3 months ago, Brandon contacted me with plans to propose to his girlfriend of 7 years. These two high school sweethearts met in chemistry class and fell in love their senior year of high school (doesn't this sound familiar? My husband and I met in environmental studies and photography class 7 years ago in our senior year of high school as well). Through long distance in college and graduate school (we are seriously living parallel lives here), they only fell more and more in love and Brandon was beyond excited to take the next step. Months of planning later, we arrived at a pullout at the cliffs of Big Sur. Brandon had told her that he had brought a friend to photograph them on their anniversary trip, but little did she know that it was more than just a photo session. She specifically said she did not want the photos to look like engagement photos as we trekked up the hill and to the spot we had envisioned for this big moment. As we walked up to the top of the hill, her unsuspecting, Brandon nervously hiding the ring box, and I subtly positioning myself, Brandon dropped down on one knee and the rest is history.
With their upcoming wedding in the beautiful redwoods, Ray and Carmen wanted to document their engagement somewhere different - so we adventured out to a beautiful park in San Jose (one of the rare hidden treasures I stumbled upon!) and chased the magical sunlight until sundown.
When you drive up the windy roads of Mt. Tam at 5 in the morning only to find that it is closed just that weekend, you make the most of what you got. But these two seriously rocked their motorcycle smoke bomb engagement, so I can't say I'm disappointed after all (more just a tiny bit jealous of how cool they are). With that, I must introduce this post by singing "These two are on fireeeee..."
If these photos don't scream romance, you've got no soul. This beautiful cliffside spot in Big Sur has been Brian and Candice's secret hideaway for the last 7 years. Each year, they return to where they fell in love to picnic atop the coastal bluffs. This year, he had an extra special surprise for her.
Behind the scenes, their very excited photographer arrived to the unmarked turnout (only recognizable because of the GPS coordinates he had sent her) and wondered if the only other car (with an adorable dog in it, waiting patiently for its owner) that was parked could be theirs. They had agreed to meet at 4 PM, but the photographer wondered if the couple had headed out first. That seemed like the likely situation, right? There was no cell service of course, so she walked out to the path to find two diverging paths - one was blocked by some tangled brush but seemed to be the main path. Upon closer look, the photographer noticed an arrow drawn in the dirt pointing right. So she ventured onward, following the arrow, until she stumbled upon a very, very narrow, downhill path, and just beyond it - silhouettes of two lovers picnicking at the end of the path.
(After the session, Brian told me that he had pretended to go back for the dog, put the tangled brush there, drawn the arrow in the dirt, and even wrote a note for me, which flew away, hoping that I would be able to find my way there. He was just a bit worried. But the proposal - and the sunset - was certainly one of the most beautiful ones I had witnessed yet - so worth the trek.)
When most people come to visit the city of San Francisco, they love taking photos in front of the Golden Gate Bridge - it is iconic after all. But for the few that venture out of the city, just across the bridge is a rugged coastal landscape reminiscent of Big Sur - rocky cliffsides, black sand beaches, and views for miles. That was just the kind of the landscape that Arielle and John came to see, having travelled all the way from New York to celebrate their one year anniversary.
5 AM wake-up call...totally worth it. These two rose early for a sunrise session in Santa Cruz, and we could not have witnessed a more beautiful sunrise. As we were driving up the mountain roads, I stumbled upon an overlook where the clouds were resting just above the mountains. Though Louisa and Dylan came to the Santa Cruz mountains for the redwoods forest, I quickly dragged them to the overlook for a quick stop as a the sun peeked over the horizon. We then ventured into the forest, leaving with a few new koi fish friends, dirty feet, and lost car keys (don't worry, they were found). Not a bad start to the morning!
It's such a blessing to get to see into a small window of couple's love story, and even more precious when it's two friends. Brian had been a good mentor of Keith's back in college when they were in church ministry together, so we were so excited to get to capture their engagement photos in the redwood forest here in the Bay Area with their overseas wedding planned for Yixin's hometown in Australia. It was such a fun adventure with these two as we bonded over where we were now as old(er) adults in life, the differences between Australia and the US, and all the cute ways these two showed love to each other as we walked along the redwoods trail. Congratulations Brian and Yixin, we wish you so many blessings for your upcoming marriage!
If there's two thing people come to California to see, it's the coast and the redwoods. Originally from Chicago, W + C moved to the Bay Area a few years ago and wanted to document their new hometown with an engagement session in the redwoods. I knew we'd have a great time when Chris said this session was made for her - I gave him permission to tickle her, carry her, pick her up...definitely all things she was not comfortable with. But from the way these two interacted, it was so clear how much his adventurous side balanced out her down to earth personality. So get ready for the most adorable giggles from these two as you check out the rest of their engagement session!
When you're on your way to Big Sur and your client texts you that they didn't realize that it was 3 hours away from San Francisco...the first feeling is usually panic. 3 hours would mean missing the sunset for these two honeymoon lovers, who came all the way from Florida to see the California coast. A few texts and phone call later, we decided to meet each other halfway in Santa Cruz. Luckily, there was one spot that I really loved - a beautiful location just off the highway, where you could climb up and over rocks and watch the sunset turn into the Milky Way as night fell. We both arrived just an hour before sunset, and quickly ran down the trail and into the ocean. Despite the mishap, these two had the best time and quickly shook off their nerves, running straight into the ocean feeling as free as can be. Now that's the way to start a honeymoon!
Visibility of the Golden Gate Bridge can be a hit or miss - sometimes Carl the Fog makes an appearance and you see absolutely nothing, and recently, the fires had left the air muggy. So we were all blown away when we saw light rays shining through the clouds as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, painting the sky beautiful shades of orange and red. And we even had a crowd watching, who awed at Elizabeth and Daniel as they ran into the sunset. Not a bad end to the day!