Sand dunes engagement session in central CA

I’ve seen various sand dunes engagement photos before, and I’ve always tucked that at the back of my mind.

“I bet we could take some rad photos at the sand dunes, given the chance…”

Here’s the thing though: you have to make your own chances. Or at least,  you have to seize them when they’re presented to you.


It’s not always easy to meet up with my couples before the wedding for an engagement session. I shoot weddings all over, so when a couple lives farther away, and I’m going to be in town, we jump at the chance to get together. Sara floated the idea for this one, which immediately made me happy dance in my chair. “I was thinking we could do a cool sand dunes shoot. Formal attire, sand, us, you, camera.”

Sign me the eff up.

Some of my couples go the more formal route, and some opt for more casual. My advice is always the same: whatever works for you. Whatever makes you feel good, or most like you, or happy, or comfortable.

Sara and Kayla showed up looking like a magazine cover. We wandered around the dunes in a spot I’d found on Google Maps (I’m in the habit now of sending my couples GPS coordinates for want of a landmark; it’s always worked out well), and the central coast did not disappoint.

The weather had been moody and rainy leading up to it, but that weekend, it was unseasonably warm. I had traveled down with nothing but long-sleeved shirts because the weather app on my phone lied to me, but the sun put on a show for us that evening. Everything looked so dreamy and colourful and warm!

I love getting to see my couples interact with each other. Sara is a little quieter; Kayla is exuberant. She was carrying a bag while we hiked in, which I assumed only contained Sara’s change of clothes, but once we stopped, she said, “I’ve got smoke bombs!” With the biggest freaking grin on her face.


Let me interrupt myself real quick: You need to be very careful with smoke bombs. We did this right next to the ocean, with no grass/plant life around. Smoke bombs do throw sparks–I’ve got photo evidence–and you absolutely do not want to set any fires. You also need to check the laws in your state about fireworks, as well as the rules for wherever you’re shooting. We were also using black smoke, which looks like fire and can freak people out, so let the appropriate people know ahead of time if you can, proceed with caution, and safety first, kids.

I’m also a big advocate of Leave No Trace principles and general stewardship of the planet. Whatever you bring with you, you also bring out. Pack out any canisters, and make sure you don’t leave anything behind!


We basically had the area to ourselves, from the top of the dunes to this big rock shelf by the sea. Sara and Kayla rocked this session so hard, including the “sand hiking” on the way out. (80% date night, 20% leg day.) Glad we got the chance to meet up for a sand dunes engagement session; I can’t wait for their intimate wedding later this year xx


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  1. […] met up with them earlier in the year for their engagement session, which was such a blast that I knew I was in for it with their elopement. In the best […]

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