Beach days, denim cut-offs, SPF and weddings? Yup, summer is definitely here, and with it, the typical summer wedding season madness! I’ve been so busy that I’ve somehow neglected blogging about one of the most special wedding weekends Of. All. Time.
So far I have posted a preview of Jess and Alex’s beautiful wedding at Firestone Vineyard in Los Olivos, but after Sunday brunch with the newlyweds yesterday I decided that today I would blog their rehearsal dinner at Trattoria Grappolo in Santa Ynez. Their rehearsal dinner was truly one of the most love-filled, emotional evenings I’ll probably ever be a part of. They have such an inspiring, supportive community of family and friends, many of whom spoke during the dinner. With so many people speaking straight from the heart, it felt intimate in a really different way that the more formal speeches of a wedding day, and I don’t think anyone made it through the night without a tear or two (or, let’s be honest, just a cascade of them).
In a not so typical version of photographing an event, I also put my camera down and spoke as well. I simply had to! During our first “meeting”, we didn’t start talking details about their wedding or photography for at least an hour. As they told me about themselves and how they fell in love, I had my first glimpse into the sort of couple they are and how they welcome people into their lives in a deeply authentic way. The minute they explained to me that they weren’t looking for typical wedding “vendors” but people who would become friends and feel emotionally invested in their wedding, I knew that some wonderful magical hidden design in the universe had led to us meeting. It still just amazes me that these two dear friends of mine have only come into my life so recently.
Up next…the bridal party luncheon!
Rachel and I became friends after I featured her on my portrait blog, the Portraiteer. I would say we first bonded over a mutual Instagram obsession (am I right Rachel?) She is an awesome fashion + food blogger from England who has been living in LA and studying abroad at UCLA. Also, she has been guest editing the Birchbox blog this week, how awesome is that?! (and let me just quickly digress to say that any girl who will patiently wait for you at DryBar while you get your hair blown out for an upcoming date is a friend you want to hold on to. I have full faith that we will manage to keep our friendship wonderfully alive even when it goes trans-atlantic…with the help of WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Skype of course.)
After I featured her on the Portraiteer, we met up for coffee at Toms and walked around Abbot Kinney and the Venice Canals. During that coffee date, we decided we wanted to venture a little further afield the next time we met up, which is how our road trip to Newport got dreamt up!
Be sure to read Rachel’s blog post all about our road trip and her review of our brunch spot, Haute Cakes Caffe (which we chose thanks to the thoughtful recommendation of my friend Alex and some of Rachel’s blog readers!). Haute Cakes Caffe is one of those truly special places that feels full of local warmth and community, and serves food worth driving to Newport for. Rachel and I sat in the lovely outdoor courtyard for ages, we couldn’t muster the will to leave! Also, Haute Cakes wins my vote for having so many great gluten-free options, including a gluten-free English muffin that, magically unlike all other gluten-free bread attempts, doesn’t taste like cardboard. I can’t wait to try the gluten-free pancakes the next time I go. In case I haven’t made this clear previously, I have a pretty religious feeling about Sunday brunch. It is hands down my favorite part of the week.
Well, this is something new for Sorella Muse Photography that I am pretty excited about: high school senior portraits! Katie is graduating from Claremont High School this week, so a huge congrats to her, and congrats to all the other 2013 grads, be they kindergarteners or Ph.D.’s!
I was super nervous about this portrait session because it was my first senior shoot. When Katie asked me to do her senior portraits I actually wasn’t sure because the trend in senior portrait photography is very posed, very Photoshopped, and it just didn’t seem like a good fit with my photography style. Which is when I had the slightly obvious aha! moment of…maybe I could do senior portraits my way, more natural and organic feeling, more candid and lifestyle, less airbrushed perfection and more personality.
After having a lovely time during this portrait session, I am pretty excited about the idea of doing more senior portraits next year. Claremont High juniors, hit me up! Granted, this portrait session was pretty easy because Katie is relaxed, sweet and totally gorgeous, so I can’t take too much credit for how great these photos are. All I can remember is me saying things like “ooooooooh, what if you went and stood there! and then…YES!” and lots of laughing, mostly at my strange leaping-around photo-antics. We started the shoot in Claremont near The Grove Vintage store because Katie’s mother Donna owns it and it is a significant place for her, then we wandered around a parking lot and an alley (thanks Katie for being up for creative collaboration and my random suggestions!) and finally we went to an open field near Thompson Creek Trail; I love that we were able to do something kind of modern and urban as well as vintage and rustic. So, without further ado, the first Sorella Muse senior session!
I love second shooting for other wedding photographers, it’s always fun to see how another photographer works and to get to talk shop with another person as obsessed with f stops and natural light as I am. Amanda + Tom’s wedding at the Mitten Building in Redlands was particularly fun because I was second shooting for Jessica, a Harvard 2010 grad like me who was also in Eliot House at Harvard (Floreat Domus de Eliot!).
Jessica and Amanda were on the Harvard softball team together, and all of their softball teammates showed up en masse! It was so fun to see their energy and support for Amanda and Tom’s marriage. I’ve just been reminded more and more this summer how much weddings are about the community of friends and family that you call upon to support you as you embark upon the crazy-wonderful-challenging-beautiful adventure that committing your life to someone else’s must be (this is just me guessing at the moment, the closest thing I have to a spouse is my sister, but we certainly bicker like an old married couple…)
The Mitten Building was a gorgeous location for both the ceremony and reception, I was s(mitten) (GET IT?!) with the vintage vibe and all the exposed brick. The details of this wedding were so thoughtful, but then again, the minute I see peonies I’m just kind of joyfully floating for the rest of the day. Oh peonies, you steal my breath every. single. time. And I have to say I was amazed by how lovely the bridesmaid’s baby’s breath bouquets were; such a great inexpensive idea for a rustic summer wedding. Also, how cool is the old-fashioned fire truck that Tom’s friend brought for them to take some of their couple pictures with? I thought that was a wonderfully unique element to incorporate since Tom is a firefighter. Since I’m kind of obsessed with everything vintage, it’s not such a surprise that my computer now has like hundreds of photos of this firetruck on it. Anyways. Total tangent.
Congrats Amanda + Tom, and thanks so much Jessica for having me along to second shoot!
These photographs are brought to you courtesy of my trip to New York back in January, which yes…I am just editing now. Oof. I have been one busy lady lately.
It is so important to me to continually be working on creative projects as a photographer. Shooting just for fun, just because, picking up my camera and exploring somewhere new, whether it be another country or an unknown city block, is central to pushing my creativity and I know that it contributes to my work as a wedding and portrait photographer by challenging me to constantly look at what’s before me and ask myself how I can capture it slightly differently than I usually might.
Derek is also Harvard 2010, but we only met this past January at a mutual friend’s party, and we somewhat hilariously decided to get together the next day for an impromptu photo shoot. He was in the Hasty Pudding at Harvard and is now an aspiring pop singer in New York. I love meeting people gutsy enough for creative pursuits, it inspires me so much. Derek was ridiculously patient with my random portrait ideas (what it’s like to be photographed by me: “hmmm…that wall looks cool, go stand there, and like, crouch sort of, and yeahhh, like stand this way, only more like…yeahhhhh…”). I’m so glad we got to know each other while photo-wandering around the lower east side, even though it was COLD…we had to take a taxi to the Brooklyn Bridge, we were shivering like crazy, but it was worth it. Thanks again Derek for being such a great creative collaborator and rad model!