Haunted Places to Photograph in California

We’ve perused the internet and asked around the store for some advice on haunted places to photograph this Halloween. We don’t have any of Europe’s creepy castles over here in the US, but we have discovered a few places that would make for equally eerie visits — and, of course, excellent photographs. Here’s a list to get you started, in no particular order.

1. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles

hollywood forever cemetery(Photo credit: Laughing Squid)

Though it’s known more for its outdoor movie screenings in the summer than its hauntings, the cemetery is still an eerie place to find yourself at dusk. This cemetery is particularly photogenic with its mixture of imposing tombs and palm trees. Add a bit of that typical LA smog and you’re good to go with creepy, atmospheric photos.

Photography tip: Try using a Soft A filter (Promaster) to create a soft, almost hazy look for your photo. Usually these filters are used to create soft looks for portraits, but it would be fun to experiment with a spooky landscape to see what sorts of effects you can achieve.

2. The Winchester Mystery House, San Jose

winchester house(Click here for photo credit)

This site is for lovers of trap doors and superstitions — particularly the number 13. Sarah Winchester — as bizarre as her massive home — was constantly remodeling this old mansion and so it was never fully finished. There are staircases that lead to nowhere, doors in the floorboards, thirteen windows in the thirteenth bathroom… and plenty more for the observant and eager visitor. Photography is only allowed outdoors.

3. Bodie: Ghost Town


The Creative Photo Academy makes a visit to Bodie every fall. Up in the Eastern Sierras at the end of a dirt road, this abandoned Gold Rush town is eerie because you can still imagine how vivid and lively a place it once was. It’s bizarre to think about a town disappearing like that today — imagine if Torrance were a ghost town 50 years from now?

4 The Queen Mary in Long Beach

queen mary

This ship functions today as a hotel, restaurant, and local attraction. If you’re planning to stay at the hotel, you can request to be put in a room in which paranormal activity has been reported. The staff keeps a list of every paranormal occurrence that has been reported in each of the hotel’s rooms — maybe after your stay you’ll have something to add to the list, too.

Photography tip: We’ll be meeting up at the Queen Mary for a night photography shoot next March as part of our new 2014 Night Photography Series. Safety in numbers!

5. Alcatraz, San Francisco


This list wouldn’t be complete without a prison, and Alcatraz is one of the most infamous. Located on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay,  you’ll get chills from peeking inside the empty cells as much as you will from the brisk evening breeze. Probably one of the most unsettling aspects of the prison is that on a particularly quiet evening, you can hear the laughter and nightlife revelry from the city through the prison windows, just as the prisoners certainly could have. It must have been like hearing the ghosts of their former, pre-Alcatraz lives.

6. The Mystery Spot, Santa Cruz

mystery spot

(Photo credit: Mystery Spot official website)

This is kind of a cheesy place but still fun to see once, especially if you’re looking for somewhere to bring the kids. The apparent lack of gravity, the inexplicable defiance of physics, and the enthusiastic tour guides make you feel more like you’re at a bizarre carnival than a legitimately haunted site, but take advantage of the warped perspective to practice some creative composition in your photography.

7. The Colorado Bridge, Pasadena

colorado street bridge
(Photo credit: City of Pasadena)

Also known as the “suicide bridge,” this bridge is the site of over 100 deaths. It’s one of the more tragic locations on this list and a difficult one to think about. Even if you don’t see any ghosts, the thought of what these people must have been feeling before they jumped is haunting enough.

Photography tip: Try a night photo shoot  here to capture long exposures of the cars driving across the bridge. Make sure to pack a tripod and a remote shutter release cable — check with us in store and we’ll help you find the one to fit your camera.

Do you have a suggestion for another haunted locale in Los Angeles or California?

**All photos without a credit belong to PAUL’S PHOTO

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