destination wedding photographer

Brenna and Ben | Tribeca Rooftop Wedding | New York City, New York

I've always felt like New York City has an energy unlike any other place I've been. The fast pace of the people passing by amidst the ubiquitous city soundtrack can make you feel electric.

When I arrived to the posh Tribeca Rooftop for Brenna and Ben's wedding day the first thing I saw was Brenna having her make up done by Stacie Ford Weddings like a Victoria's Secret Fashion model getting ready for her runway debut. Brenna and most of her bridesmaids played basketball together, so the room was filled with beautiful amazonian women in pink, silk robes. It was overwhelming to look out the window from the getting ready room to see the blanket of rooftops along the city skyline... Brenna's Kelly Faitanini wedding gown draped elegantly upon the grand window pane. This is what wedding dreams are made of. 

The florals by McNino Design Floral & Events added an element of soft, femininity amidst the masculine urban landscape. The reception hall was bathed in statuesque, vibrant arrangements that gave the room an added splash of elegance and sophistication. Perhaps my favorite detail was Brenna's bridal bouquet, dripping with clean, white orchids. 

For Wedding Party and Romantics, I wanted to capture the character of the city. I love how authentic the shots of the bridal party feel posing with the construction workers we passed on the street. The cobblestone streets added an extra element of romance to the bride and groom romantics that I absolutely fell in love with. 

Throughout the day, we were all worried it was going to rain. During the ceremony, the sky was filled with ominous dark clouds and sprinkles started to fall just as the couple shared their first kiss. Once everyone made it inside the reception room, the sky opened and it started to pour, adding an element of intimacy as the guests mingled with each other and sipped on their chic cocktails. I love when the weather seems to know it needs to wait for something special. Love is pretty magical. 

The night ended with boisterous dancing and hilarious speeches. You could feel the love in the room as two families became one. Watching Brenna and Ben together (two of the most genuine, warm, and fun people I've had the pleasure of meeting) was truly a reminder to me that there really is one perfect match for all of us. Congratulations to Brenna and Ben on your beautiful wedding day! 

Venue: Tribeca Rooftop | Make Up: Stacie Ford Weddings | Hair: Styles On B | Florals: McNino Design Floral & Events | Catering: Apogee Events | Cake: Audrey's Fine Baked Goods | Bride's Gown: Kelly Faitanini | Bride's Shoes: Pelle Moda| Ring Designer: Leo Ingwer | Bridesmaid Dresses: Monique Lhuillier | Groom & Groomsmen Suits: Imparali NYC | Musical Entertainment: Hank Lane Music & Dane Wright Band | Second Photographer: Sarah Zimmer | Candy Buffet: Treat me Sweet

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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.

https://youtu.be/RsYNNdzfhNk

Jen + Ryan {Olowalu Plantation House Wedding} | Lahaina, Hawaii

Jen and Ryan married at Olowalu Plantation House in Maui on April 8th, 2015. From the stunning ocean view to the lush landscaping, everything about this venue is a beautiful reflection of the magical feeling of "island life." The two were married in an intimate ceremony amidst close friends and family where they proclaimed their life long commitment to one another amidst the ocean breezes and soft, Hawaiian sun. It was truly such an honor to be asked to capture their special day! You can see more travel images and stories from my stay in Maui here.

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Brian and Amy {Engagement Session} | Palm Springs, CA

Amy and Brian's six year anniversary of meeting each other was coincidentally the day we shot their Engagement Session. Six years prior to March 20th this year, they met in a bar where Brian asked for Amy's number. The day after meeting each other, they took their first photo together. Amy immediately texted her mom that photo proclaiming he was the man she was going to marry. Cut to present day and Brian and Amy are planning their October, 2016 wedding in Palm Springs...looks like Amy was right. Brian proposed at Disneyland in December of 2015 in front of the Magic Castle. He arranged for his adorable niece to approach Amy with a sign that said, "Aunt Amy, Uncle Brian has a question for you..." When she looked up, Brian was down on one knee presenting her with a stunning ring. Does it get any cuter than that people?!

Since Amy and Brian are getting married in Palm Springs, we decided to do their Engagement Session there as well to capture the feel of what their big day will be. We started our shoot at the Ace Hotel and took advantage of the fun colors and eclectic decor. We then drove out to an open field outside of Palm Springs and took some very dramatic, wind blown photos in the middle of the desert. I love how romantic the images look against the sunset!

Amy and Brian, congratulations on your Engagement! I can't tell you how excited I am to capture your special day!

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Ask Me Anything... {11/24/15}

2015-10-06_0003 What is your favorite Mastin Labs preset? What was the hardest part about perfecting  Mastin Lab's presets?

I've talked a lot about how I use Mastin Labs presets for my editing process. These presets have been the first to offer me consistency in my editing while also delivering the classic, film look I love. Using these presets isn't just the click of a button for me though. It took me some time to get into the groove of  how I can make these presets work for me. I have both the Fuji Pro and Portra Packs and use them for different environments. The preset I use about 90% of the time, however, is Fuji Pro 400H Neutral.

One of the issues I had most often when I first started using these presets was skin tone. Skin tones can sometimes seem a bit undersaturated with this preset so I typically increase the vibrance and up the warmth. I also have to be careful sometimes to avoid blowing out the highlights in my images. I usually bring highlights down a bit after applying the preset.

I don't know that I could choose just one of the packs. I think the Portra Pack and the Fuji pack are both amazing and have their place for different settings and tones. Someone just mentioned they're having a 50% sale for Black Friday! I swear I'm not getting paid to promote them. I just really love these presets and hope they can make someone else as happy as they've made me.

