Weddings, Olympic Peninsula

Olympic National Park Wedding Photography During a Stunning Lake Crescent Sunset

Olympic National Park Wedding Photography at Lake Crescent

In late June 2021 as a record heat wave was causing Seattle freeways to collapse, I was making the drive down I-5, then across the Tacoma narrows and out to the Olympic Peninsula for an Olympic National Park wedding. My couple for the day were east coasters who’d decided, sight unseen, to elope in the Pacific Northwest near Lake Crescent. Our plan was to meet at the Lake Crescent parking lot and scout the shore for an impromptu wedding ceremony.

After a quick fuel up (i.e., caffeine) before Port Angeles, I arrived for the Lake Crescent wedding with the temperatures well over 100 degrees. I had visited Lake Crescent before while on a Spring road trip across the Olympic Peninsula, and the day I previously visited it was nearly empty. On this day, with the crushing heat, large crowds were gathered on the lake’s shore — it looked like half of Port Angeles and most of Forks were escaping their (likely not air-conditioned) homes for the cooling waters of the lake. This would make photography trickier than anticipated.

At the parking lot I looked around and spotted a small, overly dressed group stepping out of an SUV. I realized this particular Olympic National Park Wedding would feature an amazing red dress, the traditional dress color for Indian weddings. After introducing myself and getting some quick portrait shots on the dock (assisted by a helpful groomsmen wielding a small scrim to help diffuse the light) we began looking for a spot for the ceremony.

Walking down Lake Crescent and through a small grove, the couple settled on a spot of beach near a natural jetty that protruded into the lake. The only issue here being the unrelated group that was camping just a few yards away, making it a challenge to avoid including the shirtless (and somewhat stupefied by the sudden appearance of a wedding next to their tent) group of campers in any shore-facing photographs. I worked to try and compose shots that blocked out the campers, but they made their way into a few anyway.

As a Documentary Style Photographer, I didn’t mind too much. If they were there, then they were there, and I know 20 years from now the couple will see the campers hanging out in the background of these photos and laugh, telling the story of the bewildered background guests at their impromptu Lake Crescent wedding.

The bride and groom had invited just a small group to travel to Washington for the ceremony, making the little wedding party an intimate gathering (well, besides the campers). After getting a laptop ready to live stream the event to a wider group, the ceremony began just as the sun dipped behind the mountain, diffusing the light throughout the heatwave haze. It was the soft golden light Seattle wedding photographers dream of during the nine months of rain and overcast, grey skies.

With the ceremony over the group chatted happily with those on the livestream and broke out a chocolate wedding cake before it could melt. Hugs were given all around.

But, at this point, everyone was sweating buckets and a bit sun touched. The heat was unlike any other heat I’ve felt (and I grew up in the South). Throughout the event I was regretting not bringing a headband as I was constantly having to wipe sweat from my eyes in order to see though my viewfinder. And while the bride and groom were glowing, it was hard to tell where the joy ended and the sweat began. At some-point the group eyed the cooling water and said, “let’s get in.”


All images captures on the Fujifilm X-Pro3 with Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 and X-T4 with Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2.

Processed in Adobe Lightroom.

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