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Amy & Brian | Casa Cody Wedding | Palm Springs, CA

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

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Best of 2016

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. taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0050taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0051taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0047taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0049taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0048

 

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.

taylor_kinzie_photography_central_coast_road_trip_0062taylor_kinzie_photography_central_coast_road_trip_0063taylor_kinzie_photography_central_coast_road_trip_0064The 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.

taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_bali_travel_photography_0055taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_bali_travel_photography_0054I 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.

taylor_kinzie_photography_new_york_wedding_photographer_0060taylor_kinzie_photography_new_york_wedding_photographer_0059taylor_kinzie_photography_new_york_wedding_photographer_0061I 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.

taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_joshua_tree_travel_0052taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_joshua_tree_travel_0053One 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.

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Thanks to all for your love and support. Can't wait to get started on 2017 with you! Cheers to making new memories!

 

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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"Ask Me Anything..." {5/24/16}

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- If you weren't capturing people's priceless moments, what would you be doing? 

This is a great question because it's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. What will I do when, or if, I no longer feel inspired to take pictures? I feel so lucky to have discovered my passion and can't imagine doing anything else to be perfectly honest. I know though that life changes with the seasons and there will more than likely be a day when I may want to pursue a different career. Sometimes your curiosity can lead you in whole new directions.

I'll start by talking about what I used to do before photography, or "BP" as I like to call it. I actually had a career as a Casting Director for about five years. Before that I dabbled in post production assistant work and was even a Page working at CBS. Yes, like Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock. I was that girl who wore a ridiculously outdated red blazer and directed audience members to the bathroom. There were many times I questioned what my college degree had been for. On the plus side, sometimes I got to write out the name tags on The Price is Right. I thought for a long time that I belonged in the entertainment industry in some way but I wasn't sure what outlet was best suited for my creativity. So, I stumbled through a few various internships and short lived assistant jobs. When I was hired as a Casting Director, it seemed like a great fit. I'm extremely passionate about movies and the art of acting so it was a lot of fun for awhile... until it wasn't.

The job, like most jobs in entertainment, was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. I worked in a cubicle in an office with no windows. There were days when I didn't leave my desk for 10 hours. My free spirit felt like it was withering away. I know this sounds dramatic, but I was so out of alignment with how I wanted to live my life when I was at that job. On the plus side, I made some wonderful friends and memories, and learned the value of really hard work. I think my strongest lesson though, was discovering the courage in myself to walk away from a secure income to pursue a life that makes me happy.

Now, moving onto what I would be doing if I wasn't capturing priceless moments. I think, no matter what I do, it will have to allow me to express my creativity in some way. There are many things I've always wanted to pursue but didn't think I was good enough: acting, writing, singing. Perhaps at some point in my life I will have gained the courage to revisit those skills. I could also envision myself working with children in some way. Whether it be teaching or embracing my job as a mommy one day, I would love to work with kids. Perhaps I'll go back to school to learn Interior Design. Maybe I'll decide I want to be a Rocket Scientist (probably not). But, hey, isn't that the beauty in life? We can be anything we want.

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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

The Howard Family {Vasquez Rocks}

I've been photographing the Howard Family for a few years now and this year we decided to do something a bit different by shooting at Vasquez Rocks. Ashley is an amazing yoga instructor (check out her site here) so I wanted to shoot somewhere that reflected her spiritual and peaceful nature. We had so much fun highlighting the kids' playful side by incorporating fun props like the tee pee, jumbo balloons, and magic wands. The family spends a lot of time outdoors so it was awesome to snap some pics of them totally in their element climbing on rocks and jumping from path to path. Ashley's dress is by Free People. Hair by Ashlee Norman. Make up by DoubleTake Makeup Artistry. Reese's flower crown by CelebrateVasquez Rocks Family Photography_0394Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0393Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0395Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0397Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0396Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0398Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0399Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0400Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0401Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0402Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0404Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0403Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0405Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0414Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0406Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0407Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0409Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0408 Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0411Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0415Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0416Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0412Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0413Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0418Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0417Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0419Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0421Vasquez Rocks Family Photography_0410

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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Ask Me Anything... {4/5/16}

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"Ask Me Anything..." is a weekly blog segment where I answer your questions about me, photography, or...anything. 

