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 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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Tahoe Winter Proposal

Tahoe Winter Proposal | Emerald Bay, CA | Kyle + Madeline

Kyle had to wait a LONG time on bended knee.

It was an incredibly blustery day.  A snowstorm bringing 12-16 inches of snow was blowing into Tahoe just as Kyle bent down to patiently await his bride-to-be’s reaction.  The wind was howling relentlessly.  Madeline was pre-occupied taking photos of Emerald Bay and she couldn’t get her phone to work.   After what felt like minutes while I giggled under my breath, she finally turned around and of course, said yes.

To escape the wind, we left Emerald Bay State Park and headed down to explore the Taylor Creek Visitor Center for a quick engagement session which was thankfully significantly more comfortable than it was up in on the ridgeline!  I’m excited for this awesome couple of five years and their future together!

Are you planning a Tahoe winter proposal?  Hiring a professional photographer is a great way to have your special moment captured and secure awesome save-the-date photos all at the same time!  I’m happy to help you come up with a plan and a location.  It’s always good to remember that Tahoe roads can close in the Winter so back up locations and realistic expectations are always recommended.  After all – there could be a snowstorm blowing in that day!

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Sutro Baths Engagement

Sutro Baths Engagement Session | San Francisco, CA | Carolyn and Robert

This could also be titled: the Sutro Baths Engagement Session that almost wasn’t.

Carolyn, Robert and I met for some delicious cocktails and apps at Outerlands which serves delicious food sustainably sourced from local resources.  It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny and warm, and we got to know each other, and their adorable pup, Khaleesi.  Things did not go quite as planned, however, when we left, because all the sudden we realized that no one had a car key.  Cue some scrambling on the street corner, some back and forth back to the restaurant, and some uncertainty as to the fate of the afternoon.  Turns out, the key was in the car door and thankfully both it, and the car, were still there!

The Sutro Baths are a really incredible space that I had been wanting to photograph at for quite some time.  Adolph Sutro developed the baths in Baths in 1894 but they were unfortunately never commercially viable.  At one point, his family turned them into an ice skating rink.  Eventually, there were plans to tear them down and build condos, but thankfully those plans never came to fruition.  They were destroyed by a fire in 1966 and in the next decade they were adopted into the recreational area they are now apart of.  In the evening at sunset, the baths are filled with folks watching the sunset, hiking, and tons of photographers and their clients taking advantage of the awesome and unique area.

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Portraits at Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor Marriage Proposal | Zack + Alexa

Tahoe wedding proposals are one of my favorite things to photograph.  The nervousness is heightened to a scale of 11.   The logistics are a *smidge* harder.  The excitement and promise of a different future is unbounded.  Ladies, there are men out there who love you so much, that they plan ahead, and in some cases, months and months ahead.  It’s endearing and wonderful to be part of.  Zack is one such guy.  He and Alexa were highschool sweethearts and he contacted me in June for a proposal in October.  He asked her parents permission and fretted over the location.  After much deliberation, we collectively decided that a Sand Harbor marriage proposal was in order.  That day brought cold temps, some rain and snow flurries and incredibly beautiful skies.

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Hope Valley Portraits

Hope Valley Engagement Session | Mary + Scotty

The air is finally crisp in Tahoe.  Our first snowfall came recently and the nights are getting cold quick: don’t you dare leave the house without a hoody!  It’s apparently engagement season because someone in the wedding industry decided that was a thing.  Mostly, I just finally have some breathing room (August was a doozy y’all) and I can blog again and show you all the awesome things I’ve photographed in the last …. uh … year.  So while a few things have shown up on here over the course of the spring and summer, the majority of my amazing couples are on a really long to-do list.  Never fear kids, you’ll all get your photos up at some point.  I had to start with Mary and Scotty for so many reasons, but primarily because the chill in the air and the cool temps are reminding me of their fall Hope Valley engagement session.  We tromped around with their pups, got a little silly, made fun of photography trends and finished it all up with an epic dinner at Sorensen’s Resort.  That’s right folks, hiring Lauren as your photographer means that you get to go on a romantic date with her and your betrothed.

Mary and Scotty are my last wedding of 2016 and I’m pumped to photograph their Valhalla Wedding this November.  As further evidence that the three of us are meant to be, they wanted a Viking themed photo booth.  If you aren’t sure why anyone would want this at their wedding, you should look up the definition of the word Valhalla.  There I made it simple for you, simpleton.

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Fort Mason Engagement Session

San Francisco Engagement Session | Mark + Julia | Sneak Peek

Mark and Julia are getting married in Lake Tahoe in 2017.  Tahoe wasn’t Julia’s original plan.  She grew up in the bay area and really wanted something elegant and indoors.  Mark is an outdoors kind of guy: he grew up in Wisconsin and loves mountains and lakes.  When Julia stepped into Edgewood for the first time, she knew they had found the perfect compromise.

The one thing Julia desperately wanted was a few romantic golden lit images.  Golden light comes easy in Tahoe: because of the way the sun sets over our mountains and the tall trees, we have a few hours of it every morning and afternoon in certain locations.  In Texas, golden hour is more like golden-ten-minutes, so I know how lucky I am in Tahoe.  Julia also really wanted a little bit of a tour of San Francisco in her images and thankfully, we timed that tour just perfectly to snag some of that golden backlight in Fort Mason last week.

There’s more to come from this adorable duo!

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