Yosemite National Park, California

the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers


sidney + dillon’s intimate wedding in yosemite national park | glacier point wedding ceremony | wedding portraits at taft point | hiking wedding inspiration | adventure elopement photographer

Some stories tell themselves best when you start at the end as to see everything which happened to arrive in the final moments. If Sidney and Dillon's wedding day was a book, their last sentence would have been something along the lines of the gift it is for every adventure to be unique and how sometimes nature spares no effort as it plays its part. In the final chapter of their wedding day, it was as if the universe itself decided to crash the wedding and bring a gift.

This, a perfect ending, is what I was thinking about while taking Sidney and Dillon's adventure wedding portraits at Taft Point last September. The day was nearly done, they were married, and we had already taken most of the photos we would. In fact, we had already popped a bottle of champagne to relax and soak in the views. The sun had just disappeared behind the seasonally predictable Fall clouds which make this time of year the best for sunsets in Yosemite. Sidney and Dillon were loving the moment and all the firsts - first time seeing Glacier and Taft Point, first time standing on the edge of these iconic cliffs, and of course, the thread which ties it all together - these moments being their first as husband and wife.

I get caught up in the beauty of the day right along with our adventurous couples all the time, and Sidney and Dillon made it easy with their inviting love. It was obvious from the beginning how they would bring their own unique style to their wedding - Sidney wanting Dillon's true first look to be at their Glacier Point ceremony (the only time a couple chose not to see each other pre-ceremony this year), their trust in us to choose the exact location of their vows site-unseen, as well as their friends and family traveling here to be present.

However, this evening, while sipping champaign and winding the day down, I kept the quiet thought in my head that something truly special might be about to come. Of course, beauty is always present in the places we go, but I've been to Yosemite and watched the sun fall on this landscape of pine and granite enough to recognize when the light stands the chance to be spectacular. I don't like to lead on these moments where I think something special is about to happen. There's always the chance clouds will divert their path to cover up anything within minutes. Still, I sipped champagne while hopingly keeping my eye on the sliver of clear sky below the clouds, right where the sun stood the possibility to make one final appearance before bowing out for the night. As time passed, my anticipation was transcending that of a wedding photographer and moving equally towards being a human who may be about to experience the rarest luck - that which occurs when feeling the magic of a wedding day, the grandeur of Yosemite's permanence, and natures ability to be extraordinary come all at once.

Let me say this first and foremost, what makes me love my job isn't the landscapes or epic vistas (obviously a huge bonus), or even getting to live the dream in the great outdoors (2nd bonus) and the miles of hikes (type 2 fun) it takes to experience these places at their best, but (as cliche as it sounds) it really is the couples - being able to do this for them. So when the sun did come out behind those clouds and we had 20 minutes of the most beautiful light I've ever gotten to witness, I was so excited, yes, as a person and adventure elopement photographer, but mostly excited as a friend to Sidney and Dillon. This day was as close to perfection as you can get and I was so happy for them.

The light represented the culmination of so many moments - meeting up with Sidney in a quiet picnic area, her getting ready in the camper, and the excited calm which came as we took portraits with her mother and aunt in the forest. Guests showed up in cowboy hats and puffy vests, they listened as Sidney's brother talked to Dillon about how to be a good husband to his sister, the sweet sincerity of his words bringing tears to everyone's eyes. Then there was the sendoff from their friends and family, the exploring around Glacier Point, and the hike to Taft Point. To Sidney's delight, her dress caught on all sorts of branches and brushed up dirt from the path, pluming off dust when she would shake it - the sun catching perfectly in the edges of her dress and clouds of dirt, foreshadowing its plans for the evening.

Finally, the first views of Taft Point came into sight. Dillon and Sidney lay on their bellies to get close to the first big ledge we came upon. They were beyond excited, blown away by the surreal landscape, overwhelmed by this place and these memories accompanying their day. The sun lit up the clouds as Dillon and Sidney walked around the Taft's edges. Then the light moved behind the clouds, we popped the bottle of champagne, and my anticipation started to build.

When I was pretty sure of what was about to happen Dillon took Sidney's hand and they went back out to the cliff, walking to the edge right as the sun came out. I was practically screaming behind my camera as I knew I was shooting some of the best light of my life, so grateful and in awe. Sidney and Dillon enjoyed each other and the last of the light on the overlook, experiencing Yosemite's magic at its finest.

We hiked back and, as to not be outdone, the moon was full and clear. We took a few headlamp photos to end the day. We were so grateful to walk away with these memories, to have shown people around our favorite place, and to leave with them as friends who've shared in the experience of a perfect night in Yosemite.


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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