This has to be one of the most magical elopements I’ve ever photographed! Not only do the bride and I have a special connection (she and I met while working for another photographer in Bodega Bay and we’ve photographed many weddings together over the years), but the backdrops were stunning and we had every bit of weather in the short 2 hour session! From sunny warm skies to rain, storms off in the distance, and chilly wind. These two just went with the flow of it all and I think it made for some stunning and memorable photos!
If you know much about me from following me on Instagram, you probably know that I love location scouting and finding the perfect photo backdrops for each of my couples/clients! I usually like to check out a location ahead of time around the time I’ll be taking photos, but sometimes when a location is farther away I do the majority of my planning online and then arrive early to make sure there aren’t any last minute curveballs!
Google is your best friend when it comes to finding great photo locations!
I usually type in the name of the location and then browse through the image search results to see if anything jumps out at me. I also pull up Google Maps and scan around for different types of open/park space (look for green blocks on Google Maps), and then try satellite view to get a better look! If there’s an area that looks like it has potential, I’ll do a Google image search on that specific location. It does take a bit of practice working with different backdrops and locations at different times of day to get an idea of what you’re looking for in a photo backdrop. Depending on the weather and the client’s desires, I might look for epic open spaces, golden grasses/fields, ocean views, forested areas, open shade (if shooting more midday), or cute/colorful urban backdrops. In this case I immediately found 2 locations that stood out- Duncan’s Landing Overlook and Bodega Dunes Beach.
Keep scrolling for the story of the day, complete with all the different lighting conditions and weather, and more details on the two beautiful locations that I found for this sweet couple!
I was attracted to this location because of the amazing color and cliff/coastal views! It also had a perfect spot for exchanging wedding vows! Normally when I photograph midday I try to find open shade, but in this case I figured that based on the forecast the sun would be diffused with clouds so it would work well (and that’s actually what happened).
I knew that the sand dunes and golden grasses at Bodega Dunes Beach would nicely reflect golden light back on my couple, which is exactly what you need when photographing in harsh midday light, and they would also add beautiful texture and movement even if the sun stayed behind the clouds! Bodega Dunes Beach can be accessed for free by heading to this parking lot at the north end of the beach. Otherwise you’ll have to pay the entrance fee to the beach if you use the main entrance down Bodega Dunes Rd.
Shannon and Dani- Thank you for having me as a part of your beautiful wedding day and for sharing the adventure with me! I’m so excited to see your family grow and can’t wait for all the love and joy ahead! So glad you’ll be in the Bay Area for the next few years!