We shot Maggie’s Maternity Session on a very warm, Summer day at Arlington Garden in Pasadena, CA. The grounds are designed in a way that makes you feel like you’re in Italy and secluded from the rest of the bustling town that surrounds it. It literally felt like a little secret garden with twinkling magic hour light peaking through the trees. It was a perfect, relaxed place to have a summer evening Maternity Session. They welcomed their baby boy Landon very shortly after this session!
Nazi and Mark will be getting married later this year at Hummingbird Nest Ranch. Naturally, we wanted to choose a location for their Engagement Session that felt consistent with the Tuscan inspired details of their venue. From the textured walls to the gorgeous light, Mission San Juan Capistrano felt like the perfect fit for this elegant pair.
For Jon and Janae’s San Diego Engagement Session, I wanted to do something that felt quintessentially California. The two met in San Diego and now live near the beach in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The beach is a really big part of their lifestyle and I wanted to capture that for them. To me, nothing says California like driving with the wind in your hair along the beach…and Janae has perfect hair for that. The red Vespa we used was the ultimate blend of youthful fun and California vibrance while the shots we got on the sand at the beach were the sheer embodiment of California’s incomparable golden hour. We finished the session with some cozy shots on a boho blanket to create a story of relaxed romance.
Photography by Taylor Kinzie Photography
Janae’s Make Up by Doubletake Make Up Artistry
Janae’s Hair by Jacquelyn Healy
Janae’s Vespa outfit by 12th Tribe
Janae’s Beach dress by LuLus.com
Vespa rental from Moto Forza
When Shannon and Michael started planning for their wedding, Shannon's vision was to merge rustic with romantic. She imagined a lush landscape surrounded by trees and greenery along with the whimsical feel of twinkling lights and vintage accents. When they discovered this backyard space in Santa Rosa, CA they knew they could make their dream wedding a reality.
The couple worked together along with their friends and family to create Shannon's vision for the decor. They blanketed the backyard in antique chandeliers and dish ware, distressed furniture and signs, and twinkling market lights. Michael made a beautiful tree swing for the backyard, at Shannon's request, along with the gorgeous arbor for the ceremony. They also included a chic sitting area with antique couches and chairs for guests to enjoy.
The color scheme of the wedding was mauve, blushes, blues and greys. Shannon incorporated these soft tones in her bouquet, her bridesmaids dresses, and the drapery on the ceremony arbor. She brought calm lavender touches to the wedding with a lavender toss at the ceremony, garnishes for the drinks, napkin accents, and wedding favors.
I think my favorite part of the wedding day was seeing Michael's face during the couple's first look. I have never seen a man smile so big and with such awe. Every girl deserves to be seen the way Michael looks at Shannon. Michael would move mountains for Shannon and it's that kind of love that makes me treasure what I do so much.
Venue: Private residence in Santa Rosa, CA | Bride's Gown: David's Bridal | Bride's hair by: Kimmie Ciccone | Bridesmaids hair by: Nicole Rogers and Kimmie Ciccone | Videography: Nick Patterson | Cake by: Kimmie Ciccone | Dessert bar: Gimme a Dozen | Band: The Snareheads | Bride's Make Up by: Herself | Groom and Groomsmen Suits: Men's Warehouse and J. David's | Rentals and Catering: DJ's California Catering | Bridesmaids Dresses: Show Me Your MuMu | Florals by: Melanie Gibson and Leah Paul
Often times, some of the images I'm the most proud of after a wedding day are those that are completely candid moments. A beautiful moment is rare and happens in a split second. This is why capturing a natural interaction on a wedding day is truly an art form.
An awesome image should tell a story. It should conjure an emotion from deep in the viewer's heart and leave your audience feeling like they were there in person. Here are some of my favorite natural moments from previous wedding days and tips on how to capture them.
I hold Erin and Eric very close to my heart. They were one of the first weddings I ever shot. I look back and feel so grateful to have had such an in love couple put 100% of their trust in me from the beginning. They have always had an ease together that I feel so inspired by and their love for baby Elliott is no different.
