Where are you based? Where do you photograph the most?
I am based and work in Washington State.
Why did you join PLC?
The ability to have access to public lands for photography is such a gift because some of my most amazing experiences as a photographer have been on public lands. I’m the person who will say “WOW” every 5 feet no matter if I’ve been to the spot before because every place comes with a different experience every time! It makes every elopement so unique, even from my end. I’m based in Washington so we have everything from the coast to rainforest, from volcanoes to mountains, and all the forests in between.
The outdoors has always been a part of my life. My grandparents owned land and I remember loving to walk the trails with my dad and the times he tapped trees to collect sap for maple syrup. The outdoors has always brought me peace, connection to something greater, and what has recentered me when I needed it. My partner and I even co-own land with family in hopes of continuing a family legacy by fostering a place for future generations to come and enjoy the land and feel the need to protect it as we are.
Share one of your favorite stories while photographing an elopement on public land.
One of my favorite experiences was at Mount Rainier National Park. The mountain was very significant to my couple as they think of each other whenever they see Rainier. Unfortunately for us, the mountain decided to stay hidden during the elopement ceremony. However, as we were hiking for portraits, I stopped them on the trail to take a moment to soak everything in. I reminded them of their relationship and how Rainier plays an important part for them. At this moment, I just happened to look over my shoulder and, lo and behold, Rainier peaked out to say hi! Throughout the rest of the evening, the clouds fully parted and as we ended our time together, we got a full clear view of her majesty. I get shivers thinking about it still to this day!
As a photographer, I’ve seen a wide range of interpretations and a lack of clarity around permitting. I have no problem following the rules, however, sometimes even when we follow the rules, it feels like we won’t win when rangers approach us, which makes our businesses look unprofessional. I want to work with the land managers to keep our lands protected and available for use, not against them. This is why I love PLC – the work they do with the land managers and lawyers is so beneficial because each small business doesn’t have the time or resources to challenge the discrepancies. I would love to see in the future some sort of formal documentation I can carry with me that rangers will understand and respect, and see that I’m trying to work with them to keep these types of experiences open to couples and other creative vendors!
Why do you think it is important to protect public land use?
The protection of this land for couples as well as photographers is essential, but it takes cooperation from couples and photographers/vendors alike. Although wedding days are special, they don’t give any of us the right to do whatever we want. I think it’s really important for couples to understand the impact of their decisions beyond their day, especially on nature. I think photographers need to understand the impact their images can create if they post images that don’t follow principles like Leave No Trace. I educate my couples on Leave no Trace and even though my business is small, this education can have a cascade effect and I hope they take their learnings into their communities. Our public lands are special! I want everyone to be able to enjoy them for years to come!
See more of Alexandria’s work: