Thunderbird Lodge Wedding

Thunderbird Lodge Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Laura + Ryan

George Whittell liked all things fast: cars, planes, boats and women.

Wait, you thought this would be a post about Laura and Ryan and their wedding?  Just hold on a hot second, we’ll get there.

George Whittell’s antics started young. Out of highschool, much to his high society parents chagrin, he ran away and joined the circus, eloping with a chorus girl.  After deftly removing his family’s assets from the stock market before the great crash, George was left as the sole heir to their treasure trove upon his mother’s death in the 1930s.  He amassed a collection of cars (he loved Dusenbergs) and a menagerie of circus animals that included tigers, a giraffe, an elephant, and a bear. A lion cub named Bill was his constant companion.

After Tahoe was logged for mining, Whittel bought up 95% of the coast line for pennies on the dollar, building himself a summer playground in the Thunderbird Lodge.  The elephant didn’t fare well in the altitude and had to be sent home.  The lion however, was always afoot.  Without regulatory interference in Nevada, Whittell was able to pursue his dreams: gambling, partying, drinking and going fast.  He owned a number of planes, dozens of cars, and the most infamous piece in his collection: the Thunderbird.

Whittell commissioned John Hacker, a Naval architect, to design a yacht in the style of his personal DC-2 aircraft and his many Duesenbergs.  It cost $87,000 (which would be the equivalent of $3.3 million today) and thanks to its twin airplane engines, could cross Lake Tahoe at speeds of over 70mph.   

Today, Lake Tahoe has Whittell to thank for most of its pristine beauty and undeveloped land in Nevada.  Before his death, Whittell donated land to the University of Nevada and Zephyr Cove, where a high school bears his name.  Most of his 27 miles of shoreline were sold to the National Forest Service.

Today, taking my summer guests and visitors on tour’s of this eccentric man’s home is one of my favorite things to do.  It is a breathtaking piece of architecture, with stone pathways, waterfalls, and intricate rock work.  It is the most beautiful of the older estates on Lake Tahoe and quite possibly the most beautiful wedding venue that Tahoe offers.  There is no need for decor when you have this estate as your backdrop.

Laura and Ryan actually didn’t intend to wed at the Thunderbird Lodge despite the fact that they had family members on the board of directors for the Preservation Society.  They looked at a number of other venues to begin with but found that the rigidity of their event rules weren’t going to work for them.  Laura’s late mother was an extravagant and enthusiastic host, whose legacy was partially remembered for one very specific appetizer that she always prepared for her guests.  Laura desired her wedding to be a nod to her mother in remembrance and the small details that her mother never forgot were important to not overlook.  From the chargers that her mother would have insisted on to the appetizers she would have served, the tribute would be a small but important reminder that she too was present.  While many other venues weren’t willing to accommodate some of these important requests, Thunderbird Lodge was and it was all the more special since the Lodge itself has played such a large part in Laura’s family history.

Laura and Ryan were wed on the lawn in the late afternoon and then presented with another surprise: they had been gifted a ride with their wedding party on the actual Thunderbird!  Captain Dave took us out for a short 20 minute ride and it was absolutely incredible!

When I look back over their wedding gallery, I am still in awe of how breathtakingly special it is to dine at sunset on the lawn of this historic lodge.  I’ve taken the tour of the lodge many times and am well versed in some of the more eccentric stories of Whittell, but to spend an entire evening there is humbling and incredible.  If you can’t find someone to hold their wedding at the lodge for you to join in on, the Preservation Society does offer a summer dinner series and seated wine-maker dinners.  You can tour the property in the summer and I would suggest going by water, where you’ll arrive via vintage wooden boat from the same era and enjoy lunch on the grounds.

Laura and Ryan’s wedding culminated with touching toasts and a non-stop dance party, mostly enforced by her energetic and charming father who even made me put my camera down to dance for a bit.  I normally try to limit my blog post photos to just a few, but I think I would be doing a disservice to the venue if I didn’t share the incredible venue photos that my amazing second Brian Walker took for me.  So, without further adieu, here are waaaaaay too many photos from Laura and Ryan’s gorgeous Thunderbird Lodge Wedding.

