The Last Minute Elopement


I was surprised to get a phone call to do an elopement a few days before the couple’s ceremony. A week before I witnessed a quick elopement at my church. The couple wanted to get married before the baby was due so they asked the pastor if he would do a quick ceremony.  I felt moved by their situation that I wanted to bless them with a small photo shoot to commemorate their special day. I gave them my phone number and email and said let’s touch base on Monday. I also asked my colleagues if they wanted to join me. They said, “yes.” Monday came along and the couple never contacted me. I was surprised because I was going to gift them a one hour shoot and they didn’t accept it. So, I decided to let it go.

Five days letter I get a text from a pastor friend who said that a mutual friend of ours had recommended me to him to do this last minute elopement that he was performing in Malibu. I immediately said yes and was elated at the opportunity. I couldn’t believe it. Instead of me blessing and getting turned down, I got blessed with a paying gig. God is good. I really needed it. The timing couldn’t have been anymore perfect than this.

The location was at an Airbnb in the Malibu mountains overlooking an incredible view of the ocean. It was just the four of us, the pastor, me, and this sweet couple from England. The ceremony was sweet and short and we did a few shots up on the mountain. Afterwards they invited me to dinner at a really great restaurant in Malibu, Geoffreys. We all had a lovely dinner and great fellowship together. I decided that because the location of the ceremony was limited and they never got to get any beach shots, that I would meet them at the beach for a few more. They were happy that I would go out of my way to offer it to them.

Sometimes when we have a heart of giving even if the other person doesn’t receive the gift, good things come around. I believe that because I sowed generosity I ended up reaping a harvest. Always have a heart to give and you’ll be amazed what can happen. Check out the gallery for more images.

Lake Elsinore Walker Canyon Super Bloom

Lake Elsinore poppy super bloom


My friend and I embarked on one of the road trips of the season, California’s Super Bloom 2019. Intitally when I saw so many amazing pictures of friends frolicking in a sea of poppies on Facebook, I knew that I couldn’t miss out on this. As I researched where everyone was going, I called my friend and said we are going. My friend Julie and I are nature freaks. We live close to the Santa Monica Mountains where we hike together a lot. Due to the recent wildfires that struck our area last fall, we were determined to see spring’s burst of wildflowers in it’s magnificence. This is something that I have never seen in my life. It was one of the most amazing spectacles.

Lavonne Grady photography walker canyon Lake Elsinore

Lavonne Grady photography walker canyon Lake Elsinore super bloom

The drive for us, fortunately was less than 2 hours. We met a couple that drove from San Francisco. We met these ladies who were from Chicago and Wisconsin. This was not only locals but nationwide news. As soon as we got on hwy 15, all we can see is poppies everywhere. On top of the hills, on the side of hills, all around there was poppies. I was getting so excited that I just wanted to get out of the car as soon as possible. Upon arriving, the exit was closed and we started to get some traffic. We learned that the weekend before they had received over 1 million visitors. The weekend we went they were prepared to handle the traffic. We drove another 2.5 miles to the next exit where we were directed to a parking area where we would be shuttled to the canyon entrance. After being shut down due to the population overload, the city decided to control the situation due to resident complaints. The good part was it was controlled. The bad part was now we had to pay 10.00 to see the poppies. But it was truly worth it.

Orange poppies LaVonne Grady photography

With the excitement looming and my anxiety levels rising, we finally arrived at the entrance of Walker Canyon. Hundreds of people dressed up with their cameras taking selfies and pictures of each other. The all seemed concentrated in one area and you can tell. Why? Because people who don’t respect nature left major footprints. By time that I got there there was some damaged to the hills. New trails were made. People laying on poppies to get their selfies. Since my friend and I like to hike we managed to go a little further and get away from the hordes of people. Also we respect nature and took all of our pictures in open spots. We tried not to leave our footprint. I think we really accompolished that.

Walker canyon lake elsinore super bloom LaVonne Grady photographyGirl sitting in the middle of a poppy field walker canyon lake elsinore LaVonne Grady photographyGirl standing in the middle of wild flowers walker canyon Lake Elsinore LaVonne Grady photographyWalker canyon Lake Elsinore LaVonne Grady photography super bloom

Poppy fields in walker canyon Lake Elsinore LaVonne Grady photography

Just like everybody else, I brought a couple of outfits to change into along the way for a few pictures for myself. My friend Julie isn’t a photographer. So what I do with my non photographer friends is set up the scene. I make sure the exposure is good, then I place the composition just right and tell them to stay there but feel free to zoom in and out. I usually have them do the simplest photography until they feel comfortable. I don’t like when my photos horizon lines are off. It may seem artistic but I hate it. Does that mean I’m actually the photographer even if I didn’t release the shutter? Leave a comment on that. I would love to read what other people think on that one.

What do you think? I think she did a great job taking my pictures. Till the next adventure.

Pretty in Pink

Pink landscape Boney Mountain

Lately I have been taking my camera on some of my hikes.  This certain type of yucca plant is blooming right now everywhere.  While I was playing in Photoshop to give this photo some life, I decided to play with color and thought it was pretty in pink.  Sometimes the same places we go to, we can make a different experience.