Wedding Photographer

By the Sea | Styled Bridal Portraits | Cayucos, CA

Sometimes it's important to create for yourself. For this styled bridal portrait session, we made our way to the magical Cayucos shoreline near San Luis Obispo for some stunning images along the coast. I wanted the images to feel kind of moody...perhaps a bit lonely. A solitary angel waiting for her lost lover. I played with shadows and full sun a bit as well, hoping to add to the mood of the images. I love the way her eyes pierce through in the sunlight. Special thanks to the amazing team I collaborated with to make this shoot happen:

Make up by: Candace Miller Make Up | Hair by: Amanda Duckett of The Wedding Beauty Collective | Model: Melia Patterson | Bridal Gown: Willow by Watters | Gown provided by Something Bridal

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Ask Me Anything... {6/21/16}

image1-2"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!

You can check out some other adventures I've been on here, here, and here.

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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.

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"Ask Me Anything..." {6/15/16}

image1-2"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.

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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. ;)

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Adventures in Bali

How strange it is to be stagnant in stillness for 18 hours all the while watching the world fall behind. You peer through a tiny window as you punch through the sky, forward in time, anticipating memories you’ve yet to make. I’ve always been one to look forward. Always sitting still, but never being here. I do not travel seeking stillness, but rather to satiate the sweet addiction to finally feeling that the daydreams in my mind are in alignment with reality. I had been dreaming of Bali. There is a line from a movie called Hector and the Search for Happiness that says, “There is a big difference between being here, and being here to be photographed being here.” On the second day of our trip, my camera wouldn’t turn on. I had spent months planning the kinds of images I hoped to get on this trip. In all honesty, I had initially planned this trip for the sole purpose of taking pictures. After trying everything I could think of to bring my baby back to life, I eventually came to the realization that I may need to continue the rest of the trip without being able to take photos. Although I tried to hide it, my heart was completely broken. Little did I know I would learn a very important lessons from this.

The day went on without my camera by my side and I continued to endure the torture of letting moments slip away. It seemed that, unless captured in my camera, they were moments wasted. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I took a deep breath and let it go. I wish I could remember what it was, but something cool was happening outside the car window as we were driving and I missed the shot because my camera wasn’t working. I contently smiled and said, “Some moments aren’t meant to be captured.”

My camera started working again the next day, but for the rest of the trip I didn’t feel as dependent on it. In fact, there were a lot of moments that escaped my viewfinder. Instead of being sad I “missed the shot”, I simply reveled in knowing that particular moment was a gift just for me…not to be shared with anyone else’s eyes. Because sometimes capturing a feeling with your heart is more important than having the photo of it.

There are so many moments from this trip you will not see captured in my photographs. How do you capture the introduction to the feeling of driving in a country with no stop lights? The responsibility of allowing someone to trust you with their deepest secrets? The freedom in napping on a lounge chair under the stars in the middle of a crowded room? The thick, sticky air and how alive I felt to be swimming in it? The way your heart races when a wild animal allows you to see into its soul? The warmth of watching the reflection of the moonlight on a rice field? The gratitude you feel for people you don't even know? The connection you build with friends you spontaneously got your first tattoo with? I can do my best to try, but no matter how great my camera is, a photograph can never compare to being there. In it. Present in the deliciousness of feeling the energy of life's magic.

We went to Bali searching for answers to questions we could not find within ourselves. Hoping for some strange enlightenment that can only be discovered somewhere between the depths of a stranger’s smile and roads leading to deep, dark jungles. We ventured to the island of love, hoping to purify our bleeding hearts in the holy waters but were met with an uninvited truth. Our pain is not something that is meant to be cleansed. No, our pain is what makes us divine…beautifully broken masterpieces. We went to Bali to find direction and were met with the path towards the courage to keep our hearts open to love. We went to Bali in search of ourselves, but ended up finding each other.

Uluwatu:

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It was so humid in Uluwatu it was nearly impossible to wear clothes without sweating through them. Here I am sitting at Kelly's Warung, a cute little cafe with a beach view that served the best Pitaya Bowls. 

Seminyak:

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One of my favorite parts of Bali was the beautiful alley ways leading to mysterious places.            Ketut posing by the art in our AirBnB in Seminyak.