Venue: Thunderbird Lodge | Planning and Coordination: Blue Sky Events | Linens: Creative Coverings | Florist: Thran’s | Wedding Music: Stacy Farnan with Serenade Services | Catering: CoCoMoe’s Drop Off Gourmet | DJ: Reno Tahoe DJ Company | Rentals: Celebrations Party Rentals | Hair and Makeup: Tahoe Salon Be | Shuttles: Northstar Transportation | Restrooms: Quickspace | Second Photographer awesomesauce from Brian Walker Photography

 

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Revive Coffee and Wine Wedding

Revive Coffee and Wine Wedding | South Lake Tahoe, CA | Laura + Ryan

These two are the kind of clients that I instantly regretted not having more of a relationship with before their wedding day.  The MINUTE I started talking to Ryan I felt immediately at ease with him.  While we waited on Laura to show up for their first look, he regaled me with hilarity and poignant stories about wedding planning and anticipation.  When Laura showed up I realized that I wanted these two to be my new best friends.

It’s always been really important to me to have an a la carte / hourly rate for folks with no minimum because I think that everyone deserves beautiful photos at the budget they can afford.  This wedding is a perfect example of what you can do with only a few hours of coverage.  Their Revive Coffee and Wine Wedding in the heart of South Lake Tahoe looks like it’s in the middle of the woods.  You would never know it’s right smack in the middle of town!  It is a GORGEOUS afternoon venue because the light is amazing because of the way it is situated and the nearby meadow offers a great spot for portraits before the ceremony.  Laura and Ryan wanted a small intimate ceremony with their friends and loved ones there.  It was basic, DIY, simple and so incredibly special because of it.

And oh, did I mention that they had homemade macarons?  So many.  And in lemon.  Be still my heart.

Oh yeah, and they tipped me in wine.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my clients really get me.

It has been an incredibly long time since I’ve had time to blog a wedding and I actually don’t particularly have that much time so instead of uploading 25 photos in here, I thought I’d just share their short, charming highlight album video with you instead. 

 Venue: Revive Coffee and Wine | DJ: DJ Rockal0t | Photobooth: The Traveling Photobooth | Bride’s Attire: Always Elegant Bridal | Wedding Party Attire: Chicwish | Catering: Oven Mobile Pizza 

Camp La Junta Wedding

Camp La Junta Wedding | Hunt, TX | Halie + Price

I think that almost everyone has incredibly fond memories of their time at summer camp. My best memories come not from when I was an actual camper, but from when I spent years as a camp counselor at Camp Mystic for Girls. Nestled among the cypress,  live oak, and pecan trees in the hill country of Texas, Mystic is located in camp haven along the banks of the Guadalupe River. It’s flanked by a number of other camps, some co-ed, some not.  It’s a veritable summer camp-land, with dozens of camps lining the river.

Mystic is a magical place where you eat fried chicken every Sunday and the cabins have names like Wiggle Inn and Chatter Box.  The girls remain with their initial cabin members for the duration of their camp lives. Since I was a counselor there for six years, I watched my campers grow into women and I still, to this day, keep track of many of them.  Particularly those in my first cabin ever and those who year after year, signed up to take diving with me as an activity, as Halie did.  Today, many of those young campers that I knew as 7 year olds are now getting engaged, married and starting families of their own. I feel incredibly lucky to have not only had the opportunity to be part of such rich and lifelong tradition, but then to have watched, helped create and been a part of such long lasting relationships between these women who are doing incredible things with their lives.  I couldn’t be more proud and it’s the highest honor to be asked to be their wedding photographer!

Halie’s relation to summer camps lie not just with Camp Mystic, however. Her family is tied to the nearby Camp La Junta, which for 80 years has been encouraging the growth of self-confident and independent young men through their camp traditions.  It’s a beautiful property and it provided an incredible backdrop for her wedding. Price also grew up in the area and although he and Halie went to the same high school, they didn’t reconnect until their post college years. As such, Camp La Junta was the perfect location for all their families, friends and loved ones to watch them wed.

The camp sits adjacent to Bridget’s Basket, an incredible market, bakery and farm in the area. Ingram, Hunt and Kerrville are getting kind of hip y’all!  The Market stocks artisanal items from local, regional and small US producers and carries anything you might need for a wine country weekend picnic. It offered an incredible reception venue space for a wedding! Everyone was able to dine on the lawn, dance under the string lights and watch the sunset in the warm Texas night.  It was the perfect location to close out Halie and Price’s Camp La Junta wedding!

I love the Texas hill country more than I can put into words. In addition to holding a very special place in my heart because of my summer camp ties, I just find it to be breathtakingly beautiful. The pace of life is a bit slower, not only because you can’t drive too fast because of the deer: the beer is colder, the trees seem to be extra shady, and the people have that special Texas friendliness that I love so much. I get to return in November for another summer camp wedding at Vista Camps and I am counting down the days.  Can I just lock down that Kerrville wedding photographer market and only do summer camp weddings? Because that sounds like a dream come true.