Erin and Eric's home is a cozy place bathed in gorgeous window light that makes everything feel intimate and warm. I wanted to capture the close bond they now felt as a family of four...yes, I'm counting their adorable dog, Lacey, who made sure she wasn't left out of the photos.
San Francisco has been my favorite city since I can remember. From the bright pink old buildings to the intoxicatingly salty scent of the bay, my heart fell in love with this place in all its golden gated glory.
For Ashlee and Henry's Engagement Session, I basically got to go to all my favorite places in the city and bask in the magical Northern California light. We weren't initially planning on it, but when I saw Ashlee and Henry's gorgeously lit apartment I knew we HAD to shoot some lifestyle stuff there. I love how intimate and sentimental those shots feel. I imagine they'll look back at the images and smile at the memory of when they shared their first apartment together.
Our next three locations were at Presidio Park, Baker Beach, and the Sutro Baths. I swear, the light is different in San Francisco. Everything looks like a painting right before the sun sets!
Ashlee and I have been friends since junior high school so it was a really special day getting to capture the love she shares with her amazing fiancé Henry. Not only does he ADORE my friend, but he's also an absolute gentleman. I couldn't have asked for a better person for her.
Whoever said happiness isn't a place is an idiot. Happiness is sitting along the side of the Seine River, devouring the savory remnants of a fresh quiche, pressing my finger into the buttery flakes so as not to miss out on any of it. Happiness is carelessly watching my feet dangle over an ancient cobblestone wall as I spend a lazy afternoon drinking in the view of the Eiffel Tower from my lunch spot and watching the beautiful Parisians walk by. Happiness is sitting on a park bench at magic hour in a Parisian garden and ravaging a warm baguette, letting the crumbs fall all over my lap and not giving one last shit who sees me. Happiness is walking aimlessly along the streets of Paris and stopping to look up. Happiness is picnicking in the French countryside with the echo of chirping birds and ancient church bells in the distance as your soundtrack. Whoever said happiness isn't a place hasn't been to Paris.
I try to set an intention for each trip I go on. It is my belief that every place holds a lesson. For me, Paris was my lesson in self-love. I took myself on dates and indulged in wine and beautiful dinners. I wandered the city in a dream and enjoyed my own company and the company of dear friends. I admired the couples as they strolled by and smiled with a warm heart at love's purity. I walked through a park and watched a child twirl under the petals of the cherry blossoms as they danced from their branches in the soft breeze. There were many times I was brought to tears in private moments, not from sadness, but from the pure joy attained in the realization of life's magic.
Photos of me taken by Sarah Zimmer and/or Margot Landen.
Whenever I second guess my belief in love at first sight, I meet couples like Amy and Brian who prove that it exists. The two crossed paths over six years ago and connected immediately. Amy called her mother the very next day and told her she had met the man she was going to marry. "I didn't know what it was," Amy recalls. "I just knew he was going to be part of my life in a big way."
I think one of the qualities I love most about Amy and Brian is the way they love the people that mean the most to them. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they are loved by those they are closest to. It was so abundantly clear throughout the day just how much they are adored by their friends and family...and I have no doubt this kind of loyalty is a direct result of the generosity with which they give their whole heart.
When asked what they wanted the "theme" of their wedding day to be, rather than describing a "rustic chic" wedding or "romantic glamour" wedding, Amy and Brian simply replied that they wanted the theme to be tangible love. They just wanted to be surrounded by love.
One of my favorite relationships to capture through out the day was that of the Bride and her sister, Sara. There were so many tender and sweet exchanges between them that reminded me that weddings aren't just about the couple, but also about family. One of my favorite parts of the day was Sara's speech to her sister and Brian during the reception. She captured them, and love in general, perfectly:
"When I think of Las Vegas, a few things come to mind but most of all is luck; It got me thinking about the relationship between love and luck. So often, when we talk about our loved ones, we say “I feel so lucky to have Brian - or So lucky to have Amy - whomever. And Im not really into that. Luck is flighty. Luck is a fluke. A chance, short-lived, a gamble. Luck is a flash in the pan. Is not measured and lacking in substance. Luck is the tasteless top layer that tries to distract you from a bountiful fortune. Fortune should be what we seek.
