Celebrating the anniversary of their first year as a couple, these genderqueer (they/them) sweethearts opted for an elopement styled shoot - not a full, legally binding wedding like the majority of the elopements I photograph, but a fun opportunity to dress up in the trappings of marriage and look gleefully together into a possible shared future. Having both moved to Northern California to be closer to the state’s natural splendor, the ancient redwoods around California’s Redwood National and State Parks - an area which includes the tallest trees in the world - was the perfect setting for the couple to enjoy a lively and imaginative hiking adventure.
Having chosen a date in the area’s cool-but-not-freezing off-season, we were able to explore the area extensively without bumping into many other people. Our packs loaded up with water and snacks, and carrying warm layers in case of rain, we set off on a gentle trail through the ancient redwoods to a secluded trailside spot where the two could have a private experience uninterrupted by other hikers, surrounded by wild huckleberry bushes, giant ferns, and towering thousand-year-old trees. Under the lush forest canopy, the two sweethearts took a quiet, ceremonial moment to speak tenderly to each other about the meaning of their relationship and the love that they shared.
After this emotional experience, the return hike was more solemn, with low-key breaks for rest and shared contemplation on benches alongside the trail. But the hike itself was revitalizing, and by the time we had returned to the road, the couple celebrated the end of the day’s adventuring with a final burst of energy, dancing in the empty street surrounded by forest (though keeping a careful lookout for the occasional vehicle).