Piedmont is the little town that exists as a island that's surrounded by the bigger town of Oakland. On that "island" resides the Piedmont Community Center, where a lovely young couple named Felsha and John were married. On that day, they were surrounded by humor, friends, family, flowers and love.
Ok, enough narrating. This year I was fortunate to shoot the wedding of John and Felsha. They were sweet people whose love and happiness make every shot I made a breeze. The best recipe for great formals is a couple that's ga ga in love, and lucky for me I find a lot of those people.
Two months ago I was given the privilege of shooting my old friends Jared + Yen's wedding in Oahu, Hawaii at the Waimanolo Beach Cottages. The cottages overlooked the Waimanolo beach, that had a beautiful turquoise complexion I didn't even know existed. The wedding was filled with friends and family that bought love and humor to the gathering. Here's some of my favorite shots from the wedding, congrats Yen + Jared.
Last week I met Beatrice and Jake for a engagement shoot at Lake Temescal in Oakland. It was perfectly timed in between rain breaks, and we were able to get some great shots right before the rain started up again. How lucky!
Even more luckier we were able to shoot on a overcast day. I love those days because you can shoot ANYWHERE and not worry about the light casting those unflattering shadows on your face. Just wonderful!
Earlier this week I met up with Leon, Shinwha & Little Aaron for a portrait session. Aaron was a spunky little guy full of energy, and happy to say tell us his favorite new word "dog" whenever he could. When he wasn't off exploring Redwood Grooves at the Berkeley Botanical Gardens, he was stopping to take a few photos with his parents for me. Very thoughtful guy Aaron is. Here are a few of my favorite from our shoot.
Boy does time fly by! I feel like I was just shooting Minh + Frank's wedding! Now 4 years later I'm shooting their beautiful new baby girl Juniper! I really appreciate how being a photographer allows you to watch peoples lives progress and capture the different chapters in their life. I was so happy when Minh emailed me to let me know that she was expecting and wanted photos of Juniper after she was born. We were also able to get some shots with another treasured member of their family, their dog Severus.
This week I thought I'd actually write about wedding photographer and a few things I've learned working with clients and speaking to other wedding photographers. Things I wish I would've asked when I first started, and things I wish a bride would've told me. These aren't hard and fast rules because every photographer is different, but this is a common theme I've heard amongst different wedding photographers, so I hope that it helps you when working with your own photographer and is relevant to you.
The First Kiss
I know the adrenaline was running through your body, or maybe you felt kissing in front of a group of people was too awkward and just wanted to get it over with but…... you barely kissed each other! I always tell my bride and groom to hold the kiss for at least 5 seconds before releasing. That way I know I have the shot. Don’t want you to feel the need to do everything in slow motion, it’s just that first kiss is important to you and me, so I wanna make sure I get it.
How do you feel?
Sometimes when I’m shooting, I get caught up in the moment, and creating a pose I want. Sometimes I realize maybe I’m getting a head of myself, so I’ll stop and ask the couple “how are you guys doing? You ok?” It’s important to ask that because weddings are a big deal! There’s a lot of things going on, loved ones to say hi too, and not to mention the dancing and eating in between there. So if you feel that at that moment, whether it’s a pose, a direction, whatever, if you’re overwhelmed, let your photographer know. We understand, and the overall goal is for me to assist you in anyway I can in your wedding day happiness. If you’re not feeling a pose (once a bride told me I was the post felt to junior high, I quickly trashed that one, we’re still cool.) a direction, or anything, let me know. I’ll laugh, you’ll laugh, and we’ll all feel good and enjoy the cocktail hour afterwards.