From this day forward, I am SURE when you speak of your spouse you are conscious about your language. That you choose to invest in each other by investing in how you talk about one another, 'I feel FORTUNATE to have my husband...to have my wife.' Because this love has seen and will see deep fortune. Fortune stands the test of time. Fortune is worked for, pined over, built upon and manifested. Fortune gives a damn, is deeply rooted, and if sought, reciprocates a wealth that shows longevity and legacy. Fortune doesn't fade.
Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into. Tune into the words that surround your love. Tune into the decisions and greatness that lies ahead. You are so fortunate to have one another. I know you worked for this perfect love. You deserve this.
Amy, you deserve the goofy smile Brian puts upon your face. You deserve the couch snuggles and hair twirling. You deserve the Bieber loving, Chris Brown dancing partner in crime. He brings your sun to the surface. Brian you deserve this strong woman by your side. You deserve this ride or die, Hold you down chick. Someone who knows to put ice cubes in your milk and toss the egg yolks to the side. She keeps your feet stuck to the ground."
Fortune should be what we seek. And, Amy and Brian are so fortunate in love.
Venue: Casa Cody Country Inn |Make Up & Hair: Brianna Viera | Bridal Gown: Sarah Seven | Bridesmaids Gowns: Asos, Lulu's, Adriana Papel | Groom's Suit: Groom's Grotto | Groomsmen's Suits: Groom's Grotto | Florals & Invitations: Celebrate Florals | Catering: Fresh Start Catering | Second Photographer: Mike Villa | DJ Services: DJ Essence | Coordination: Taylor at Love & Laughter Events | Rentals: Signature Party Rentals
I know everyone always says this, but I'm going to say it anyway. I can't believe a year has already gone by! This year in particular seemed to go by in the blink of an eye and, looking back, I can see why. (Sorry for the unintentional rhyming). On New Year's Eve last year, I sat down and created a list of intentions for 2016...something I haven't done in years past. I have to say that I feel like I had a completely new experience after doing this. It was amazing to see things I put on my "2016 Bucket List" come to life. Lay in a hammock in Bali...check. Take a calligraphy class...check. See Northern Lights...check check. Set your intentions people! There was one thing on my list, "Fall in love." I looked at it a few days ago and thought to myself, "Well, that didn't happen." But then I thought about it again. I actually did "fall in love." Looking back on 2016, I realized this year was huge for me in personal growth and working on self love. For the first time in a long time, I feel much more clear on how to love myself, how to set boundaries in personal relationships and stand by how I want to be treated, and, most importantly, having a clearer understanding of my self worth. I think this is an ongoing process for sure, but learning to fall in love with myself and treat myself with kindness has been one of the best relationships I've ever been in.
I played, I worked my ass off, I met amazing people and cultivated very precious friendships. My theme for 2016 was "Service." I asked myself, "How can I serve others?" I think giving is one of the most important things a person can do in their lives. I gave all of myself to my clients and my business. Which leads me to my theme for next year, "Balance" AND "Letting go of limiting self beliefs." Next year I will be working on maintaining a better balance of work and personal relationships...making it a priority to make time for friends and "personal" time. I will also be working hard on letting go of playing small and releasing the fearful beliefs that hold me back from dreaming BIG. I'm excited to see where that takes me!
I started off 2016 in Fairbanks, Alaska with my besties Mark and Christine. We played in the snow and went dog sledding. We were even able to check "See Northern Lights" off our Bucket Lists on New Years Eve. What an amazing way to start the year! You can check out more images from our trip here. Photos by Christine Chang, Mark Groves, and/or myself.
I rented a bright orange jeep with some friends and went on an epic road trip adventure up the Central Coast. Whenever I'm feeling uninspired I plan a trip and it makes me feel totally refreshed both mentally and creatively. Photos by Christine Chang, Katrina Jayne, and/or myself.
