california Documentary Elopement PHOTOGRAPHer


Hi! I’m an unconventional wedding photographer in Northern California.

My name is Melissa. I photograph weddings and elopements for rad, adventurous couples!

I love to give folks a MEANINGFUL and FUN experience that is centered around real moments and emotion. I specialize in working with people who aren't super comfortable being photographed.

Let's ditch the awkward posing and create something worth remembering.


elope meaningfully in the great outdoors

So, you're skipping the traditional big wedding in favor of an intimate ceremony? Awesome! I'm here to help you craft a meaningful adventure somewhere inspiring. I will be your guide and photographer through the process!


Imagine taking a hike through towering redwoods or to an alpine lake in the Sierras. Perhaps you want to plan a day exploring a beautiful place, complete with a helicopter ride over the mountains or coastline. Or maybe you want to keep it simple and elope somewhere beautiful but easily accessible. Wherever we go, I am here to help you spend your elopement day exactly the way you want to and document the process with meaningful photos.

my approach

Your experience of the day matters more than anything else. I will not only document your day, but guide you as you plan it. You will get expert, hands-on guidance from me from day one until the elopement day. You will also receive an exclusive 115 page elopement planning guide! On your elopement day, I take a step back and use a photojournalistic approach to document your adventure the way it unfolds. That way, your elopement day is about your adventure and not about having a long photoshoot.


I won't stage pretend moments for photos, I won't ask you to pose in cheesy ways, and I won't tell you to fake laugh. In addition to candid photography, we will also make stunning portraits that are easy and natural. I'm dedicated to honest storytelling so that your photos will actually help you remember the way it felt to be in certain moments-- not just what everything looked like. Not only that, but I show up with genuine enthusiasm, ready to add positivity to your day. It is an honor to be present at your elopement and entrusted with photography, so I take that seriously!


how i define elopements & Tiny Weddings

I consider an elopement or tiny wedding to be a decidedly small gathering (usually around 0-15 guests) for a non-traditional day of marriage and celebrating. But, what REALLY sets my elopement and tiny wedding collections apart from my classic wedding collections? My elopement and tiny wedding collections include expert guidance on planning so you can have the best adventure possible. Not only will you get my hands-on help with crafting your elopement day, you will also get a 115 page digital elopement planning guidebook. Reach out to me today to learn more about what I offer!



flip through my elopement portfolio with the arrows...

client love

“In one word, our experience with Melissa was incredible. Book her without hesitation – she is the absolute best choice you can make for your wedding photography! I could not be more thrilled with our actual elopement day, and the insanely STUNNING photos that were delivered to us after. Melissa made eloping to Santa Cruz exciting and easy--she expertly and patiently gave us recommendations for hotels, flowers and beach locations. On the day of, she was so kind, knowledgeable and prepared – she even brought umbrellas and towels for the beach! Melissa is warm and supportive; she instantly feels like a friend. My husband and I were so comfortable around her, and it shows in our photos. She captured genuine moments bursting with love and happiness; nothing was ever posed or forced. The photos are MAGNIFICENT. The lighting, the backgrounds, the editing – Melissa’s photos are truly art. I am so glad we eloped, and so thankful Melissa was there with us. It was an unbelievably wonderful day, and Melissa added so much to the experience. She made sure we had the most beautiful time, and has given us the most gorgeous photos to cherish for years to come; I give her my very highest recommendation!”


- Katie, 2019 client


Location & Travel

I have extensive experience with the Santa Cruz and Big Sur regions. But, no place is too far away for me to join you on your adventure. Talk to me about your ideas for eloping anywhere in California and beyond.


Check out my Big Sur Elopement Guide and my Santa Cruz Elopement Guide to get started!



outdoor experience

As a seasoned backcountry adventurer and certified Wilderness First Responder, I have experience and medical training to prevent and manage emergencies in wild places and where help is delayed. I'm proud to be able to help my couples in this way, since any true adventure comes with risk.


I am proud to be a Leave No Trace Aware Photographer . Leave No Trace ethics are important to me personally and professionally. We will work together to make sure we are respecting the beautiful environment around us whether we are in the frontcountry or the backcountry. Learn about Leave No Trace principles here .



Want to know more?

Want to know more? Send me a message today to receive my elopement collection pricing guide.

Check out these blog posts below for inspiration!


Elopements Page

As Seen In...

Santa Cruz Wedding Photographer / Big Sur Elopement Photographer / Big Sur Wedding Photographer / Carmel Wedding Photographer / California Intimate Wedding Photographer / Santa Cruz Wedding Photography