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intimate wedding in yosemite national park | adventure elopement photographer

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intimate wedding in yosemite national park | adventure elopement photographer

Yosemite National Park, California

the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers


morgan + trevor’s intimate wedding in yosemite national park | private vows at sunrise + wedding ceremony at Glacier Point | groom wearing a kilt | adventure elopement photographer

When Morgan and Trevor reached out we immediately connected to their bold and energetic personality. They described themselves as adventurous, resourceful, and talked about how much they loved exploring. "We just love to get in the car, put some good tunes on, and drive." Morgan went on about how they met, what they do for fun, and the funny little things about their relationship like texting lyrics to forgotten 80's songs to each other and taking picnics. We love how our couples always bring their own twist to their adventure wedding and were stoked on everything Trevor and Morgan brought to the table.

When we were planning their wedding day in Yosemite it came together perfectly - the kilt, the sunrise session, their incredible energy - it was so unique to them and we were stoked on all of it! The day started with pictures of their first look at Glacier Point. The sunrise was epic and there was a sweet little twist. Morgan and Trevor chose to take a little time at sunrise to spend just the two of them, reading their vows to each other before the ceremony. It was super emotional and touching to snap some pictures from afar.

We then had a little while to explore around, kind of moving like Morgan described in her initial inquiry, just going and looking for whatever caught our eye. Trevor was mainly just keeping his eye on Morgan which was super cute, but the views of the valley lit up amazingly with a perfect coat of high covering clouds which allowed us to stretch the morning light out quite a bit longer! We headed back to the amphitheater at Glacier Point for an intimate little wedding ceremony with friends and family. Their officiant was great and the whole thing was super fun and personal!

The ceremony ended with cheers and a time for everyone to hang out and take in the views. We've done all sorts of weddings in Yosemite, and I love how each one fits the personality of the couple so well. Today, I watched how everyone celebrated the new couple. Morgan and Trevor were glowing, it seemed perfect for them, the people closest to them, just enough to fit into a couple big hugs, brought together to explore and witness their marriage in a place they love. The family had some time together after the ceremony to enjoy the park before we met back up for sunset down in the valley a few hours later.

We basically just explored more and it felt like we were just playing around in the meadows and forests of the valley. Morgan wore her mother's wedding dress which made for such sweet and sentimental photos. Trevor was having so much fun hugging Morgan, throwing her over his shoulder, walking around beaming with pride and love and excitement. They met 11 years ago and we could tell they were best friends who were so, so comfortable with each other.

As the day wound down the sun dipped below the granite walls and the golden light lit up the tall grass we walked through. I imagined we were on one of their trips, in the middle of one of the many great conversations this couple has - "What if we just drove to Yosemite? What if we whispered our vows to each other at sunrise? You could wear your kilt and I'd wear my mothers dress! Wouldn't that be great?"

Yes, I thought, it would be quite great.


The Hearnes Adventure Photography is run by Abbi and Callen Hearne, a husband & wife wedding photography team with an emphasis on adventure. They live on the road as full-time nomads, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US. You can typically find them in Moab, Utah or Yosemite National Park, California, with side-quests to Patagonia and Alaska. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.

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arches national park wedding portraits in the rain | off-roading jeep adventure | moab elopement photographer

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arches national park wedding portraits in the rain | off-roading jeep adventure | moab elopement photographer

Arches National Park | Moab, Utah

the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers


emily + josh’s adventurous wedding portraits in arches national park | off-roading jeep adventure wedding ceremony

Josh and Emily, preparation, unsafe conditions, changed plans, and trust - it took all of this to capture one of the most surreal moments we've ever witnessed.

You wouldn’t think a few things "going wrong" would lead to Josh and Emily having one of the most epic sessions of our career. In fact, a photo from their day which had many unexpected changes ended up being picked for one of the biggest honors we've received - earning one of Junebug Weddings Best Photos of 2018.


