Chateau Winter Wedding

Chateau Winter Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Lisa + Jeff

Any couple who has It’s Its instead of cake is cool in my book, literally and figuratively.

I know Lisa and Jeff because of Lisa’s sister in law, who has been a good friend and client of mine for many years. I’ve watched Lisa’s nephew, Jack, grow up over the years. I think I was supposed to be taking photos of Lisa and Jeff’s wedding but what I was really doing was taking photos of Jack.  His cuteness is irrefutable.

Lisa and Jeff, I’ll always be the fifth wheel on dinner dates with you and the fam.  I know y’all are going to have a lifetime of happiness together purely based on the simplicity, genuineness and care put into your wedding day.  Weddings that are about spending time with the ones closest to you, and not about burlap, have a special loving place in my heart and I’m so honored to have been part of yours.

May your lives be filled with whiskey, wine and laughter.

Venue: The Chateau at Incline Village | Coordinator: Cloud 9 Event Company | Florist: High Sierra Gardens | Hair and Makeup: Michelle at L’Atelier | Bride’s Attire: David’s Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Jos A Bank | DJ: Lake Tahoe DJ | Bakery: It’s-It

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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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Central Texas Wedding Photography

On Death, Love and Photography

Last week, some of my good friends traveled to Utah to celebrate their cousin’s wedding.  Their week was filled with celebrations of life, love and their enthusiasm for the mountains and winter.  The wedding was held at the top of a resort and everyone who was able skied down together afterwards.

The groom’s mother, Aunt to my friends, who had been suffering some significant health problems, watched her son get wed to his love, danced the first dance with him, and then passed away in the pre-dawn hours of the next morning.

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I photograph weddings because I believe that the images that capture the relationship between you and your loved ones, on one of the most special and memorable days of your life, often become the only written and permanent history of your family and friends.   This weekend, I photographed my third wedding of 2017, fresh off the inspiration of Fearless Conference Europe, but introspective over my friends and their family.  I can’t imagine the roller coaster of emotions that must come from the high of a wedding day and the low of a death in such a short timespan.   I hope that their cousin hired an amazing photographer, because those images of the groom’s mother will be the last photos they have.  I think about my friend Nicky, whose wedding I will photograph in September, whose mother passed away from cancer on New Year’s Day a few years ago.  She will not have images of her mother on her wedding day.  I think about one of my oldest and dearest friends, whose mother was diagnosed with ALS and is rapidly declining.   The photos I took of his mother on his wedding day are the last professional photos they will have of her.  In them, she looks proud, happy and beautiful.

I photograph weddings because when an elderly grandmother leans in snarkily to me every summer with a wag of her finger and whispers in my ear with a laugh, “I know you’re taking so many photos of me because I’m going to die soon,” we both know that all things funny have an element of truth to them.

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At the wedding I photographed this past weekend, the mother of the bride hated being photographed.  She wore sunglasses the entire day and spent most of her evening avoiding my lens and abruptly turning around backwards with a scowl every time I tried to get an image of her.  She didn’t care for me much, but frankly, I decided I didn’t care whether she liked me or not.  Normally, I see it as part of my job to win over the extended family members of the bride and groom, but in this case, I wasn’t going to give in.  I took it upon myself, in light of how I was feeling about death and love and family, to rise to the challenge.  I was absolutely going to get a good photo of her so that her family members would have some images of her to cherish.

Later that night, while chatting with some family members on the dance floor, the bride’s cousin told me that most of the photos they have of the mother of the bride involve her holding her hands or a napkin up over her face.  When I showed her an image that I captured of the two of them together in the back of my camera, she cried.

Virginia City Wedding

At Fearless Europe this year, Emma Case talked a lot about her why.  She strives to make images that are personal to her clients, while photographing both the extraordinary and the ordinary.  She talked about how our images link the past, present and the future together and that by photographing weddings, that we are photographing something bigger than us.  While it certainly resonated with me at the time, the incredible importance didn’t really sink in until my friend’s Aunt passed away.  So while my heart is heavy for my friends and loved ones, I am inspired to keep doing what I do in the best way I know possible: trusting myself to continue to grow while capturing the moments that will tell your story for generations to come.   To be frank, I think it’s a hell of a lot more important for me to be photographing you facetiming with your grandmother in her nursing home than off photographing your shoes on a damn tree trunk.

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This week was a reminder that I am photographing not just for you, but for decades of your family members to come after you, as well as, for the friends near and dear that hold a space for you in your heart.  As photographers, even as wedding photographers, we are responsible for cataloging our culture, our traditions, and our relationships for all of time.  We are the record keepers and as Emma reminded me, even the mundane is important.

I love that my clients become my friends.  I love that I have a hard time untangling how I feel about them and what I see in a photo from the technical specifications of it.   That I can’t judge the compositional merits of my own images, because I’m too blinded by how happy my clients make me feel.  I love that when I look at a photo of someone’s wedding day that I took, it summons up how I felt about the day with a high speed retelling of the events and feelings and speeches and funny touching moments that I remember.  They whoosh by in my head with an explosion.  I can only hope that the images I hand over to my clients make them feel exactly the same way and that one day, a new generation of your family will cherish the images as well, albeit for completely different reasons.

