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Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

2/04/15

Personal, Travel

COMMENTS:

DATE:

22

We boarded the plane with our winter coats tucked tightly around our waists. My hands buried in my pockets and dark circles beneath my eyes from a late night of packing a single suitcase that would sustain me for three long weeks. The radio rattled on about snowstorms and world news, while my husband held tightly to my hand. I cycled through my mental to-do list before kissing him goodbye and stepping onto the curb. By the time we landed in California, the sunshine greeted us in its warm embrace and as I lifted my eyes to the bright blue sky… and I smiled.

After being buried in the grey of winter for far too long, that enduring glow was exactly what my heart needed. With each passing day, I felt the tightly wound worries of my mind unraveling and my spirit growing lighter. The sweet scent of the Pacific Ocean was a nostalgic reminder of summer and with the windows down, four girls sang their hearts out to every song on the radio. We laughed until our stomachs ached and strolled the streets arm in arm beneath a blanket of glistening stars.  The highway danced through the desert and curved around cliff sides as mountains cascaded directly into a vast glimmer of turquoise.

Each day brought another adventure and an endless amount of joy.

California Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke Photography

Can I just begin by saying how much I absolutely love visiting California! And at the start of our trip, we were given six gorgeous Enaura Bridal Gowns to bring with us up the Pacific Coast Highway to photograph on the adventure of a lifetime! And, let me tell you, it truly was a trip that I will never forget! We started in Long Beach, just outside of Los Angeles, at the cutest little airport I’ve ever seen! And after we figured out how to fit far too much luggage into Katie’s Nissan Rogue, we were on our way!

Our first meal in California was my favorite. Cafe Gratitude in Venice Beach was downright incredible. Each meal was named intentionally such that when you ordered you would say, “I AM…” and the name of the meal. I am strong. I am enthusiastic. I am alive. And so on! Such a cool way to incorporate the mission of their business into the brand experience.

Oh, and did I mention that this was my favorite meal of the entire California Trip. Including dessert, which was gluten free… but, I never would have known! So yummy! After our post-flight dinner, we caught the sunset outside of LA before our first drive up to Santa Barbara!

California Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke Photography

Santa Barbara: The city that stole my heart back at United last year was just as dreamy as I remember it! We started the day with health smoothies before a delicious lunch with the team at PASS in town – talking about Passion Portraits and brainstorming ways to serve our community better this year. Don’t you love conversations like that? The ones that get you dreaming big and finding ways to help others! It was a lunch that I will never forget! This stop on our journey also resulted in one of my favorite Editorial Shoots of all time for Enaura Bridal! Oh my goodness… I’m still dreaming about these gorgeous gowns and the incredible girls who rocked them for us on the beach!

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But that’s all I can share for now… Back to the Road Trip! From Santa Barbara, we drove up to Pismo Beach and San Louis Obispo!

California Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke Photography

You know that I have a crazy obsession with good coffee and thanks to a recommendation from our friends at PASS in Santa Barbara, we knew that we had to try Scout Coffee! We spent the morning meeting with Amber Karson of Karson Butler Events (who I simply ADORE beyond words!) — San Louis Obispo was truly one of the most charming little towns you could ever imagine! And after breakfast, we started driving again through the gorgeous countryside beside the Hearst Castle and along the beautiful Pacific Coastline as we approached Big Sur!

California Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke Photography

While driving through Big Sur, we pulled off on the side of the highway and had our first spontaneous styled shoot with Katie modeling another gorgeous Enaura Bridal gown on the cliff sides beside the Pacific Coast Highway! It had been a really hazy, dreary day — but we had some gorgeous light right around sunset, which made up for it!

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We stayed the night in Monterey, California and in the morning I photographed Sarah and Walter’s Carmel Beach Portrait Session!

Carmel_Beach_California_Destination_Wedding_Portrait_Photographer_Natalie_Franke_Photography_0001Carmel_Beach_California_Destination_Wedding_Portrait_Photographer_Natalie_Franke_Photography_0006California Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke Photography

After wrapping up my shoot in Carmel, we hit the road again and began our drive up to San Francisco! But before we even reached the city, we stumbled upon the most spectacular cliffs at sunset and had to pull off the road for another spontaneous California Bridal Shoot. Anyone else might think we’re crazy… but I know that the photographers reading the blog today completely understand what I’m talking about.

That California light is downright magical!

Big_Sur_California_Coastal_Wedding_Inspiration_Enaura_Bridal_Photo_0001 Big_Sur_California_Coastal_Wedding_Inspiration_Enaura_Bridal_Photo_0012 California Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke Photography

And then came… San Francisco!
California Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke PhotographyCalifornia Wedding Photographer's Road Trip up Pacific Coast Highway | Natalie Franke Photography

We had an amazing morning in San Francisco over breakfast with local photographer Catie Watkins! And this girl is such a sweetheart! We absolutely loved chatting, sharing ideas, and doing a tiny bit of shooting before our road trip around town continued!

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Add Your Comment

COMMENTS +

  1. Urška Majer says:

    Wow! This post makes we want to pack a suitcase and hop on a plane 🙂 Looking forward to all the styled shoots you did with those amazing gowns!

  2. Neža says:

    Natalie amazing. From the start to the end. <3

  3. Renee says:

    So basically what you are saying is that I should stop at every restaurant you guys went to while on my trip this spring… holy moly. Everything is just perfect and my favorite part of this road trip is the spontaneous shoots while driving the coast! Just gorgeousssssss!

  4. Lauren Swann says:

    Ah!!! I LOVE it!!! So many fun memories!! Love you, sweet friend!!

  5. Anna says:

    Wow! I love how you tell the story with your pictures! It sounds like you had a very busy trip but absolutely amazing! Love the tree pictures at the end!

  6. Marisa says:

    Ok, seriously…SO…MANY…BEAUTIFUL…IMAGES! I don’t even know where to start or what to comment haha.

  7. lindsay says:

    STOP IT! The light through the trees?!!! GAAAH I’m dying over here!!! Absolutely gorgeous!

  8. Ashley says:

    Natalie….This looks absolutely AMAZING! This will be for sure a great memory for you to look back on! Beautiful work as always!

  9. Heather says:

    I ALWAYS love looking at your photos!! This looked like so much fun!! 🙂 Everything is SO beautiful! And I can’t WAIT to see the full Enaura bridal shoot!!! 🙂

  10. Brea says:

    Katie is seriously the most stunning model. All of the ones with her modeling made my jaw drop! These are gorgeous and I can’t wait to see more from that bridal shoot and the rest of this trip! Ahh!

  11. Kelly Ewell says:

    California is such a magical place and one of my favorites! Totally living vicariously through your posts!

  12. Lauren C says:

    O.M.G. You have got to stop! I can’t even stand it!! You captured California’s beauty so perfectly.

  13. Candace says:

    ahh!!! Insane!!!! Those cliffs are incredible!

  14. Wow!! Great photography. I’m looking forward to my next holidays. Love the view from the beach.

  15. Katie says:

    Ahhhh so fun reliving it!! I can’t wait to get all my film back!!

  16. Love these!! All of them! So fun!

  17. Kate says:

    So fun! I love seeing photos from your adventures! xx

  18. Ugh! Take me to California now! What a beautiful state! You captured it so perfectly! The spontaneous locations are so breathtaking!!

  19. Brandi says:

    Absolutely stunning!!! Love them all 🙂

  20. Tatyana says:

    Santa Barbara is one of my favorite places! Love the photos of your trip.

  21. […] these images on Style Me Pretty and on Friday, the images went live! This shoot was a part of our California Road Trip that we took from Long Beach to San […]

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