The biggest highlight of my year was planning a trip to Bali. I had felt called to travel there for a long time and the trip was absolutely life changing...I even got my first tattoo! (sorry mom) Bali is such a magical place and I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they can brave the 23 hour flight time. Check out more images from our trip here. Photos by Shaina Weiss, Anthony Weiss, Brandon Haws, and/or myself.
I was lucky enough to shoot a wedding in New York in July 2016. I hadn't been to New York since college so it was a really different experience the 2nd time around. New York is such an amazing city but I don't think I could live there. I'm an open spaces kinda girl. Photos by Sarah Zimmer and/or myself.
I had such an amazing time in Joshua Tree as an attendee at one of Christine Chang's workshops. We got to stay in a super retro AirBnB...I felt like I was taken back in a hot tub time machine. Lots of images from the workshop are coming soon! Photos by Christine Chang, Katrina Jayne, and/or myself.
One of the highlights of my career thus far was getting to shoot at Taft Point in Yosemite. I didn't know I was afraid of heights until this moment. It was SO terrifying but such a rush at the same time. I could hear the echo of my voice as I directed my couple to move closer to the edge of a cliff. Crazy! Photos by Kylie Nicholson and/or myself.
Thanks to all for your love and support. Can't wait to get started on 2017 with you! Cheers to making new memories!
Johnny and Kassandra have a love story that is years in the making. They met long before they actually started dating and instantly struck up a close bond as friends. The timing at that point in their lives just wasn't right for a romance and it wouldn't be until years later that Johnny would reach out to Kassandra again. Sometimes, even with years apart, a person makes a mark on your heart that you just can't forget. Kassandra and Johnny chose to do their Engagement Session at a special beach in Carpinteria near Johnny's grandmother's house. A place he visited often as a kid and holds very dear to his heart. We wandered across the sandy beach in the hazy California winter and Johnny and Kassandra were nothing but smiles. The thing I love most about them is how playful they are together. It's obvious that these two have so much fun together, further proving my opinion that friendships make the best love affairs.
These two will be tying the knot in June of 2017 in a destination Cabo wedding. I cannot wait to be part of the festivities!
Rachael and Stephen are one of the funniest couples I've had the pleasure of working with. There were times during our shoot that I was laughing so hard I had to stop to regain my composure. They're the kind of couple you just want to hang out and have a beer with and their ability to be real in front of each other is so inspiring to watch. I love their love and can't wait for their wedding in January!
Kristen and Rigo are one of those couples I feel so lucky I get to work with! They are both total sweethearts and trusted me completely to capture the love they share. I can't wait for their wedding next year!
"Ask Me Anything..." is a weekly blog segment where I answer your questions about photography, me, or...anything. Check back next Monday on my Instagram and Facebook pages where I'll be taking all of your questions. 1-What is the Arab country you would like to visit?
Those of you who have been checking in on my posts know that I love to travel! When I read this question I literally said, "ooooOOOoooOOOOo" because I hadn't really included any Arab countries yet on my list of "places to see." I think the country that sparks my interest the most would be Morocco. There's something about this place that seems mysterious and kind of magical. From the colors in the architecture, to the never-ending sand dunes, to the busy marketplaces, I think Morocco would be an awesome adventure!
2- What is the number one piece of advice you would give others regarding the creative process?
Sometimes being a creative person can be really challenging. I think the one major obstacle I've been faced with the most along my journey as a creative is self doubt. Overcoming this is definitely still something that I struggle with but I'm learning how to move past this by implementing a couple of important ideas into my life. I'm going to give you two pieces of advice, rather than one, because I'm feeling generous today.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Yes, there's a reason I just underlined that. It's one thing to be inspired by a person, but it's a completely different thing to feel lesser than because you are not "as successful, as pretty, as smart, as talented, as rich, as busy," etc and so forth. Comparing your art and your journey to someone else's will be the number one killer of, not only your creative freedom, but your confidence as well. OWN your art. OWN your place in your personal journey.