 

1- At what moment do you think the bride and groom are at their happiest moment during a wedding day?

I love this question because it's actually something I've never thought about before. On a wedding day, when there are happy moments to be seen around every corner, when does the couple look the happiest?

If I were just thinking about the Groom, I'd have to say the moment he looks the happiest is when he watches his Bride walking towards him down the aisle. This is such a huge moment of arrival. A moment a man dreams of and sees over and over in movies. He has finally found the woman he will start a family with and love for the remainder of his life and she is walking towards him looking like an angel. The expression on his face is typically priceless.

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If I were just thinking about the moment the Bride looks the happiest, I'd have to say the moment she puts her dress on. This is the moment she becomes a Bride. This is also typically the moment when tears start to flow from Bridesmaids and the MOB. This is something many women dream of from the time they are little girls. Putting on your wedding gown for the first time and looking in the mirror to see yourself as a bride is a huge moment. Palm Springs Wedding-10-2Olowalu Plantation House Wedding_0283

 

Thinking back on all the moments when the Bride AND Groom look the happiest, I'd have to say when they kiss for the first time and take their first steps down the aisle as husband and wife. There are so many nerves through out the day leading up to this moment. Knowing that the hard part is over ( standing in front of many people and reciting vows) and now it's time to celebrate, I think brings a sense of calm and relaxation to the couple after this moment. The smiles on their faces as they walk down the aisle together are 100% of the time completely genuine and beaming.

Dana and Ryan_-22- What do you wear to shoot in at summer weddings? How can I look professional but still keep cool in the hot temperatures?

      Shooting summer weddings in the heat of a California summer can be an extremely grueling process. It doesn't help that a typically professional looking color to wear is black. I try to choose fabrics that are breathable and fit loosely. Cotton based fabrics are usually preferable. I usually try to wear sleeveless tops and a knee length skirt or dress.

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When it comes to the level of dress, you really need to evaluate the venue you'll be shooting at. If you're shooting a beachside wedding in Cabo, it might be appropriate to wear nice shorts and a button up shirt or a free flowing sun dress. If you're shooting a ballroom wedding at The Ritz Carlton, you should be wearing extremely professional attire, regardless of the heat outside.

My absolute favorite pair of shoes to wear on a wedding day is Sam Edelman Felicia Ballet Flats. They are by far the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. After a 12 hour day, my feet don't hurt and I don't have blisters. I personally would never wear sandals to shoot a wedding unless I'm shooting all day in the sand.

In addition to choosing breathable fabrics to wear on a hot summer wedding day, it's also important to remember to stay hydrated. Make sure you are drinking lots of water and even electrolytes. You will sweat A LOT through out the course of the day and drinks like Gatorade or Coconut water help to keep your body fueled. Also, remember to pack plenty of sunscreen and deodorant in your bag! No one likes a stinky photographer...

3- Being in a competitive city where it's easy to get discouraged, how do you keep yourself motivated?

This is such a great question and I'm so glad you asked! Living in Los Angeles is amazing because we are all surrounded by some of the most creative and talented artists in the world. I think it's important to remember, however, that we are not each other's competition. I mean, yes, technically we are. But, I choose to stay away from the cut throat, competitive types in my industry. I do not resonate with this mentality at all. I choose to surround myself with people who celebrate when I win just I celebrate when they win. I am lucky enough to have friends who feel that my success is also their success and vice versa. The more we build up, praise, and support other talented artists in our industries, the stronger we're making ourselves and our own industry. By serving others, we are, in turn, also serving ourselves. 

