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How to Choose Your Photoshoot Location

July 25, 2021

I’m Kristen.
A mom, wife, and creator of pretty pictures and a stress-free photography experience. Use this blog to see more real families, couples, wedding days, and get all my favorite planning tips!
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One of the hardest things you have to do with planning your session is picking a photoshoot location. Oahu is filled with so many different types of scenery, it seems as though it would be nearly impossible to choose. This is where I come in. As a professional, I have spent countless hours exploring the island to find portrait locations that offer not only beautiful light and backdrops, but those that are a little more secluded. Keep reading to see some of my favorite Oahu photoshoot location and all they have to offer.

Beaches with Mountains

Bellows Beach

If you have been following me for any amount of time, you may recognize this beach. Bellows is my all-time favorite beach on this island, and with good reason; This beach offers vibrant blue waters, long sandy beaches, and majestic mountains, all within one view. There isn’t another beach on this island that has this combination.

Secret Island at Kualoa Regional Park

Secret Island is a hidden gem. It takes effort to get to, but is lined with palm trees and a short beach at high tide. The beauty of this beach is that it sits in a bay with mountains as your backdrop. If you are wanting a safe beach to enter the water without the fear of being knocked out by a ninja wave, this is the perfect beach!

Dillingham Beach

Dillingham beach is so unique. The driftwood on this stretch of beach, the deep blue hues of the ocean, and the golden light at sunset creates a romantic atmosphere perfect for proposals and couples portraits.

Baby Makapu’u

Baby Makapu’u is one of my favorite Oahu portrait locations on the island. This little spot offers a wide variety of backdrops to use. We can walk down to the beach as pictured below, hang out on the lava rock formations with Rabbit Island in the background, or we can use the mountains that sit just across the road from us. The options are endless!

Kahana Bay Beach Park

Kahan Bay is beautiful. It offers calm waters, lush green mountains, a short beach, and a playful sky. This side of the island can be a little more on the unpredictable side when it comes to the weather, so I highly recommend this area for adventurous couples (and families) who aren’t afraid of getting a little wet!

Long Sandy Beaches

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai is one of the island’s most popular beach hang outs and is best suited for sunrise sessions. Hello early risers! Because of its popularity, there tend to be more beach-goers as the day progresses and doesn’t empty out until after sunset. However, the depth of teal to the waters, the mokes, and the long beaches are well worth the early wake-up call!

Waialae Beach Park

For those of you dreaming of long sandy beaches with palm trees, this is just for you! This beach park is a little more private than other areas of the island and is home to many elopements. Sunset is the best time for these photos and is just a short walk from the main parking lot.

Kualoa Regional Park/Chinaman’s Hat

Chinaman’s Hat is at the heart of Kualoa Regional Park and sits across from the infamous “Jurassic Park Mountains.” This beach is not exactly a “long sandy” beach, but it’s an option a lot of my clients have loved including as a secondary and drastically different location to their mountainous backdrop (more on that later.)


Kualoa Regional Park

While we are on the topic of “Jurassic Park,” let’s start with this incredible view! There is no doubt that these mountains speak for themselves, so I think in this case, I’m going to let them do just that.

This day was overcast and not at all sunny, but boy is it stunning.
But look at how this location “shines” when the sun comes to play. (pun intended)

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens*

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens offers an epic view of the Ko’olau mountain range on Oahu. I have two personal favorite locations here, though one of them has yet to be photographed, so I’ll just add it to my bucket list. The images below feature just one of the many areas we are allowed to utilize within each permit from the gardens.

*This location is one that requires a permit in order to host your session (scheduled between 9am-3:30pm.) As your photographer, I will process the application and obtain the proper permit.

Miscellaneous and Bucket List Photoshoot Locations

While there are other beaches and mountain ranges we could utilize on this amazing island, there are also rooftops with city views, gardens with Hawaiian trees and florals, parks, museums, and so many other photoshoot location options we can use to create amazing portraits. Don’t be afraid to try something new, or ask about my bucket list!!

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