Yosemite National Park
the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers
James + Nina’s Post-Wedding Session in Yosemite National Park | Foggy Wedding Photos
So, one question we get super often from our couples and people that follow us is “What do you do if the weather is bad?” and our answer is that we embrace it! Some of our very favorite photos have been because of “bad weather” and we even won an international destination wedding photography contest with a photo of a desert rainstorm in our “Plan B” location because Plan A was to run a slot canyon but we couldn’t because of the rain! We love the look of “bad weather” whether it’s the rain drops in the frame or the post-storm sunset colors, but the day of James and Nina’s session was different. It was the closest we’ve come to needing to cancel a session and re-schedule due to bad weather! But then just in time, Yosemite worked it’s magic and gave us the most epic conditions…
James and Nina’s session was our first one of the season in Yosemite and even though we’ve been up to Glacier Point probably over 100 times, I wanted to head up there early and get aquatinted (and make sure we could get parking for the big rig). Once we got settled, we were a few hours early so I headed out on a run down the trail! I ended up running to the top of Illouette Falls and spending a few minutes sitting there, soaking it in, and feeling super happy to be back in Yosemite. As I made my way back up, I admired the fog rolling in through the trees and the eerie feeling of hiking through a cloud. The fog usually moves quickly up high in the mountains, so I didn’t think anything of it when I got back to Glacier Point and the views were completely white-out. I figured it’d pass within a few minutes! But an hour later, as James and Nina were bout to arrive, it was still zero visibility. We couldn’t even see the trees 30 feet from us! Callen and I began discussing back up options. I was pretty set on heading down to the valley below the fog layer as soon as they arrived because I didn’t want to burn the last of the day light waiting on the cloud to move. When they arrived, I started to explain how the fog had been there for a solid two hours and we didn’t want to count on it clearing, when Callen said “wait, I see blue sky! Yeah, we need to get out to the point right now!” so we grabbed our things and practically ran out there…and as soon as we got out the clouds opened and Half Dome poked through the top. It was one of the most epic things I’ve ever seen. A perfect inversion like this is SO rare in Yosemite, the cloud layer below was super thick and above was perfectly clear. It was stunning! We took some photos, and then I turned around and saw the epic sun rays streaming through the trees and fog behind us, so we photographed that too! It was so awesome in every direction, the four of us felt like we were dreaming!
We spent the remainder of the evening wander around, watching the clouds move and cover Half Dome, then clear, and weave their way through the trees. It was super cool, and once again, “bad weather” was waaaaay more fun than blue bird skies! I will note, there was certainly a chance that the sky stayed fully white-out all evening, in which case we would have either gone to Yosemite Valley where the clouds were higher above ground level (because the Valley is 3,000 feet lower than Glacier Point), or we would have looked into rescheduling their session for a date that worked in our schedule. James and Nina did an adventure session with us (meaning, this wasn’t their wedding day - more on that below) but if this had been an elopement day, we would have had a lot more time booked to deal with weather changes and take photos before it got “down to the wire” with day light. This is one of the reasons we book a minimum of 4 hours with a couple on their wedding day, and often encourage 6-8 hours or more, because weather is very unpredictable and it’s always better to have extra time than feel like you didn’t have enough! I always tell couples I can make amazing photos happen in 20 minutes, but ideally we have multiple hours to hike, chat, take portraits, explore, and have a laid-back vibe for the day!
We also often get questions about these wedding portrait sessions — where a couple chooses to meet up with us somewhere epic for wedding portraits before or after their actual wedding day! We only do few of these sessions a year (we reserve most of our adventure sessions for engagements!) but Yosemite is a really popular spot for them! A session like this is perfect for couples that are having a more traditional wedding, or their wedding location/timing didn’t line up with our schedule, so they can be flexible and meet us wherever we are for a shorter two hour photo session in their wedding clothes! One misunderstanding is that we do not allow these sessions to be an “elopement” or have any sort of ceremony, because we truly believe your wedding day deserves much more than two hours! We also put a ton of work into planning a timeline, adventures, vendors, and so on into wedding days, so we have a bigger minimum package for elopements. All of this is based on our three+ years of experience working with these kinds of weddings and settings, and what has made the most sense for us!
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.