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plant enthusiast. Travel junkie. 98% tea

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rachel downey photography

about me

I'm Rachel. And I'm into plants, dogs, and third-wheeling weddings. I currently live in California with my three-legged dog, Whiskey, but I'm up and down the west coast all the time! ...and pretty much everywhere else, if I can.

My British husband Duncan is a computational astrophysicist. At the moment, he's doing super nerdy (but very cool) research in Milwaukee. We're working on the whole "live in the same state" thing.

Duncan and I met in central Pennsylvania, of all places. I was a grad student, teaching on the third floor of the lab building. He was a postdoc, working on...the third floor of the lab building. How did we meet?

Tinder. No shame.

We got married in November of 2018, in a 15-person ceremony above a beach, near a big pile of rocks that I found on Google Earth. My wedding dress still has sand in it. Wouldn't change a damn thing.

my approach

who I am

get to know us

our story

We love plants and dogs and riding motorcyles to cool places. 

We'd rather make choices for us than for other people. Someone is always going to disapprove, no matter what you do.

So you do you, cupcake.

Travel is a hobby of ours at this point, as well as porch breakfasts and lazy cuddles with the dog. (Also I'm sorry, you can't meet Whiskey; he's an asshole and doesn't play nice with the other kids) 

things we love

life out loud

I’m an old soul. I like early mornings, booty grabs, hot tea, weightlifting, travel, crisp air, crunchy leaves, and sweaters that are much too big for me. My apartment is covered in dog fur and books and probably too many plants.

I’ve been to 16 different countries so far; happy to pack a bag and go somewhere new, equally happy to visit them all again with new eyes and new friends. I’m a true crime enthusiast who grew up watching BBC crime procedurals, and then went and got a masters in forensic chemistry. 

my approach

my approach

for a custom wedding experience as unique as you are

my approach

for a custom wedding experience as unique as you are

How I operate:

My job is to document your wedding, whatever it looks like, and that’s what I’m going to do. Will I help you look great in your portraits? Yes. Will I manufacture moments just for the sake of a photo? Nope. You’ll only have to put your jacket on once. Promise.

The "showstoppers" on social media may be your favourites right after the wedding, but I'm also capturing those sweet moments you'll cherish for your 10-year anniversary, your 50th.

I don't just listen to your vision for the day; I hear you. I want your wedding to be everything you're imagining and more.

my approach

for a custom wedding experience as unique as you are

Connection and trust:

It’s kind of weird to think about, but there’s a chance you could be spending more time with me than anyone else on your wedding day. would be good if we got along. The better our connection, the more comfortable you’re going to be around me. And then your photos will look better!

...It’s science. Photography science.

my approach

for a custom wedding experience as unique as you are

The photos that really matter:

Social media platforms are a great place for you to share photos with your friends and family. They’re a great place for me to share my work with prospective clients. But I don’t think about social media when I’m shooting your wedding.

When you flip back through your wedding album, are you really going to remember how many likes that image got on Instagram…? Or are you going to remember how it felt? I'm more interested in the prints on your walls, the albums in your family's hands, the tangible things that bring us back to the intangible memories.

my approach

for a custom wedding experience as unique as you are

The right details:

The more weddings I photograph, the more I see how truly unique every couple is. Why wouldn’t your wedding be unique too?

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, or that your ideas are weird. It’s your wedding; incorporate the details that mean something to you. Love your motorcycles? Bring them. Really into plants? Style it up with those instead of traditional flowers. Really not into white dresses and want a black one instead? I'm on board. Don't want a dress? That's cool too. Someone hates your tattoos? Wear a backless dress and show 'em off. 

Be fearless. Be intentional. 

my approach

for a custom wedding experience as unique as you are

The best venue:

I’m at my happiest when I’m outside. I got married in front of a pile of rocks, and traveling to windswept places makes me cry. Mother Nature would freaking love to witness your wedding. She really would. She'll get all dolled up for you and everything.

You don’t have to hike to 14,000 feet on the other side of the world, either!! (...let's be very honest here: I probably can't hike up to 14,000 feet.) Elopements aren't just for the "adventurous." Our outdoor elopement involved a 10-minute walk down a flat trail. Still rad

And if you aren’t sure where you’d like to get married, that’s ok!! I can help (:  

"Your wedding should be about you"

That's basically it. If I had to boil my entire philosophy down to...six words, those are the words that I'd pick.

let's chat about your elopement


I loved working with Rachel! My wife is not a fan of being photographed- although she is very photogenic. I was able to convince her to have Rachel over for a home session. We were just us. We made dinner and planted succulents on our patio. We just hung out like old pals and got some adorable and very natural photos of us in our home. My wife and I were both extremely comfortable and really enjoyed Rachel's company.

-Kim and Bianca


Rachel is a joy to shoot with! I love the fun, spontaneous photos she took of my husband and I. They really capture our relationship - full of laughter and adventure.

-Rachel and Jeff


Rachel is an awesome photographer, she's easy to work with and very creative and passionate about her craft :) We loved the photos that she took from our Pismo wedding.

-Danica and Mike


We had the best time with Rachel! Even though our shoot was wild and hectic, she accommodated everything we asked for and exceeded our expectations. We love how the pictures turned out and we are so pleased we went with Rachel for our engagement photos!

-Tommy and Aline


Rachel was our photographer about 5 months ago and had great energy. She was talkative but also calm. She gave great direction and hyped us up when we felt a little awkward (who doesn't when getting photos done?!). I'm glad to have been photographed by her! Highly recommend!

-Madelyn and Emmalaine


Rachel photographed my husband and I near the cliffs of Davenport, and it was a lovely shoot! She was sweet, professional, and had fun with us the entire time. I would recommend her photography to anyone!

-Mary and Adair


Rachel is AWESOME! My fiancé and I hired her to help us capture our proposal back in November. Full disclosure, we were already engaged, but didn't get any photos of the actual moment, so we recreated it;) BUT if you see the photos...they in no way look "recreated" at all. She did an incredible job of helping us capture these photos that will honestly last a lifetime. Rachel is super easy going and also made us feel so comfortable in front of the camera. I wanted to get a few specific ~insta~ poses and she gladly humored all of my requests LOL however, she also photographed us with her own twist and style that turned out absolutely beautiful. If you're looking for a photographer in the bay area, look no further. <3

-Matt and Mariah


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