I think the technique I use to keep myself motivated that has been most helpful is setting my intentions. I am a big believer in asking the Universe for what you want in this life. This is not to say that I believe I can make a wish for something and it will magically be delivered to me. I absolutely believe most things in life require hard work and dedication. However, unless we have set our goals and intentions for what it is we want to accomplish in our life, career, or even relationships, how will we know what to look for when it's right in front of us? Knowing that I am working everyday towards an end result definitely keeps me motivated. I'd highly recommend sitting down and making a list of goals or creating a vision board of what  you want to accomplish this week, this month, this year, or the next five years. Then think about how you will get there. Post it somewhere you can look at it every single day so it's always in your mind. Watch as your dreams become a reality.

At the end of last year, I sat down and wrote out a 2016 Bucket List of things I wanted do this year. I have it posted right above my computer where I can look at it everyday. I literally dreamed up trips or life events that I would like to experience and some of them are already starting to happen. The motivation I feel from the power of living with intent is so powerful. Don't ever forget that thoughts become things.

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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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Maria and Jon {San Diego, CA} | Engagement Session

When Maria and Jon told me they wanted to shoot their Engagement Session at the Belching Beaver Brewery in North Park where Maria works, I was friggen stoked. Belching Beaver's Peanut Butter Stout has been one of my favorites for years and I was super excited to experiment with a location that was very different from my usual open fields and scenic beaches. I loved the industrial feel of the brewery along with the urban & hip vibe of the surrounding North Park neighborhood. We arrived before the place opened so we had the entire location to ourselves. Maybe it was the beer, but these two were so natural in front of my camera. Maria has such a vibrant laugh and I love the way Jon looks at her when she smiles.

I can't wait to shoot their wedding! Something tells me it's going to be a really good time with some really good beer selections. San Diego Wedding Photographer_0118San Diego Wedding Photographer_0119San Diego Wedding Photographer_0131San Diego Wedding Photographer_0121San Diego Wedding Photographer_0120San Diego Wedding Photographer_0122San Diego Wedding Photographer_0123San Diego Wedding Photographer_0124San Diego Wedding Photographer_0125San Diego Wedding Photographer_0126San Diego Wedding Photographer_0127San Diego Wedding Photographer_0128San Diego Wedding Photographer_0130

Ask Me Anything... {3/29/16}

Los Angeles Wedding Photographer_0117 Want to know more about me? Do you have  photography or business related question? Are you curious about my shooting techniques? "Ask Me Anything..." 

 

1-Who or what inspired you to become a photographer? Who or what inspires you today?

I think I gravitated more towards portrait photography when I was first starting out because I am most inspired by human connection. My ultimate goal as a photographer is to tell a story... I strive to capture the awakening of love between my couples, the vulnerability in someone's eyes, the moments rarely shown to others. It is my goal to use my camera to tear down the walls of the person I am photographing until they trust me enough to reveal the inner most corners of their heart. The story, the love, the heartbreak, the living...This is what inspires me the most. This is what I find most beautiful.

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2-How do you continually grow your Instagram following?

I would say, when trying to build your Instagram following, the most important thing is CONSISTENCY. This applies not only to how often you're posting, but also to the tone, theme, and style of your images. Your feed should have a cohesive flow of colors so that it almost looks like one big painting.

It is also important to remember that the content you post to your Instagram should be one of three things: Educational, Inspiring, Entertaining. Also, everything you post should be a reflection of your brand. You may be into cooking. Is you ideal client a foodie? Post a beautiful, styled photo of a delicious meal or dessert you love. Some really great examples of Instagram accounts that follow these rules are: designlovefestamberfillerup, janawilliamsphotos_, jeshderox, changphoto, and steal_9.

3-What is the nastiest thing you have ever eaten?

I was going through a phase once where I was watching a lot of the show, "Chopped." The premise of the show is that these chefs are given super random ingredients and challenged to make something creative and delicious with them. One night, I was going through my pantry and realized it had been awhile since I'd made a trip to the grocery story and there weren't a lot of options. In my infinite laziness, I decided that, instead of just going to the store or ordering food, I would challenge myself to a "Chopped" style competition. I searched through the scraps of my fridge and pantry and pulled out a can of tuna, crackers, a left over tomato, and mustard. The ultimate result was the most depressing plate of tuna topped crackers anyone has ever seen. And it tasted a lot like dirty feet. Needless to say, I went out for dinner that night.

