Elopement Style Hiking Adventure in Pinnacles National Park

An adventurous hiking national park elopement style shoot.

It’s rare that I shoot photos just-for-fun in the middle of wedding season, but in late May my husband Austin and I flew to California for a week-long vacation in the Monterey/San Francisco bay area. 

Austin loves to plan trips. Every few months a new guidebook comes in the mail for a destination we’ve only discussed in passing -- national parks, Cuba, Scotland -- you name it. He then will spend weeks pouring over the book, making notes about restaurants and accommodations, budgeting and throwing out dates like “May of 2021!” or “let me show you this epic fishing boat cruise we could do in Alaska for our five-year wedding anniversary.” 

So back at Christmas, he got the idea of his family gathering at a vacation rental in Monterey owned by an uncle and the younger generation running a Spartan race together. He put together, I kid you not, a powerpoint presentation laying out the argument, sat everyone down after Christmas dinner, and pitched the idea. 

Six months later, by shear force of enthusiasm, everyone was on planes or in cars converging on Monterey for a long weekend of food, visiting and the race. 

Two of the people who came were Austin’s cousin Will and his fiance Insha. 

A couple of months earlier, before wedding season really kicked off, I had done a styled shoot at a funky new venue in Charlottesville, Virginia. The female model for that shoot was really petite, as is Insha. So I asked Will and Insha if they would be interested in modeling for me at one of the National Parks in California. I already owned the dress, Will could wear something from his own wardrobe, and we would frolick around, playing in light and an environment that’s of a different quality than I normally work with in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

They were up for it. 

So after the race, we drove out to Pinnacles National Park. I had bought a bouquet at Whole Foods, Insha wore sneakers under the long dress, Will dressed in clothes he already owned, and we explored the park together. The photographs you’ll see in the rest of this blog post are the result of that. I was going for a kind of low-key elopement inspiration vibe.

I try and photograph a session whenever I travel. I love seeing how light is different in each place, how the landscape shapes the image and shooting without deadlines or goals beyond just enjoying the process.  

To see some examples of other sessions from my travels, check out this couples session in Phoenix or this wedding in Tobago.