Surround yourself with people who build you up. No, this doesn't mean "only have friends who kiss your ass." Although, that would be nice. What I mean by this is that the people you surround yourself with are crucial to the evolution of who you are. Do you have friends who aren't supportive of your personal growth? Ask yourself why you keep them in your life. Do you interact with people that are hell bent on putting you in your place? Why? Make the decision to have people in your life that are on your team. This means they celebrate WITH you during your triumphs and call you on your shit when you're messing up. Because a real friend will tell you how it is in order to see you succeed.
3- How difficult was it getting started and how long was it before you felt you "made it"?
Getting started with my business was easy in some ways and really difficult in others. Where I am in my business now was not an overnight success at all. I worked tirelessly to learn/network/improve/hustle because, ultimately, I felt compelled to make this art. It's the one thing I've ever done in my life that I've been completely sure of. As a result, working towards building my business never felt like work. It just felt like a fun challenge that included lots of baby steps towards success. If you want a technical answer, I started teaching myself photography in 2011, started shooting friends and family as a hobby in 2012, and officially started my business in 2013. I left my full time job in July of 2014 to be a professional photographer full time.
I use past tense but, really, I should be using present. Because building my business still feels like a fun challenge every single day. I don't feel like I've "made it" by any means. What does it mean to have "made it"? I suppose you can say I've accomplished many of my goals leading up to where I currently am in my journey. But, guess what, now I have a whole new set of goals to work towards.
I think if you ever feel like you've "made it" and no longer have to keep striving towards improvement, you should reevaluate what you're doing.
"Ask Me Anything..." is a weekly blog segment where I answer your questions about photography, me, or...anything. Check back next Monday on my Instagram and Facebook pages where I'll be taking all of your questions. 1- How big do you think your portfolio should be before you can start charging clients? How should you price yourself when you start out? I've read that if you price yourself cheaply at first, it will be hard to get clients to see you as worth more later down the line. Do you agree with this?
Trying to build your business and client base when you're first starting out is a bit of a catch 22 isn't it? You can't get clients unless you have something to show and you can't have anything to show unless you have clients. The beginning of your career is the time when you have to be entirely proactive with creating what you want(Although you really should always be proactive). Clients aren't going to come to you and say, " Gee, I was hoping you would take my photo for your portfolio." From my experience, you usually don't get what you don't ask for.
I spent probably the first year of my photography journey asking friends if I could photograph their kids at birthday parties or taking pictures of people on my travels. I asked family members if they would let me practice on them and then posted those images on Facebook. Eventually, I had people approaching me and asking how much I charged. I go into depth on pricing in this previous "Ask Me Anything..." (Click here).
In answer to your questions, I think you should have a few sessions to show before your start to charge. Do I think you should have a huge portfolio of work to show off? No way! That takes time. Do I think you should charge while you're building your portfolio? Absolutely! Do you know why? Because you're an artist, and your art and your time are valuable. If you don't value yourself, no one else will.
One thing on this I will say though, is that you should not charge your full rate for sessions you are using them for practice. People should not be paying you to practice with your camera. When it gets to a point that you're charging, I personally believe you should be shooting every day...whether it's pictures of your dog or a beautiful sunset, practice until that camera is like second nature to you. A lot of people start by charging lower rates, which can also be looked at as "Portfolio Rates." It's perfectly acceptable to offer clients lower rates because you're still building your portfolio. I totally charged cheap rates when I was starting out! Do I think people see me as less valuable now because of that? No way! As you grow as an artist and a business, your rates will also grow. That's just the nature of business.
2-How do you avoid getting stuck putting people in the same pose or having them do the same thing? I feel like, during sessions, I go back to doing the same thing with couples/families sometimes but don't want sessions to look the same and get boring.