Mr. Nobody {The Choices We Make}

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"We cannot go back. That's why it's hard to choose. You have to make the right choice. As long as you don't choose, everything remains possible."

I just watched a film called "Mr. Nobody" and I kind of loved it. As the best films usually do, it got me thinking...about the choices we make and the lives we could have lived if we had taken a different path.

To give you a bit of back story on the film, the story is based on an old man recounting his life. Each life completely different. Each life based on the path he created from a choice he had made at a pivotal moment. His life goes in completely different directions based on which woman he chooses to love.

One of the major themes of the film was being able to go back in time. The story explored the idea of an action setting a path into forward motion...ink spilling from a pen, smoke releasing from a cigarette. We can set these things out into motion, but we can never take them back. Our choices in life are much like this.

Are we destined by design to choose these paths? I don't think so. What's the fun in that anyway?

I choose to believe that we are the architects of our own lives. That part of the beauty of this life is that we are faced with a million tiny choices everyday, each one affecting the outcome of our journey. That life is a beautiful flurry of little choices. I believe each day is a chance to make a different choice for yourself.

So, how do we know if we're making the right choices? Who's to say there's a right choice as opposed to a different choice? We can not live our lives in regret wishing we had chosen an alternate path. There is only here and there is only now...there is only the choice we decide to make in this moment. Each choice leading us to a different life...teaching us a new lesson. Isn't that magical?

"Each of these lives is the right one! Every path is the right path. Everything could have been anything else and it would have just as much meaning."

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Rethinking Valentine's Day

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“Love is the essential existential fact. It is our ultimate reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.” -Marianne Williamson I'm just gonna say it...I love Valentine's Day. I love everything it represents. I love celebrating love. As a Wedding Photographer, I believe in love above all things. I believe in the power it has to unite us, define us, drive us, and transform us. I believe love is the most powerful human emotion there is.

Unfortunately, Valentine's Day gets a bad rap sometimes. If you're single, it can be hard to feel like you don't have anyone in your life to share it with. If you're in a relationship, there can be a lot of pressure to live up to your partner's expectations. I think we should reframe how we think about Valentine's Day and choose to see it as a day we can celebrate the love we have in our lives.It doesn't have to be romantic love. It can be the love of your parents, your friends, even your dog. It can be the love you feel when you listen to your favorite song.

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To celebrate, I decide to make a list of the things I love most in this world.

I love...

...waking up in a new place.

... the smell of campfire.

... lamp.

... the sound of rain on my window.

... Voluspa candles.

... wearing red lipstick.

... cold beer.

... drinking wine by candlelight.

... aisle seats on an airplane.

... laughing with my girlfriends.

... back rubs from my mommy.

... chocolate. Anything chocolate.

... driving on an open road.

... wind in my hair.

... breakfast. Although I'd be happy with bacon on a plate.

... afternoon naps.

... when my dog nudges my hand with her nose to pet her.

... sunlight through the trees.

... dancing with abandon.

... hammocks.

... movies. ALL the movies.

... making my dad laugh.

... getting the shot.

... morning coffee from my favorite mug.

... watching the people I love accomplish something great.

... singing in the car. And the shower. And everywhere else.

... acoustic guitar.

... the sound of my shutter closing.

... spooning.

... desert stars.

... when it's right.

... making plans.

... creating something beautiful.

... watching my brother become an adult.

... dresses with pockets.

... the butterflies I get when the wheels leave the runway.

... forehead kisses.

... when the walls come down.

... live music.

... connection.

... Netflix binges.

... sipping margaritas in the sun.

What do you love? You should celebrate it.

