Oak Creek Canyon, Autumn leaves

This early autumn sunset was saturated with warm hues of gold and green, the perfect ambience for an intimate destination wedding. West Fork is a popular trail head for both the serious backpacker as well as the day hiker. Deep in the canyon of Oak Creek, 30 min. north of Sedona, West Fork is the entrance to the Ponderosa Forests of the Flagstaff region. A short drive up the switch-backs and you are in the thick of the pine trees and overlooking the vast valley of red rocks. 

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There are numerous glamorous National Park locations for a destination elopement, yet West Fork is one of those hidden treasures you won't have to fight the crowds, permits, or crazy cold weather.  Next door to the Grand Canyon, the Oak Creek Canyon-Flagstaff area is the intimate version of greatness.

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One of my favorite stops on the way to West Fork is the Indian Gardens Cafe & Market.  Located in Oak Creek Canyon, 4 miles north of uptown Sedona. 

Dry Creek Vista, entry to Devils Bridge

I believe how we do one thing translates into how we show up in all areas of our life.

It's no secret I'm in love with big landscapes and warm sunsets. This time of the day inspires me to believe in magic, fairytale romances and the synchronicity to find each other.  Love is a verb, an inspired action to support and encourage our partners, to remind each other of our true power. It's an agreement to uplift and show up with our heart on our sleeve. We find trust and safety in our mutual desire to consistently be open and available for each other with a wholeheartedness. Our soul craves connection. In a state of appreciation for each other, we are free to grow and learn in our primary relationships. It requires both parties to be open and have a willingness to explore how we can best love ourselves and each other. When we are full inside, we have unlimited energy to give others.

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 Native American ceremonies are becoming more popular on the red rock elopement ceremonies.

Native American ceremonies are becoming more popular on the red rock elopement ceremonies.

 The joining of the couple with the blanket is a beautiful tradition. 

The joining of the couple with the blanket is a beautiful tradition. 

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 Outdoor weddings allow for all of our best friends to attend.

Outdoor weddings allow for all of our best friends to attend.

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Not far from this vista point is the famous Devils Bridge, available by hiking or jeep.

Courthouse Vista at Sunrise

I am a warrior of light, committed to my whole hearted presence, whole like the sun, yet ever changing like the feminine moon. I will follow your reflected sunniness across the desert, as you bring out my best, my soulful depth. Ground me with your touch, your breath upon my neck. Sooth my storms with your compelling gaze. Remind me why you fought so hard to get my attention.  Together we become the sunrise.

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 The position of the sun during the month of October is a lovely alignment with this vista.

The position of the sun during the month of October is a lovely alignment with this vista.

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A sunrise session begins in the dark, and somewhat crisp temperatures in October.  When the sun crests over Courthouse Rock, the temperature rises quickly and the moment of magic takes over.

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Oak Creek Canyon, the West Fork

A delicious day, only a love song can describe the beauty and elegance of the blending of hearts and minds. Their friendship touched with sparks, eager for lips to caress indefinitely, wildly ignited and set flame to a life of fervor.  They eloped amidst the magical sun flares deep in the canyon of West Fork, an intimate setting that can only be described as enchanting and uplifting.

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 There are remnants of the old orchard, a rock-stack building, and a walk-way by the creek. The ivy in the yard grows as if the home was still there.

There are remnants of the old orchard, a rock-stack building, and a walk-way by the creek. The ivy in the yard grows as if the home was still there.

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West Fork in Sedona is a popular hiking destination as well as a gorgeous venue for exchanging vows.  Officiant Shanandoah Sterling is available for more information on this gorgeous location.

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Hair and make-up was provided by Amanda Warfield from Salon Tru Scottsdale.

Mogollon Rim, bears and storms

Serendipity is the only word for this day.

We began our session along this forest service road, getting comfortable being in front of the camera, having a few laughs. We had only started, when this curious bear walked into the scene behind my couple. I was conflicted with the extreme excitement for the photo opportunity and the hard cold facts that possibly a mama bear was close behind. The bear followed us with a great amount of interest. I told my couple to stop, hold their pose, yet look slowly behind them at the bear. They thought I was joking!  We grabbed a few shots, then headed back to the truck to check on their two small pups. The bear continued to follow us. After a few more shots, we jumped in the 4wd and headed a short distance down the road as to not encourage our bear further.

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We were so involved with our session, we didn't notice the storm brewing to the south. We suddenly felt the breeze shift abruptly and felt the hair on our necks rise as the thunder and lightening in the distance suddenly became very close.  As we hurried to set up on this view-point, a double-rainbow came out above us, long enough for a hurried few shots. The storm was encircling us rapidly.

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As darkness embraced the three of us, we continued with the session, and the lighting became more epic and commanding to the south. After 30 min., the clouds billowed towards the rim, lathering us softly with a light sprinkle. We packed up our gear after getting a few shots that stirred my soul.

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We ran for cover as we blended into the rolling clouds and the sky shook lose all of it's moisture. There was not another person out there all day, until the torrential rain began. It was then, a passing car slowed to watch us running for the truck. It's headlights beamed low onto the gravel road as it came to a stop. I hollered to Kayla to step into the flood of lights, as the car stopped. She stood there waiting for my next move. A voice yelled out the window, "would you like the high beams?"  I shouted "yes" as loud as I could, competing with the pounding rain. The driver of the car put his high beams on, and I quickly shot this solo portrait of Kyla, the one I will never forget. That moment my perspective changed. THIS experience was why I am inspired to do the work I do. Living with passion, forever chasing magic, looking for that "light", that "look", and having serendipity on my side. My lust for blending beauty in nature is what drives me every day. I was living my life as I envisioned.  Kayla and Rich were my perfect partners in this creation. I felt wickedly creative this day.

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West Fork Trail, Engagement and Romance

Engagement session in Sedona, Bon Miller Photo

The element of surprise, her eyes closed and the anticipation of his touch. He is in awe of her feminine, and she loves his appreciation. There is a wildness in her wavering essence, one moment she is soft and luring, the next she is untamed and a force to be won over.  I am obsessed with capturing this mix of tides, the polarity of the masculine and the feminine. It is an unexplainable magnetism.  Un-posing the "pose" is where the magic flourishes.

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Heading towards Flagstaff from West fork is the lookout vista at the top of the switchbacks. This gives us an second sunset opportunity. 

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West Fork Trail is one of my favorite locations for an engagement session.  Sunset is the best time of day for photos, which can be up to 90 minutes earlier than in Sedona proper.  

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Suncliff Boutique Elopement Venue

Unforgettable Luxury 5-star private Casita on 24 acre

Overlooking Cathedral Rock, the exclusive Sedona Sun Cliff Boutique Hotel features unforgettable views from your honeymoon suite with outdoor spa, where the stars are yours. Specializing in intimate wedding elopements and honeymoons, Kate Joy will assist with your every desire. 

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  Carrie Kacen , international award winning hair and make-up artist, putting the final touch on her bride. The finest professionals are hand selected for the Sun Cliff Resort list of exclusive wedding vendors.

Carrie Kacen, international award winning hair and make-up artist, putting the final touch on her bride. The finest professionals are hand selected for the Sun Cliff Resort list of exclusive wedding vendors.

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