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Guide to the Best Gulf Coast Photo Locations | Gulf Coast Instagram Spots | Gulf Coast Photographer

Best Gulf Coast Photo Locations | Gulf Coast Photographer

As an on-location photographer, I often travel throughout the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida to photograph families and couples who travel to the area on vacation. With miles of gorgeous shoreline, it's no surprise a lot of popular Gulf Coast photography locations are located right on the beach with oceanfront views.

If you want to mix up your Gulf Coast photos by incorporating different elements like lush greenery, interesting architecture, and picturesque rock jetties, I've got you covered with this guide to the most stunning Gulf Coast photo spots! This Gulf Coast locations guide features a variety of destinations that all have a unique charm, so whether you're going for a classic beachy vibe or something a bit more edgy and editorial, there's something for everyone to explore.

Psst, don't forget I'm now booking 2023 summer Family Beach Sessions throughout the Gulf Coast - click here for more info!

Before we jump into this Gulf Coast locations guide, I want to remind you to leave only footprints when you visit these areas, which means no confetti, littering, tampering with the environment, or interacting with wildlife. As a Gulf Coast photographer, I want to make sure these places stay pristine so everyone can enjoy their natural beauty!

You'll also need a business license in order to take professional photos and host paid photo sessions at these Gulf Coast locations, so make sure you're all squared away before visiting.

Now, let's get into the fun part and take a look at these six stunning Gulf Coast photo spots!

Gulf Coast Photo Spots Map

Check out this map I put together of all the top Gulf Coast photo spots to make your travels even easier!

Gulf State Park (Gulf Shores, AL)

The first Gulf Coast photo spot I recommend visiting is Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama. This location has a beautiful boardwalk over a marshy lake area with tons of seagrass, which adds a nice pop of green to photos. At the end of the boardwalk, you'll reach one of my favorite local beach access points, Branyon Beach.

I love this Gulf Coast photography location because it's typically more secluded than other beaches in the area. This creates the perfect setting for intimate and romantic couple, engagement, and maternity photo sessions. Branyon Beach is also home to some beautiful sand dunes that are the perfect backdrop for photos - just make sure you don't walk on the dunes, as their ecosystem is very fragile.

Gulf State Park is an especially gorgeous location around sunrise and sunset when the whole boardwalk and beach are bathed in warm, golden sunlight. From the secluded boardwalk to the stunning beach dunes and shoreline, what's not to love?

Fort Pickens (Pensacola Beach, FL)

Fort Pickens in Pensacola Beach, Florida is a great Gulf Coast photo spot if you want to add some unique architectural elements to your photos. The ruins of this fort give a moody and artsy look that really elevates family and couple photos to the next level. With tons of exposed brick, beautiful arches, and interesting tunnels, there are a ton of hidden gems to discover at Fort Pickens. The historic buildings and structures located throughout the fort add a touch of romance and drama to photos which has a gorgeous effect.

Note that there is an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle.

Check out Zack and Logan's Family Destination Elopement for more photos of Fort Pickens.

Fort Morgan (Gulf Shores, AL)

Another Gulf Coast fort I recommend for photographers is Fort Morgan in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Fort Morgan has a similar look to Fort Pickens but is located in the Gulf Shores area rather than Pensacola. This Gulf Coast photo spot is full of charming walkways, alcoves, and steps that look like something you might find in the hills of Ireland or Scotland. Fort Morgan provides plenty of opportunities for dramatic shots and poses, which is perfect if you're looking for a location to shoot some moody, high-fashion photos.

Entry to Fort Morgan is $8 for adults and $6 for kids 6-12 - since the fort closes at 5 pm, you'll want to plan your session accordingly.

To see more of this beautiful Gulf Coast photo location, take a look at Daissy and Dylan's Fort Morgan Engagement Session and Katy Herndon's Professional Violinist Portrait Session.

Naval Live Oaks Nature Preserve (Gulf Breeze, FL)

All my boho photographers and families are going to love this next Gulf Coast photo location, Naval Live Oaks Nature Preserve in Gulf Breeze, Florida. The nature preserve is home to a charming boardwalk surrounded by trees, grass, and plants that create a super lush and natural backdrop for family, couple, or maternity photos. The boardwalk leads to a private beach area covered in pieces of driftwood and shallow water that's perfect for splashing around.

Naval Live Oaks Nature Preserve has a very fun and laidback vibe, so it's a great Gulf Coast photo spot if you want a location that's naturally beautiful and has some unique beachy elements. The boardwalk, driftwood beach, and shallow waters let photographers get really creative with posing, angles, and backdrops.

Alabama Pass (Orange Beach, AL)

Alabama Pass in Orange Beach, Alabama is one of my favorite Gulf Coast beach locations thanks to its unique rock jetties. This stunning area features a long boardwalk and plenty of shoreline for classic beach photos, but the rock jetties are the real star of the show. I love that Alabama Pass lets you capture beachy vibes but with a little bit of a twist thanks to the eye-catching rocky structures. Keep in mind the rock jetties at Alabama Pass are a popular choice for local photographers, so you can expect other sessions to be taking place when you visit.

Note that Alabama Pass is a pay-to-park area, so come prepared with cash or a credit card.

Johnson Beach National Seashore (Pensacola, FL)

Last up on this Gulf Coast photo locations guide is the beautiful Johnson Beach National Seashore in Pensacola, Florida. This oceanfront photo spot offers a peaceful escape from some of Pensacola's more popular beaches, which is perfect for family or couple photographers who want plenty of freedom to shoot from various locations without worrying about random people getting in the background.

As you enter the seashore area, keep driving past the main parking area to reach the boardwalk where street parking is available. From there, you can stroll along the winding boardwalk which will take you right to the beach. One of the most unique features of this Gulf Coast photo spot is that it's home to a beach and a lagoon which provides more privacy and calmer waters. I especially love photographing family and maternity sessions in the lagoon area since it's ideal for sitting or laying down shots and is a good place for kids to safely splash around.

The entrance fee to Johnson Beach National Seashore is $15 per person or $25 per vehicle.

Honorable Mention: Perdido Key Beach (Pensacola, FL)

One honorable mention I had to include is Perdido Key Beach in Pensacola, Florida. This Gulf Coast photo location is only about a mile down the road from Johnson Beach National Seashore but is free to visit. You'll get a similar look with sandy dunes and peaceful waves - I recommend Public Beach Access #3 because there won't be any condos obstructing those gorgeous beachy views.

Again, make sure to respect the natural environment here by not walking on the dunes.

And there you have my ultimate Gulf Coast photo locations guide! Make sure to save this post before your next visit so you can explore all these uniquely beautiful Gulf Coast photo spots.

If you want to take some updated family, couple, engagement, or maternity photos at one of these Gulf Coast locations this summer, book your Family Beach Session today!



If you or someone you know is looking for a Gulf Coast photographer, I'd love to work with you! Give me a shout over at

Jessi is a lifestyle documentary photographer based in southern Alabama, serving the Gulf Coast from Mobile, AL to Pensacola, FL, along with the Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta areas. She specializes in couple, wedding, maternity, newborn and family photography, and also enjoys commercial and creative portraiture. Available for travel worldwide. Find out more at


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