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Chris and Erica | Big Bear, CA {Engagement Session}

For Chris and Erica's Engagement Session, I wanted to evoke the feeling of coziness and warmth. Erica is a talented Interior Designer, so naturally, we had to shoot some lifestyle images in their home in Santa Clarita, CA. I love the intimate feel of the images so much! There's something so beautiful about the simplicity of cuddling at home with the person you love. The two really wanted to shoot in Big Bear, CA to take advantage of the beautiful snowy landscapes. We put on our snow boots and ventured out into the wild. These two were such champs when it came to me asking them to walk into knee deep snow to get the perfect light. I think I laughed for two hours straight. Erica is just a bundle of light and I loved watching how Chris let's her shine. Chris and Erica, I had so much fun getting to know you at our shoot and I absolutely can't wait to share your big day with you!

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On Letting Go

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We sat there together, still in the heaviness of the stale air that surrounded us. My eyes were swollen from the tears that poured down my cheeks and I felt only emptiness. I had nothing left to give. We were at a stand still with our hearts, not knowing which direction to go. I felt like I was in a dream. I had given everything to this person...my heart, my plans, my hopes, my dreams, my love. It wasn't enough. I felt that I wasn't enough.

"I just don't think relationships are supposed to be this hard." he said. I looked into his eyes and I could tell he was already gone. In that moment my heart broke and I knew it was over. A few weeks later, he moved out. I'll never forget the gut wrenching sadness I felt coming home to our vacant apartment. Everything we had built together was gone. The ghosts of us danced around me as I stood in the middle of the empty living room...and all I could do was cry.


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The end of that relationship crushed me completely. I spent a long time trying figure out what I could have done differently. How I could have changed myself to fit what he needed me to be. I went through phases of being completely angry that I had spent so much time with this person only to have it fall apart. I just kept thinking, "What was the point?" I went through periods of hopelessness. How is it possible for me to find a love like we had again? Why was it so easy for him to walk away? Why wasn't I worth fighting for?

Several months after the break up, I was driving and a song called, "Let It Go" by James Bay came on the radio. I was instantly hooked by the guitar riff in the beginning but then I actually started listening to the words.

"Trying to fit your hand inside of mine, when we know it just don't belong.

No force on earth can make it feel right.

Trying to push this problem up the hill, when it's just too heavy to hold.

I think now's the time to let it slide.

Come on, let it go. Just let it be.

Why don't you be you? And I'll be me."

There, driving in my car, I felt a wave of tears flood through me. It was with those words that I was finally released from the heaviness of regret. I realized that our relationship didn't fail because I wasn't enough. It failed because we didn't fit together. We weren't right for each other...and that was okay. He was who he was just as I am who I am. I no longer wanted to carry the weight of wishing things had been different.

And then I got over being sad.

I decided to take my heartbreak and turn it into a learning lesson. What was I supposed to learn from this pain? How can I heal from this and come out a better person?

Ultimately, I think the greatest lesson from that loss was learning the power of letting go. Letting go of expected outcomes. Letting go of wanting a person to be different. Letting go of trying to convince someone to be in your life. And in that letting go I was making space for something better. I surrendered to what will be, what has been, and what never was. In that surrender I was opening my arms to new opportunity.

In the end, I'm so very grateful for that experience. Since then I've had some wonderful people enter my life who I believe I never would have met without having experienced my pain. I've gone on so many adventures which I believe I never would have had without having experienced my pain. I no longer have space in my life for people who don't want to be there. I no longer feel the need to control outcomes...I know if it is meant to be, it will be. Sometimes, when you let go of what you thought your life would look like, the world will bring you something better in its place. You just have to let go.

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What Being a Wedding Photographer Has Taught Me About Love

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Some people say you choose your profession based on what you want to learn more about in your own life. Psychologists, for example, often enter the field in order to learn how to heal themselves. In some ways I think this is true. I am a wedding photographer. I am mystified by love. I have chosen a career that surrounds me with the beauty of love on a regular basis, and yet, I remain completely bewildered by how to find it. What makes it real? How do you know?  How do you keep it alive?

