The Big Sur coastline is what dreams are made of—photographer dreams, that is. Pair an immaculate Northern California coast location with the dreamiest couple for their early maternity portrait session in Big Sur, and it may feel like cheating the system just a bit. Perfect light, earthen tones, texture at every turn, and a gorgeous couple make for quite the combo.
I’ve known Danielle and Ben since they were just married. In fact, they served as my models in a Virginia editorial I put together a few years ago. Those black and white portraits of Danielle live in my mind rent-free. Since then, Danielle has become a dear friend, both professionally (she’s an amazing photographer!) and personally. Any time I get them in front of my lens is a treat.
Danielle and Ben decided to spend their babymoon traveling up the Californian coast, making their final stop in the Carmel area. It just so happened I would be in California the exact weekend they found themselves in Carmel, and though it was early in Danielle’s pregnancy, we knew magic awaited us on those moody shores. Initially, we selected Carmel to be the backdrop for these early maternity portraits. After much research, I stumbled upon a spot nestled in between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Big Sur. We set our sights on that captivating stretch of beach, and suffice it to say, I’m glad we did.
During Danielle’s Vision Call, we envisioned fashion that emulated the natural tones, earthen textures, and effortless feel of the Northern Californian coast—creams, ecrus, moss, browns, linen, wool, unfussy, visually interesting, relaxed. Danielle’s Dissh dress perfectly accentuated her growing bump, a must-have quality when sourcing looks for an early maternity session in my opinion. We both were drawn to the vertical ribbed nature and tone of the dress. It provided visual interest, an elongating quality, and a complimentary hue to Danielle’s skin tone without taking away from her or the environment.
Ben sported linen pants in an oyster shade, complete with a textural wool brown sweater. I’m so glad we went with this look for him specifically. His contrasting outfit provided quite a bit of depth and played off the coastal surroundings flawlessly.
Nature is one of my greatest inspirations. Joey often makes fun of me because we can’t ever just go to the beach—we must go to the beach and examine the patterns waves leave in the sand, the hues in the water, and the palette naturally present in the beach foliage. If I were to design a beach out of my own aesthetic, this one would be it. Layered, other-worldly rock as the foundation for succulent-lined cliffs overlooking vast crystal seas fed by a trickling stream. I could’ve photographed here twenty times over and found new inspiration each time.
Sometimes, God surprises us with dreams fulfilled beyond what we could imagine. I’ve longed to photograph in the Big Sur and Carmel regions since I first picked up a camera at fourteen. Never did I imagine it would be with the most genuine soon-to-be-parents for their magical early maternity session in Big Sur. And I definitely couldn’t have imagined how perfectly this session fell into place—serendipitous timing with travel schedules, moody light to start and ending with that hallmark California glow, and images better than anything I envisioned.