Do: Family Portrait

Do: Family Portrait

People have been asking for advice on where to take family photos for holiday cards. Everything around here looks and feels dry from drought and high temps, so you can’t take a pretty picture just anywhere.

This morning I went on a photography scavenger hunt around my neighborhood, scouting locations that would be prime for a family portrait. It’s ideal for the setting to be meaningful, to tell a story and show where you live.

I was looking for the following:

Live Oak Tree — Indigenous to this region. A dinosaur tree: old, gnarly, ginormous.

Apricot Orchard — This valley used to be blanketed in apricot and prune orchards.

Vineyard — This is a wine growing region; vines are irrigated and turn beautiful colors in fall.

Santa Cruz Mountains — Run along the western edge of the valley.

Historical Areas and Buildings — The first schoolhouse in all of California was in Saratoga. Mission Santa Clara (on the campus of Santa Clara University) was established in 1777. Go to the oldest nooks to find character and charm.

Gardens open to the public — Watered generously and thoughtfully designed.

Here is what I found:


This live oak tree is in the apricot orchard next to Saratoga Library. What a beauty, and the Santa Cruz Mountains are running along the background. I got 3 in this photo alone!


Historical Saratoga Village. I love that brick façade, the tree lined street, and the mountain above. You could do something creative and beautiful here.


Blaney Square in Saratoga Village. I spy a Live Oak Tree on the left, and Santa Cruz Mountains peeking out on the right. You could get a great photo here.


The Italianate Garden at Villa Montalvo. This exquisite place is open to the public and the photography opportunities are endless—like a wonderland. (Can’t use the photos for commercial purposes without a permit.) The Santa Cruz Mountains are visible here, just not in this particular photo.

The following two photos were taken back in June:


This is the entrance to House Family Vineyards; so picturesque. The vines should now be turning colors. Santa Cruz Mountains in the background.


The view when you park at House Family Vineyards. Not a bad backdrop.

I hope these ideas help you style a memorable 2018 family portrait. I had to stop my scavenger hunt to go to tennis class, but here are some more places to check out:

Mission Santa Clara and the grounds at Santa Clara University — history, gardens, beauty galore.

Mountain Winery — vines, views.

Downtown Los Gatos — St. Luke’s church, cat statues, the high school building.

Get: Basic Invite Christmas Cards

Get: Basic Invite Christmas Cards

Do: A Milestone Party

Do: A Milestone Party