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We Have Come A Long Way…

…since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

But until Theresa and Alia can legally get married then we still have a long way to go.

So this is what I would like to add to the dream speech…

I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin…

…or by who they choose to love…

…but by the content of their character.

Here’s to having a dream.

And here’s to Alia and Theresa.

Love is the only thing that matters…

Dora and Emily got married on July 19th, 2009 in front of all of their friends and family at the Brazil Room in Berkeley. By choosing to get married, Dora’s two children, and Emily’s one child, now have two moms.

I have photographed a lot of weddings, but this was the most amazing wedding I have ever seen. It wasn’t because of the dress, or the shoes, or the flowers, or any of the other details that we easily get lost in. It was because of all the love, the acceptance, and the incredibly beautiful children who saw nothing wrong with two women, of different races, getting married.

Their wedding gave me so much hope for the future. And this week, after hearing Judge Walker’s decision on Proposition 8, the proposition that denied same sex couples the right to marry, I was filled with hope all over again.

I don’t know how anyone can look at this photo and tell me that these people should not have the right to be legally recognized as a family. If only all children were raised in such a loving environment… the world would be a much better place.

Nothing but love…

Graham and Janet are getting married and I am lucky enough to photograph their wedding this summer.

They wanted to have engagement photos for announcements. Graham, who is an emerging photographer, said that he tried to set the camera up and take their own engagement photos with a remote, but he said it was harder than he thought to get the photos to look natural.

So we made a date in Golden Gate Park, and we did a quick one hour engagement shoot with their new love, Jasmine.

Our mini-photo shoot was just enough time for us to get to know each other a little better, and for them to practice being in front of the camera, and for me to capture natural photos of them being in love, with each other… and with Jasmine.

And then Jasmine had enough of the love…

The beginning of happily ever after…

This was one of my favorite weddings from last summer because the groom, Martin, is the brother of one of my favorite photographers in the world, Art Rogers. Martin is also a photographer and worked for National Geographic for many years… so the pressure to create good photos was on. But everything was planned so well that it made my job easy and fun.

Congratulations, Emily and Martin. It was an honor and pleasure to photograph your wedding.

Many thanks to Green Girl Events for putting on another wonderful event at the the Banta residence.

A Black Tie and Cow Patty Fairy Tale Come True…

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Veronica and Mike’s wedding was nothing short of incredible. Veronica wanted to have a memorable party and I believe she got it, but not without a lot of work and a lot of luck.

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Work because the wedding was held on top of a hill in a cow pasture, accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles, in order to have a 360º view without any buildings. So everything had to be brought up to the top of the hill and created in the cow pasture, including… electricity, tent, floor, stage, tables, chairs, kitchen, food, bar, alcohol, photo booth. And Molli Milner and Denise Rocco-Zilber, from Green Girl Events, deserve a standing ovation because they made it all happen so smoothly, as if that hill is always so magical.

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Luck because the wedding was held in October, just three days after the biggest rain storm we have had in over six months. On the Wednesday before the wedding, as the rain was still coming down, I was a little doubtful that the event was going to happen at all.

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But sure enough, the sun came out on Friday and dried the muddy roads and fields so the show could still go on. And by Saturday, everything was perfect. The fog did make an appearance, as is expected when you are on a hill overlooking Tomales Bay, and it rolled in with a strong windy force, but that just pushed the festivities inside the cozy tent, with see-through walls, which made it better for the string quartet and the opera that preceded the ceremony.

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Veronica and Mike love the opera, so they asked some students from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, one of the most acclaimed schools of opera in the nation, who they saw perform at The Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station, to perform a few of their favorite songs.

They also asked David Lomeli, who is an Adler Fellow and who has received a first prize of Placido Domingo’s Operalia award, to sing as well. They were absolutely thrilled and shocked when he happily agreed. 

I haven’t been to an opera in over 10 years, so I am not an expert on the topic, but they were amazing.

Everything was amazing.

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It was a small and beautifully intimate black tie affair. Black tie was required, because Veronica liked the idea of black ties and cow patties. And I like the idea too.

So loved ones, let this be a warning… if Arann and I do get married again, like we hope to do, because getting married is so much fun and we think couples should do it again every year… you too may be asked to wear black tie in a cow pasture on top of a hill… ’cause it sure makes for a pretty wedding and pretty photos to go with it.

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One last very important detail about this love story… Veronica and Mike met on match.com. They are two more reasons why I am a believer in Online dating. Veronica and Mike’s fairy tale is definitely a fairy tale that tops anything Cinderella or Snow White can bring home from the bar.

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So congratulations to Veronica and Mike. Keep dreaming big… what you create from your dreams is worth all the hard work, and luck is on your side.

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I Do… photograph weddings… especially if they include a pittbull in pearls.

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It has been a fun summer because I have been super busy doing lots of different kinds of photography jobs. While I am very grateful to have been so busy, as a result of my crazy schedule, I haven’t had time to post all the amazing weddings that I have photographed… which now totals 10… which is a new record for me.

And I feel like if I post one wedding then I have to post all the weddings, because all of the weddings were so wonderfully different, and all of the couples are so wonderfully fun that they all deserve their own wonderfully different and fun blog posts. But I can’t post all of the weddings at once, so I am going to start right smack in the middle with Emily and Sam… and Mia, their ring bearer dog.