Halie and Price, I love you to the banks of the Guadalupe River and back. I can’t wait to watch your family grow!

Wedding Venue: Camp La Junta | Reception Venue: Bridget’s Basket | Florist: Showers of Flowers | Bakery: The Market at Bridget’s Basket | Catering: Rudy’s BBQ | DJ: Patrick Sifuentes | Bride’s Attire: Amsale | Grooms Attire: Marc Jacobs | Wedding Party Attire: Etsy and Marc Jacobs | Hair: Michelle Rios | Make-up: Collin Korenek

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Senior Pictures

Reasons You Should Have Senior Pictures Taken

It’s finally the time of year when the sun begins to poke its head out again and we have the types of days that lure you out to the city parks.  In addition to the sun creeping out, the retail store shelves have suddenly become lined with stuffed animals bearing a cap and gown and space for signatures and “Oh the Places You’ll Go” books out front.  Not only does this time of year signal the beginning of spring, it’s also a signal that many people are completing an educational milestone. Its graduation season.  Though people graduate throughout the year, May and June tend to be the biggest months for celebrating these accomplishments, with one of the biggest being high school graduations.

High school graduations have come with their own traditions since just about forever.  Some are ancient and over the top, but a few are worth continuing: one of which is senior pictures. Having senior pictures taken is a good idea for several reasons and most of them are extremely unselfish or vain.  So, before you think about skipping out on them, read ahead for a few reasons that you shouldn’t.

Senior Pictures

Reason # 1: The Family

Your family and close friends like having solid proof that all the love and support they have provided to the graduate over the years has actually matriculated into a finished product and a more well-developed person.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even 2nd cousins have watched you grow up and it’s nice to have comparison photos throughout the years.

Senior Pictures

Reason # 2: For Practical Reasons

If you are a proper person or just someone who likes people to receive gifts for their accomplishments, you will likely send out invitations to the graduation ceremony. A nice addition to any graduation invitation is a picture of who is exactly graduating.  Many of your guests may not have seen you in some years, so including a picture will help them put a name to a now-grown-up face. If you slip and miss sending out the photos with the invitations, they can also be saved and sent with the thank you notes.

Senior Pictures

Reason # 3: To Share and Exchange with Friends

I know you may have heard this before, but it is very likely that you (or the graduate) will never see some of these high school friends again. Everyone grows up and moves to different places and chooses different paths in life, so having the ability to exchange photos makes sure they have something to show when they are telling stories about how much of a blast you guys had in physics class. 

Senior Pictures

Reason # 4: To Capture Who You Are at This Moment

As mentioned in reason number 3, you may end up going down many different roads as you progress into adulthood.  Your habits, interest and friends may change, so senior photos are a good opportunity for you to capture exactly who you are in this moment.  Has playing basketball defined your high school years?  Maybe the debate team or spanish club?  No matter what your interests are at this moment, try to capture them in your photos.  Meet your photographer at an empty basketball court and use that as a setting or bring props that have special meaning to you. Make your photo shoot representative of you.

Senior Pictures

Reason # 5: To Celebrate Your Accomplishment!

I would say the most important reason to get those senior photos done, is that it gives you the opportunity to celebrate your own accomplishment!  Finishing high school is a big deal.  We have all been there and know how crazy those 4 (or maybe 5!) years can be, but you have done it and done it well.  That deserves a celebration.  That deserves photos that you can look back on and smile or share with the future graduates that come after you.

Senior Pictures

Valentine’s Themed Birth Announcement | Cooper Family

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to collect amazing clients as friends and that often, long after I photograph them for the first time, they hire me again and again for their changing and growing families. Julia and Mark were wed in a beautiful Edgewood wedding last summer. When they decided to add onto their family this winter, the first thing they did was email me, which is the highest honor! Julia is incredibly creative and has an awesome eye for graphic design. In fact, she used to work at Minted and designed all her own wedding invitations and stationary. Her idea for the newest addition was just as inventive: a Valentine’s themed birth announcement! I was so honored to brunch with them in Berkeley and then tromp around the greens at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden to make her awesome idea come to fruition.

 

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Chart House Wedding

Chart House Wedding | Ashley + Tim

Once upon a time, two people named Ashley and Tim hired me to be their Chart House wedding photographer and to do an engagement session with them in my hometown of Dallas, TX but really what’s really important is that we got drunk and ate pizza and they met my mom and we became best friends forever.   

True story.

