There are so many cool parts about being a photographer than the end result – the single shot on Instagram or delivering an entire gallery. Chris and I shoot both adventure travel and adventure weddings and elopements all over the world. And while our lives seem to revolve around the destination, my favorite part is honestly about the invitation. Seriously, this life is kind of like picking up a good book or starting to watch a movie, but right before the most exciting part there's a pause, and the main character turns around and is like “You want to come with me? I really want someone to capture this.”
That part is so exciting to me because the person inviting is always plotting something extraordinary. They're conspiring to ask someone to spend the rest of their life with them, or planning a giant party, they're dreaming out loud over emails and Skype calls. Every person we work with seems to have figured out the answer to “if you could do anything, what would you do?” or “If you woke up and weren't afraid to chase an idea, what would that look like?” So yeah, there's a million great things about my job, about our travels, but that moment when someone takes a second from their story to invite me in – that's my favorite.
And this is how Chris and I ended up in the desert “shooting the sunset” just outside and eco-pod air-bnb in Ridgecrest, CA when a couple traveling from the United Kingdo just happened to be renting the place next to ours. See, the couple wasn't just there by chance like we played it off as. Stuart had actually reached out a while before with this note about proposing to his girlfriend, Amy over this email...
“I plan to propose to my girlfriend of 9 years whilst we are on Holiday in the US. We are from the UK and will be visiting California in March.
On the 15th and 16th March, we will be staying in the Mojave desert, and I have hired an eco-pod with about 300 acres of private desert to play with. This is where I plan to propose, and I think it would be a cool place to get some memorable photos.”
I was in love with his plan and the fact that it was right around Alabama Hills – one of my favorite places in the US to shoot – was so exciting. As Stuart and I talked, I saw his idea take form. He's a self-proclaimed “petrol-head” aka he really likes cars, so part of his plan after popping the question was ripping around in a truck and some ATV's to explore the desert. SO MUCH FUN!
When they actually arrived Stuart wasted no time in taking action and popping the question. I can't blame him! After traveling all the way from Oxfordshire, England and then driving here, he must have been so full of anticipation. They walked out of their car (this brings us back to Chris and I being there “shooting the sunset”), and he asked her to go grab the keys from the glovebox.
Amy walked to the car and checked the glove box, but when she turned around instead of just walking back to the eco-pod, Stuart was down on one knee. She immediately burst into tears and gave him a big kiss after saying yes! Stuart quickly pointed us out and told her how he'd set the whole thing up. She was so surprised, especially after he'd planned the entire trip without ever giving her a hint of what was really going down.
We spent the rest of the evening casually taking pictures, cooking dinner on the grill, and drinking Prosecco from the bottle as the sun set over the desert.
This was all just the beginning for Stuart's plan for the proposal weekend. He wanted to take his fiance on an adventure the next day, so I stuck around and rode ATV's with them. The landscape around this part of the US is pretty amazing. You have the best desert expanse mixed with giant mountains in the background. Giant boulders dot the massive landscape, and everywhere you go is the best playground for all things outdoors. I've had so many couples who love coming here for adventures, and I seriously find something new I love about it every time too.
We took in the views and had a ton of fun before Amy and Stuart put on some fancy clothes for a little golden hour session on some boulders in Alabama Hills. Everything was so beautiful, and I had so much fun exploring around with these two. They laughed so hard all of the time. It was contagious and by the end of the night, my cheeks hurt a little from smiling.
I especially loved getting to know them, bonding over all things country music, dogs, and cars. I loved Stuart's enthusiasm, it was contagious - his love for Amy, excitement about the desert, even how passionate he was about the Dodge Ram they rented. He wanted some shots with the truck which was a lot of fun (we even got to do a really fun astro shot with them in the bed of the truck!).
It was so much fun as we bonded over both our newest adventure of van life. Next year, they'll be traveling around Europe in their self-converted camper bus, and by then Chris and I will have gotten done with our build and will be traveling all over the US! Maybe we’ll even ship the Sprinter over to Europe… it’s definitely a goal of ours! I can't wait to go hang in Europe with these two, take more pictures, and hopefully ride around in some more campers exploring together!