Photography Guide

May 03, 2023 | Posted in Arts & Culture

With historic buildings, luscious landscapes, and California sunshine, Pasadena is a photographer's dream

Depending on your preference, make sure you check out these must-shoot locations, perfect for amateur and professional photographers alike.

Landscape Photography

Pasadena is just a few miles from Angeles National Forest, where you can snap pictures of snowcapped mountains and dark green trees without having to endure the elements. Eaton Canyon provide a little bit of everything with dips and rises, mountain peaks, and waterfalls. For a unique take on the California landscape, head over to the Hahamongna (Arroyo Seco) Watershed filled with open fields, marshlands, native oak woodlands, and elfin forests.

Eaton Canyon

Portrait Photography

If you're looking to do a photoshoot with a killer backdrop and amazing textures that will make your subject pop, downtown Pasadena is the place for you. The Idea Lab has a colorful mural that spans across an entire row of buildings to create a bright and artsy backdrop. The Commons on South Lake Avenue is surrounded by gorgeous hedge walls, vintage telephone booths, and bright yellow umbrellas for pops of color while Dots Cupcake Mural was created by painting shades of pink and green on white for a soft pastel look.

Idealab Murals
The Idea Lab

Head east toward Old Pasadena and you'll find Big Bang Theory Way, a unique alley with geometric trellises, brick walls, string lights, flower boxes, and tons of open space. The Dalton Tile Wall is a series of bright yellows, greens, and reds with funky patterns for a bold and unique backdrop. And if you're looking for even more color, go to Plaza Las Fuentes. There you'll find dozens of different mosaic tile walls surrounded by shrubbery and trees, just a few steps away from City Hall to create a one-stop-shop for multiple shoots in a single location.

Dalton Tile Mural wall instagram
Dalton Tile Wall

Lifestyle Photography

To get a taste of what the locals are up to, head north to Villa-Parke Community Center where you're sure to find the local residence tending to the community garden or lounging in the park on a sunny day. Remember the Commons on South Lake Avenue? Not only do the hedge walls make great backdrops, but they surround a handful of shops and restaurants to provide the perfect hangout spot after a long day. Another local spot in Old Pasadena is alley at One Colorado. Don't let the word "alley" fool you. The shopping and dining area is full of outdoor seating, box gardens, a water fountain, and more. If you need a place to recharge after all those photos, don't go to an ordinary chain for coffee, do as the locals do and stop by Rosebud Coffee. The shop hosts local performances, concerts, and many fundraising events that benefit the community.

Villa Park...

Architecture Photography

The most iconic building in Pasadena, recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, is City Hall. The 1927 structure was influenced by Italian Renaissance and Spanish architecture. Another landmark of the city is the Pasadena Playhouse and the Playhouse Village, full of colorful buildings, painted utility boxes, and theatrical charm.

Pasadena City Hall
City Hall

Another film-favorite and architectural wonder is the Colorado Street Bridge. You probably recognize it from the big screen as it was featured in movies like La La Land. Speaking of screens, Rose Bowl Stadium is another city gem that is featured every New Year on your television screen if you tune-in to college football. And of course, the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens includes buildings that have been transported from countries all over the world to fit each garden's theme.

Visitor standing against lamp post under the Colorado St. Bridge in Pasadena, CA.
Desiderio Park

Botanical & Macro Photography

If there's one thing Pasadena has plenty of, it's flowers. And where there's flowers, there's tons of opportunity for botanical and macro photography. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, with its 120 acres and 16 stunning themed gardens, is a favorite amongst locals and tourists.

Descanso Gardens

Arlington Garden is another local favorite with a unique succulent fountain and hidden rock sculptures. For those looking for art installations amongst foliage and fauna, visit Descanso Gardens and the Los Angeles Arboretum, both of which host themed installations throughout various seasons.

Arlington Gardens
Arlington Garden