Griffith Observatory Engagement Photos - Los Angeles, Ca - Nick + Nicole
Nick + Nicole’s Couple Session at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.
A few months ago, Nick + Nicole pulled into the Griffith Observatory’s super packed parking lot on a Thursday night for a super cute couples’ session with me. For an instant I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to shake the onlookers and really get into the shoot - that feeling pretty much dissolved immediately. These two were the most carefree, happy-go-lucky, bold people you’ve ever met. They played, flirted, and danced without worry and I’ve got pictures to prove it! Now, full disclosure: Nick + Nicole are not engaged (yet). But a few minutes into our session, Nicole jokingly said to Nick, “dude, when we get married, she’s shooting our wedding!” (just tell me where + when, y’all!) But when you see these photos, it’s easy to imagine they might be! That’s why I wanted to showcase Griffith Observatory as an incredible spot to take engagement photos. It’s a gorgeous and romantic engagement photo location -- some couples even elope here! This blog post should highlight some of the photo opps you’ll have if you do your engagement photos at Griffith Observatory, as well as key things to prepare for before your engagement shoot!
Griffith Observatory is an iconic part of any trip to L.A. It’s located inside Griffith Park, which is one of the largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States, spanning over 4,210 acres. Situated in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains, Griffith Parks many trails offer views of downtown Los Angeles and the entire Los Angeles basin. Since it’s opening in 1935, the observatory has been considered a leader in the realm of astronomy, bringing in tourists and astronomy enthusiasts from all over the world. According to their website, “more people have looked through the lens of the Griffith Observatory telescope than any other telescope on Earth.” Pretty rad, right? Even the “Telescope” signage is fun to include!
So you may be thinking, how does this make for great engagement photos? SO MANY REASONS. Griffith Observatory nails the unique combo of incorporating streamlined architecture right in the heart of the Hollywood Hills surrounding it. The gorgeous art-deco inspired building makes for a lovely backdrop. In May 1935 (after much debate and several years of work) the Griffith Estate gifted the city of Los Angeles the Observatory built by architects John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley and designed by astronomer Russell Porter. The timeless architecture acts as almost a blank canvas which I love for engagement sessions. The materials seem to blend well with every outfit - whether that’s floor-length gowns and tuxes or ripped jeans and leather jackets like Nick and Nicole! The creamy color allows for the subjects to really pop, while still feeling like part of that environment. I encouraged Nick and Nicole to really dress like themselves and I love the looks they came up with! Their jackets and jeans almost match, but I love the added texture and interest from Nicole’s heels and off-the-shoulder top paired with Nick’s solid black tee and sneakers. They definitely look coordinated and comfortable without being too matchy-matchy!
As far as nature -- there are 4,210 acres of the Hollywood Hills surrounding the Observatory! There are trails surrounding the Observatory, so there are a lot of ways to incorporate the beautiful landscape. If you want it more as a backdrop, you can get that view from the Observatory! But it’s also so easy to hop onto a trail to get more of that greenery front and center. I loved getting shots that incorporate all that goodness behind Nick and Nicole because I think it really played up the location. These shots in particular felt so intimate and sweet. You can tell the building’s architecture and the backdrop play a part, but the focus is still on the couple and their relationship.
The different heights of the Griffith Observatory were so fun to play with! There’s a lot you can do here to get different angles and viewpoints. Exploring it with Nick + Nicole during their couples shoot was so fun! But sometimes you need just a little extra height — this is what happened next:
Now, what to know about taking engagement photos at Griffith Observatory:
First, it’s probably going to have a crowd. The Observatory has about 1.5 million visitors per year so odds are someone else will be there when you are! If you’re more shy and introverted, this space may be more challenging - I highly recommend either planning your session for sunrise instead of sunset, or heading to one of the trails where you can still see the Observatory without as much of a crowd. Incorporating shots like this along with some shots around the building can add a great variety and give you that respite from the masses if needed during your engagement session. As I mentioned, Nick + Nicole quickly acclimated to the groups of onlookers and still managed to only focus on the most important thing: each other. That’s what I love to capture -- that kind of adoration that makes you feel like you’re the only one in the room.
Second, parking can be really tricky! The Observatory has a dedicated paid lot, but it’s often at capacity. This means many times parking is limited to the street leading up to the Observatory - you’ll pay the same fee, but walk up to a mile to get to the building. Additional free parking is available at the base of Griffith Park near Trails Cafe. To save the stress of finding parking, I recommend arriving 20-30 minutes before your engagement session begins to hopefully snag a spot in the upper lot -- this will give you time to circle the park if no spaces are available. Sometimes people will uber to the top to avoid it altogether! Somehow Nick + Nicole and I managed to find parking but that’s not always the case. Be prepared to pay $8/hour if you park in the paid places.
Last, availability - the Observatory is open Tuesday through Sundays, so it can’t be accessed for engagement shoots or elopements on Mondays (even if you aren’t planning to enter the building). Since it is a working astronomy center, there are frequently events held that are determined by the stars! Crowds can be expected on astronomy event dates, which are listed on the Observatory’s schedule. Since the Greek Theater is located nearby, parking can be more difficult on nights when there is a concert going on. Griffith Park is still available, but trails that lead to the observatory will often be blocked for maintenance.
This spot to me is super special because it kind of symbolizes so much about our life here in Los Angeles. For starters, my apartment patio looks up onto the Observatory. I share my little neighborhood of Los Feliz with this historic landmark. In the mornings, when I’m drinking my coffee or in the evenings when my husband and I are hanging out in the cool air with our husky pups — the observatory framed by Palm Trees is something I’ll always think of when I look back on these years of my life in this apartment. Sharing this space with couples during their engagement photos is my way of sharing this piece of my heart, and a small piece of my own story, with them. It’s not just about the architecture or the super cool location for me! This is a piece of home.
Here are a few final shots of Nick + Nicole’s couple session. What babes, right!? I hope if you’re planning an engagement session of your own that you found this post helpful. Click here to see other engagement sessions from me too! And if you’re not engaged - that’s totally ok! Sometimes it’s just fun to celebrate your relationship with another person. Couples sessions are a THING. Here’s another one I did earlier this year!