I’m a wedding & elopement photographer for laid back couples that value the idea of being married more than just having a party. They want photos that show their true selves and represent their love of nature, and prefer to be more natural than overly posed.
When Kelly contacted me about photographing her Crater Lake elopement, I was beyond excited for the opportunity! It’s been a bucket list location of mine for years! Kelly and her fiancé, Chad, were flying in from Colorado last July to elope at one of their favorite places in Oregon. I made sure to secure all the necessary permits required, as the National Park Service does have regulations regarding weddings, and the last thing I wanted was for us to get stopped and fined! As the date approached though, a huge wildfire broke out in the park. We made a last minute decision regarding the location because it was so smoky you couldn’t see the lake. I definitely think we scored and it turned out to be such a beautiful spot for their intimate elopement.
I met Kelly and Chad at the trailhead to Plaikni Falls. It was thick with mosquitoes and we all doused ourselves in bug spray before the mile hike. Kelly made her floral crown and bouquet that she carefully brought on the plane with her from Colorado. I love the strawberries she added to go with the red in her shoes! She totally rocked the most awesome pair of rainbow wedges that she effortlessly hiked in to the ceremony spot at the base of the waterfall.
We approach the falls as a family is snapping photos. They graciously congratulated Kelly and Chad and headed back down the trail. Chad helps Kelly fix her hair, and then get ready for their ceremony to begin. They exchanged personal vows they each wrote for one another, as they held hands. We didn’t see another soul for their entire wedding ceremony! It was absolutely magical and the light was really lovely thanks to the wildfire.
After the ceremony, we stayed at the falls for some romantic couple’s portraits. The location was absolutely breathtaking, with the lush green landscape and it was the perfect place for me to create a composite image. I just love doing these for my wedding couples! If you’re a photography nerd like me, this technique basically offers the compression of a long lens (in this case I used my Canon 135mm) in a wide angle image. I can’t achieve this look with my 35mm lens, and oh boy is the bokeh dreamy!
Cloud Cap Overlook was supposed to be Kelly and Chad’s location for their wedding ceremony for their Crater Lake elopement. As the lake was totally socked in with smoke from the wildfire, we switched gears and went to the overlook after the ceremony to cut their beautiful gluten-free Foxtail Bakeshop cake, eat strawberries and sip champagne. There was a perfect little spot tucked into the stubby wind swept trees for these two to lay their beautiful orange trimmed patchwork quilt down and spread out. The details really made my sentimental heart sing, with an eclectic mix of vintage, handmade and new decor. Kelly has great taste and knows how to have fun! Her rainbow bag went perfectly with her shoes! I absolutely adore the yellow metal vintage cake carrier, the ceramic crock held delectable strawberries, and a gold serving tray held their champagne flutes engraved with a tall evergreen tree. I really love the thought and care they put into creating the perfect, happy vibe for their day!
After the celebratory toasts and cake (it was delicious btw), we set out to do some more romantic portraits. We started in the trees, where Kelly and Chad shared their first dance with a gorgeous view of Mount Scott, the highest point in the park.
We then headed out on a trail along the edge of Crater Lake. It was really ethereal the way the smoke hung in the crater. While the views were mostly obscured, I think these are some of the dreamiest portraits of the day! Kelly and Chad are also very passionate about the environment, and asked me if I had access to some kind of masks they could wear to make a statement against climate change with their portraits. While I wasn’t able to find any cool gas masks, I did have these scrub masks (I use them when I clean my chicken coop, ha) so we went with it! As someone who cares deeply for our planet myself, these images spoke to me and I wanted to be sure to include them in this blog. Our landscapes are changing, wildfires are more intense, and we need to do our part.
We head back into the trees to gather Kelly and Chad’s belongings, as the sun is beginning to set, and they are trying to make their dinner reservations at the lodge. The glow through the trees is breathtaking, and I make sure to grab a few more snuggly portraits of these two before we head back to the cars.
We said our goodbyes and thought the evening was through. Kelly and Chad were already running a bit late to make their dinner reservations, but didn’t mind as they were enjoying the sunset, and taking the experience in. We hugged and each got into our vehicles and headed on down the road. They left before me, as I packed up my gear. Well, as I was driving, the sunset just kept getting more and more phenomenal. The smoke created an amazing pink sky and I decided to pull off at the next viewpoint to take in it. That’s where I ran into Kelly and Chad again. I grabbed my camera and told them we just had to take a few more photos as the sky was absolutely brilliant!
Kelly and Chad’s Crater Lake elopement was an absolutely incredible experience as a wedding photographer. I was truly honored to be a part of such an intimate experience! I love how they chose to have the wedding they wanted, just the two of them, reciting their vows, celebrating their love, and taking it all in! Thank you both for your trust!
Hey, I’m Erica a Bend wedding and elopement photographer for sentimental, free-spirited and natural couples. If you are considering an adventurous elopement in Oregon, or elsewhere, I would love to chat with you! Let’s make magic together.