Before we get to the story, let me tell you two things about being an adventure wedding photographer. First, one of the most important things about the job is the ability to plan - know the park rules, about permits, and about leave no trace principles. Know park rangers, visit a BLM office and talk to them, ask the questions you might have well in advance so you can put into place what it takes to keep your couples and yourself safe. To do your best work, you also need to be more than vaguely familiar with an area. You need to know the ins and outs. Know details about the light and not just what it's doing right now, but all of the things it might do, because shooting in Zion vs. Yosemite vs. Alaska is worlds different. You have to be ready if there are no clouds or some clouds or if you're completely socked in. You should plan around what peak the sun is going to set behind, know exactly when the sun will rise, and how all these factors change depending on the time of year you'll be shooting. Secondly, know when to adapt. There will be times when something comes up - a wildfire or a closed road, a hike that's way busier than usual (maybe you need to hit the trailhead at 4 am), but the most common is the weather. When situations come up, you have to be able to confidently trust your knowledge, experience, and skill set - all of which give you that gut feeling you have to go with.

Josh and Emily put so much trust in us to plan their wedding day. I can't overstate how much this means to us. It's especially true considering they wanted their adventure wedding in Moab, which is basically our backyard. We've spent as much time here as anywhere, and I know the weather can change pretty quickly in Moab. A week before Josh and Emily's shoot the forecast said there was a chance of rain. The prediction of a storm out here can switch to clear skies and vice versa overnight, so we waited. The crux was the original plan we made to run a slot canyon for their elopement. Any time there is rain, there is a chance of a flash flood in a canyon even if the storm isn't close or happened the day before.

Twenty-four hours before the shoot and the weather report still called for rain. We needed to change our plan. I know the pictures we take of our couples up on the edge of a cliff can sometimes cause people to gasp a little. The thing is, we almost never need to tell our couples no because we don't say yes to stuff while planning or shooting which could carry real danger. Our couples often want a shot on an edge, and we'll help them find a safe spot to do so and pursue on their own, at their individual level of comfort. However, when it comes to things like avalanche safety in the mountains of Alaska, the wind in Patagonia, or a flash flood in a slot canyon in Utah, it's our job to know and prepare for the risks which didn't exist when a plan was first made. The truth is (and consider that this comes from a couple who loves jumping out of perfectly good planes as a hobby) some things just aren't worth the risk. Flat out, we prioritize safety over any epic shot.

So we had the plan but now was the time to adapt. Again, Emily and Josh had so much trust in us which made the next part way easier to become so great. We didn't know it at the time but the rain and danger of a flash flood in the canyon and the last minute change of plans resulted in our most epic shot of 2018.

When we got in the car, it did end up looking pretty stormy, but there was a little break in the cloud cover near the horizon. I was hoping some golden light might sneak through. Let me also say this - I didn't use to shoot adventure elopements in Arches National Park too much because it can get pretty packed with crowds. I ended up learning our couples loved hiking in the park and people loved seeing them walk by in their wedding clothes. I thought the silver lining to all this was that Josh and Emily would have a lot fewer people at the park because of the weather. Little did I know, as Callen wound up the switchbacks of the entrance to Arches National Park, we were on our way to experience some desert magic.

I knew even if the sun didn't come out the photos would be pretty epic. Moab can be great in any condition. The 2,000+ arches in the park provides so much for a photographer to frame a shot with and the sandstone rising from the earth provide natural contrast, punchy shadows, and the endless skies stretching over the earth in every direction allow for so many beautiful options. We have a huge list of locations Callen and I have explored, and I picked one of my favorite spots knowing, if the sun did sneak out below the clouds, we could snag some cool light shining through the arch.

Okay, enough about safety and photography concepts and everything going through my head that day. I just wanted to give you a true look into the preparation and decision making which can go into a single evening of shooting. It's important to remember that no matter what is happening, through trust, preparation, and knowledge, there is a way to put yourself into a position where you have an opportunity to use your skills as a photographer to capture something great.

As we piled out of our cars, Emily and Josh were so excited which put a lot of peace in my mind. They were so upbeat and happy even though we were in a completely different area than they expected a few days ago. It kind of hit me then- Josh and Emily met at the camp Josh ran, where Emily now works, where kids with serious illnesses go to just be kids. They're literally pros at taking a hard situation and making it into something beautiful. A new wave of appreciation for them hit me. I was witnessing a couple who can bring a calm presence in any storm, whose love for people and each other isn't dependent on circumstance, and I just had a good feeling about them, about the shoot, about the whole day and what I do for a living in general.

