10 Tips for a Laguna Beach Engagement Session at Victoria Beach Pirate's Tower | Adventure Wedding Photographer | Jenn Whalen

March 5, 2021

Engagements, Resources

10 Tips for a Laguna Beach Engagement Session at Victoria Beach Pirate’s Tower | Adventure Wedding Photographer

Rebecca and Tyler were looking for a Laguna Beach Wedding Photographer and reached out to me for their Laguna Beach Engagement Session. Laguna Beach is a wonderful little corner of the world and after several sessions in this area, I’m going to use Rebecca and Tyler’s recent engagement session at Victoria Beach Pirate’s Tower to list some helpful tips for having a successful and smooth engagement session.


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First of all, Laguna beach is not just one beach, but made up of many coves. Some of these coves are connected and others are disconnected from each other. In the state of California, ALL beaches are public. Homeowners and companies are not allowed to own beach property, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


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1. Obtain a Professional Photography Permit: Since beaches are not privately owned and managed by the counties and state, most require a permit to take professional photos. In this case of an engagement session, I had to obtain a $100 photography one-time use permit. You can apply for this permit here. Wedding permits are separate and more expensive. Those permits can be found here. I always print out my permit and carry it with me. I’ve never been approached by a lifeguard to show my permit, but it’s still necessary to obtain. It would be quite embarrassing and ruin an engaged couple’s experience if you were forced to stop the session due to not having the proper permit.


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2. The access point on Google Maps is under construction. Specifically for Victoria Beach and the Pirate’s Tower, the access point that google maps takes you to is currently under construction. It’s not that big of a deal because there’s another nearby access point off of Dumond Drive.


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3. Park near Dizz’s As Is on the east side of PCH and walk down the stairwell by the bus stop for the fastest way to access Dumond Drive. Laguna Beach is a fairly dense beach town and there’s limited parking.


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4. Do not park in residential areas. Those are reserved for the residents who live there, and you will for sure get ticketed and towed. The best option is to park along PCH aka HWY1. This HWY is heavily used with fast drivers, so take caution while parking and walking.


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5. Be mindful of the tide. When it’s high tide, you won’t be able to cross the little beach to get to the tower. Since I do a lot of beach sessions in Malibu, I’m always looking at the tide tables. I like using tide-forecast.com. Tide tables come in very handy for shallow beach coves where a few feet of difference can mean access vs. no access. For large beaches like Santa Monica Beach, Huntington Beach, etc. the tide is not going to affect the photoshoot at all due to the sheer size and depth of the beach.


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6. Footwear: You will have to walk along the rocks and they can be sharp. Other parts of the rocks can be covered with a lot of slippery moss. I recommend wearing shoes with treads on the bottom. I don’t like to ever be limited by my footwear, especially as a photographer trying to get creative angles, so I like to wear shoes sold at outfitters like Teva, Bogs, Keen. I personally prefer to wear close-toed shoes when walking around jagged rocks, but that’s a personal preference. You don’t have to go out and purchase brand new shoes for this experience, I’m just recommending wearing something more than flip-flops.


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7. There are no lifeguards or bathrooms at the beach, so plan accordingly.


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8. Be prepared to share the area. Even on a weekday in the winter, there are several people accessing the area for personal photos and engagement photos. It’s very unlikely you will have the place to yourselves. I always have to photoshop out people in the background of my photos.


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9. Consider doing your session in the winter months. Here in southern California, it never reaches freezing temps and the weather is pretty ideal all around. It’s not bikini weather in the winter, but it can be a great time for sessions. The sunsets are more beautiful and the colors are more vivid in the winter as opposed to the summer. The earth’s tilt is one of the reasons because it doesn’t refract as many particles in the atmosphere. Read more about that here. Another reason is that the sun rolls under a fairly consistent fog bank in the summer months resulting in the notorious “June gloom” phrase you will hear many locals say. Read more about June Gloom here.


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10.You cannot access the Pirate’s Tower to go inside. The tower is privately owned. I love this little gem and the history of the tower is fascinating. You can read more about the history of the pirate tower at Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach here.


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If you would like more information about my rates for engagement session photography, please fill out my contact form. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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