Real Elopements

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On September 2nd, 2021, a boy and a girl hiked into the Yosemite wilderness and came out husband and wife. I got to photograph Stephanie and Alistair’s Yosemite elopement portraits. The day after they eloped, we met at Glacier point right as the sun began to rise and captured their love in camera.

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If you take one thing away from this post, I want you to take this away: go do a Griffith Observatory elopement. When you do, go elope at sunrise. Go elope at Griffith Observatory at sunrise. Morning is pretty much the only sensible time to have any privacy at a popular spot in California. As a southern California elopement photographer, I’ve learned this the hard way.

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Leila and Jeff flew in from Chicago. They have spent so much time exploring the USA and wanted to take their Yosemite engagement photos at the national park as part of their travels. We met around 3pm, walked around, and made a fun circuit of Yosemite valley.

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After much going back and forth, these two international kids decided it was time to get married. So although we were planning a big Los Angeles wedding last year, it never happened. But I am their Los Angeles wedding photographer, so I offered to do an elopement announcement session instead! I’m so glad they took me up on it! We went down to the beach and caught one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve seen in quite awhile.

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I don’t believe in structured meetups and forced relationships. I believe God puts people in your path. If you’re in the right place, you slip towards each other, encourage each other, and make each other stronger. Maybe that means I believe in falling in love with friends. Somebody at the wedding asked how Tiffany and I met. I couldn’t at first think of it. We had cheered each other on via social media before I even came to be an LA wedding photographer. I had never met her until the wedding, but she’s one of those people that shines a beacon of pure light that is pretty irresistible and hard to miss. So when she asked if I could photograph her Mount Baldy wedding, I never hesitated.

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Smitha and Arjun got married at the Malibu Hindu Temple in Los Angeles. It was a beautiful venue. Despite coronavirus, these two got together a group of their closest local friends and tied the knot. My husband and I lived in India for several years after we first got married, so Indian tradition and Indian wedding photography in LA is something I’ve really enjoyed. 

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I was in a sleepy haze as I drove down the deserted highway. It was the pre-dawn quiet of a city that doesn’t wake up until it’s time to go to work. I gathered together my backpack of gear. For intimate sunrise elopement at El Matador Beach, I typically carry a prime 35mm, some OCF, a trigger, a stand, and a long lens, along with my trusty, beautiful Canon 5D Mark III.

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When these two decided to get married, they had a choice: spend a huge chunk of money on a traditional wedding, or put that money towards home improvements and have a smaller backyard wedding. Especially when Covid hit, their decision was made for them. But look!!! Needless to say, they made the right decision. If you’ve followed my work for any period of time, you know that backyard wedding photography is near and dear to my heart. I love the simplicity of a smaller wedding (having had one myself). I love photographing them, especially. That’s the only thing I regret skimping on for my own backyard wedding, and I love that these two took the time and planned for good backyard wedding photography.

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This year has been crazy. It’s 2020. When Covid-19 first hit, it severely limited or cancelled dozens of planned weddings. Most couples decided to wait and see what would happen. After a few months, more and more couples were faced with a choice: cut the guest list severely, elope, or put your wedding on hold indefinitely. Indoor weddings were almost impossible altogether. As a wedding and Yosemite elopement photographer, I started seeing couples look around for alternatives.

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C contacted me on FaceBook a little while ago asking if I’d be up for a short-notice mini, backyard wedding in Santa Clarita. I have a huge soft spot for backyard weddings, I had one myself. And C’s sweet conversation convinced me this would be a wedding of dreams. C and E loved each other so much. It was obvious from the first moment. I peeked into C’s getting ready room and found E had slipped a note under her door, saying that he loved her to infinity. These little moments are reasons I love photographing backyard weddings. When the production is stripped away, you get to the bare-bones love of the day. The entire family pitched in, decorated the whole house, and invited me to sit down for delicious food. It was amazing perfection.

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