Stylish Story Telling with Raw Emotion
It was a day of new beginnings; The Vernal Equinox, the Persian Nowruz (or New Year), and the day that the friendship of H&E would transform into a lifetime partnership.
We couldn’t have had a more perfect day either, as we arrived at Gardener Ranch under a resplendent spring sky. The air was fresh and still and an overall calmness sat over the venue as mom and dad put the finishing touches on the Sofré, friends relaxed under majestic oak trees in hammocks, and excited children ran across the property chasing butterflies. Inside the grooms camp, there was a bit less tranquility, and more of a sense of urgency as the realization set in that nobody knew how to tie the groom’s bowtie…myself included. I swore from that day forward that I would be the go-to-guy you could rely upon to save the day like Adam Sandler diffusing Steve Buscemi’s off-color speech in The Wedding Singer, with a flash of the hands, setting up any groom for certain success. I’m almost there…but not quite.
Our slight haberdashery-hang-up led us to a perfect example of how an unexpected hiccup can turn serendipitous – and often does – so NEVER panic on your wedding day, just go with the flow.
As E pulled his bowtie tight and finished his preparations, we walked outside to a secluded spot under the trees where H would meet him for their first look. Many deep breaths later, she walked up and emotions peaked. The bowtie delay caused the timing of this moment to coincide with H’s sister practicing singing their wedding song – La Vie en Rose - off in the background. The moment was subime and proved to be one of H’s most vivid and emotional memories from the day.
Despite nerves all morning from both H and E, when the two saw each other, exhaled deeply, and looked into each others’ eyes, everything felt just right.
The day was very personal and many people contributed their talents to tie it all together. As mentioned earlier, H’s parents (with some help from her sister), assembled the Sofré, the favors were hand-calliagraphed buy E’s mom, table names and escort cards were made by the bride and groom with help from one of her bridesmaids, they wrote the ceremony script themselves, her brother officiated, her sister gave several incredible vocal (and piano) performances, a silly poem was read by a friend, the guest book was a gift from their close friends, and an old caricature painting of the two was used as the base for the book, designed by E. There was also a tea ceremony to honor E’s family and their traditions.
As the evening went on, dinner ended and guests moved onto the dance floor where the there was a traditional Persian knife dance and cake cutting. We had a bit too much fun with guests painting with light and taking photos under the stars and Gardener Ranch’s giant trees…if only every wedding could end with a sparkler-fest!
Like us, Anna and Danny are lovers of the outdoors and nature, so Jack London State Historic Park was a clear winner as our location choice for their engagement session. The 48-acre property, author Jack London called home is a very special place – beautiful and wild – situated on the eastern downslope of Sonoma mountain in the quaint town of Glen Ellen. Up until about 12 million years ago, the area was part of the Pacific sea floor, but a few massive tectonic events, some erosion, and 12 million years later…the park is now home to beautiful groves of Oak and Madrone trees and an expansive vineyard. It was the perfect spot for us to meet this sweet couple – who’s wedding we’ll be photographing later this summer in the Sierra’s – and have some fun exploring around and taking photographs. Anna is a middle-school teacher, so she’s got patience to spare (and a big heart) which made our pedestiran-tiki-tour around the park’s trails a piece of cake. Danny doesn’t love having his photo taken, but he does love Anna, so that fact (and the awesome lunch he was promised), were good sources of motivation. We walked the trail to the ruins of the Wolf House, an enormous stone structure where London and his second wife Charmian had planned to move into before tragically, it burned down in 1913. We ended our shoot on the western flanks of the park at the winery cottage, where London lived out his final days and, looking south across the vineyard, it’s easy to see why he called this property The Beauty Ranch. Great day with great people in beautiful Sonoma!
Photographing weddings for us is deeply personal. We get to know our clients with such intimacy, we get to see all the family dynamics, all the little looks, we get to experience everything these people go through one of the most important days of their lives. We feel pretty lucky about that. What we feel even luckier for, however, is when we get to see these clients every year to photograph their growing families. To be able to watch our couples love for each other grow deeper and extend that love to their children, it is truly something special.
Lisa and her family are one of those clients, they have become like family. To see Cole grow into a cheeky active young boy, to see Lisa pregnant with ? – then to experience Cole as an older brother to watch the relationship now between these two boys grow. It really pulls at my heart strings.
We met Lisa at the Old Northern Bridge in Boston and planned to shoot and walk around, ending at the Greenway and the awesome carousel. In Jason’s place (he had a valid excuse and was away for work), was Lisa’s amazing nanny. The kids had a blast and by the time they left we were all best friends.
Spring is a magic time for photography, and for life in general. There’s such a feeling of new life in the air and it was especially so this afternoon! Sana and Brent live in the hills east of Malibu and it’s there that we met for their engagement session. Just a few days earlier, the impossibly dry winter let its guard down for some brief, showery weather and on this day, the hills breathed a momentary sigh of relief; sprouting up grasses and colorful wildflowers under newly budding oak trees.
Sana and Brent suggested some locations for our afternoon shoot and despite an ambitious schedule, we loved every spot! It didn’t hurt that we were spoiled with incredible light and color, and that they’re both very much into each other, so nerves were never a worry. We had a classic Viera-tiki-tour, starting near their home in a beautiful oak-fringed hillside park, braving shoppers at Malibu Country Mart and making great use of so many incredible colors and textures, and finishing further west at El Matador beach where we watched the sun fade into the Pacific.
