Stylish Story Telling with Raw Emotion
On a Friday morning in San Francisco, Elisa and Joe entered City Hall. An hour later – unbeknownst to anyone other than Jaime and I – they emerged as husband and wife.
It was our first time photographing in city hall and what an incredible energy the place has; There were couples of all shapes and sizes preparing for their marriages, city-councilmen and women bustling through halls, some sort of youth-beauty-pageant thing being prepared for, and on the second floor of the rotunda, a Celtic choir filled the grand space and provided ambience (and bursts of applause) for Joe and Elisa’s quick ceremony. Joe and Elisa came up for a visit in the fall and we took them on a walk around our neighborhood taking photos. It was clear to us how much they liked being around each other and, despite the absence of any guests apart from us the morning of their wedding, they both were filled with nervous excitement which was sweet. As their number came up on the tele-prompter, they entered the office of the court clerk and their officiant and signed the necessary documents. We then proceeded to the second level of the rotunda where they made it official. Although the ceremony was quick, they displayed and incredibly full range of emotions and after their kiss – and for the rest of the morning – they both couldn’t have been any happier. We headed to a park for a small picnic lunch, Jaime dropped their cake (true story – don’t trust Jaime to carry your wedding cake), we laughed, toasted with them and left them to enjoy their first afternoon together as husband and wife. Simple and perfect.
When one of your best friends tells you they’re getting married, it’s a happy day! Realizing you’ll be out of the country on that date…is a bit of a bummer. Shannon delivered the news just days after we’d booked our first family trip to Thailand. Fortunately for us, we work with some pretty amazing photographers and we were able to introduce Shannon and Stephen to Clara who was available for their intimate San Francisco courthouse wedding.
We’re pretty tough to please in the photography department and this certainly must’ve been an enormous amount of pressure on Clara photographing the intimate wedding of someone so special to us. As I edited through the the photographs with a big smile on my face, my vision started blurring a bit – my heart was informing me that she’d represented us well and done a great job.
When Shannon first met Stephen, they came over for dinner – and an intensive screening process – which he skated through with ease. One of the things I noticed about Stephen was how well he interacted with our son Alex and how he treated him like a small person rather than a different species of creature. His ease was comforting and I knew that if a family plan came up, that Shannon had a great partner in that adventure. Well, as fate would have it…a few weeks after the wedding announcement arrived, even BETTER news came. They were having a baby! Knowing how much he cares for our Shannon and the little one on the way is a great feeling.
In just a few months, a whole new adventure begins for the couple and we couldn’t be more excited!
P.S. Shannon and Steven, you both look amazing – Shannon you were just stunning! We are so happy for you and love you both immensely! And… Clara, you rock!
It’s always best when you get to hear in their own words;
(After first meeting in a bar…the old fashioned way)
“And then he called. And left a voicemail. No one ever calls these days! Liz, suffice to say, was very impressed. She was also entranced by the deep, radio- quality voice speaking through her phone. She decided to call him back. They then engaged in a game of phone tag (which also no one plays anymore) and agreed to meet at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. After 4 hours of a much less hazy conversation, Ed and Liz both in their own minds decided that the other person was an a-okay person to see again…
And again, and again…and perhaps even live with so that they can see each other again and again every day.
Ed knew Liz was the person he wanted to marry about a year into their relationship, but he knew she did not have a similar desire at the time. You see, Ed had wanted a marriage and family ever since he was 16 years old when he helped raise his then newborn baby brother. Liz, on the other hand, went through a somewhat messy and drawn out divorce between her parents during her impressionable high school years. So, she never dreamed about getting married or – gasp – having children. But Ed loved Liz, and wanted to be with her. So he quietly waited, holding onto a bold hope that she would come around.
And come around she did. It took a measely 4.5 years and a lot of patience and gentle guidance on Ed’s part. But he finally cracked the shell Liz had carefully crafted around her. She came to the realization that though she had no need for any of it, she wanted everything Ed wanted. But only if that everything came with Ed”
Their wedding took place on a brilliant January afternoon, at the Palm Event Center in Pleasanton. We met the couple at their respective hotel rooms as they nervously got ready for the big day. Ed, ensuring his heartfelt vows were tucked neatly in his jacket, and Liz putting the final touches on the wedding dress she made herself. The anticipation was high as Ed was nervously waiting to see his bride for the first time… ok maybe he was a bit nervous about her dress, considering Liz’s eclectic style, anything could have happened. But as she strolled up in her feathered bodice and ombre chiffon skirt, all nerves fell away and a huge smile came across his face. We walked and talked through the dormant grapevines of the Ruby Hill Vineyard and said goodbye to the late afternoon sun pausing briefly before heading back in to get a sneak peek of the couples’ dance moves.