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Ubud:

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Ketut: Thank you for showing me what a truly pure heart looks like. I have never in my life met a more kind and gentle soul than yours. You truly made this trip better for us than we could have ever imagined and we will be forever grateful that you were part of it.

Brandon: I so admire your courage, your sense of honor, and the way you constantly strive to be a better version of yourself. Thank you for teaching me how to receive help from others without feeling weak, or proud, or underserving.

Shaina: I love the way your heart light shines. Your inner strength and the depth to which you love is so inspiring to me. I'm so excited to witness the evolution of your purpose.

Anthony: I'm so proud of you. I am in awe of the way you set your mind to achieving the intentions you create for yourself and how you want to live your life. I can always count on some good belly laughs whenever we are together and I am so grateful for our years of friendship. Thank you for inspiring me to live with passion.

Watch until the end for bloopers.

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"Ask Me Anything..." {5/17/16}

Los Angeles Wedding Photographer_0117 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's your greatest memory from high school?

High school feels like forever ago and, then again, like it was just yesterday. I have so many great memories with friends that I am still close with today. From school dances, to getting my driver's license, to first kisses...they all seem to blur into one big memory of adolescent bliss. If I had to choose one memory that I valued the most it would have to be the time I spent on my high school dance team.

I started dancing when I was eight years old. I'll never forget the first time I got to see the Saugus Dance Team perform. They were so amazing and, from that point forward, my life goal was to eventually become a Saugus dancer. I'll never forget how nervous I was going into try outs. I was sick for weeks beforehand from the nerves! Walking up to the list of dancers who had made the team to see if my name was on it was probably one of the longest walks of my life. When I saw my name, I knew I had accomplished a goal 7 years in the making and it felt pretty great.

We performed at football games, basketball games, and pep rallies. We also traveled to various cities to compete against other teams around the country. Not only did I learn how to work really, really hard (we worked our asses off at early morning practices, literally), but I also learned how to work as a team while forming close bonds with my teammates. I LOVED performing in front of an audience so being able to dance gave me the outlet and confidence I needed to eventually pursue other goals in the performing arts.

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2-What does photography mean to you?

This is such a huge question that I'm not sure I can answer in just one little post. Obviously, discovering my love for photography changed my life. Apart from dancing, I've never done anything that makes me feel like I can escape my mind so completely. When you get into the flow of things while you're taking pictures, it's a high I can't really explain. Without trying to sound dramatic, it's like this heightened sense of self. Tapping into your creative being can be a very spiritual experience.

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I'd have to say though, that the reason I love taking pictures is actually very selfish. I strive to capture these moments in people's lives because I hope that, when they look at their photos years from now, they'll see a little piece of me in them. I guess I hope that by showing the world my perspective, by capturing the way I see things on paper, a little piece of me will continue on through my art. Maybe it's an ego thing, or maybe it's just my way of wanting to be remembered when I go.

3-I feel like the quality of my work is poor quality, bland lighting, and dull highlights. What are your top tips for getting photos that are crisp and sharp while still looking natural?

It definitely takes time to get to a point with your editing style that feels like a reflection of how you imagine it will look in your head. Finding your style and your voice as an artist takes time! When I was first starting out, I found a few photographers whose style I really admired and tried to emulate it. I think it's important to really study the work of those you admire to perfect your own eye when it comes to editing. This is not to say you are "copying" their work. Your work will never look exactly like someone else's because you have your own unique vision as an artist. What I'm saying is, really look at the images you love and think about why you are drawn to them. Do you love the dark shadows? Do you love the soft skin tones? What about the vibrant colors? I currently have images of Jose Villa's work hanging above my desk as a constant reminder of what I'm striving for in my editing and career.

Feeling like your images are poor could be a result of a lot of things. Perhaps you are comparing your work to those you admire and don't feel it measures up? Perhaps you are still in the stage of your career as a photographer where you need to work on honing your eye when you edit? Here are a few tips that work really well for me when I'm shooting/ editing:

  • I usually shoot at f1.6 or f2.o on my 50mm 1.2L lens. I'm drawn to that dreamy depth of field and shooting at this setting helps me to emulate the film look I love so much. This takes practice though as it can be really difficult to get sharp images at this aperture. I still struggle with it!
  • Your focal point should always be on the eye. If the eyes in my images aren't sharp, I usually don't use the photo. For me, the eyes are the most important part.
  • In Lightroom, the very first thing I do is slide the "Sharpness" and "Noise" bars in the "Detail" module to the right a little. Be careful not to overdue this though, as you can make your images look too soft which gives a fake look that I don't love. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 11.55.23 AM
  • I typically overexpose in camera by about 1-stop. I do this because I'm usually backlighting my subject when I shoot. You have to expose for shadows and then overexpose a bit to compete with the strong light from the sun. This way your subject isn't in silhouette.
  • I almost always lift my exposure and bring down highlights and shadows in Lightroom when I'm editing. I edit with Mastin Presets so I usually just apply the preset and make a few tweaks until I'm happy with the way it looks.
  • Maintain sharpness in camera by making sure you're at an appropriate shutter speed. Anything below 1/250s is probably going to be a bit blurry if you're photographing a moving subject.
  • I hate to say this because I'm a firm believer that the camera doesn't make the artist, but the lack of crispness in your images could be a result of the camera you're using or your lenses. You can have the best camera and lenses in the world and still take crappy pictures, but if you know what you're doing, having quality gear can really make a difference. When investing in lenses, it's important that you choose one that can shoot at wide apertures. I'd say it's best to strive for a lens that can get at least as wide as 2.8. Having quality glass can help you to create images with vivid colors and sharpness straight out of camera.About me photo

"Ask Me Anything..." {5/3/16}

Los Angeles Wedding Photographer_0117"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 your marketing strategy to reach your ideal clientele?

I'm a very lucky photographer because I truly LOVE all of my clients! Not all photographers can say this and I'll tell you why...they don't brand themselves in a way that helps them to attract their ideal client.

In order to do this, you have to have a clear and concise image of who your ideal client is. Where do they shop? Do they drink beer or wine? What kind of car do they drive? Do they like to travel?

Sit down and make a list that is as detailed as possible of what traits your ideal client would possess. This way, you will have a strong outline for what kind of content you should be creating for your social media platforms. As a very simple example, if your ideal client is a dog person, don't post cat photos. If your ideal client has an excellent fashion sense, keep your content fashion forward.

I have also attracted my ideal client, while setting myself apart in a saturated market, by choosing to remain very open about my personal life. Not a lot of photographers or business owners would agree with this approach but I have found there are a lot of benefits to this technique. First of all, choosing to remain vulnerable with what kind of content I put out helps me to remain approachable and relatable. I'm a person just like everyone else. Pretending to be perfect for the sake of upholding an image doesn't connect with my ideal client. I want my clients to feel like they know me before they work with me so we can establish an intimate exchange of trust and friendship right from the beginning. I also share personal stories and thoughts because I hope that, by doing so, my own experiences can potentially help or inspire others. I've found that, more than anything, people want to feel inspired.

Overall, as simple as this may sound, I attract my ideal client by choosing to remain authentic. I share my mistakes, my adventures, and my passions so that I may attract clients who are like minded.

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2-What are your thoughts on including digital images for your clients? I personally do not include them but allow them to be purchased separately. I know lots of photographers include a disc or digital copies with all of the pictures. Wondering which way you advise. 

Ahhh the age old question: Digital files vs. Product Sales. I'll just start by saying that I offer the digital files in my package. I explain to my clients that I will select the best images from their session or wedding day to be delivered through an online gallery called Pixieset. I do this for two reasons: 1) I am a straight forward person and I want a straight forward delivery method. Delivering images through Pixieset is simple, it looks elegant, and it's very straight forward. 2) My clients want the digital images. Yes, I could structure my packages in a way that upsells products and includes the digital files at a premium cost. Yes, I could make a lot more money by doing it this way. At the end of the day though, this approach just. isn't. right. for. me. This approach to business is not who I am as a person and it doesn't feel genuine for me. My main goal is to provide a "what you see is what you get"' exchange of services that leaves my clients feeling happy.

This is not to say offering products to your clients is taking advantage of them! Clients are coming to you because they want quality service and by offering beautiful products, you are delivering a great experience. I still offer the option for my clients to purchase products and albums, I just don't structure my packages in a way that makes the digital files more expensive.

At the end of the day, the approach with which you choose to structure your business model is a complete reflection of what feels right to you as a business person. If "In Person Sales" feels more natural to you, you should do that! If your ideal client is interested in a studio that offers premium products, then you should offer that! Stay true to what feels right.