Tim is from Northern CA and he convinced Ashley that they should get married in Tahoe in August of this past year.  She was very concerned that it was going to rain.  “It never rains in Tahoe in the summer,” Tim assured her over and over.  “It NEVER rains in Tahoe in the summer!” I exclaimed with ultimate authority over and over.

It POURED.

But thankfully it poured seconds AFTER their ceremony and stopped by the first dance so clearly they are going to have the best of luck for the rest of their lives, which is what we tell people so that they feel better when it rains on their wedding day but is actually a lie.

Second true story.

Ashley’s aunts can really break it down on the dancefloor.  

Third true story.

Also, I went home with one of their wedding guests.

True or false?  You decide.

We were also all super pumped to do a post wedding portrait session and we went tromping all over the rocks out at Angora Lakes a few days later so I included some of those gorgeous images at the end of their wedding images.

Venue: The Chart House | Florist: Thran’s | DJ: Cornerstone Entertainment | Bride’s Attire: Allure Bridals from Terry Costa | Bridesmaid Attire: Lulu’s | Groom’s Apparel: J Crew | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | Rentals: Camelot Party Rentals

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Austin engagement photographer

Austin Engagement Photographer | Halie + Price

Once upon a time in my past life, I was a camp counselor at Camp Mystic for Girls.  I was a counselor there for six years.  Camp Mystic is a magical place where every summer, girls return again and again to spend either two weeks or a month of their summer with their cabin-mates, which stay the same all of their years spent there.  I was always the counselor who was left alone on my co-counselors’ nights off with dozens of children under the age of 10 to corral.  My cabin almost always had the privilege of getting out of rest hour early for commissary due to the fact that I consistently threatened to throw anything they left on the cabin floor out the front door.  I taught swimming and diving as my activities, training girls to do inwards and gainers and one-and-a-halfs despite their fears and worries.  I met and watched amazing young women grow up before my eyes and to this day, thanks to social media, I still keep in touch with many of them.  One of them lives in Mexico City, one studied abroad in London, some are married, a few are engaged, a few already have children.  I am so proud of all of them and who they have become.  

And then the day came that one of them got engaged and then asked me to photograph their wedding and that made me feel incredibly, unbelievably esteemed.    

You wouldn’t have to press me hard to say that Halie was always one of my favorites.   She has turned into the beautiful, smart, engaging woman I expected her to become.  There has always been a spark of laughter in her eye and to no surprise, she’s found the most amazing partner for her life.  Price is charming, respectful and clearly loves her.  I am so honored to photograph their wedding, which will be held just down the street from Mystic at Camp La Junta, and even more excited to share their Austin engagement session, during which I basically just made them go everywhere. At least we did have cocktails first though. Thanks for accomodating me, y’all and thanks for the highest honor you can bestow on your camp counselor.

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If you’re wondering, the umbrellas are an art installation on Aldrich Street in the Mueller neighborhood.

 

Tahoe backyard wedding

Tahoe Backyard Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Dost + Nick

These two. 

I adore them. 

I’m so thankful to call them friends now.  They love music, and dancing, and laughter, and good food.  They are adventurous, curious and sardonic.  They say yes when I invite them to concerts by bands they’ve never heard of and they invite me to concerts by bands that I’ve never heard of.  They are willing to go to burlesque shows starring my former clients.  They like brunch (but, I mean, never trust a person that doesn’t).  They have some incredible moves on the dancefloor.

Dost and Nick wanted an intimate backyard gathering with their motley crew of far flung friends and family.  Their guest list was as diverse as they are, with folks coming from as far away as Turkey.  They rented a beautiful house directly on the water through VRBO for their Tahoe backyard wedding and as an added surprise, it decided to snow that week.  Bonus: Dost made good use of a thrift store fur coat that was perfect for the occasion, which is to say, it was fucking freezing that day and she had no choice but looked amazing in it.

We were all thankful for the tent and for the best DJ around Dave Berkman, who was willing to completely break down and move mid-day his entire setup inside so everyone could cut a rug the grass in relative comfort while it was 40 degrees out in Tahoe in September.

Dost and Nick have since told me that they were drawn to my work because they loved the way I capture movement and motion, which is something their dancefloor had plenty of!  I’m so incredibly honored to not only have been part of their day, but have new friends also.

