to drive up to the city the next morning at sunrise just to see what I could get.

This turned into a weekly thing. I would drive up every weekend morning and shoot all parts of the city. From the Golden Gate Bridge, to the streets of The Mission District, I’ve shot it all. So here’s a short guide of some great photo locations from a SF native.

1. Financial District

I always love shooting the Financial District. Right next to SOMA, Chinatown and the Embarcadero, it’s a great location to shoot and travel to other parts of the city. This is a great place to shoot either early in the morning, or later on after everybody gets off work. It’s so busy and there are so many people to shoot.

While you’re there, shoot California St., Montgomery St. and Columbus Ave. You can also check out the Transamerica Pyramid and Cafe Zoetrope, both prominent and historic buildings in our skyline.

2. North Beach

North Beach is just a fun area to explore. I always enjoy shooting Bay St. and Columbus Ave. which starts in the Financial District. While you’re here, check out Coit Tower which offers incredible 360 views of the entire city. There are also a bunch of amazing little shops and coffee bars to refill during your journey.

3. Divisadero

Divisadero is probably one of the most bustling and busiest streets in San Francisco, which is a big accusation. But it’s such an interesting and amazing place to shoot street photography. For one, it’s beautiful. It’s on a rolling hill, but once you hit that peak you can get some great views of the city from a perspective other than Twin Peaks or Coit Tower. There are also so many shops and businesses, which drives a lot of interesting people. I love this place for portraits and people photography.

4. Mission District

The Mission is a pretty infamous place. To the locals, it’s the place where everybody goes for a night out in the city. It’s not the most upstanding part of the city, but there are plenty of interesting people, murals and artwork scattered around the Mission. 24th St. is a super fun and lively part of town. I spend a lot of time in the Mission and I never get tired of it. It’s constantly changing. There aren’t many landmarks, but check out SOMA skatepark, Bernal Heights Park (which, yes, is technically in Bernal Heights but it’s close).

When shooting the Mission, try walking on Mission St., Valencia St., Guerrero St. and Van Ness Ave. Each have their own unique photo opportunities.

5. The Castro

One of the first and largest openly gay communities in the world, The Castro is a very different part of the city. While walking around, I just get a totally different vibe. Even the homeless people are remarkably different there. I venture over there every once in a while and always leave with some great shots.

Shoot the Castro Flag on Market and Castro St, and the rainbow crosswalk on 18th and Castro, and the Castro theater just a block up. Then just walk around and shoot the very different and unique shops, murals and people.

Of course there are plenty of locations that I left out (Sunset District, Golden Gate Park, Battery Spencer to name a few), but these are some of my favorites. Have any spots that you love shooting in SF? Let me know in the comments below!

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