 

3-What advice do you have for someone who's just starting out on the adventure of creating their own photography business? 

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! You are about to embark on the biggest adventure/challenge of your life! I originally started my business with the idea of "I want to take pretty pictures for a living." But, they don't tell you about the bookkeeping, the taxes, the emails, the marketing, the blogging, the learning, the self doubt, the expenses, the interpersonal communication skills, etc and so forth.  Owning my own business has taught me so many wonderful things about myself while bringing me on some pretty amazing adventures. There hasn't been a day that I'm not grateful for discovering this passion and starting a business, but DAMN, it's hard work. Here are some tips for your journey:

1- EAT, SLEEP, and BREATHE YOUR BUSINESS.

Starting and owning any successful business will require 100% of your time, focus, and, well, life. While I fully believe in the concept of finding "balance," it can be a difficult thing to juggle building a successful business, having a family, maintaining a relationship, etc. It may get easier once your business is a bit more established, but in the beginning, my business was all I thought about. I sometimes joke that "my business is my boyfriend." With a job that requires me to work  on the weekends and edit at home alone during the week, it's hard to meet people that understand this kind of schedule, let alone finding the time to go on dates.

Owning your own business is not a 9a-5p job. This is your all day everyday life. It is also my biggest sense of pride, joy, and love and I have never once regretted the decision to start my own business.

2- BUILD YOUR TRIBE.

If you work from home and don't have any employees, like me, being a business owner can be kind of lonely sometimes. There are many times when I need encouragement, company, ideas, or just someone who understands my frustrations.  This is why it's so important to build your tribe. By "tribe" I mean, a network of like minded people (probably fellow entrepreneurs and photographers) who you can get together with to vent, talk about ideas, or just get out of the house. Yes, I have other really close friends that I can talk to but, unless they own their own business or are photographers, they just can't fully grasp what you're going through. Having a close group of friends who I feel supported by has helped me tremendously on my journey.

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3- DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.

As creatives, we strive to attain the same level of greatness as those who have inspired us. We are constantly growing, learning, and improving...while constantly  making ourselves feel like we're not good enough by comparing our journey to others. STOP IT! Just stop it right now! (Reaches through the screen to slap you).   You are an individual with rare and brilliant creative vision...why would you compare your talents to those of others? You are at a stage in your journey that is specific to only you...why would you compare your journey to someone else's?

While it's important to strive to improve, to practice your skills, and to enhance your creative eye...it's also important to truly own who you are and what your voice is as an artist. Comparing your path to someone else's is the firs step to self-destruction and the number one killer of creativity. I know this because I constantly struggle with it. Blaze your own trail and own what you have to say to the world.

4- BUILD A TEAM.

When I started my business it didn't take me long to realize that I am only as strong as the people I surround myself with. As hard as I may try, I cannot do everything nor can I be everyone. I have a designated group of vendors that I choose to work with on styled shoots and always recommend to clients. These hair and make up artists, coordinators, florists, photographers,  and graphic designers are all AMAZINGLY talented. Why wouldn't I want to surround myself with super talented people? It inspires me and, together, we create beautiful things.

5- SET YOUR INTENTIONS.

How will you know how to get somewhere if you don't know where you're going? Manifesting success into your life and making all your dreams come true is 100% a result of setting your intentions. Where do you want to be with your business in 6 months? Sit down and write out your specific goals. Maybe you want to have a website up and running by the end of the month. Write it down. Maybe you want to set your profits at 6 figures by 2017. Write it down. Now, how will you get there? Make a plan for yourself and stick to it. Write it out in big, bold letters and hang it somewhere you can look at it everyday. Setting goals for yourself is crucial to success.

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2015 {A Year in Pictures}

This year, what a year. 2015. You started off pretty rocky and showed me again and again the power of surrendering to what will be. You taught me that surrendering control of what I thought my life would be can only lead me to places I never had the courage to imagine for myself. You taught me that sometimes, even when things don't make sense, they always seem to come together in the beautiful tapestry of life's mystery. My 2015 was the year of "surrender." Over and over again, I surrendered. In that letting go, I was found. Looking back on the flurry of the last 12 months, I am filled with unbelievable gratitude for the gifts I've been given. I've had the opportunity to see the world doing what I love while also establishing some very cherished friendships along the way. This year has proven to me, more than anything, that the most important things in this life are the memories you create and the people you choose to surround yourself with. That, given a little time, everything works out the way it's supposed to. That this life is as grand, as wild, and as filled with wander as you can imagine. You are the architect of your own life. Build it big.

