Yosemite National Park, California

the hearnes » adventure elopement photographers


heidi + gordon’s first look + wedding portraits in yosemite national park | sunrise at glacier point and sunset at taft point | adventure elopement photographer

We love it when our couples have a tie to the place they decide to have their adventure wedding pictures taken. In the past, we’ve had a couple choose to elope in Zion National Park because they met on a hike there, or road trip together through Moab, and they want their adventure wedding or engagement to take place there. However, when Heidi and Gordon reached out, they told us about their connection which goes back longer than any we'd ever heard of before.

Shooting their adventure wedding in Yosemite brought with it a sense of depth, history even, as the attachment goes back over 148 years ago! Her family had settled here, among the first to do so, in 1870.  For perspective, this means they were neighbors with John Muir, who lived here from 1868-1874. Her Great Great Grandpa Mcauley built the trail which connects the valley to Glacier Point and lived here well before the park even had boundaries (which happened in 1889). We joked about how this was Yosemite's "Royal Wedding" which would make Heidi the Princess of Yosemite, but seriously, her connection to this place was absolutely amazing.

We shot in the park at sunrise and sunset, Gordon and Heidi walking among the very granite her family had for generations. At Glacier Point, she pointed out a plaque with her Great Great Grandfather’s name on it, commemorating all he'd done for this park. Gordon and Heidi held hands, walking to the edges where he started the tradition (which lasted nearly 100 years before ending in 1968) of the Yosemite Firefall. We snapped some shots of them silhouetted above the valley. I imagined the silhouette of her ancestor, pushing glowing embers off the cliff in the same golden light, letting them fall for the spectators below.

They brought their beautiful German Shepherd, Chelsea, along for some portraits (Yep! Yosemite has a couple of dog-friendly places!), and we took our time strolling around the upper valley before their wedding the next day. The ceremony was set to be an intimate little wedding in the Yosemite Chapel where her uncle had been the pastor for a few years in the 1970s (crazy we actually have to state which century that was in). I imagined the likelihood of Ansel Adam's walking around the valley with her family there, stopping in at Degnan's to grad some food prepared by her ancestors which started the iconic restaurant. Maybe he even snapped a few photos of their family back in the day or talked with one of her great grandparents, asking what it was like before his first trips to the valley in the early 20th century.

Gordon also has a connection to Yosemite, having grown up visiting and even through-hiking while doing the PCT with his friend (best man). He had no idea on those initial visits he'd one day be "marrying into" the Yosemite lineage. Obviously, this was all just special because it was Gordon and Heidi's wedding day, their love, the personification of their personalities, interest, and style in one day, but the weight of it all was undeniable.

With a connection like this, I imagine some far-off day in the future, Heidi and Gordon's Great Great Grandson maybe walking with his girlfriend, dropping down to a knee and proposing, or maybe holding his fiance's hand as they get married here. Someone will write about their wedding and talk about how much this place has meant to his family over the past 250 years. And they'll put in one of the photos from today and underneath will be a little caption that simply reads "They were engaged right where this photo of his Great Great Grandparents Gordon and Heidi had was taken, the day before their wedding, on September 6, 2018".


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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