Muir Woods Elopement

Michelle & Keller // Old Mill Park Elopement // Mill Valley Wedding Photographer

Michelle and I had both connected so lovingly from the moment she reached out, but it was her energy and deep love and admiration for Keller on her wedding day that truly lead me to create this collection of photographs. Being a part of a couple’s elopement, where there are typically just a few others present is such an unbelievable thing, and knowing how hard they’ve worked to get to this moment made me even more honored to be able to be a part of this day. Michelle, so giddy, so smitten; and Keller, so calm, and so attentive, I couldn’t get enough of these two.




Two Thousand & Eighteen // Moments in Review

I truthfully look forward to creating this journal post all year long. There are so many moments that make up an entire wedding day, moments that are so present that tears start streaming, and eyes begin to disappear from laughing so deeply. When those around me don’t even notice I am there and focus on each other instead. These are the moments that always stand out to me the most.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from the minute I entered into one of the most intimate crafts in photography is how badly we as humans want to connect. We search for sentiment and nostalgia becomes our greatest high. We crave connection and search for it endlessly. As we should. And I found myself with the same cravings and same endless search for intimacy with these strangers reaching out because they connected with my words, my work, who I am. Never was there a moment did I have to be someone else, never did I have to create a moment to fill in an uncomfortable situation or silence. Instead, I would ask an inquisitive question because connectivity was my job, I would relate intimate details about myself because constructing a relationship was the basis of the work I create. The collaboration of intimacy can only be done when both myself and my couples are also running on connectivity and honesty. What I’m getting at is that even after years of doing this unbelievable job, I am in shock that my world revolves around an idea that I believe so deeply about, one that I am truly passionate about. Closeness. And in every aspect of the word. So many of the photos you will see here are not taken with a zoom lens or a long focal length, they are simply me getting real close in any situation, with no fear of how the camera will affect the intimacy of the moment because of the relationship, trust and connection that has already been so beautifully created prior. But as I always say, I couldn’t do any of this alone - this is a pure collaboration and without that trust and comfortability to be themselves, the people in front of my lens and in these photos wouldn’t reach such deeply honest and fervently uncontrived moments. Closeness is my job, connectivity is the most powerful tool in my arsenal, and these people are my passion. Feeling immensely grateful to be able to fit that all in the small bubble of a venn diagram that usually seems impossible to reach simultaneously. Writing that out made me laugh out loud.

This past year I focused more on growing roots into shooting closer to home. Creating homemade relationships with couples I still get to see or shooting at venues that I feel even more familiar with. I will always favor and love new experiences and amazing new places to see, but there is nothing quite like shooting in your own backyard (or at least what feels like San Francisco’s backyard) and being a part of a community that feels like home.

I am so grateful for every moment and every love filled day. I am so grateful for getting to do what I love and foraging connections all while connecting to my surroundings. I am grateful for every moment of vulnerability I get to be a part of. Being a part of one of the most personal and intimate days of a person’s year is so wild. Being an observer and a documenter of affection and interaction is truly amazing. I am grateful for what I do and those who let me in to do it. But above all else, I am grateful for constantly staying true to myself and what I believe for that is what attracts these truly rad humans and these absolutely meaningful weddings. People who simply just want to be themselves too.

As you may have read here and there, my work is heavily influenced by my street photography and I use the same mindset on a wedding day - present and immensely observant, building relationships with your people that allows me to take intimate photos of people with their guards down, and yet simultaneously being ready to hit the shutter at a moment of intimate affection or gorgeous outburst of laughter. These are some of my proudest moments and this post is unapologetically long but I am so happy to share them with you.

-Nataly

Sheila & Ray // Muir Woods Elopement

Sheila & Ray // Muir Woods Elopement

Sheila & Ray // Muir Woods Elopement

two thousand & seventeen

Comparison is inevitable when it comes to art. Comparing our work to others, to our own, to that of what isn't there, what could have been there, and what is there. Comparison not only makes us think deeper about the work we create, but also pushes us to create better and stronger work. Although I have to say, the rare times I simply do not compare a photograph to anything than what it is, is the photographs you see below. Moments that couldn't be recreated, organically revealing themselves. Moments in between the chaos and the mundane. Moments that come together to define a story. When you photograph a wedding in a very documentary style, some of your favorite moments end up being those unplanned and unrehearsed. And at times, these are the photos that get quickly overlooked, quickly passed by. It is easy to overlook that of which is not taken in an epic location or full of intertwining limbs. I wanted to shed my light on those moments that are just as crucial to tell the entire story. Photographs that can only be documented when you have wide eyes yet patient ones too. Photographs that aren't the most conventionally beautiful and moments where no one knows you're even watching. 

This year was full of growth, full of getting to know the type of relationship I strive for with my couples. The trust instilled in me from my couples to document their day as the day unfolds is more than I could ever ask for. Finding couples who share the same vision of foraging and gathering, coming together with those they have spent their lives loving, all that is what matters most. This year I have felt more connected to those I have documented - couples who are now some of my closest friends, couples who I have spent getting to know so deeply, and some who I have had gotten real low on the dance floor with. Spending time to connect with my humans on a level beyond wedding photography and being able to document the most intimate parts of them is what keeps me addicted to what I do. 

Along with copious amounts spent among the foliage in the Bay Area, my work has taken me to intimate in home sessions in Barcelona, passionate sessions in the cobbled streets of Florence, empowerment and strength in Joshua Tree, backyard gatherings, Muir Woods elopements, green ballrooms overlooking City Hall, and so many places lush in emotion and greenery. 

For these select favorites, I wanted to choose pure moments. Moments that make up the entire story, moments that are documented just the way they are - true and sincere. I am so damn proud of the work I create, and proud of the couples who create it with me. Cheers to an amazing year, wouldn't have been able to do it without you all. 

-Nataly

Kate & Darrell // Muir Woods // Forest Elopement

Kate & Darrell // Muir Woods // Forest Elopement

Kate & Darrell // Muir Woods Forest Elopement