In March, I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica to second shoot a wedding with my dear friend, Christine. Intimate Destination Weddings are my favorite. Check out the blog post here.

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I met some awesome adventure buddies. I was lucky enough to travel to Maui to shoot a wedding in April. I still dream of the crystal waters and can't wait to return. I worked with some pretty cool people and hopefully got them excited about my passion, too. I was lucky enough to travel to Yosemite for a beautiful wedding nestled in the trees. Click here to see all the pretty.  Here I am in Joshua Tree shooting Scott and Hayley's wedding.

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Probably one of the most significant parts of my year was becoming a dog mom. This small furry creature is the love of my life. I can't image my life without her. 

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Finishing the year off with an Alaskan adventure. Life is magic.                                                                                                                                                                 Where to next 2016?

Ask Me Anything... {12/8/15}

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Do you have any advice for someone who will be working as a photographer's assistant?

When you're first starting and trying to learn the art and business of photography I highly recommend seeking out assistant opportunities. Even if you're just carrying bags, you can make the most of being able to observe a professional photographer's workflow and techniques on a shoot. Every photographer works differently so I'd recommend working with several photographers to gather ideas and inspiration for what you can incorporate into your own workflow.

Since my focus is Wedding Photography I'll give you a couple tips for ways to maintain professionalism and represent the photographer you're working for in a positive light:

-Don't pass out your own card to wedding guests or promote your business in any way. Yes, this happens. It is important to remember that, when you are working for another photographer, you are there to represent their business. It may even be a good idea to ask the photographer for some of their cards to hand out in case guests ask for one. On the same note, make sure to go over the photographer's terms for sharing images you take at their shoot on social media or in your portfolio. Breaking these rules is a really quick way to not be asked back with them.

-Dress professionally. Ask the photographer you're working for what they prefer you wear on a wedding day. Do they wear all black? Do they want you to look business professional? Everyone has their own preference. Again, you're there representing their business and you want to look your best.

-Be proactive. A wedding day can be kind of hectic and learning when you can be helpful without being asked is a big thing. Offer to get water for the bride and groom or for the photographer. Try to anticipate where you can be helpful.

- Be on time. Showing up on time is a direct reflection of respect for another person's time. If you have trouble with being on time, plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early.

- Observe. Take your job as an assistant as an opportunity to soak in knowledge and observe the photographer's process. This is basically like free school.

Do you memorize poses/directions?

Yes, absolutely. I spend a lot of time looking through wedding blogs, books, and tutorials to learn great poses and techniques that help achieve a natural look and feel to an image. There's absolutely no shame in having a group of "go to" poses to use on a shoot. Being able to role quickly from pose to pose with your clients helps them to feel comfortable and makes the shoot go by smoother. The more confident you are with giving direction to your clients, the more confident your clients will be in you and your process.

Sometimes I find it helpful to save images of poses I like on my phone or even take pictures of poses I like on my camera. This way I can refer to them quickly on a shoot in case I'm hurting for ideas or inspiration.

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Did you create your own logo or did you hire a graphic designer?

No, I did not create my own logo. Why? Because I know nothing about graphic design. It is my firm belief that, if you are not good at something, outsource it to someone who is. Build a good team of people you trust and admire so you can form strong creative collaborations. I worked with my graphic designer, Jory Hyman, by sitting down and explaining to him what I envisioned for my brand. I chose to work with him because he's very talented and has a precise vision, he's trustworthy, and he always seems to understand my nonsensical explanations of what's in my head. He, in fact, did my entire website rebuild as well as logo design and marketing kit. Needless to say, he's great.

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My logo has had a lotus flower in it from the beginning because the lotus symbolizes rebirth. I have always felt the discovery of my love for photography was a tremendous rebirth for my life's direction. I explained to him how I see my brand and the style of my images and we collaborated on creating a logo that was cohesive with all those things.

