“Why are we running?” – Chris, to Sara, during this shoot.

The joy and love in this Oakland Lake Merritt engagement shoot are SO apparent. I love how their personalities shine through and they get into the silliness.

The couple

Sara and Chris met in 2013 at a summer camp, where they both worked. Sara is Camp Director and Chris worked at the camp for four summers.

The summer of 2016, once the buses full of campers and staff rolled away, they were left standing side by side in the newly quiet forest.

It was this moment they realized their relationship had grown deeper than friendship. Though the summer was over, their romance was just beginning.

Fast forward to early 2018 and that was when Chris popped the question right by Lake Merritt! It was practically their back yard and a fave spot to hang out together.

What was billed as a picnic with friends by their beloved Lake Merritt turned out to be the perfect Friday afternoon to get engaged.

Chris hadn’t actually invited any other friends and Sara didn’t see the proposal coming. Her answer when he asked? “Shut Up!”

After clarifying with “of course,” they enjoyed celebrating their engagement with champagne that Chris had snuck to the picnic.

The Lake Merritt engagement shoot

After a long fiancé visa process to get Chris into the US and able to live, work and get married, we got to work planning this Lake Merritt Engagement session.

It was only a few days after Chris’ landing in the States that the couple gamely decided to take me up on my offer to shoot their engagement!

The wedding was just days away and sooo many other things going on in life (like seriously, I don’t know how they did it, they were SO carefree during the shoot!)

The lake seemed like a good choice to start as it’s a meaningful place to them for many reasons! It is also super pretty, close-by, and represents iconic Oakland.

Sara suggested in an engagement planning session that they would like to incorporate some photos of the sign on their street. It was fun capturing this everyday scene in a romantic way!

Port View Park engagement shoot

My suggestion for a final place was Port View Park where I’ve shot a bunch before and I love for the following reasons!

1) there’s never anyone there except the fishermen. Great for shy couples or anyone that doesn’t want to feel like they’re performing on their shoot!

2) related note: when shooting in deserted places, the session will flow much more organically. No stopping and starting every time a jogger passes by!

3) amazing and varied scenery! OK so I happen to love shipping containers. There is also interesting concrete & wood, water for miles and the Bay Bridge. You can see both the Oakland and San Francisco skylines!

Unfortunately the day we were there, authorities decided to close the park without warning, presumably because it looked a bit stormy. Maybe there were swells, high waves or a weather warning in place. Don’t you just love the Bay Area weather?

We couldn’t venture down the path that leads to the fishermen’s pier so contented ourselves with other areas, closer to the parking lot. 

It was still super pretty and with these two the subjects of the pictures, is that even surprising?

Pin this to your engagement photography inspiration Pinterest board!

A beautiful engagement shoot around Lake Merrit and the couple's home in Oakland. After the Lake location we hit a hidden gem of Oakland, perfect for engagement sessions - Port View Park. Though it was closed and threatening to rain, we still got a good range of photos at the part of the location that was open! Engagement shoot ideas? I'd love to hear them!  | #engagementphotography #engagementinspo #bayareaengagement #bayareaweddingphotographer | Zoe Larkin Photography

happy oakland couple celebrating by the pergola at lake merritt engagement oakland neighborhood lake merritt engagement photos near palm ave sign close up macro photos of engagement ring oakland engagement session at port view park with oakland skyline in background port view park oakland east bay engagement session cute active engagement photo poses at oakland engagement session

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Lover of ice cream, killer of houseplants, Zoe is a San Francisco-dwelling love documentarian. Contact | Insta

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