CA Ranch Wedding

California Ranch Wedding | Desi + Ben | Sneak Peek

I should buy a lottery ticket because I feel pretty lucky right now: two outdoor ranch weddings, two weeks in a row.  My favorite kinds of weddings are outdoor, informal, relaxed, dance party affairs with little pomp and circumstance, with few of the standard wedding “traditions.”  Desirae and Ben’s California Ranch Wedding was totally on point with all of my favorite things and included the most delicious tri-tip I’ve had in years.

California Ranch WeddingCalifornia Ranch WeddingCalifornia Ranch Wedding

One Wilshire, Los Angeles, Visit LA, Travel Photography, Reno Tahoe Photographer

LA Rendezvous

Every few years, my best mate Haley and I start missing each other and plan a little weekend get away to travel together and catch up.  We call them our “Rendezvous'”.  It just so happens that this year, Haley is marrying a wonderful man and she asked me to travel down to LA for a little rendezvous to celebrate her birthday and take engagement photos of them.

I hadn’t been to LA in years and had a blast drinking “rosé all day” with Haley, her fiance, and Anne, whose been staying in So Cal these past few weeks.  We had our toes done, drank wine while watching the sun go down at a gorgeous house in Palos Verdes, caught up with other old friends, and did a lot of daytime drinking, my favorite vacation activity.

My photos of Haley and Dave’s engagement session are still to come, but in the meantime, you can check out their sneak peak.  You can check out all the photos from my weekend in LA via this link.

Standard Hotel, Daytime drinking, Los Angeles Activities, Travel Photography

Dancing on the rooftop at the Standard Hotel.

If you want to visit Los Angeles, here are my recommendations.  In general, I like to stay away from LA and Hollywood and hide out in the coastal towns of Venice and Santa Monica, where you can totally do without a car. 

STAY:  This studio rental on Airbnb for two exudes beachy-ness from it’s pores: clean, comforting, and colorful!  Better yet, the stay includes the use of two cruisers, perfect for avoiding the LA traffic and cruising around Venice, Santa Monica, and the Malibu boardwalk.

EAT:

  • Gjelina is the type of place I could eat at three times in one day and not be tired of spending time there.  It’s overwhelmingly comfortable, yet sophisticated and the food is amazing.  The pizzas all sound so delicious it’s hard to choose and the salads are inventive.  It’s best to go as a group and order plates to share.  Word of warning: trust the chef because there is a very strict no substitutions or changes policy and they mean it, even if you’re a celebrity.
Gjelina, Venice Beach Restaraunts, Food Photoraphy, Travel Photoraphy, Visit Los Angeles, Visit LA

Gjelina’s food is to die for. Just don’t ask to be treated special because you aren’t.

  • Intelligentsia may take their coffee a bit too seriously: the employees are pretentious and over-the-top hipsters but damn, that is a serious latte.  Don’t tell them I said that though, it might go to their heads.

DRINK:

  • It’s a shame that The Tasting Kitchen seems unable to bring the wow factor to their dishes in the same way that their atmosphere and bar does.  Reviews on Yelp for their food are hit and miss, which is exactly how my friends described their menu.  Regardless, skip the overpriced food fare and cozy up to the bar for some killer cocktails or our favorite, a bottle of rosé.
Engagement Sessions, Reno Tahoe Engagement Photographer, Tahoe Portrait Photographer, Tasting Kitchen, Venice Beach,

The Tasting Kitchen’s ambiance is personal, rich in texture, with clean lines with an interesting twist that brings outside, inside.

  • Oscar’s in Venice has a killer happy hour and amazing food and apps to boot.  Sit outside on the deck to take in the SoCal sunshine.
  • Act like you’re richer and cooler than you are and take the rail line to downtown LA and drink on the rooftop by the pool at The Standard Hotel.  There are often DJ’s on the decks on weekends.  With panaramic views of Los Angeles and the mountains beyond, there’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than here.  Also, don’t forget your swimsuit: the pool is heated.
Standard Hotel, Travel Blogs, Los Angeles, Things to do in Los Angeles, Travel Photography, Reno Tahoe Photographers

Champagne on the rooftop of The Standard, downtown LA.

  • Areal may not have the most amazing food around but it does have a gorgeous outdoor patio and more importantly, bottomless mimosas with the purchase of a brunch entree on weekends.  Don’t get me wrong: our food was solid and tasty, just not overwhelmingly memorable.  The experience however, was.
bottomless mimosas, brunch at Areal, Areal Restarant, Areal Venice, Los Angeles Travel, Reno Tahoe Photographer

The over-the-top Belgian Waffles at Areal in Venice.