Posing is an interesting topic because there are so many different ways to approach it. I absolutely have felt like I'm doing the same things over and over again on sessions or wedding days. There's nothing like doing the same thing over and over again to kill your creativity, right? Here's the thing though, those poses you are doing over and over again are a completely new experience to your clients. And, actually, those poses your clients have seen in your portfolio are most likely the reason you were hired in the first place. If you have a formula of poses that you use as your "go to" poses, there's nothing wrong with that, because it works.
I think, when I feel this way, the best way to spark my creativity is working with another photographer, attending a workshop, or planning a styled shoot. Go to a museum, take a trip, watch a beautiful film...just engage in anything that makes you feel totally inspired to create. These are all awesome ways to spark fresh and creative ideas that will help you avoid feeling stagnant.
3-How do you deal with a bride/groom/family member who is stressed out the day of the wedding and is not being very cooperative?
I think the one aspect of photography I didn't anticipate when I started was just how many personalities I would have to engage with. On a wedding day, there's a WHOLE lot of stress and personalities all in one space. If you're not good in situations like that, it can really take away from your ability to be successful on a wedding day.
I think the number one approach that has helped me tremendously is settings expectations. Communicate with your clients well in advance to work with them on what they can expect from you on their wedding day. I always work with clients on a really organized timeline of their day well in advance. I educate them on how much time I will need for each portion of the day and what time of day is best for lighting. I ask them what is most important to them on the wedding day and how they would like the day to go. That way, when the wedding day comes along clients are totally prepared and know how the schedule of the day should be going.
Sometimes though, shit happens. I don't think I've EVER had a wedding where every single thing went according to plan. That's just the nature of life. There's no point in stressing out over little things. All you can do is try your very best to be prepared and capture the day as it progresses.
Ultimately, I think the one thing that has helped the most is just letting clients and family members know that I'm there to help them. I always say my job goes beyond taking photos on a wedding day. I'm there by my couples' side offering emotional support, updating timing situations, checking up on flowers, making sure they're hydrated, etc. I truly want my clients to have the best wedding day experience they could have hoped for. I think knowing they have that support is always really helpful in mellowing out the mood. This is why I always encourage couples to hire a coordinator...but that's a whole different blog post. ;)
For Leslie's Maternity Session we decided to keep it lifestyle and relaxed by shooting in her Hollywood residence. Getting to use her home as our location was like being in Disneyland for me! The decor and architectural elements were all so gorgeous! I always love when soon-to-be-mommies opt to shoot in their home. I think it adds a really personal, intimate feel to the images.
Julie and Kyle both love adventure and the outdoors and will be getting married in Yosemite this October. It seemed like the most obvious choice to shoot their Engagement Session in the gorgeous mountains near Mammoth, California. We planned for everything from wardrobe to various locations. When we saw rain in the forecast, we decided to plan to shoot as scheduled and hope for the best. When I met them at our first planned location at Convict Lake, it was literally pouring rain. I pulled up to their car, rolled down my window, and said, "Well, it's raining." The look on their faces was full of worry and disappointment. I knew I had to come up with a plan, fast.
Luckily, I had come from an area where it hadn't been raining so we decided to drive in that direction and chase the light. You can see that our first stop was still a bit drizzly. If you look closely you can see the raindrops falling on Julie and Kyle. They were so great and just went with the flow, laughing it off and continuing to smile.
As we continued to our next location, I could see the clouds start to part and the sun started shining. Off in the distance, I saw an open field with a beam of radiant light shining down on it. I have driven by this area probably 100's of times (I've been to Mammoth a lot in my lifetime) and I've never thought to explore there. So, in photographer's fashion, I pulled off onto a random road and started driving towards that light. What we discovered was so much better than any location we could have planned for. Roadways with epic trees arching over them, fields of irises, a rope swing...a rope swing for crying out loud! When I met with the couple at our consultation, Julie had mentioned to me that she and Kyle had been working on their "frolicing" skills in preparation for their Engagement Session. I'm so glad we found the perfect grassy field for you two to frolic in.
This experience was such a reflection of life for me. Sometimes you can plan for things, but, ultimately, you just have to let go and let the Universe deliver gifts that are so much better than you could have ever imagined.