June 30, 2023

The Death Valley Elopement at Alabama Hills

Alrighty – here’s THE desert wedding I’ve been dropping crumbs about on Instagram for the last few months: Eliza and Sly’s Death Valley elopement at Alabama Hills. I’m finally getting around to sharing it with the internet in a bit more of a story form rather than just a single photo here and there.

I think the thing I truly love most about their wedding is how honest and raw it felt photographing it. They met their closest group of friends for an off-grid camping trip in Alabama Hills. No getting ready room adorned with mirrors and beauty lighting, just a Toyota Tacoma’s passenger seat and a side view mirror for makeup. No suits for guests necessary, just shorts and tankers. Maybe shoes, but not really.

It’s just so unadorned in all the right ways.

All their friends were photographers themselves, toting around their favorite instant camera or preferred point-and-shoot from the nineties. It was beautiful.

I often meet couples in some of the most remote corners of the world. Sometimes leagues away like Iceland, others just an hour’s flight from home. I had a sunrise wedding the day before in Washington State, up in the cascades right at the base of Mt. Ranier. It was crispy cold that morning, real calm. Anyway, I flew back first thing the next morning out of Seattle, the morning of this wedding. I had a layover in San Jose (where my car was) and was supposed to continue on to LAX where I’d fetch a rental car and drive north a bit to Death Valley. I landed at SJC, ran to my car with the intent of simply switching out bags and ditching unneeded warm clothes, but instead of heading back to the terminal to catch the final leg of my flight, I quickly mapped the route and saw it would be basically the same amount of time as a flight + rental car journey. So, in a moment, I left the flight behind and started the 5-hour drive south.

I’m so thankful I drove through the epic-ness rather than fly over most of it. The jagged mountain peaks mixed with the soft roundedness of the terrain below was such a unique contrast. The vast expansiveness made me feel so small, in a way I rarely experience living daily life. I would’ve missed it all.

Anyway, digressing a bit from the main aim of this post. Eliza and Sly. They’re beautiful souls, like most of the humans I photograph. They love each other fiercely and their vows showed it. I’m ever so thankful to be apart of this story. Humbled even to be among fellow artists all day. Thank you thank you thank you, E&S.

This is just a handful of my favs, but as always, feel free to check out all the photos from their Death Valley elopement here.