PLAY:

  • The beach and boardwalk shouldn’t even have to be mentioned!
  • Get a glimpse of Hollywood without having to deal with Hollywood and tour Sony Studios in Culver City.  Afterwards, head over to downtown to wander and eat.  Culver City is so quaint and adorable it almost feels like you’re not in Los Angeles.

GET CULTURED:

  • Bergamot Station in Santa Monica was originally a trolley stop, built in 1875 for the Red Line Trolley, which ran from LA to the Santa Monica Pier.  Today, it features art galleries, museums and cafes.
Reno Tahoe Engagement Photography, Engagement Sessions, Reno Tahoe Engagement Portraits

Haley and Dave Sneak Peak

I went to visit some friends of mine in LA last week to celebrate a birthday and snap some engagement photos.

We had a BLAST.

There was a lot of giggling, an excessive amount of rosé, and some amazing photos taken.

I’ve been SUPER busy at work and with other photo assignments so I haven’t had time to edit all the photos from their engagement session but here’s a little sneak peak to tide you over.

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New Portrait Project: The Adventurers

The Adventurers

is a personal project I’m starting of portraits of people I meet that I notice in my own adventures as special.  People who, in some way, inspire me, strike me, or surprise me.

Adventurers, Portraits of Strangers

Sophie

Photographed at: The Standard, Los Angeles, CA

Lives in: Los Angeles, CA

Occupation: Model

“Take it [the photo] when I’m not looking.  I get so awkward.”

Adventure to the Redwoods!

I’ve had the CA coastal redwoods on my list of must-visits for quite some time. I was determined to make it there this summer and thankfully, two good friends of mine had a similar idea and a similar schedule so off to Northern CA we headed.

It always amazes me how much crap is required for camping. You’d think you’d be taking less stuff. Not so. Between all the necessary items, which included one camp grill, one camp stove, one corn hole set, six bottles of wine and two cases of beer, four real pillows from our home beds, two tents, and my ridiculously excessive yet exceedingly comfortable Thermarest Dreamtime (worth every penny), all for three people and four nights, our car was stuffed to the gills.

It was ALL necessary.

It’s an outrageously long drive from Tahoe to our destination: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. As a bonus though, we got to drive through Whiskeytown. I had previously believed that Whiskeytown was an awesome figment of musical song lyric imagination (much like Margaritaville). I would like my town to be renamed Whiskeytown because it would be so much cooler to live in a town named Whiskeytown. Everyone would want to go to Whiskeytown. Anyways, I digress.

In addition to driving through Whiskeytown, we also drove through The Trees of Mystery which is a standard All-American Roadside Attraction featuring ridiculously tall statues that people driving by can take pictures with. What did we do? We took some sweet photos with giant statues and it was great fun.

Paul Bunyon and Babe at the Trees of Mystery.

I chose the park for a number of reasons, but primarily because the reviews I read online touted how amazing it’s remoteness and camp settings were. I should have realized based on the lack of availability how special of a place we were going: we managed to reserve the last campsite there and there were only two nights available. Oddly enough, after I made the reservation, I discovered the Jedediah Smith Campground referenced on multiple “Best Of Camping” Lists, including this one from Sunset Magazine. I can attest to Sunset Magazine’s list because Jedediah Smith Campsite was the best campsite I’ve ever been to. Our site was shrouded in so much brush, trees and overgrown ferns that despite our proximity to our neighbors, it was as if we were in the woods completely alone. The showers were brand new and warm, no matter what time of day. There were huge bear boxes in the site and it’s proximity to the state park was ideal. Overall, we were totally and completely wowed.

Jedediah Smith Campground, site 101, Jedediah Smith State Park

Let me tell you a secret: I hate camping. Now that I live IN the mountains, I wholeheartedly would prefer to go into the wilderness and return home to the comfort of my extraordinarily large and remarkably comfortable Western King bed with the Temperpedic knock-off mattress and down comforter. That being said, if I do camp, one must camp in style which include the previously discussed and completely excessive Dreamtime, a full four inches of Thermarest self inflating mattress and Isotonic® Memory Foam topper.

Also necessary: fabulous food. For our inaugural evening, camp chef Lauren had a nice antipasto plate of homemade rye bread, assorted cheeses, salami, olives and marinated artichokes. I knew we would show up to camp starving, need to set everything up and prep before we could even start dinner. Rule of camping: appetizers are ALWAYS necessary when you arrive at camp.

Camp Antipasto Plate: camp with good grub.

We set up camp, had an delicious dinner of fish tacos, the required s’mores ’round the campfire and generally spent the evening in complete awe of our surroundings. Even after a nine hour drive, we could tell that the location and park we had chosen to explore the redwoods in was a good choice the best decision EVER.

Relaxing: Camp Style

Coming up: we search for the Grove of the Titans.