We walked the trail and the sun still wasn't coming out, but the layer of clouds still left us a good chance. Emily's dress and her beautiful veil were perfect for the hike, and Josh wore a light grey suit that contrasted the red rock beautifully. They climbed up the sandstone to the little perch under the arch I directed them to. Callen took off behind me to get some shots a little further out. Emily and Josh walked across the ridgeline below the arch. I felt a drop of rain or two, and then it really started coming down. Then, just as they reached the bottom trough of the arch, the sky began to light up. The sun was coming through the other side of the arch perfectly, backlighting Emily and Josh. I was already stoked on it all, but then the phenomenal happened. The rain got a little heavier, and the drops falling through the sky became drenched in the golden light that was peaking out under the clouds.

I knew Callen was behind me. I yelled back asking if he saw it too. He did! This type of thing is so unique. I'd never seen anything like it and wondered if it would register on camera. Josh and Emily were in complete awe. The scene was completely surreal. Eventually, the rain stopped, but the light kept shining through the arch. The sunset made Emily's dress glow, Josh gave her kisses and held her hand as we climbed down and explored a little more.

Later that night I got to take a look at Callen's photos and was blown away. You can tell when I'm stoked on something because I just blurt out words like "oh my gosh" and "no way" and "Callen!" when going through the photos. The rain had not only shown up but looked like glitter falling through the sky. The images perfectly captured what we had witnessed.

The next day Josh and Emily picked us up in a Jeep for a 4x4 excursion through a more remote corner of Moab. We picked out and made a mental note of a spot for their vows at sunset and kept exploring, stopping a few places to take pictures. Eventually, we found a perfect little place overlooking the Colorado River for some sunset shots. The light was perfectly Moab,  shadows of monuments cast against western walls of the canyon, and Josh held his wife close. They looked beautiful; the couple that could find the beauty in any storm, the ones who put their trust in us, the ones who lit up under a natural phenomenon. We drove back to the spot they chose to give their vows and gave them some space to have time to themselves. I can't lie though; I would have loved to hear what this couple had to say to each other. 

What I do know is the day was fitting for them, who they are, what they do, what they love, and experiencing the beauty we did was something special. I think, in all our professions, we work hard to do our best; we bring out the best in ourselves to bring in a bit of beauty in the life of another. Whether by a sick child being able to truly smile in the midst of a personal storm, a family being able to feel happiness or providing an experience to a couple in love to not just stay safe but witness a once in a lifetime moment with each other - all the soul we pour into what we do, every bit of effort - it is all so worth it.

Elopement Location: Arches National Park, Utah

Photographers: The Hearnes Adventure Photography

Bride’s Dress: BHLDN


The Hearnes Adventure Photography is run by Abbi and Callen Hearne, a husband & wife wedding photography team with an emphasis on adventure. They live on the road as full-time nomads, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US. You can typically find them in Moab, Utah or Yosemite National Park, California, with side-quests to Patagonia and Alaska. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.

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grand teton national park engagement session | jackson hole adventure wedding photographer

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grand teton national park engagement session | jackson hole adventure wedding photographer

Grand Teton National Park | Jackson, Wyoming

the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers


Cat + Shaw’s adventure engagement session in grand teton national park | jackson hole winter elopement inspiration

Our last adventure engagement session of 2018 couldn't have been better. This year had us all over the world exploring new places, but we were stoked when Cat and Shaw's inquiry opened up the opportunity to come back to the Tetons. We'd passed through Wyoming earlier in the summer and thought how wonderful it would be to go back in the winter! Cat told us in her first email how they'd met - working at a restaurant in Los Angeles - and how quickly (literally headed to Joshua Tree three days after meeting) they became adventure buddies. She said she'd grown up in Colorado and would love to do engagement photos in either the Rockies or the Tetons as those two ranges were special in their relationship after they'd made hiking trips through both.

Cat told me they were moving to Idaho for Shaw's schooling but were flexible with their schedule, especially in the December-January winter break time. I suggested Jackson and they were immediately down. Thus began the dream adventure engagement shoot to end 2018!

