MEET the photographer

The girl behind the lens

If you're interested in an intimate forest elopement, capturing
timeless beauty and your genuine connection on camera, you're in
the right place! 

My name's Melissa, and I'm an outdoor elopement photographer,
here to cheer you on with your decision to elope in the Redwoods
(or anywhere outdoors, really!) and to celebrate your true love
and adventurous spirits. 

I spent my childhood summers growing up amongst the giant sequoias and now, for nearly 15 years, I have called the dreamy landscapes of Northern
California my home. So if you're looking into epic elopements in the
California Redwoods, I'm your girl. 

As a devoted elopement photographer, I specialize in helping you find some of the best Redwood elopement spots, that aren't swarmed with tons of tourists. Having intimately explored this area for over a decade, I've "discovered" gems that could perfectly mirror the sacred essence of your love story. 

I'm passionate about documenting elopements in the Redwoods specifically because my sweet husband Zach and I eloped barefoot in the Redwoods in 2016. There's something so raw and magical about pledging your undying love to your forever person under the canopies of some of the tallest and oldest trees on the planet. It's so primal and natural and beautiful. Everything about it just felt so right for us, and I love being able to now document those special moments for others.

Having been in your shoes, I also grasp how crucial it is to have a genuine connection with your photographer, a relationship more akin to a trusted friend than a hired professional. I'm here to artfully document your intimate elopement in the Redwoods in a style that stands the test of time, and in a style that is true to you. 

When I'm not behind the lens, you can find me agate or mushroom hunting, practicing yoga, kayaking on the lagoon, or spending time with my husband and our two young adventurers, Jax and Goldie. 

Your intimate outdoor wedding deserves to be documented, and by someone you know and trust. I would love to get to know you more to see if we're a good fit for each other. 

Thank you for even considering me as your elopement photographer. It would truly be an honor to document your wedding day. 


Fun facts

take me there

My mission with MeliRae Photography is all about capturing the magic of your connection, making your elopement stress-free, and letting your adventurous spirits shine. I believe the experience is just as important as the photos, and work hard to create personalized elopement experiences unique to you and your relationship. 

I'm committed to serving you with timeless and dreamy images that capture and celebrate your sacred love and intimate connection with each other, surrounded by the ethereal beauty of the natural world, where you can feel most truly like yourselves. 

I’m equally passionate about respecting and protecting our public lands and the wildlife that call these places home. I embrace Leave No Trace guidelines not only as an individual but also as a business, always striving to make them an integral part of my lifestyle and mindset. It’s about practice over perfection for me.

As a photography business that operates in public lands quite often, a crucial aspect of my mission is to educate my couples and anyone who ventures with me into these pristine locations. It’s essential to understand that there are actions we can take as individuals to safeguard these places, ensuring they remain untouched for us to revisit for not only vow renewals and anniversaries, but to treasure as a source of creating core memories for generations to come.

Incorporating Leave No Trace Principles Into My Business

Protecting the beauty of Northern California landscapes is at the heart of what I do. I want my couples (and my children!) to be able to return to these gorgeous places for generations to come.

That's why I've taken the time and money to invest in the Leave No Trace Aware Photographer course to better educate myself on how best to go about doing that. 

Being aware and making ethical choices while out on public lands, not only during photoshoots but with my family as well, will help to ensure these gorgeous places stay wild. 

If you're interested to learn more about Leave No Trace, I've written a blog post about it! Click        for a Quick Explanation of Leave No Trace and The 7 Ethical Guidelines.

As we celebrate your love, let's also honor the landscapes that make your elopement truly magical! 


Fun Facts

My middle name is Rae, hence MeliRae Photography
I share the name with my mama, Deborah Rae, and now my daughter, Goldie Rae

My middle name is Rae,
hence MeliRae Photography
I share the name with my mama, Deborah Rae, and now my daughter, Goldie Rae

My husband and I eloped in the
Humboldt County Redwoods in 2016

My son and I are both left-handed

I have a goldendoodle named Otis
and a rottiedoodle named Izzy

I once hiked an inactive volcano
in Costa Rica barefoot

I love shopping sustainable home decor
and even owned a vintage rug shop

"She makes you feel so comfortable in front of the camera!"

"If you want lasting memories caught on film, Melissa is your girl! She is an amazing photographer who makes you feel so comfortable in front of the camera! I usually feel very awkward having my photo taken, but with her I did not! Melissa snapped gorgeous photos of me, my boyfriend and our one year old son. It got me excited for future shoots! Thank you so much for the beautiful photos you captured of our family!!" -Celeste B.

"I always leave shoots with her feeling more confident in my own skin and energized by the creative energy she instills." 

"Melissa is a passionate and talented photographer. I always leave shoots with her feeling more confident in my own skin and energized by the creative energy she instills. She always makes me feel really comfortable in front of the camera and has a nice way of interacting with you throughout the shoot so that it feels more like you're hanging out with a friend and gives gentle directions that can make a world of difference in the final product. She is completely devoted to getting you the pictures you envision and has the ability to help you with a vision if need be. I highly suggest her for all your photography needs!" -Maddy C.

"She made me feel beautiful in every photo..."

"Working with Melissa as our photographer was such an amazing experience! She was professional, kind, and has an incredible creative eye. She made me feel beautiful in every photo and my husband and I will cherish each special moment she captured for the rest of our lives." -Emily A.

"We were able to flow through our morning activities despite a camera being around."

"I really can't say enough good things about how these photos came out. My vision was to capture some of our day to day life; the moments that easily slip away, yet make up the foundation of our lives. MeliRae did a truly incredible job and I will treasure these photos forever. Her attention to lighting and detail is exceptional. She made us feel very comfortable and we were able to flow through our morning activities despite a camera being around. She is truly an amazing artist and we are so grateful to have had her capture this special day for us. -Sydney M.

Ready for a dreamy california coastal redwoods wedding?