Photographing the Huntington Gardens in San Marino, CA

Mary and I have visited the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens dozens of times between 2009-2020. We lived just fifteen minutes away and found it was always an enjoyable 2-3 hours of exploring and shooting. The Huntington is just ten minutes from downtown Pasadena and 30 minutes from the Burbank Airport. When in southern California, we highly recommend a visit whether you are a photographer or not. Here is what you will see.

The Huntington is home to an extraordinary library that has a Gutenberg Bible, a Chaucer, a first edition Walden, various Shakespeare portfolios, and an in tact Audubon’s Birds of America. Don’t miss the library exhibition room. It also has an art museum that includes Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence and Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough.

The main reason we go is the sixteen themed gardens in 120 acres. The must see gardens are the Camellia Gardens and Statues, the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Desert Garden, and the Rose Garden. If you are only going to go once, I would concentrate on these.

Camellia Garden

When photographing the statues, photograph them like you are making their portrait.

Desert Garden

This might be our favorite garden. Since there is a lot of mid-morning shooting and bright sun, we like to make a lot of monochrome photos. When its bright out, try to see and think in black and white. This is also the best place to make up-close, macro, and natural abstracts.

Chinese Garden

This garden has beautiful structures, flowers and opportunities to make abstracts from shadows and shapes. Its the newest garden here and has less mature plants, but is none-the-less beautiful.

Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden is one of the oldest areas on the property. I visited here with my parents fifty years ago. You used to be able to walk on the curved wooden bridge, but not anymore.

Rose Garden

The rose garden is rather large and has many varieties and colors. This is our favorite location do do macro photography.

And a few other great spots

There is something to photograph around almost every corner, so take her time. I believe that you now need reservations to visit on the weekends.

To plan your visit check out their website. No matter what time of year, there always seems to be something in bloom.

To see more of and buy our photographs, please go to and check out more of our photos on FLICKR.

One Comment

  1. Mark McDermott

    Quite the collection of quality images! The hours you have put in there certainly comes through. I think it deserves the “book treatment” 🙂

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