Sutter Creek Engagement Session | Morgan + Vittawat

Morgan and Vittawat met in high school.  Yes.  That still happens.  Flash forward ten years and they are both in advanced academia, living apart and engaged.  This summer, Morgan was working and studying in Sacramento while Vittawat was still in their hometown in Reno.  When we started talking about possibilities for portrait locations, I was quick to suggest a Sutter Creek engagement session.  I had been following them on instagram for awhile and knew that they both loved wine, the outdoors and exploring as much as I did.  It was also equal distance between all of us, which made it convenient for Vittawat to get to as a weekend getaway with Morgan. 

It was partially a selfish request – I LOVE Sutter Creek.  I had been eyeing it as a portrait location forever.  My best friend’s parents live in the nearby town of Plymouth and some of my favorite clients ever (ahem, Jack and Kyle, as well as, Kerri and David) were wed there.  It’s my home away from home and one of the places in the world I feel most comfortable.  Wine, country and golden light – what’s not to love?  

Sutter Creek Engagement Session

There are more of my favorite images from Morgan and Vittawat’s Sutter Creek engagement session after the jump.  Here are some travel suggestions if you would like to visit the area yourself.  

STAY:  While the area has no limit to the kitchy bed and breakfasts’ available for the traveler that loves doilies and gardens, there are quite a few adorable boutique hotels here now as well.  

  • The Hanford House Inn is my personal favorite for staying directly in the downtown of Sutter Creek.  Downtown is a relative term: there’s one adorably quaint and walkable mainstreet.  Don’t let the tiny town fool you though – what it lacks in size, it makes up for in friendliness and charm and it has everything you would need within your reach: wine tasting rooms, a gourmet cheese shop, and a provisional general store.  Hanford House delivers warm fresh scones to your front door every morning and offers free wine tasting in the lobby every evening.  
  • Is there anything more adorable than a boutique hotel named Rest?  The answer is no.  Obviously.  Rest is only 20 minutes away from Sutter Creek in Plymouth, CA and it happens to be located within walking distance to my favorite restaurant, Taste, in the area.  
  • The Union Pub and Inn in nearby Volcano only offers four rooms over an exceptional restaurant, which happens to be owned by the same owners as Taste.  It’s been a longtime dream of mine to get a crew of people together to rent out the entire lodge one weekend for a getaway.  

EAT: it’s a sad state of affairs when you think the food in the foothills is better than the food at home, but it’s true.  I would drive two hours to eat at any of these restaurants! 

  • Taste has been awarded up and down every list imaginable that involves food and wine and for good reason.  I jump at any chance to eat there.  I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve been served and more often than not the meals come with a surprise delightful twist.  I’m a huge fan of their Monday Night Supper menu, which offers a first, main, and dessert course at a pre-fixe price along with wine pairings.  
  • You can’t suggest the Union Pub and Inn without including them on the eat recommendation list as well.  Their inventive seasonal menu changes frequently and it’s incredibly charming to sit on the patio and wine and dine on a warm summer night. 
  • Element is housed in the lobby of the Hanford House Inn and it’s my go-to brunch spot in the area.  Their daily egg specials always make your menu decisions incredibly difficult.  

DRINK:

  • Yorba offers small lot, premium bold wines from the Amador area.  Their tasting room is directly next door to the Hanford House Inn and their Shake Ridge Red is not to be missed.
  • Terre Rouge and Easton offers a wide selection of variety of everything Plymouth has to offer.  Their tasting room is unpresumptuous and their selection outstanding.  I love everything they offer (which is why I’m a wine club member) but their barbaras and zins really stand out for me.  
  • Helwig Winery is worth a stop for a picnic lunch just for the incredible view of their beautiful grounds, as well as a bottle of their bubbly rose.  
  • I love C.G. Di Arie for their inventiveness and spunk.  I became enamored with them after meeting the owner, Chaim Gur-Arieh, a few years back.  It helps that they are NPR under-writers also.  Chaim was born in Istanbul, Turkey but immigrated to Israel as a teenager.  He has a PHD in food science and spent a number of years working to engineer the flavors and consistency behind some of America’s most beloved products (Hidden Valley Ranch!  Captain Crunch!).  His energy, enthusiasm and quirkiness won me over and this bleeds into his wines.  Their gallery collections offer something unique to the area: inventive heavy blends using grapes like the touriga.  

 

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Tahoe Engagement Session

Tahoe Engagement Session | Brianna + Aaron

Brianna and Aaron trekked all the way up to Tahoe and then back home to the bay area in one day just for their engagement session.  I felt like that was quite the effort just to come see me, so I gave them the royal tour and took them to all of my favorite spots for a ton of variety.  We started out with coffees at the always adorable and endearing Red Hut Cafe Soda Fountain on Ski Run Blvd and then followed it up with stops at Kahle Community Center, Rabe Meadows, and the meadow in Al Tahoe for sunset.  They were so fun to work with – they spent the entire time laughing and totally at ease and their love, affection and genuine enthusiasm just gushes from their photos.  I can’t wait for their wedding in August!

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Tahoe Engagement Photography

Tahoe Engagement Photography | Kiva Beach | Rosa + Justin

I’m so thrilled to be connected with these two!  Justin is brother to one of my clients, Julie.  Julie, Michael and I had an incredible day romping around San Francisco once for their engagement session.  Since then, I photographed their wedding and they had a child!

