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An interview with Rachel McFarlin - Top Rated San Diego Wedding and Family Photographer Specializing in Beach Photography

We posed the question to Rachel McFarlin, who is known as one of the top rated family and wedding photographers in San Diego: What is your favorite location to take photos?

I absolutely love photographing families and weddings at the beach! Good thing, since I am based out of Pacific Beach (92109) in sunny San Diego! This setting is one that automatically seems to put people in such a great state-of-mind, happy and relaxed! That right there makes my job not only easier, but even more enjoyable.

I photograph quite a few families that are on vacation, as well as couples having destination weddings. And even for local couples getting married on the beach, many of the guests are on holiday. There is something truly uplifting about that care-free feeling that comes from finding yourself at the shoreline with people in a vacation-state-of-mind. It’s an escape, it is fun and beautiful.

Several years ago, while soaking in a Jimmy Buffett experience, I remember distinctly thinking, 'Wow, I can see on his face that this guy loves what he does! (And he better; he performs barefoot!)  What a dream come true to get paid for a passion and have it be something so chill as to not have to wear shoes!' Not long after that, I realized that I too get to work in bare feet! When I am at the beach, it is ‘shoes off’ for the subjects and myself! Getting home from work and turning on my outside shower to wash the sand off my toes is a tangible reminder of how lucky I am! But really; it’s almost too good to be true.

If I had to narrow it down, I would choose the neighborhoods of Pacific and Mission Beach (92109), La Jolla (92037), Del Mar (92014) and Coronado (92118) as my personal top pics for taking portraits and event photographs. Although, I have to say that San Diego has over 70 miles of coastline, and I have not found a spot that makes me nothing but happy!

Pacific Beach in particular is my own neighborhood, so I get to ride my bike to work. Beyond that though, our pier makes for a picture perfect backdrop. The rocky shores of La Jolla’s surf breaks are some of the most beautiful spots not just in San Diego, but in California. Coronado is home to the historic and regal 125+ year old Hotel Del Coronado. Del Mar has high bluffs and wide beaches offering endless and dramatic views that are like soaking in zen.


There are such artful layers that beach backdrops offer, that are simultaneously subtle and dramatic. While I focus my camera lens on the subject’s expressions and emotions, there are the creative elements falling into place as the background canvas. The color of the sky, the bursts of sunlight jumping out from behind people, a mirrored refection of a family in the low tide, the contrast of the green mossy rocks or brown weathered pier, a surfer cruising by, the breeze setting sail to a bridal veil, a crashing wave chasing kids up the beach – these are all things that are so authentic that they really take photos to that ‘next level’. During the time when we are taking the photos, it helps us all to really be in the moment, having fun - moving, walking, laughing, trying to stay dry (or not; kids are thrilled at the prospect of getting wet!) – and not feeling like we are just there for some task at hand. We have this moment where we get to be silly, laugh, smile, hug, celebrate and create some memories – both in our minds, and on paper.

This is a job that I love and am grateful for. Time spent with happy people at the beach – there is no place else that I would rather be!

Rachel McFarlin is a one the most highly rated Family, Wedding & Engagement Photographers in San Diego and Orange County. She specializes in Beach and Destination Weddings everywhere from North County to La Jolla, all the way down to Coronado. She also does out of the area destination wedding photography as well, having captured events along shores from Florida to California, the Caribbean to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Browse her blog for fun ideas on what to wear in portraits (hint: no shoes), top affordable budget-friendly wedding venue locations, and candid photo ideas.

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