The year 2015 marked the 10 year anniversary since we took an adventure of a lifetime to Chaing Mai, Thailand where we we married! It really was a life changing trip for both of us in many ways. It was the first time either have us had ever gone to South East Asia, where everything from the culture to the food to the language was so different from anything we had experienced. It also happened to coincide with the Boxing Day Tsunami (we arrived several days after). Part of our trip was spent helping the island of Phi Phi clean up. We also arranged and helped the animal support group, Soi Dog, to come onto the island to care for the hurt and abandoned animals left after the tsunami. And of course… we got hitched! We spent a total of 7 weeks in Thailand on our first trip, and we haven’t been able to get this special place out of our mind since.
We have taken Alex to many countries, but we thought it would be really special to take him to this place that has affected us in so many ways. Finally on our 10 year anniversary, we thought it would be the perfect excuse to go.
We chose to stay in the North of Thailand since this time we only had 17 days. We left our itinerary very open and didn’t plan anything (including hotel rooms) so that each day we could just see how we felt! Our flight over there was quite the ordeal, and due to delays, ended up taking over 40 hours. We happen to be traveling on the Chinese New Year, so you will see a lot of photos of Dennis, bored in the airport, photographing the festivities, experimenting with double exposures and taking sequences of planes.
We started in Chiang Mai, where we spent a few days acclimating to the climate, getting over our jet lag and trying to find Dennis’ lost bag (we never got it back). Alex was super impressed at the cheap smoothies, all the chachki and the fresh coconuts everywhere. He saved $50 from his allowance and nearly spent it all on the first day bargaining at the night market. The Thai people were pretty impressed with Alex, his attempt at speaking Thai and his bargaining skills. There were quite a few times where I had to rescue him from being squeezed too hard by old Thai ladies. Alex and I also started on our massage-a-day routine, while Dennis chose to do photo adventures during this time. The only massage Dennis would get was a “fish massage”. The fish seemed to like his feet A LOT, I wonder why?
After a few days, we decided to rent a car (sounds crazy, but Dennis is a expert driver) and hit the road to some pretty off the beaten track places. We visited Phayo and Phrae where we tried to polish our Thai speaking (pretty much no-one spoke english), find food that didn’t have animal bones in it (see last comment on no one speaking english), and get up early enough to see the sites before it got too hot. It was still Chinese New Year, and we happened upon a parade of some sort where they were letting off firecrackers in the street and blessing the shops with dragons. It was really crazy… and loud! We had no idea what was going on, but they kept trying to pull Alex away and take him with them, so we decided to leave before we lost our poor child for good. We also continued on our massage a day routine. Since it was pretty off the beaten track, no one really catered to tourists there and I ended up drinking some tea (with water from the tap) at one of our massage places that landed me with a pretty bad case of travelers diarrhea. At this point I decided we needed to go back to Chiang Mai where people spoke english, I could find a fancy hotel room and sit by the pool, and get some frickin’ vegetarian / western food (the only thing I could think about eating was pizza).
I also decided at this point, that my days of “winging it” while traveling were over and we decided to book out the last part of our trip taking into account my new appreciation for nice hotel rooms and english speaking staff. We took our trusty car and started on our way down the country, hitting a few great spots along the way, our final destination being Bangkok. On our way down, we stopped by the Wat where we were blessed by one of the most revered Monks in Thailand on the day we were married. It was so cool taking Alex there. We got really lucky, because our monk happened to be there that day and he did another special blessing for us 3 this time! It was one of the highlights of our trip! We also took Alex to feed the crazy cat fish, which we did on our wedding day as well – I am pretty sure they were the same cat fish that were there 10 years prior…. they live a really long time!
Our first stop was Sukhothai, a UNESCO World Heratige Site - and the home of ruins from the 13th century. We rented bikes and explored while trying to stay cool! It was so impressive that those structures had been there for so many years. What a special place. Alex was a trooper… though we had to bribe him with ice cream to get him to walk up those crazy stairs! Our new plan was also to be sure that we were back at our hotel by the time the hottest part of the day came around so we could cool off in the pool and go for our daily massage! The heat was pretty oppressive!
We liked Sukhotahi so much that we decided to stay an extra day and visit Lopburi (our next destination) for the day instead of the night. Thank goodness we decided to do this as Lopburi was one of the most horrible scary places I have been. Okay, I am exaggerating, but still. The draw was more ruins and… monkeys. The ruins were cool, the monkeys were not. They were literally taking over the whole town, they lived in abandoned buildings, tried to steal your sunglasses, and be warned… if you have any food on you at all – they would jump on you, open your back pack and steal everything inside it. Not to mention the fact that monkeys also = monkey poop. It was pretty crazy and we were glad to get out of there.
Our last stop before Bangkok was Ayutthaya where we hit a crazy thunderstorm! It was really neat to experience different weather and get to hear the craziest thunder I have ever heard! Dennis got a little carried away tying to get a photo of the lightning, and if you watch carefully, he did get one! The place we stayed was really neat and right on the river. It was the perfect final relaxation before we hit Bangkok!
Driving into and around Bangkok was not for the fainthearted… but Dennis did it with no issues (well except one minor one where he knocked over a scooter, but we won’t count that). Bangkok was actually really cool this time, I didn’t like it very much my first time there… but this time I appreciated all the people, its smells, the architecture, and it’s total chaos. And since my stomach was still not quite right I appreciated its availability of western food. We did a lot of shopping there (thanks boys), we visited the King’s Palace, took a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River, and again, got massages every day. One of of the highlights for Alex was the pool on the 10th floor!
Thailand again wowed us with it’s amazing food, beautiful sites and friendly people. We were so happy to share this experience with our son and can’t wait to go back again (this time we will have to go down South to the beaches!). Since my husband is a crazy person and took over 3000 images in 17 days (that 176 images per day), I decided to put them all to a slideshow. It is 8 minutes long and has ALOT of photos in it. Apologize for the photo dump! I would recommend pressing the little HD button, which will open it in Vimeo itself so you can view it in HD! Enjoy!