Venue: VRBO | Caterers: Carson City BBQ | Rentals: Celebrations Rentals | DJ: Ascent DJ | Bride’s Attire: Maggie Sottero | Groom’s Attire: Paul Smith

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Austin Family Portraits

Why Fall is the Best Season for Family Photos in Texas

About three years ago, after gaining a new writing client, I thought it was time to finally get some
professional headshots taken. The timing was perfect. I was updating my website and had created some
marketing materials so things were falling into place.  Everything was great, except for the fact that it was
the end of June, in Texas. Of course, the photoshoot needed to be outside to catch some of the amazing
natural light, which meant that I spent about three hours in the sun on a 103° day. Keeping the river of
sweat on my forehead from photobombing my professional shots proved to be more work than the mile-
long hike it took to get to the location of the shoot. I survived that shoot, but later on I thought about how
it could have easily been avoided had I planned for a shoot in the cooler months. Hopefully this post will
convince you to do the same.

So, Texas is finally getting some fall weather, which in the South typically means anytime the
temperature drops below 70 degrees.  Southerners have waited an excruciatingly hot six months (yes, six
months) of summer for these cool days. Now is the perfect time to get out there and take those family
photos. Why wait until the winter season to have your holiday card photos taken? Here are a few reasons
why the fall season is best time to line up little Timmy and Tanya or Rufus the labradoodle outside and
create photos that will last a lifetime

 

Tahoe family portraits

1. You Won’t Melt into a Puddle of Sweat.

Please see my story above.  Let’s face it, it’s hot as Hades in Texas between the months of June-October.
 Around the end of October we finally start to see glimpses of what I like to call, “Cold Front Season.”
 It’s not quite a normal fall in terms of getting cold and staying that way, it’s more like a cold front that
drops temperatures below 70 degrees for a few days, and then it jumps back up to 85°-90°. Either way,
you have to take advantage of the ability to actually sit (or stand) outside for longer than 30 minutes,
which means the photo shoot won’t leave you burned and applying aloe vera to your skin several days
later.  You can actually pick a shoot location outdoors and get some great natural lighting without melting
your face off!

family photos

2.  The Colors Duke, the Colors!

Summer is nice, but in Texas it tends to get so hot, that things just turn brown and die without some
diligence in watering. However, fall seasonal colors are the best.  The foliage is no longer getting beat up
by the unbearable summer sun and the leaves finally begin to realize that winter is coming.  What that
means for you is that there are lovely colors everywhere, and lovely colors mean lovely pictures.  Because
fall colors tend to be neutrals, you can color coordinate to your heart’s content.  In addition to the color
coordinating, the weather is cool enough to add in some additional matching accessories.  Try hats,
mittens, gloves or scarves for additions to your holiday card.

3. Holiday Props

In addition to cooler weather, the fall season welcomes in what the internet lovingly refers to as
“HallowThanksmas,” or the season in which we celebrate or prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and
Christmas/other holidays. What this means for you is that you have the ability to use lots and lots of props
of your choice in your photo shoots. Feel free to pull out that Menorah and Dreidel, plant yourself in a
pumpkin patch or pull out the famous ugly Christmas sweaters and lawn snowman. Try variations of all
of those things if you are feeling adventurous this year.  Just know that fall is the perfect season to take
advantage.

Hopefully this article encouraged you to go ahead and book your family photoshoot now. Take advantage
of the cool breezes, the awesome fall colors and the opportunity to pull out the Christmas tree early.  The
cool weather might not last for very long and come Christmas, we may very well be looking at a sunny 90
degree day.

Tahoe Family Photos

Landing Resort Wedding | Lake Tahoe, CA | Jaymee + Jacob

When you grow up in New Orleans, no wedding is complete without a second line.  New Orleans is my favorite city in the world, and in fact, I am spending most of October there.  A second line is basically a parade – the main line, or the first half, is the brass line.  Those who follow the band are the second line.  You parade for any celebration in New Orleans: a funeral, a wedding, for mardi gras, for festival season, for no reason whatsoever.  Umbrellas and handkerchiefs (napkins will do) are essential, so when I showed up to photograph details in the tent for Jaymee and Jacob’s Landing Resort wedding and discovered feathered umbrellas on the back of their chairs, well, I knew that we were going to have a second line and I got VERY excited.  

Not only was there a second line, but Jaymee and Jacob’s diverse group of friends brought a dance party like no other to their celebration.  I have been blessed with a number of epic dance parties this year, but theirs is definitely in the top three.  I had such a blast

Venue and Catering: The Landing Resort and Spa | Florist: EcoFlower | Bakery: Tahoe Cakes by Grace | DJ: High Sierra Sounds | Bride’s Attire: The Ultimate Bride | Bridesmaid Attire: Jenny Yoo | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Warehouse | Second Photographer: Finger lickin’ good Nicky Lockman

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