It’s every wedding photographer’s dream for the bride and groom to relinquish complete control of their wedding to the photographer to allow them to determine the location, time, attire, time of wedding and everything else. Not only that, but to have no other guests at the wedding, and allow them to do a 5hr photo shoot around Santa Barbara with just them.

That happened to me this weekend.

Stephanie & Vadim decided to elope. They wanted to get married in the Santa Barbara area and hired me to escort them around to various locations to capture just the two of them in different spots. We started at the Santa Barbara Courthouse, and then went to these botanical gardens with a duck pond. Then over to the Mission rose garden, and finally for their ceremony, Knapp’s Castle – an unfinished castle/mansion at 3000ft atop the mountains of Santa Barbara. I told them late July would work best so the sunset would be peering through the arches. They gave me complete control to do all their other photos first, and then I signaled the Officiant to start the wedding, which he completed in 10 minutes allowing for more portraits as the sun disappeared over Lake Cachuma.

First we started at the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

Stephanie & Vadim
Stephanie & Vadim-001

Then we headed over to Alice Keck Park, which was important to Vadim because he wanted at least some water in the photos

Stephanie & Vadim-003
Stephanie & Vadim-004

Then over to the Santa Barbara Mission for about 10 minutes…

Stephanie & Vadim-005

And then up to Knapp’s Castle for the actual ceremony at sunset. They got a permit from the County so others were up there hiking and picnicing I felt obligated to kick them out. Am I mean? Probably. But they paid good money to have their ceremony legally, and intended to keep it private. They got it, as well as a killer sunset.


It was the first time doing an elopement which means since there were no other witnesses present (except the people trespassing) I also had to sign their marriage certificate as the official witness. I included that in the price. 🙂


Needless to say the entire day was fun, simple, low-stress and romantic. They gave me complete control over the locations, timing and everything else and I think they were more than happy with the results as you can see from their response to my initial upload of 100 photos by 9am the next day:


It’s clients like Stephanie & Vadim which make me grateful and blessed to be able to help capture dreams. I can’t wait for them to see the rest.


  1. Dianne Jones Gralnick

    These are amazing! I’m sure they are thrilled with everyone of them! Am I the first to comment on your blog? Besides yourself that is. If so, what do I win?

  2. Wayne Denny

    Beautiful photos. I followed your post here from Flickr, some really great work. My favorite has to be the one of the bride by herself – that shot is flat out gorgeous & unique!

  3. Greg Holland (FJ40TroutBum on Flickr)

    These are outstanding! They did the right thing hiring you. I’m glad you found my old Jeep from college.

    Consider your comments section tested.

  4. Ginny T. – Rebecca surely is tatlneed! We, of the marketing department, love her!! How one manages to capture the most wonderful moments in a snap, I’ll never know! I’m sure this photo session was a blast! These three are quite special and so fun! What great photos

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