The ceremony was held in the barrel room where guests heard, in the couples own vows, to promise to be silly with each other, forever. And with that their good friend and officiant, Alex, made if official and pronounced them husband and wife. From there the evening was full of custom touches, and a few surprises that reflected the couples’ exuberance and spontaneity. The choreographed first dance was more B Boy / B Girl hip hop number than than your typical first dance, which scored big with the guests. As the dance floor filled up, Liz revealed a surprise even Ed didn’t know about… Stomper, the mascot for the Oakland A’s hit the dance floor!! Ed was pretty stoked at this point and the only thing that could’ve tipped it over was about to open up… a donut flambé station.
Yep, that’s how you do it. Enjoy the adventure you guys!
Translated as “ranch of the green sticks”, it’s hard to imagine nowadays that 150 years ago the land atop the Palos Verdes Peninsula was used to graze cattle through a Mexican land grant. Today, the hills are home to some of the most incredible views in all of California where you can view migrating Pacific whales in the springtime, see remarkable examples of the Californian architectural style (as in Lloyd Wright’s Wayfarer’s Chapel), and hit some world class golf courses…all in the same day.
C was raised just up the hill, so it seemed Trump National Golf Club would be a fitting choice of venue in maintaining a close-to-home feel for her family. J is from New York and that’s where the couple met and lives. After a brutal series of early winter storms and cold spells, neither regretted their choice of venue when the day dawned with near perfect weather. “Perfect” weather is a relative term, but I doubt anyone would argue that a still, 80 degree day without a cloud in the sky would classify as more perfect than not for a January wedding. As C and the girls arrived at the venue for final preparations and the boys wrapped up their bow-tying-bonding session, guests began to find their seats for the ceremony. The Korean ceremony held the evening prior honored the families cultural heritage but during the ceremony the couple bowed to, and were welcomed by each others respective parents, signifying that marriage is not only the joining of two people, but of two families as well.
Immediately following the ceremony (and our entire wedding group photo), guests were served cocktails and offered fresh selections from the raw bar as they watched the sun melt into the horizon over the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. We took advantage of this soft, evening light to venture around the property for a few photos, hoping to avoid running into Donald “The Don” Trump who certainly would’ve fired me for my exploration of “golfer-only” territory.
The black-tie event then moved inside and it wasn’t long before all the married couples hit the dance floor for the anniversary dance; where couples gradually pare off, leaving the longest married couples left until – in this case – the couple married for over 50 years was the only one remaining. This dance is really cute and also serves as a bit of inspiration for the brand new couple. J & C are sweet and just wanted to make sure everyone had a fun and memorable day with them, which was evident by how little time they actually spent in their own seats throughout the evening…and that’s always a good sign!
We’ve known Julia and Jordan for over 5 years now and it’s been a gift really, to be able to stay connected through social media. One morning a few weeks back, they invited us to their home to meet little Arthur, to catch up on things, and share anecdotes about the early days of being a new parent.
When clients find out they’re having their first child, it’s SO exciting for us to be able to see the pregnancy progress and eventually, the images of baby’s first days via their Instagram feed. We’ve seen countless incredible, sweet, adorable and intimate images of blossoming families amassed on trusty phone-cameras. I have a major love/hate relationship with Instagram. As a photographer, you’re given a finite window of access to create images. As a family, you have opportunities all the time to capture fleeting intimate moments that we just can’t be there for. How can we compete?
I can totally understand the tendency of a photographer to want to overcompensate by setting up an elaborately lit shoot or by creating an overly stylized concept to distinguish themselves from an “amateur”. But that is just not our style. So we have to go to these shoots with a clear mind, take and deep breath, and do what we do best, no matter the pressure!
Arthur has a set of incredibly talented parents with skills we admire in visual storytelling, so yes, the pressure was definitely on for this one. We really try to capture this family and who they are, through our eyes, in the limited time we had. As usual, we got down to Arthur’s level and started there which is always a comfortable place to start a shoot.
J&J – you’ve made one hell of a cute kid and we’re so happy you’ve kept a little place in your lives and your heart for us in spite of the wonderful way you capture your family! We are honored.