Last summer I photographed one of the most beautiful destination weddings and it took this what I thought to be an adventurous girl ( me ) and my super city husband on the most terrifying night of our life.
I was contacted by the a sweet couple from Las Vegas, Nevada wanting to elope in Yosemite, California at Taft Point. So excited to travel back to Yosemite where I traveled to with my family I was ready for some beautiful images. I made reservations for an Air BnB in Yosemite Valley and invited my family to come along for the fun weekend away. Travel, family & photography I was a happy girl.
Here is my mistake #1
First, I googled Taft Point. I like to do my research before going to a new location to photograph. Well…I did find beautiful images of the location and my create mind started to flow. However, I also found article after article about people falling to their death and how it is one of the most dangerious locations to go to. Starting to sweat a little I started to do more research from other photographers who have been there and I was quickly assured its not “as bad” as it sounds.
The day arrives for traveling and I’m excited but still terrified but we make it after a long 4hr drive! The elopement is scheduled for sunset and my husband and I met the couple and officiant with plenty of time to start our hike. The officiant stated he made this hike more times than he could count…ahh a little bit of relief. This hike was WAY easier than I thought and it was BEAUTIFUL! Lush green plants, rocky terrain, beautiful trees taller than I can see. I was in photographer heaven. The nerves started to go away as I begin to photograph this beautiful couple.
The hike itself was only 30 minutes even with making quick little stops along the way to capture the couples full story. As we are walking up it was not what I pictured at all. I thought it would be this tiny point and all be holding our breath trying to get the shots we wanted. But I was WRONG… there was so much room to walk around and take in all the beautiful views. We all stopped for a moment and just looked in aww of how beautiful nature really is.
Once we found our location of where we hold the ceremony we waited a little while for the sun to lower so we can have beautiful light. And boy was it worth it! Their ceremony was perfect. Their officiant prepared such beautiful vows tying in the gift of love and nature. It was quiet and peaceful and filled with so much love.
So now the fun part starts the ceremony is over and now its time to create some magic! The lighting is better than words can describe, the couples love is radiating off of them. I was in a dream and all of a sudden fearless that I was standing so close to what seemed like the edge of earth. With the help of my husband holding me for balance from standing on rocks and whatever other crazy idea I had. I was able to capture images that I will always be proud of!
Now comes Mistake #2
I did what most people say don’t do. “Just Don’t Look Down”, Whelp… I looked down. It was time to get the staple Taft point shot. I was prepared I brought my walking talkies to post the couple from such a long distance away. **Side note: did you know there is no cell service in Yosemite?** I made my way around to stand on the opposite cliff. Yes cliff! Quietly whispering to my husband to not try and save me if I fall. Half jokingly to make light of how nervous I was. Here is the point where I looked down… ya to say it was a far drop was an understatement. But yet again… IT WAS SO WORTH IT!
As our evening concluded it was time to make our hike back. We said goodbye to the couple as they wanted to end their wedding day by star gazing together. How romantic right?! So we start our hike back and it’s dark you guys! So we reach in the backpack and yup you guessed it…
It’s pitch black and we have no flash light! Thank the good Lord we have our phones (even with no cell service) we had a small but much needed flash light. Now the hike in was easy but they hike out… a whole other ball game. It was steep, and rocky, and once again DARK. Now you take two city people and put them in the woods. No mam’m that is Terrifying! I was out of breath, fear kicked hard (hello wild animals, bear country, you name it), trying to keep my mind focused on just getting to the car because our baby and family where waiting on us.
So we are hiking along and come to the infamous fork in the road. Again, taking two city people of course we go the wrong way. I mean why would we go the right way? At this point I am out of breath, the hike is getting hard and I have this horrible feeling that we are not going in the right direction. So I trust my gut and tell my husband we have to turn around.
Now when I say I love my husband I mean I LOVE my husband. He hates camping, hates animals , outdoors means chilling beach side with a beverage so this was not is jam at all. But, he was 100% the superhero in this tale. He stayed calm with a cleared mind and got us back on the right path and hope was in sight. He motivated me to keep going and held my hand when I was breathing so hard that I am sure everyone back in Sacramento could hear me.
Finally… we made it! We saw the cars and we made the final climb to the top. Our 30 minute hike turned into almost an hour hike. But we MADE It. I burst into tears and gave me husband the biggest hug and a kiss and we both just started to laugh. I was shaking and when we made it to our cabin I hugged my daughter so tightly and thought WOW what a story to tell. No cell service and lost in the woods… ya they would defiantly make a movie about us.
In the end I learned some valuable lessons.
#1 Pack a flash light & water
#2 Really Don’t Look Down
#3 Travel buddies are a must
#4 Never let fear stop you from trying.
In the end we had a wonderful family weekend. I hope you enjoyed this crazy story and I can’t wait to see where else my photography takes us.