I love staying connected to clients and their families afterwards and this is one family that is so fantastic to be part of.  Rosa and Justin are getting married at the Landing Resort this summer and I can’t wait!  I envision gorgeous blue skies and an awesome holiday weekend in their future.  I expect it will look very different from their super snowy winter engagement session at Kiva Beach!

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Tahoe Engagement Photography

Tahoe Engagement Photography | Secret Cove, NV | Nick + Sogoal

Thanks to brisk winter like temperatures, even though we’re all dreaming of spring, I was able to take Nick and Sogoal to one of my favorite Tahoe locations for a their Tahoe engagement photography: Secret Cove, NV.  Tahoe’s only nudist beach by summer, there was nary a naked bum in site early in the morning but plenty of golden sunlight and giant boulders to play on.  Sogoal was a great sport despite a fear of heights and scrambled all over for me.  We had a blast chatting about our mutual love for podcasts, exploring the outdoors and just generally being silly and I loved every bit of starting my day with this rad couple.

Nick and Sogoal are getting married in October in their home state of Oklahoma, where they both went to college.  After a brief stint in NYC, they now live in the Bay Area and much like me, love all that California has to offer.  My dreams were deflated after I learned they already had a wedding photographer because my friend Tim King says that Persian weddings are the best weddings.

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Sugar Pine Point Portrait

Anniversary Portrait | Sugar Pine Point | LeeAnn + Sam

LeaAnn and Sam were in Tahoe on an anniversary getaway: they were celebrating 25 years of marriage!  They had originally honeymooned in Tahoe and were excited to see how the area had changed in their absence.

An anniversary portrait is a great way to celebrate years of marriage together and although Sam was a self-professed portrait disliker, he was nothing but smiles for his beautiful wife during their session at Sugar Pine Point State Park.

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Dangberg Home Ranch

Dangberg Home Ranch Engagement | Toni + Justin

Toni and Justin’s really wanted a rustic ranch feel for their engagement session, in which they were hoping to utilize her grandfather’s vintage 1940s Chevy truck.  He lives in Gardnerville and when they asked for location recommendations, I was quick to recommend the Dangberg Home Ranch, a venue that I absolutely love.   I photographed Emma and Austin’s wedding there this past fall and fell head over heals for it!  The park is beautiful and located just at the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas of Tahoe, with breathtaking views and great afternoon light.

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Tahoe Engagement Session

Tahoe Engagement Session | Lake Tahoe, CA | Lisa + Jeff

Lisa and Jeff wanted a double whammy of locations for their Tahoe engagement session: forest and mountains were important to them so we hit up Kahle Community Center for the aspens and the forest and then the Trout Creek meadow behind Al Tahoe for some epic mountain views of Tallac and a killer sunset.  These two were married earlier in March and I’m looking forward to sharing their gorgeous Tahoe winter wedding photos with everyone!

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Downtown Reno Engagement

Downtown Reno Engagement | Gabby + Drew

These two love beer so we, of course, kicked off their downtown Reno engagement session with a few pints at one of their favorite haunts, The Lincoln Lounge.  Drew and Gabby met while they were both working in the political realm, so I find it somewhat ironic that we ended up at a pub named after an iconic president.  I totally blogged them out of order and you can see their wedding photos via this link!

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Snowshoe Engagement Session

Snowshoe Engagement Session | Eric + Melissa

“I’m not sure if you quite understand what’s happening up here,” one of my emails to Melissa said, when I told her that we weren’t going to be able to just walk into the forest for their winter engagement session.  Melissa and Eric became engaged at Lake Tahoe and she had a specific adventurous outdoor mission in mind for her engagement photos: she wanted a snowy thick forested wonderland.  I could certainly deliver it, but in light of the five feet of snow we’d received in the two days before we were set to photograph, it wasn’t going to be easy.  It was the first of a series of snowstorms we’ve deemed “snowmageddon” which has since turned into “rainmageddon.”

“You’re going to need snowshoes,” I said.  They found snowshoes.

“You’re going to need a sense of adventure,” I might have said, “and some good natured enthusiasm.”

As it turns out, a sense of adventure and good natured enthusiasm is inherent in this dynamic duo and there was absolutely no reason that I would have needed to say that!  We spent an hour frollicing, falling, post holing, and burying ourselves in snow for their winter snowshoe engagement session and I loved every minute of it.  I can’t wait to photograph this rad couple’s 2018 wedding and spend more time laughing and adventuring for their photos.  After this, I am quite positive that they would be up for absolutely anything that included scrambling, climbing and adventure!

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Presidio Engagement Session

Presidio Engagement Session | San Francisco, CA | Kelli + Lucas

Kelli and Lucas came to me by way of another one of my favorite couples, Sara and Will.  In fact, Lucas is standing in half the photos on their blog post.  I am equally excited about Lucas and Kelli’s wedding.  If there’s anything I know about this crew of friends, it’s that they surround themselves with awesome.  I expect nothing less than another amazingly beautiful, love filled, raging dance party and sing-along celebration for Kelli and Lucas!

Kelli and Lucas really wanted to get married at Cavallo Point Lodge, across the bay from the Presidio, but it was (not so surprisingly) out of the budget.  It’s a little spendy over there y’all.  Next best thing: engagement photos in the Presidio, clearly!  With a travel loving, adventure seeking, wine drinking photographer who is always willing to climb into the bushes for her clients.

I had such a blast with these two, sharing stories about half marathons and trips, both taken and future, and their November Sacramento wedding is one of the ones I’m most looking forward to this year!

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