Where are you based? Where do you photograph the most?
I am based in North Bend, Washington. I photograph elopements all over the Pacific Northwest. I do most of my work in Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mount Baker National Forest, Snoqualmie Valley region and the Southern Oregon Coast.
Why did you join PLC?
I joined Public Lands Creatives because they are an organization of photographers who want to preserve and protect our public lands while helping to create fair access for all. The members work together to advocate for safely photographing elopements in public lands so that couples can enjoy getting married in these beautiful places.
I feel that Public Lands Creative is important because they help to educate photographers on the importance of taking care of our public lands every time we visit them and following LNT principles. They also create education that we can use to help spread the word. Over the past few years as elopements on public lands have become more popular, we’ve seen some people who have not taken good care of these lands. If that continues, we will destroy these beautiful lands and none of us will be able to take couples onto public lands for their elopements. That will be devastating if that happens.
What changes have you seen to permits since becoming an elopement photographer?
During the time that I’ve been photographing elopements on public lands, I have seen a change in the permit process and what is needed to photograph elopements. National parks, National forests and State parks have all increased the prices of elopement ceremony permits and also changed the requirements for obtaining a permit for an elopement ceremony. Each location has a different set of requirements and they change them frequently, so an elopement photographer must check on the permit requirements frequently.
With the increase in elopements on public lands since 2020, many locations have had to reduce the number of people allowed to attend an elopement and the amount of time you can be in a location for an elopement. In some locations, that is less than 10 people in attendance total and less than 30 minutes of time for your ceremony and photographs. These changes have become necessary because it’s not good for public lands to have a large group of people trampling on trails and standing in certain popular locations for a long period of time. Large groups of people impact the land (**link to LNT principles**) and also take away from the experience for other people visiting the public land.
These changes in the permit requirements have caused me to change my elopement packages so that I only allow 10 people or less at an elopement ceremony. I also restrict the areas that I will recommend for elopement ceremonies and the days of the week for elopements, so that we have less chance of encountering large numbers of people.
What do you hope to see PLC achieve?
I hope that PLC is able to achieve a common set of rules for photographing elopements in national parks and national forests throughout the United States. This would be helpful for elopement photographers to understand the rules and eloping couples to know what they can expect by eloping in any national park and national forest.
What is one of your favorite memories on public land?
I love working on Public Lands because they are some of our most beautiful places on Earth. They are also well maintained, so I know that they will be beautiful places to take couples for their elopement day.
One of my favorite experiences with a client while working on Public Lands was with a couple who traveled all the way from Pennsylvania to explore Olympic National Park (ONP). They wanted to have a multi-day adventure elopement in a national park and ONP was the perfect location for that! ONP has such diverse landscape…alpine lakes, mountains, waterfalls, rain forests and coastline with unique sea stacks. During their 2-day elopement, they were able to exchange their vows on the coast, explore a dense rain forest, see many different varieties of mushrooms and moss, hike to a unique waterfall and have their first dance alone on a beach under a starry night sky.
See more of Stacy’s work: