Melissa and Justin – A day in Santa Cruz

I met Melissa and Justin when I photographed her mom’s wedding last August. I immediately felt drawn to them. They were energetic, vibrant, and full of life! We also shared a love for the outdoors. On January 5th, after they’ve spent six months cycling down in South America, he proposed to her on the windy tip of the continent! It has to be one of the best proposals ever!

When Justin asked me what I thought about doing a campout/engagement photoshoot, I said that was a brilliant idea.  Not only would we have a great time, but what can be more fitting for the two of them? Well, it didn’t work out for the campout because the sites were well reserved for the Memorial Day weekend.  Instead, we spent the day hiking, eating great food, and ended up with a nice fire along the beach in Santa Cruz.

I knew I would be doing a bit of hiking for this photo shoot, so I only brought along my Fuji X Pro 1 and the 35mm and 60mm lens.  I didn’t use any flash at all for any of the pictures.  It’s a very lightweight combination and the lens easily fits into the water bottle pocket of my hiking daypack. Fortunately we were not in a rush.  Shooting with the X Pro 1 forces me to slow down and consider my composition more so than shooting with my DSLR’s. It’s a different, more deliberate approach to shooting that I’ve come to really enjoy. I find that I shoot less frames but am more happy with the ones I get. I also brought along a sturdy tripod.  I wanted to do some slow shutter photography when we got to the beach at the end of the day. The tripod stayed in the trunk of the car until we arrived at the beach.

60mm, f 2.4, 1/125 sec, ISO 3200

I used the panoramic mode on the X Pro 1 for this shot. 35mm, f2.8, 1/250 sec, ISO 3200

This was another shot using the panorama mode on the X Pro 1. 35mm, f 3.2, 1/500 sec, ISO 3200

After we had finished our hiking loop, we headed down to Santa Cruz and grabbed some amazing burritos.  We sat on the beach to eat it. Then we set out to take the following pictures.

35mm, f/16, 1/4 sec, ISO 200

35mm, f16/ 1/4 sec, ISO 200

After the sun had set, we made a little bonfire using driftwood we had found on the beach. Melissa asked me how I would feel about photographing a backpacking wedding for them and I said heck ya!

35mm, f1.4, 1/15 sec, ISO 640

The moon was much higher up in the sky and wouldn’t have worked for my composition so I took two exposure and merged the two together in photoshop. It’s cheating I guess, but I like the effect.

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Categories: 2012, Engagement Session

Author:Charles Le

Please support this blog by commenting and subscribing. I love reading feedback and I'm sure the the newlyweds would love to see your comments too! If you have any questions please don''t hesitate to post them or send me an email. I'm always interested to hear what you think! Thanks for your support. Ten years ago, I left the mortgage and real estate business to pursue photography, which is a passion of mine. The mortgage business was excellent at that time but I was tired of it. I had a daughter that was just born and I wanted to do something that would allow me to spend more time with her and at the same time do what I wanted. I knew that I enjoyed people photography and soon discovered that I have a very real and special talent for it. I discovered that I was particularly good at capturing moments and revealing emotions through pictures. This came instinctively for me and allowed me to develop a style that was very comfortable for me to work in. My photography quickly became popular in the bay area and I've earned a large number of referral businesses as a result. In fact, i'd say I most of my business growth is the result of referrals from clients and online sites like Yelp. I currently have a studio in downtown San Jose and photograph weddings and portraits all over the bay area and California.

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2 Comments on “Melissa and Justin – A day in Santa Cruz”

  1. Suzy
    June 14, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    So many wonderful shots Charles!! i’m SO jealous that I won’t be able to join you at their backpacking wedding.

    Suzy xx

  2. June 15, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    Hi Suzy!! Hope you are doing great! I agree with your comment. Charles – these photos are beautiful… It is hard to pick out my favorites (love them all).

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