By Kara Spencer, Editor for Pacific Coast Weddings
“The glacier was definitely the hardest,” Elena said. “It took two hours of hiking in the snow and the last part was sliding down on our bottoms to get to this waterfall.”
A team of four slid down, bringing with them dresses, flowers, photography reflectors, lights and other equipment. And even while her couple was freezing cold at the edge of a spitting glacier, she got the shot. “The hardest ones to get are usually my favorite,” she said.
The grander the photos became, the more clients asked to do a shoot of their own. Whether an elopement, engagement or wedding, Elena had a vision for the photo she had to achieve. One particular vision: a stormy day on top of Rattlesnake Ridge, located in the outskirts of Seattle in North Bend, and sitting high above the northwest-famous aqua waters of Rattlesnake Lake.
“I saw this girl in a black dress and the vision was to have stormy weather,” she said. “I need dramatic clouds to be there”
A three-hour trek through hail and muddy trails in North Bend brought them to their destination. It was a long day and a lot of planning. It was a risk, she said, adding that “a risk often turns out the best.”
The risks have paid off since Elena first started four years ago. It was at that time that she became enamored with getting photos taken of her new baby girl, her youngest along with her two boys. Her husband purchased her first camera, a Cannon 60D, so she could start taking the photos herself. And so emerged the photos of her baby on a frosty day, with sapphire eyes looking right into your own.
Her progress was mostly self-taught, Elena said. She began watching Youtube tutorials and learning manual on her camera right away. And when she found herself ready to embark into wedding photography, she decided she might need a bit more help. “I had no idea how to shoot a wedding. I took a course, a ‘mentoring class’ specifically for weddings,” Elena said. “I was so scared. My first bride just said “I trust you, it’s okay."
Not too long after, Elena booked six more. She has since been to Arizona, Florida, Oregon, and all around Washington to capture weddings and engagements.
Elena said she still often wakes up in disbelief, asking how she got in this profession. As a quiet person who tends to be more behind the scenes, she said she never knew she had it in her to be an active photographer.
“I never knew this part of me. It shocked me. Once you give me a camera, it’s like I’m a different person.”
Discussing her future plans, she said she would like to focus specifically on elopements and engagement shoots and she wants to travel beyond where she has so far. With a trip to Hawaii for a shoot this April, she appears to be on her way. But Iceland is what she has her eyes on. No matter where she ends up, or how tight her schedule gets, it is the love for telling stories through photos that make it worth it.
“Seriously sometimes I wake up and I wonder ‘is this a dream, is it for real?’”