If you've never been there, Jackson, Wyoming is a pretty fantastic experience. At the Jackson airport, they start you off on the right foot by (are you kidding me?) handing you a mimosa as soon as you land. This place gets me. The town is nestled up right next to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole Ski Resort but has plenty to offer in a perfect little downtown decked out in antlers and natural wood everywhere. We had a little downtime before meeting up with Cat and Shaw, so I headed into town unwind and check out the all the little shops as Callen snowboarded a little bit at Jackson Hole. Eventually, I settled into a nice coffee shop until we'd all meet up for dinner.

As soon as Cat and Shaw walked in we connected. We talked about the National Parks we love (Cat is working on a public lands book!), our dogs, and vanlife, which Cat has been doing for a while now! We talked about the timeline for their adventure session the next day. We'd planned on doing an afternoon shoot but the weather coming in looked to be a bit more socked in than we'd like, so I suggested a sunrise session alongside a little warning that it would be extremely cold. Thankfully (as is always the case with our adventurous couples) they were totally down! After dinner, I headed back to our room to relax and get ready as Callen cheerfully invited himself to hang in the hot tub at Cat and Shaw's hotel (note to future couples - he loves everyone but the way to Callen's heart forever is through beta on a good hot spring/tub).

The forecast for the next morning was seven degrees, but it upon arrival to our location just inside Grand Teton National Park it ended up being an even zero. Honestly, it was bone chilling, but the thin line between sufferfest and type two fun is dependant upon what else is going on. What we had going on this morning was a super happy couple and the most amazing sunrise we could have asked for. The sky was lighting up perfectly as we got out of our cars, the morning light just starting to settle on the summits of the Tetons. Cat and Shaw were so pumped, their stoke made me forget the cold whenever I brought the camera up to my eye. I felt the cold return over and over whenever I stopped shooting. Callen and I were bundled up (read, still very cold), Cat had fleece leggings under her dress (our #1 rec for brides adventuring in cold weather), and Shaw in a wool suit was happy when we told him he could forgo the dress shoes and keep on his puffy slippers. We did jumping jacks to keep our blood flowing and only shot for about twenty minutes before Cat and Shaw needed to blast the heat and warm up for a bit in their car.

Then the morning blue sky and soft whites started to light up with vibrant oranges and pinks. We headed back out for another quick but epic session. This is where a magnificent sunrise became one of the most amazing we've ever gotten to shoot. The light washed over the south face of the Tetons, the mountain bases still in shadows, the sky a unique baby blue you only get in the coldest winter months. The air froze as we breathed in and left our lungs in thick clouds. Shaw kept Cat warm with big hugs between running around in the snow. The Tetons are one of the most stunning and iconic backdrops you could hope for and since Cat has a love for landscape photography, I made sure to back up and get a few extra wide open shots - even snagging a pano which turned out so rad.

As soon as the best light faded we rushed back to our cars to warm up and drove to town for breakfast and coffee. It was probably a good half hour before we really felt warm again and we all laughed about how cold we had been, but I'd already peeked some of the pictures and was so stoked on them. We talked and decided to head back out in the afternoon for the second half of the session. Callen used the break to snag a few more runs at the resort, and I used it to stay warm.

We met up in a location outside the National Park so the dogs could run around. The weather had rolled in which made me so happy we'd gotten out in the morning, but also glad we came back out to shoot and capture Cat and Shaw in their element, playing in the snow, sweater-clad cuddling their puppies and holding hands. The temperature was about twenty degrees warmer which we were all stoked on, but it could have been -20 and I have no doubt that Cat and Shaw would still have been smiling and happy. They were such troopers - their personality and lifestyle, ambitions and adventurous attitude; it's all what we love about our couples and why we become quick friends.

We ended the day as the sun set and headed back into town for pizza. We met up with our new friend, Erin, another adventure wedding photographer who lives here full time and talked about how amazing Jackson is. We wished we had more time in here and definitely want to come back in the spring, but I can't lie - I was also excited to head back to Texas for slightly (much) warmer temps and time with family for the holidays.

I ended up showing Cat and Shaw a little sneak of their photos, and we all agreed that the early wake-up, cold weather, jumping jacks and breathing hot air into our hands to stay warm was 100% worth it! This session was a perfect little sendoff to 2018 and has us stoked to come back to Wyoming for more adventure elopements and weddings in the future! Happy 2019 to all the future adventure brides and grooms out there!


