Gena Brigham's love for San Francisco is infectious. When we approached her, she was actually planning a move to the opposite coast, but she still welcomed the opportunity to share her take on San Francisco. - "The timing is especially meaningful," she explained, "because I'm about to move to NYC." This project "will be doubling as a little love letter to my home city."
Through her photography, Gena seeks to express the beauty found in the seemingly mundane. So it was of little surprise that her recommendations were all about finding a unique take on some otherwise well-known places. After all, something may seem obvious, until you scratch beneath the surface.
Here are 5 of Gena's favourite places in SF...
Wander amongst the ruins
"This, above any place in San Francisco, is my favourite spot of all and over everything. I never get sick of it. Not to knock the Cliff House restaurant - no shade meant at all - but the best way to go about it is to get out from behind the glass and four walls. Walk around the bath ruins you see. Hop the wall (safely) and chill on a rock or the ground. And it's right by Land's End as well.
The best part about Sutro Baths is that it never really looks the same from day to day. Different types of weather and different times of day all create a different experience and character. Between the energy coming from nature and the vibes coming from the people, Sutro Baths has a special dose of magic that is quite tangible."
GOLDEN GATE PARK
Park packed with culture
"I LOVE this park. Every time I explore it I find something new. Starting large: you can't go wrong with the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Japanese Tea Garden (pictured), Conservatory of Flowers are my favourite go-to's. Each one is like walking around inside of a painting one way or another, in all types of weather. But you also have the de Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences, all of it close together. Plus, if you let yourself wander off the pavement and among the trees, you'll find some beautiful quiet places to think and breathe. Overall, there's just an extra zest in that place: picnics, games, arts, curiosities - it all creates a feel of liveliness that I absolutely love."
"A hidden gem tucked inside a Eucalyptus tree glen that borders a road that connects Pac Heights to the Marina. Take a walk into there and you're suddenly enveloped in serenity and the smell of the leaves. I highly recommend taking your time. For several reasons, a stroll is a sensory experience to savour. If you do so, you'll come out feeling super rejuvenated."
Tons of character
"Technically not a place, but they're still a "place!". I love going on walking tours to hunt out these beauties and if you broaden your adventure from the 5 or 6 Painted Ladies (aka the 'Full House' houses to visitors), you'll see ones that are even more stunning. If you start around that area, I'd recommend specifically exploring along Oak Street, Bush Street, Steiner Street and a few of the other surrounding ones. Personally, I get reminded of cake when I look at a lot of them. Don't ask me why, but it does. And I don't even like to eat most cake!"
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
A new angle
"You might groan at first. Of course, right? Thinking I'm being too predictable? Hear me out! - Yes, it's beautiful and iconic and a good walk/run/bike ride, with good views. But I'm talking about our GGB's nooks. Her crannies. Her shapes. If you get a little curious and a little creative, they create really awesome perspectives of the surrounding scenery. Next time you take a walk there, stop every now and then to bend, tilt your head, and peek through the beams and bars. The sights will be so much more whimsical than you think."
All photos are copyright Gena Brigham. This feature was not paid for in any way.