Tell your guests to disconnect and enjoy the show
I totally get it. These are your uncles, your aunts, your loved ones watching you get married. It’s a special day! But you know what’s really bad for those timeless photos I’m trying to create? Those glaring lcd screens from tablets distracting from those beautiful moments of the ceremony. Sometimes it’s not even a lcd screen, it’s a family member getting positioned right in front of me with his/her camera. People tend to think that if I'm not standing there, it’s open season, but during the ceremony I need all my space, even the space I’m not occupying at the moment. One time I had to ask a couple to do the first kiss over again because a guest jumped right in front of me as I was taking the photo! Eeeep! If possible, have your officiant make a quick little announcement about no tablets or cell phones during the ceremony, and if you are using a camera, to stay seated and turn off any flash. I can’t emphasize the flash request enough. If my camera is exposed for a shot, a flash can compromise that and wash out the whole image.
Feed me first please!
I love food, but this isn’t why I’m asking to be fed first. Sometimes vendors will feed you right after they’ve fed everyone else. I understand they want to take care of your guest and this is why. But it’s also a sure way to make sure us photographers don’t enjoy our meals. Can you imagine right as you’re about to eat, you suddenly hear a clinking of a glass, a clearing of a throat, and you have to drop your forks and run off to wherever the first toast is being given? I can because it happens a lot. Please stress to your caterer that you’d like your photographer to be fed first, so that they can finish eating with the rest of your guests, and to be able to finish in enough time to get ready and positioned for that first toast. Besides that, it’s a great time for me to put my camera down because I’ve never had a guest happy to be photographed as they’re eating.
No raw photos for you, let me explain why
Trust me, you don’t want these. The reasons photographers spend so much time going through all the photos is because we want to give you the best photos of your day, and not have you weed them out amongst all the ones that weren’t good enough to make the cut. Photographers aren’t withholding the creme de la creme of photos, we’re making sure you don’t see the ones with your guests eyes half open, someone laughing with food in their mouth (another reason it’s best to serve photographers at dinner with the guests), or something else really unpretty (shout out to TLC). We do it to protect you, because we care about you.
Hope this helps! Leave comments if you have any questions or thoughts!
One of my favorites things when shooting couples is laughing. It was hard not to laugh with Sam and Brad. Both really funny people who met during their teenage years at summer camp. We went all around San Francisco taking photos of places that meant something to them. Whether it be the view, or a row of houses featured in Sam’s favorite show’s intro. We started the day in at Hotel Monaco, and finished at a restaurant called Flour + Water where Brad received a book autographed by the chef that he’d shown earlier in the day. In between we stopped at the Palace of Fine Arts for Sam and Brad's ceremony, Chrissy fields, Twin Peaks and Balmy Ally Murals for portraits.
It was really nice to have an excuse to stop at a few of the wonderful places San Francisco has to offer ascetically. Even better spending it with two people who loved to laugh and talk. Thanks for the tour guys!
I've never been to Saratoga Springs. I actually thought the only Saratoga that existed was in California, and that the song "You're so vain" was in reference to that one. I don't think I was right, because as I was driving to Saratoga Springs in New York were I saw lots of horses. Now that's a place where your horse would naturally win. Eh? Eh?
I arrived at Moon's Lake house to meet Michele and Jared, who were definitely not the vain type. They were two people who were excited to spend a day with their loved ones, and bring everyone together for a celebration of love and life. I'm very thankful I was able to be apart of their day, as I definitely felt the love with everyone's generosity and kindness towards me. I'm a gluten for kindness, and I can never get enough.
I really like nice people. I'm a nice person, so I'm always thrilled to meet other nice people. No shade to New York (scratch that, LOTS OF SHADE), but you really really really have to appreciate it when run into nice people here, because this is a rough town.
Karen and Jon have to be one of the sweetest couples on the planet. From the moment I walked in I was greeted by Karen with a enthusiastic "Hi hun!" followed by a warm hug, and questions on if I needed anything. Anyone who hugs me and offers me food is already a winner in my book, so I was sold!
Throughout the day we traveled from Karen and Jon's home where she was dressed, to the Vanderbilt Museum where we took their portraits, and finally to Prime Restaurant where Karen and John had their ceremony and reception. The whole time Karen and John maintained the same sweetness and kindness that they'd greeted me with that same morning when I arrived at their home. They were cool, calm, collective, and most importantly, they were kind people. My favorite KIND of people, pun intended.