How did you start networking with other photographers?

I love this question because I think networking is a very important skill to have in any industry. Having a strong network of peers in your field is vital to building a supportive team that you can trust and depend on.

I think the most important tip I can give would be to participate. Participate in workshops, seminars, classes, conventions, and parties. Go out to events and be social. Attending events like WPPI has been one of the best things I've done for my business and I can't wait to go again next year. Surrounding yourself with people who are just as passionate about what they do as you are helps to ignite and inspire you.

These will be the places you meet other passionate photographers. You can swap tips and tricks, offer your services if they need an assistant, etc. I would try to avoid coming across like you want something though. A person can sense when you're using them for your own agenda. Be generally open and interested in what people have to say. Show that you're eager to learn and can be a team player. At the end of the day, we're all just looking to work with someone we can rely on to work hard while having a little fun, too.

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Do you travel for weddings? I would love to hear more about you and your style! 

YES! YES! And more YES! My love for travel is a huge part of the reason I decided to pursue a career in wedding photography. In 2015, I was lucky enough to shoot weddings in Maui, Yosemite, Costa Rica, and Joshua Tree among many others. I love when I get to meet with couples who love to travel, too. Destination weddings are my favorite because they're typically a little more intimate and can be stretched out to be more of a week long experience as opposed to one day.  Next year I'm setting my intentions to book more weddings internationally... maybe a Bali wedding? Perhaps a whimsical wedding in Ireland? Mama needs some more stamps on her passport!

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The Best Date I've Ever Had {Photos from my time in Maui}

Last year I went through a pretty devastating break up. Nearly 5 months post split, I was given the opportunity to travel to Maui to shoot a wedding. While I was thrilled to be adventuring to such a beautiful destination and pinching myself that my career dreams were finally coming true...there was part of my heart that still felt very empty. I was tired of feeling this way and decided that this trip would be different for me. I made the decision that, even though my heart was still healing, I could continue to remain open. I made the decision to say "yes." I feel the most inspired when I travel so I keep a journal on trips...perhaps it's my tendency towards wanderlust. The following is an entry straight out of my travel journal...along with some shots I took on my trip. I wrote it alone with a heart full of hope on a white, sandy beach in Maui. I hope it might inspire someone who has experienced hurt to make the choice to keep an open heart...

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"I'm sitting on the beach, focused on that beautiful feeling of the fine grains of sand between my toes, and I'm realizing, no matter how hard I try, my camera will never be able to accurately capture the magic in the crystal blue waters of Maui. There's something about this place that fills your heart with love. I stand at the shore and close my eyes as the water rushes over my feet. The ocean breeze blows my hair wildly like a tornado around my face and I can hear the wind whisper, "This is all that matters." Things are simple here. A place where beauty blankets your every bit of being and smiling is involuntary. My heart is carefree and my soul feels at rest.

I made it a priority to keep my heart open and say "yes" to all the opportunities that should present themselves to me on this trip. The Universe has beautiful things in store for you if you only have the courage to surrender.

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I met a man. His eyes were kind and his smile inviting. His aura was gentle and warm. We walked carefree in the grass along the cliffs; his pants rolled up and my hair wild and tangled from the wind. We sat and drank beers overlooking the vastness of the turquoise ocean. I was happy in the simplicity of the moment.

He opened his arms like a bird in flight and soared gracefully from the rocks into the infinite waters. He did not hesitate as I did when it came time for me to jump. My feet felt like they were glued to those black rocks. I was afraid. What if I get hurt? What if I look like an idiot? What if a shark emerges from the waves like that scene in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? What if?

What if I have fun?

I closed my eyes tight, held my breath, and pushed myself in one swift leap off the edge of the world. The air rushed past my ears and I was weightless. It seemed like I was falling for an eternity and no time at all. I felt peace, I felt young, I felt free.

I crashed into the sea with a cold and uninviting welcome. I thrashed around violently, fighting against the current and just trying to keep my head above water. Then suddenly he jumped in with me. I watched him swim and copied his ease. It didn't take long for me to realize... all I needed to do was float. I lay my head back and lazily waded underneath the open sky. I let the current take me soft and gentle along the waves and, in that moment, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude.

"I can't believe you LIVE here," I declared in disbelief.

He looked at me with the kind of smirk possessed by a person who knows something you don't know.

"Anyone can live here," he replied. "Most people are just afraid."

I thought to myself how ridiculous it sounded that people could be afraid to be happy.

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We spent the rest of the day together at his house, nestled in the depths of the jungle. I loved the way his eyes lit up as he proudly showed me the patch of land where he intended to grow his farm. I could see what he saw...his dreams sparkled in the reflection of his eyes as he stared out into the wild soil.

We made dinner together, both barefoot and content in our bathing suits from earlier. We talked about the Universe, about manifesting what you want and surrendering to things you cannot imagine for yourself. We shared our pain and talked about the importance of growing from it. We laughed. We talked. We connected. And, for the first time in a long time, my heart felt open.

Later that night we sat together while he played his guitar. I closed my eyes and listened intently as the notes floated off the strings like bubbles into the warm glow of the candlelight. I wanted this moment to last forever but I knew that it was not meant to be experienced longer than today. I was grateful for the experience, even in its brevity, yet sad because I could already feel it slipping away. Sometimes people are only meant to enter your life for a season. Sometimes longer if you're lucky. No matter the length of time,  everyone has something to teach you.

The music stopped. He pet my hair as he leaned in, lingering for a moment before he kissed me. He tasted like the ocean."

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