Portrait photographers in San Diego are as mesmerized by the city’s sweeping coastline, year-round mild climate, and Spanish roots as its steady flow of tourists are. This laid-back metropolis has captured the hearts and minds of visitors for hundreds of years and still manages to produce some of the world’s most exciting talent. So whether you’re stopping by for a mental reset, planning an event, or taking part in the city’s bustling tech industry, these portrait photographers are your solution to artfully documenting what is sure to be an incredible experience.
1. Paulina Lynn
As a musician, graphic designer, and pizza aficionado, Paulina Lynn pours her uncommonly broad skillset and love of human emotion into her photography –– creating sentimental portraits that beautifully capture the casual chemistry between lovers in relaxed settings. Aware of the awkward nature of modeling, and ever the trooper, Paulina was recently the subject of her own styled photo shoot, which she describes as “intimidating as hell.” While she nervously awaits the results of said shoot, the SDSU graduate is busy nurturing her talent for easy-going and emotional portraiture.
Always looking to add an element of fun to her work, Sydney Noelle prides herself on her ability to make clients feel comfortable enough to be goofy in front of the camera. Vulnerability is the secret ingredient to Sydney’s effervescent and dreamy photographs, and she achieves this with her bright personality and expert eye for serenity within any location. High contrast and muted colors give Noelle’s portraits a timeless feel and complement the skin tones of her subjects as she discreetly captures their best moments with lightning-fast precision and excellent framing.
This former United States Marine and photographer is the founder of the HYPERFOCUS group in southern California, and has been integral part of the development of the Ethos Leggings brand. Well aware of the power of branding, Randy used his own hyper focus to become an expert in creating digital content and directing social campaigns. His photographs use gritty textures, free-spirited poses, and grainy pops of color to produce images that are reminiscent of 1960’s beach outings captured on film.
A true Californian, Katie Iredale is a self-described storyteller, empath, and fan of Home Goods and World Market. From sun-soaked beach sessions to affectionate moments in the kitchen, Katie’s mellow and curious personality shines throughout her extensive portfolio of endearing photographs. Her use of natural light and tight framing make her a go-to for intimate portraits that stand the test of time.
5. Lauren Marie
Originally from North Carolina, Lauren Marie made her way to The Golden State with a BFA in photography and a determination to continue her evolution from disposable-camera-obsessed middle schooler to hip west-coast portrait photographer. Her eye for striking angles, intriguing double exposures, and introspective glances that are deeply personal and visually appealing put her on our list of top portrait photographers in San Diego.
6. Sage Justice
As a fan of gangster rap and MoviePass night, Sage Justice brings his love of hard-knock, cinematic productions to his work –– always striving to preserve life’s most valuable experiences through fun and candid portraits while incorporating a mix of natural and dramatic off-camera lighting. While his days of shoveling snow in Detroit are long gone, the health-conscious foodie still manages to create images as cool as ice while maintaining an appreciation for the warmth of human relationships, fitness, and the Californian sun.
7. Laura Costa
As a result of her experience with her own clothing line, Mika Yoga Wear, Laura Costa has developed creative techniques that highlight the beauty of fluid movement. She has a passion for empowering women and does so by appreciating their natural form –– which is easily seen through her work and its lack of digital body distortion. Costa’s love for her work and clients is made even more evident by her use of goddess-like poses and ethereal lighting. Her appreciation for natural elements and purposeful location scouting highlight her love of lifestyle, dance and boudoir photography along with female empowerment through fitness and self-care.
Born and raised in San Diego, Shiloh Colleen knows the ins and outs of the city’s landscape firsthand. She uses her native expertise and photographic talent to capture people’s individual spirit in locations that would bring out the San Diego pride in just about anyone. Dreamy backlighting, romantic foregrounds, and genuine expression are all hallmarks of Colleen’s exceptional body of work, which is made all the more credible by her client’s glowing testimonials.
When it comes to theatrical portrait photographers in San Diego, Justin Alexander Bartels takes the cake. His mix of double exposures, levitation photography, and superimposed imagery make him one of the city’s most unique cameramen. Movement and serenity are a common theme throughout his work, which has been described as “raw, unfiltered creative expression” by SD Voyager Magazine and even featured on StubHub’s Instagram page.
10. Nia Rowland
America’s Finest City offers up a plethora of stunning natural surroundings –– something that is not lost on photographer Nia Rowland. Her subjects can often be found frolicking in lush parks or behind the simple curves of house plants. Well-versed in the art of both digital and film photography, Rowland possesses the ability to create nostalgic dreamscapes that capture the imagination of viewers while accurately documenting the feel of each situation she finds herself in.
11. Wendy W. Smith
With her origins as a landscape and wildlife photographer, Wendy Smith has a knack for incorporating her love of nature into her work as a portrait photographer. Far from your average nature enthusiast turned shutterbug, Smith has made a name for herself as a photographer for Forever 21, Black Wolff Leather, Child of Wild, Apothecary 87, and has been featured on Good Morning America and Daily Mail UK –– to name a few. Her unique brand of up-close and personal portraits places an emphasis on natural light and never skimps on vibrant, eye-catching color.
12. Kim Belverud
Kim Belverud is the woman behind Andora Photography –– a name she concocted to encapsulate the love, joy, and creativity sparked by her own two children. Kim’s experience with art, dance, and calligraphy give her the insight to visually and emotionally blend her subjects with their environments. Her emphasis on storytelling and surrealism bring out the tender and magical elements of the relationship between photographer and subject.