Luckily, my on-the-job-training allows me to share in some touching insights with my couples. During the rare quiet moments on a wedding day, I often stand back and watch the newlyweds together, in awe of how they found each other...how they kept each other. It is in that sacred moment when they recite their vows to one another that I am able to learn the most. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from the vows I have witnessed:

"I choose you." :

We often forget that our partner is not required to love us. Love is a choice. The person you choose to share your life with is your choice. Down the road in a marriage, a person will be tested repeatedly. It is up to them to choose their partner through everything that comes their way. I think that knowing my partner is choosing me as opposed to me feeling entitled to their love makes it even more valuable.

"I love you in your perfection...and your imperfection." :  

The beginning of a relationship is always so deliciously exciting. There is nothing about your lover that you don't adore. Even the annoying things they do are cute...until they're not anymore. At some point in every relationship, reality kicks in and we are forced to face the person we have fallen in love with and decide whether or not we can accept their imperfections. To love someone is to see them in all their weakness and accept them as they are. I think Colin Firth said it best.

"You make me want to be a better man/woman.":

When you love someone, you want to give them everything...including the best version of yourself. This is not to say that you feel you need to change yourself to be with them, but rather that you are comfortable with who you are and confident with where you are in your life. You are constantly striving to be your best self so you and your partner feel worthy of each other.

"I felt compelled.":

A few years ago, I asked my best friend's boyfriend at the time to tell me the story of how they met. They were at the same party and, fresh out of a break up, he wanted nothing to do with dating again. But then he saw her across the room and, against all reason, he had to talk to her. He said bluntly, "I was compelled." I thought it was the most romantic thing I had ever heard.

One of the most common things I hear in wedding vows is the story of how the other felt when they met. They often describe this sort of unseen connection that draws them to the other person. This could definitely be physical attraction, but I choose to believe it is something much bigger. Something that pulls you outside of your normal behavior and draws you to them. Some people might think this is "woo woo" stuff. I think it's a good ol' fashioned "meet cute" moment.

"You are my teammate."

Life friggen sucks sometimes. While you will have your moments of rainbows and butterflies, you are mostly going to have to figure out how to solve problems. Every. Single. Day. They don't call the person you love your "partner" for nothing. You want to be with someone you know is on your team. Someone who is going to go on this crazy ride called life with you and high five you at the end of the day. They support you, they encourage you, they push you, they console you, they amuse you, they love you.

Go team.

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Love is in the Little Things

During my last visit with my parents, my father did something in front of me that was both surprising and thought provoking. He did something that may have been seen by others as the simplest of gestures but, to me, it meant the world... He brought my mother her vitamins. To give you a bit of backstory, my parents have been married for 30 something years and, like every couple who's been married longer than I've been alive, they've had their series ups and downs. Marriage is hard and you have to work at it everyday. This, I believe, is part of the vow you make when you say "I do."

My father is the kind of man with a warm heart hiding behind a gruff exterior. He does not smile often, but when he does, it's a memorable moment. He is not an openly affectionate man, but every once in awhile he'll embrace me in a genuine hug or pat me gently on the head when I'm napping on the couch...then I'll smile to myself as he walks away, knowing deep down that I am loved. He is a man with many quirks, but I love the way he loves his family.

Anyway, my mother likes to come home after work and relax as she is sometimes pretty tired at the end of a work day. My father knows this. Both my mother and I were dozing off watching a movie I can't remember the name of when my dad walked into the living room with vitamins in hand and asked my mother, "Have you had your vitamins today?" And it was in this seemingly insignificant moment that I realized this is my father's way of showing his love. I knew my mother felt taken care of. Such a small thing.

Love is not grand gestures or fancy gifts. Love is not always glamorous and beautiful. Love can sometimes bring us to dark places that we don't think we'll ever return from. But, within these tiny gestures of tender kindness, we can find the light to return to love again.

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The Clarks {Family Session} | Los Angeles Arts District

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  I had the honor of capturing Lindsey and Justin's elopement ceremony last year and was thrilled when they asked me to take their family photos. Lindsey wanted a location that was fun and funky, just like her! So, I thought the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District would be perfect! I felt so inspired by the beautiful colors and art that ubiquitously covered the surrounding buildings. Thank you to The Clarks for a great session!

 

 

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