The Hearnes Adventure Photography is run by Abbi and Callen Hearne, a husband & wife wedding photography team with an emphasis on adventure. They live on the road as full-time nomads, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US. You can typically find them in Moab, Utah or Yosemite National Park, California, with side-quests to Patagonia and Alaska. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.

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moab wedding bridal session | adventure elopement photographer

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moab wedding bridal session | adventure elopement photographer

Moab, Utah

the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers


chris + cassie pre-wedding session in moab | utah desert bridals | adventure elopement photographer

You know that episode of The Office (if you know us, you know The Office/Parks and Rec references happen pretty much daily) where Jim and Pam get married? We find out at the end of the episode - after their actual ceremony - they already got officially married at Niagra Falls. They did it because it's what made sense to them. So many of our couple have tweaks to their day to make it completely theirs. Helping them with their vision and making sure our couples get to explore the options which make the happiest is a passion of ours.

This was exactly what happened with Cassie and Chris and how we came to shoot what we dubbed the "Jim and Pam" session. After meeting through a mutual friend, we knew pretty quickly we'd be great buds. We ended up shooting their engagement photos in Yosemite and from there, Cassie and I talked about the possibility of shooting in Moab. She loved the idea of desert photos, but they also wanted a bigger ceremony in Colorado for all the people who mean so much to them to come and celebrate. So, when I mentioned a first look session in Moab, she was totally in!

Honestly, it couldn't have been better. Cassie and Chris got to be where they loved, with the person they loved, and also celebrate with the people they loved. It was kind of like mashing up Ben Wyatt's proposal to Leslie Knope (what, you didn't think I was serious about the P&R references?) where she had him pause so she could remember every moment AND the Halpert's intimate moments in Niagra falls AND how unique to them April and Andy Dwyer's living room wedding was AND Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt's Town Hall wedding where you really make sure your best people are involved. Charlie even played the roll of Jeremy Jam, getting in the way of their photos in a plea for my attention 😑

When we met up in Moab, Cassie changed into her stunning Galia Lahav dress in the camper (which we laughed about as Callen was still vacuuming up the glitter a couple of days later). Then, because Cassie was an absolute trooper with her super heavy dress, we hiked up to a beautiful little spot overlooking my favorite valley for some photos. Chris was glowing at the site of his bride, and it was such a relaxed time. With no particular agenda, we wandered around the red rocks, took time to laugh, and did some fun shots with Cassie's AMAZING Galia Lahav veil. We need to stop and talk about this veil - a perfect mix of a fabric crafted by angels and worthy of a desert goddess, basically the Ann Perkins of veils. Seriously though, I love long veils in nature, and this was one of my favorites ever.

The best part of shooting their engagement and wedding photos in California, Utah, and Colorado was watching Cassie slow things down.  Wedding days are amazing and for some, the movement and motion of the day is part of the fun, but that pace wasn't what Cassie and Chris wanted most. So these moments in Yosemite for engagement pics and Moab with Chirs in his suit and Cassie in her stunning Galia Lahav dress among the desert towers in Moab was perfect for them. On their wedding day in Colorado, Chris and Cassie got to focus on the day itself, the friends, and the little moments they could take their time with because they had most of their photos done days before. 

Cassie talked about how doing things this way melted a lot of her wedding day stress. After getting most of her photos done, she just focused on the moments she really wanted to with her friends and family. Plus, we got to have them all to ourselves on this day in Moab ;) These two are now stuck with having us as friends for a lifetime, which made me all the more happy to do this for them.

At the end of the day in Moab, we went to some food trucks for pizza, Thai food, and donuts. We sat there eating all this crazy food (perks of being an adult) before heading out with friends to party. I couldn't help but think about how worth it all this is, how lucky I am to have people like this in my life - people who will travel a thousand miles to climb granite and deserts, who will get their dress dusty and want to hang late into the night, who will make sure to include everyone they love without giving up any wild dream they have. It's so worth it.


The Hearnes Adventure Photography is run by Abbi and Callen Hearne, a husband & wife wedding photography team with an emphasis on adventure. They live on the road as full-time nomads, allowing them to serve a large portion of the western US. You can typically find them in Moab, Utah or Yosemite National Park, California, with side-quests to Patagonia and Alaska. They believe love is the greatest adventure and strive to create photos that are epic, romantic, true, and timeless.

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