Two Fall to Deaths at Yosemite's Taft Point, Site of Viral Photo

Two Fall to Deaths at Yosemite's Taft Point, Site of Viral Photo

Two visitors to Yosemite National Park's Taft Point fell to their deaths Thursday at the scenic spot where a photographer recently captured a viral photo of a couple getting engaged, according to the National Park Service. 

Taft Point happens to be same spot where photographer Matthew Dippel captured a mystery couple getting engaged (safely) on October 6. 

Details of Thursday's tragedy are still sparse, as the National Parks Service hasn't yet identified the male and female victims, nor have they released details surrounding the cause of the fall. The incident remains under investigation and no photos have been released. 

Dippel, whose image went viral last week when he used Twitter to begin a search for the couple, noted at the time, there were two dozen people gathered at the point, including three or four bride and groom couples with photographers getting ready for post-nuptial photoshoots. 

Taft Point provides dramatic views of some of Yosemite Valley's iconic spots, including El Capitan. The point has some railings, but much of it is open, allowing visitors to step right to the edge of the precipitous drop. 

Lead image used with permission by Daniil Vnoutchkov via Unsplash. 

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44 Comments

Scott Mosley's picture

we have been there many times; as of yet it doesn't look like they had a photographer taking photos. still, I can't even begin to imagine a scenario where the couple I was shooting fell to their deaths! of course, we always try to be safe and only create the illusion of danger when we shoot Yosemite... we will be there three more times this month, im sure this will be on my mind

user-187388's picture

One of the big dangers of shooting in locations like this is losing your balance when you hold your camera up to your eye. When we just stand still and shut our eyes it is hard to
Maintain balance. Holding a
Camera to your eye has a similar effect. I had a close call with this when I was just starting in photography many years ago.

William Faucher's picture

My heart goes out to their families and friends. When you're in such a place, please be careful. It's easy to forget about the dangers, and think you're invincible when taking something as banal as a selfie, or taking a picture. If things like this keep happening, the entire place may well be walled off for others.

What's the point of these wedding or engagement shoots in stupid locations like that ? It literally kills people. I would understand if it were people who met in that location, but it's almost never the case, it's just to have nice pictures for instagram... Both photographers and clients need to get real for a second...

Jon Dize's picture

Same thing happened during the Trash The Dress Fad, several Brides drowned in rivers and streams, when their dresses got so wet they held the Brides under water. How many photos of couples on cliffs have to be taken, before it is just boring and DONE?

William Faucher's picture

So long as you're not teetering along the edge of the cliff, it is perfectly safe. It is up to the photographer to create the *illusion* of grandeur, not put his clients at risk. It's not a stupid location, it's absolutely gorgeous, and ridiculously photogenic. Being careful is key.

Also no, it's not just to have nice pics for IG, why do you think couples want wedding photos at all? They've wanted good, stunning shots since as long as photography has been around, and such a location offers exactly this possibility.

What's the point of the cliff ? Shoot pictures where you get married, not an hour drive up in the mountains, it's idiotic... I know clients dictate what the photographers do, but I still find it ridiculous. When there's no emotional attachment, it's just a picture to make others jealous. It's not about love or being married anymore, it's just vanity.

William Faucher's picture

Bitter, much?
How do you know there's no emotional attachment? What if it was a couples spot for a first date, their first trip together, a place both dreamed of visiting for years, or they just want a picture in a gorgeous area to remember in the years to come? Live and let live man, just because you find it ridiculous, doesn't mean others do.

I wouldn't have any issue with it if it didn't involve actual deaths. So it's rather "live an let die" that you mean...

William Faucher's picture

This incident was not photographer/client related. It was just two tourists. So your point is completely invalid.

You don't know it wasn't related. The investigation will tell.

Brian Pernicone's picture

Nick B, there are many couples who get married in Yosemite, at Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley Chapel, etc.

Yes I know I've seen a wedding in Great Sand Dunes last month. But the couple I saw with a photographer at Trail Ridge Road in the freezing cold at sunset in full wedding attire definitely did not get married here.

Brian Pernicone's picture

You made a blanket statement above that it's idiotic to drive an hour up the mountains to take pictures, but didn't acknowledge that many (probably most) of those couples likely got married in Yosemite. You're assuming there's no emotional attachment to the place for these people. It may be true for some, but it's a pretty cynical point of view to think it's true of most of them.

And that couple you saw in the Great Sand Dunes may have gotten engaged there, or had a great adventure there. There's no reason to assume they had no emotional attachment to the place without knowing who they are.

Brian, I took the statement to mean that it's idiotic to shoot on the edge of the cliff, not necessarily /just/ that hour drive up the mountains.

However, you have a point- Nick does not realize that getting married at the Chapel in Yosemite is an extremely popular thing, and that many, many couples love the outdoors in general; they get married there, they do portraits there, because they do indeed spend tons of their spare time outdoors. Forget "an hour up a mountain", many people drive 10+ hours, and then hike for many hours, days even, not necessarily just for a single portrait, but because they love the outdoors, period.

Unfortunately, even the "illusion" will lead other less-intelligent people to find themselves in the running for a Darwin Award.

The bottom line is that if something LOOKS extremely unsafe, without any disclaimers that is in fact safe, ...will put /someone/ at risk, eventually.

There is no reason to do something extremely reckless, whether or not a photographer is present.

If anything, people taking selfies all by themselves is a far greater cause of fatal accidents, than a professional photo shoot in which the photographer has the idea to put their subjects next to a cliff. So, I'm not sure why this discussion is going in that direction.

Social media is to blame, and the photography-related visual of it all, whether or not a professional photographer is involved.

We should discourage this kind of phenomenon, unless people can learn to do such things with a greater appreciation for safety. Period. It's not worth the selfie. It's not worth a professional print on your wall, either.

Duane Klipping's picture

I dont want to create an image everyone else has done to death. As creatives we need to maintain our creativity and stop copying the originals. Thanks for lack of originallity Instagram.

Yes and no. Clients expect good images. They don’t care if it was done 10000000 times before.

Clients also expect you to be safety-conscious, and not ask them to put their lives in extreme danger just for YOUR epic portfolio shot.

It's one thing if the couple are rock climbers and literally know what they're doing, are sure-footed, etc. It's a whole different thing when the clients are just average people who have probably never stepped foot near a fatal drop before in their lives.

How about a shoot at the metal detector of the court house where they will be getting their divorce in a few years?

Am I the only one who finds this a little bit funny?

Reginald Walton's picture

I'm not sure how that's Instagram's fault.

William Faucher's picture

People died, man. You're an ass.

Oh chill out. People are dying all the time, that's what we do. Somebody died while you were reading this, did you feel sad because of that? Oh, another one. Did this make you feel more sad? If so, maybe you need to work on how sensitive your feelings are, becasue reality is not going to bend.

Brian Pernicone's picture

Two people fell 1,000 feet to their deaths. Guess I'm failing to see the joke?

A few years ago, my brother was in Yosemite and hiking a specific trail, when on the radio I heard news of two people falling to their deaths from the waterfall at the top of that trail. I immediately stopped what I was doing to check in with him and make sure he was OK. (He was.)

Either way, let me tell you... ZERO. FUNNY. PERIOD.

amanda daniels's picture

I am very curious as to how anyone would find this even a "little bit funny". This isn't a movie, this is real people who lost their life. That is sick that anyone would find this funny

Well, we have to let the natural selection work its course somehow, don't we? And don't think that kind of attitude will spare you random crualties. Don't worry, you'll get some distance to those matters once you bury a few of your loved ones. It happens to everybody

amanda daniels's picture

Clearly I am failing to see your point here.

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