I photograph weddings because I like people.  I think they are weird and quirky, entertaining and amusing, funny and touching.  I like watching them interact with each other, or not.  I like meeting them and dancing with them and sharing with them and in the end, I like cataloguing their day for them.  While the importance of my job certainly has never been lost on me, it’s nice to be inspired and reminded of just exactly why every once in awhile.

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Tahoe Maternity Photos

Winter Maternity Portrait | Valhalla | Deibert Family

A winter maternity portrait at Lake Tahoe is a great way to celebrate your growing family.  The Deiberts contacted me on a whim – they were coming up with family to visit and as luck would have it, I was available.  Valhalla is one of my favorite places to photograph family photos in Lake Tahoe.  It offers such a wonderful mix of forest, meadow, and beach for fantastic variety.  You almost always get that nice golden CA glow that everyone wants there as well!  I really loved how Erika’s scarf complemented the fading meadow grasses.  Congrats to this growing family!

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Winter Senior Portraits

Winter Senior Portraits | Sugar Pine Point | Madelyn

Madelyn has grown up as a competitive tennis player, so it was important for her and her family to incorporate that aspect of her life into her Tahoe winter senior portraits.  Hysterically, although it hadn’t snowed for weeks before her session, when the day came it was freezing cold and a dusting of snow had fallen.  We had planned on doing the session at Sugar Pine Point State Park, because it has such a great mix of forest, pier, and lake options, plus, the added bonus of actually offering a tennis court.  Little did we know when we planned our day that Madelyn would be playing tennis in the snow!  It was a fun and comical way to end our day and I think her smile really came out and shone genuinely when she was on the court!

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Ehrman Mansion Wedding

Sugar Pine Point Wedding | Lake Tahoe, CA | Stefani + Sean

Stefani and Sean found me in a bit of a panic: their wedding photographer had cancelled on them mere months out from the big day.  It’s the stuff your wedding planning nightmares are made of.  I was happy to photograph this true Tahoe couple’s big day, especially since Sean is from Texas and Stef is from Tahoe and they met through mutual friends over a love of skiing!  They promised me an epic dance party (check), fun people (check), cookies (check), a raging afterparty (check), and a downright awesome time (check).  I was thankful to have one of my best friends, Nicky, of Nemus Photography, along to second shoot that day.  Their Sugar Pine Point wedding was the perfect gorgeous lakeside Tahoe beach affair.

Ceremony Venue: Sugar Pine Point State Park | Reception Venue: Tahoe Beach Retreat | Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas | Officiant: David Caputo | Coordinator: Tricia Boyle | Florist: The Petal Pusher | DJ: Big Sound DJ and Audio | Bride’s Attire: Casablanca Bridal | Bridesmaid Attire: Lulus | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Rentals: Event Masters | Videographer: Katie McNally | Second Photographer: Nemus Photography

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Tahoe newborn photography

Tahoe Newborn Session | Blasser Family

“You feel like family,” my friends told me after I photographed the birth of their first child.  The experience wasn’t without some complications that left me driving back and forth between the three of their separated family from our homes in Tahoe to both Reno and Carson City, but in the end, and many miles and sleepless nights later, everyone was able to return home together for some sleepless nights there, as nights are apt to be when you have a newborn.

I’m proud of my friends, who also feel like family to me, and their newest addition.  They are already parenting like pros (or, at least, the type of parenting pros that I prefer).  Their kid is pretty damn cute, but then again, I’m biased.

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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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Zephyr Cove Resort Wedding

Zephyr Cove Resort Wedding | Lake Tahoe, NV | Ana + Andrew

Ana and Andrew had me at pizza.

When we first spoke in 2015 about their wedding, over a year out, Ana was most excited about the pizza.  As a photojournalist, there are few details that I worry about on a wedding day.  I am, frankly, unconcerned with the pomp and circumstance and whether or not you’re going to have any traditions.  By all means, cut that cake and I will photograph it, but I’m not going to orchestrate your day or suggest that you do things you don’t want to for photos sake.  What I will get behind though: pizza.

The pizza was fantastic.

But the rest of their day, that was fantastic also.  From the tear inducing speeches to the cake in Andrew’s brother’s face, from the coordinated and choreographed first dances (Ana and her father danced to Time Warp!), everything about their daytime Zephyr Cove Resort wedding with a pizza buffet was right up my alley.

Venue: Zephyr Cove Resort | Coordinator : Stephanie Stugart | Officiant: Sharon Rusk | Invitations: Mighty Industries | Florist: Rose Petals Florist | Bakery: Tahoe Cakes by Grace | DJ: Southworth Entertainment | Bride’s Attire: David’s Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Men’s Warehouse | Hair and Make-Up: Tahoe Salon Be | Videographer: HeavenSide Studios | Second Shooter: Annie Robillard

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Sand Harbor Family

Sand Harbor Family Portrait | Breaux Family

Sand Harbor State Park is an amazing location for your family photos at Lake Tahoe.  The depth and and interest that the boulders of the park lend to photos really creates awesome images. There are so many options at the park for great locations that offer a ton of variety: the cove, the beach and the forest are all within walking distance and perfect for variety.  To really set your photos off from anyone else’s, I also recommend including a dog in a coat.  Because why not.

Note: for a Sand Harbor family portrait there is an additional $50 permit fee for the location.

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