Abigail and Cole {Engaged} Los Angeles, CA

As kids, Cole was best friends with Abigail's brother. Abigail was always nearby, but it wasn't until they grew older that Cole realized girls don't have cooties. When they told me how long they'd known each other, I remember saying, "The love of your life was right in front of you all along." What an amazing thought. The only way I can think to accurately describe Cole and Abigail is that they sparkle. Observing their energy together fills you with love and just makes you want to smile. It's pretty obvious they're best friends who just happen to be crazy about each other. Abigail simply shines and it's clear that Cole has been captivated by her light.

For their Engagement Session, I wanted a location that was just as bright and vibrant as their personalities. So, naturally, I took them to the 4th Street Arts District where we were surrounded by pops of color and adventure around every corner. My favorite part of the session was when we happened to stumble upon a vintage piano randomly sitting in an alley way. I asked them to sit and pose for a few shots and Cole, who just also happened to know how to play piano, started playing a tune. I love when life gives me moments like this.

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Luke and Haley {Private Estate Wedding} Calabasas, CA

I fell in love with Luke and Haley the moment we met at their consultation. There seemed to be an invisible thread that connected them as they sat across from me telling me about how they envisioned their day. Haley told me about how they met, laughing and with the biggest grin on her face. They were both students at USC living on the same floor when Haley's fire alarm started  going off in her apartment. Luke eventually made his way over to try to figure out how to turn off the alarm...sparks flew and they got to talking. It's in these seemingly insignificant moments that your life can change forever. Luke and Haley's wedding day was so beautiful to be apart of. Amidst the decor and the entertainment, the dresses and the flowers, it was clear that the most important thing to the couple was sharing their love with the people in their life that mean the most to them. The ceremony was emotional and heart felt...a beautiful expression of the bond these two share as soulmates and best friends.

My favorite thing about the day was watching the way Haley pet Luke's hair. The way she did it unknowingly...almost as a force of habit. Sometimes the biggest expressions of love can be found in the smallest acts of affection.

Congratulations you two! Thank you for inspiring me with your love.

Hair and Make Up: Jenna Wilson | Haley's Gown by: Jim Hjelm | Coordinator: Tricia Dahlgren Events | Bridesmaids Dress: Alfred Sung | Groom and Groomsmen suits by: Thick As Thieves |Flowers and centerpieces created by the Bride | Rentals: AV Party Rentals | Cake: Susie's Cakes | Second Photographer: Tiffany Gentry | This wedding was edited using Mastin Labs

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Haley and Kevan {Engaged} Valencia, CA

Haley and Kevan were absolutely amazing at their Engagement session! From the moment we started shooting, they were completely natural and playful with each other. It's obvious these two are best friends who love to make each other laugh. Their little doggy joined us for some shots, too. I love when couples bring their fur babies to sessions!

My favorite part of the session was when I asked them to slow dance in the field where we were shooting. At first they were a bit hesitant but quickly fell into the groove of the movement. The way Haley looked up at Kevan in that moment (with total stars in her eyes, slow dancing in a field at magic hour) is the reason I do what I do. That look. It's everything.

Congratulations to Kevan and Haley! I'm beyond excited for your wedding day!

Haley's fabulous make up by All Dolled Up Beauty Lounge

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Tournament Players Club Wedding | Valencia, CA | Kareen + Kevin

Kareen and Kevin were recently married on a hot summer day amidst close friends and family. The couple chose Tournament Players Club in Valencia, CA as their fairytale setting. From the stunning views to the rustic architecture, the entire location embodied a feeling of tranquility and old world charm that set the tone for the rest of the wedding day. From the moment Kareen arrived at the venue, her expression was radiant with anticipation. The invitations were sent, the honeymoon was booked, and all the decorations were in their right place...all that was left was saying "I Do" to the love of her life. As she walked down the aisle to Kevin, there was an audible gasp from all of the guests in attendance. In that moment, she possessed the kind of beauty that can only leave you breathless. It was obvious Kevin felt the same way as he attempted to hold back his tears at the sight of his future wife walking toward him.

As Kareen and Kevin stood side by side, reciting their vows, the strength of their bond shined brighter than ever before. Their connection is subtle and doesn't ask for attention. There is a comfort and confidence between them when they are together that I admire so much.  It was hard not to cry along with them as they promised their lives to one another.

The remainder of the day was filled with love, laughs, and partying. The dance floor remained full for a majority of the evening and the echoes of boisterous laughter filled the air as the music played late into the night. It was beautiful to watch as they were surrounded by dear family and close friends from all over the world in a united celebration of the love they share.

Congratulations to Kevin and Kareen on a beautiful Wedding Day and thank you for allowing me to be part of it!

 

Venue: Tournament Players Club

Make Up: All Dolled Up Beauty Lounge

Florals: Creative Flowers in Acton

Linens: Luxe Linen

Rentals: AV Party Rentals

DJ: Let the Music Play (Alan Reno)

Second Photographer: Mike Arick

 

 

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My Road to Freedom

Today is a day we celebrate our freedom. We'll gather with friends and family to BBQ. We'll have one too many adult beverages. We'll stand in awe as we marvel at the brilliant colors dancing across the sky. We'll remember the brave men and women who gave their lives to protect the freedom of their families and the generations to come. To be free is to be American. But, to me, freedom contains a complexity of other meanings.

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Today marks exactly one year since I left my former career as a Casting Director. I spent my last 3 years at the company completely and utterly miserable. What may have seemed like a glamorous job on the outside, was eating away at my soul on the inside.  It was torture to wake up every morning knowing I had to survive through another day at work. It wasn't so much that the job itself was terrible, but rather, that I wasn't in alignment with my own heart. I wanted nothing more than to take pictures and travel.

Freedom means...being authentic to your heart.

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I had this vision of a life I didn't have to survive in. I wanted a life I could thrive in. I have distinct memories of sitting at my desk while staring longingly at the travel photos hanging in my cubicle and wishing I could be there, the echoes of my office phone taunting me as if to remind me of where I really was. In retrospect, it wasn't my cubicle walls I felt trapped by...it was my fear. I was afraid of leaving a secure job to pursue a passion without a certain future. More so than anything, I was afraid I wasn't good enough.

Freedom means...choosing love over fear. 

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My road to freedom was not easy. There were many nights I would come home to edit photos after working a 14 hour day, many weekends I dedicated my only days off to shooting weddings or portrait sessions. I knew with complete certainty taking pictures was my calling because it didn't feel like work. I ached for the moments I could create photographs.

Freedom means... living with passion.

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     I still remember the moment I walked out the doors of my office for the last time. My soul literally felt a lightness I can't explain. I could see my dream and it didn't feel so far away anymore. I made the choice to trust that the universe would provide me with what I needed to be successful as long as I worked hard. I closed my eyes and jumped into the great unknown. I felt free.

So far, the universe has delivered.

Freedom is...surrender. 

Finding Balance | Los Olivos, CA

The last several months have been kind of crazy for me. Good crazy! With the start of wedding season and the traveling I've been lucky enough to do, it feels as though I haven't really slowed down in months. Lately though, I've realized how tired I am. I've been doing too much. I've been trying to do everything. I haven't had balance in my life. This week I had a session scheduled in Los Olivos which is about a two hour drive north of me. Knowing I need some fun in my life, I decided to make a day of it. So my beautiful friend (and fellow photographer) and I took a road trip. We ate delicious food, we sampled some wine, we took in the sights. And, you know what? I felt totally recharged both spiritually and creatively. As much as I love my business and my clients, I have to remember my life comes first. I think, in the end, finding this balance to live a life I love helps me to give more of myself to the job that I love.

P.S. Thanks to Tiff for capturing some sweet photos of me and Gracie.

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Keith + Lisa {Engaged }

Lisa and Keith are such a fun couple! I loved how well the laid back, mellow vibe of the beach setting at their session reflected their personalities. As we walked along the sand during our shoot, I listened to Keith retell the story of how he proposed to Lisa. Knowing he intended to propose to her, he planned a romantic getaway weekend in San Diego...one of their favorite places to visit together. He put together a day packed full of romantic dinners, drives, and movies...hoping the right time would present itself for him to ask Lisa to marry him. The day flew by and night came, they were walking back to the car after dinner and Keith realized the right moment had never arrived. He began to panic. If he didn't ask her now his opportunity that day would be gone. So he got down on one knee right there on the side walk and when Lisa turned around he asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. She said "yes", lit by the glow of the warm street lights, and the rest is history. Sometimes it isn't how you ask, but rather, the intention behind the question that really matters. Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-10Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-13Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-2Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-3-2Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-3Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-3-3Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-4Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-4-2Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-4-3Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-5-2Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-6-2Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-6Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-7Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-8Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-9Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-8-2Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-5Trump Golf Course Engagement Session_-7-2