My friend Michelle recommended me to them, and we arranged to meet so that I could get to know them a little before their wedding. I knew it would be a wedding that I wanted to photograph, as we sat in a dog park in SF and Emily told me all the food for their wedding was coming from farmers who she met at the farmers’ market, like Jesse from Marin Roots Farm, and that their dog was going to be their ring bearer. Fresh, healthy, local food and dogs = the perfect wedding to me.

They got married in the cypress grove at Chrissy Field in the Presidio, one of my favorite places to go when I lived in the city with my dog. And although they were hoping for sun, I wasn’t disappointed when the fog rolled in just as the ceremony was about to start. That big beautiful soft box from the Pacific Ocean made the already photogenic event even more so by softening the light just enough and giving everything a magical glow… oh it was lots of fun. I love the fog.

And I love homemade weddings. Almost every detail of their wedding was made by someone they know and love… including Emily’s incredible dress and her veil, that I was obsessed with photographing, and including the most amazing flour-less chocolate cake. A cake that could be reason enough for me to get married again… to Arann of course.

So congratulations Emily, Sam and Mia… and stay tuned for more amazing weddings to come.

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That’s What It’s All About…

Congratulations to Andy and Molly… another Walker Creek Ranch dating success story.

Walker Creek Ranch is an outdoor science school in Marin County where fifth and sixth graders come for a week as their big school trip of the year. At the Ranch there are 10 Naturalists who are in charge of teaching the students science through experiential education, which means learning by digging in the mud for insects at the pond, identifying native plants while hiking, singing about the food chain at campfire and tasting biodiversity at the garden.

These 10 Naturalists, usually young, smart, attractive, and ecologically minded people all live in a communal space called the Naturalist Lodge. When I was first introduced to the Walker Creek and the Naturalist Lodge, I could not understand how there could be so many attractive people with similar interests, yet there were no good gossipy love stories… well… it didn’t take long before I learned that I was wrong.

Since my year at Walker Creek in 2002, there have been 5 Walker Creek couples to get married, including Arann and me. In fact, Susie and Walter’s wedding was the very first wedding of my photography career. I’ll have to dig those photos out, it was back in the days before digital photography and blogging, well for me anyway.

But Andy and Molly are the first Walker Creek couple, that I know of, who actually got married at Walker Creek Ranch. And, wow, was it fun.

It was a huge reunion of multiple generations of Walker Creekers, which means a whole lot of people who just want to be outside in the sun and dancing, dancing, dancing. Their wedding was a good reminder of what weddings are supposed to be about, including but not limited to the Hokey Pokey, especially if it is a barn shaking version by the Green String Farm Band.

To read how the economic crisis in California is affecting outdoor education and the amazing community of Walker Creek please click here.

Young Love…

Jennifer and Brandon got married last weekend at Rocker Oysterfeller’s in Valley Ford…. it was my first wedding of 2009, my first wedding since my own wedding, and my first wedding at one of my favorite venues in  …. so I had lots to be excited about.

He is 21 and she is 18. He just returned from Iraq and they actually got legally married in February so she could qualify for his military benefits, but her mom really wanted her to have a ceremony. It was a very small ceremony with just their family, which meant I had lots of time to play with the two of them in all the cool spaces around Rocker’s.

He is from my home state, South Carolina, and she is from Nevada. So to make him feel more at home the menu included good ‘ol fried chicken, cornbread and a John Deer tractor cake. I have promised that I would include a food specific section on my website, so I took advantage of the good food and beautiful presentation that Brandon and Shona (the owners and chef of Rocker Oysterfeller’s) put together.

Rocker Oysterfeller’s is an awesome location for a wedding. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in having a smaller wedding in Sonoma County. It comes with everything you need… beautifully  intimate setting, amazing food and places for your guests to stay… and you will want to be friends on facebook with everyone who works there by the end of it.

Sorry for the small thumbnails, but I had so much fun taking photos that day that I couldn’t edit the photos down anymore than this.

Sarah and Zach… a quick peek…

This is just a glimpse of a few favorites from the wedding I photographed two weekends ago in Greenville, South Carolina, the town where I mostly grew up. The wedding was for my best friend from high school, Ann’s, little brother, Zach, also known as Baby Zach, which is how I remember him… so the idea that he was getting married was hard to get over.

The timing was perfect, I was coming home for my annual family reunion beach trip and Zach was getting married the Saturday after I arrived, so I just stayed in Greenville an extra night and joined my family the next day.

I met Zach’s soon to be bride, Sarah, the night of their rehearsal and was very excited to find that she was down to earth, fun and beautiful… the perfect kind of bride, and wife for my best friend’s little brother. And the two of them have a heart wrenching love story that started after high school and grew stronger through Sarah’s cancer that was discovered a few years after they started dating.

It was amazing how openly her cancer was discussed throughout the events, and without the fear that normally surrounds the C-word, but needless to say the tears were not far from everyone’s eyes during their vows to care for each other through sickness and health.

I felt honored to be there and to help document their day for them… and it is not often, as a California based photographer, that I get to photograph in a big fancy traditional church… which proved to be a challenge and a fun creative tool.

I loved the contrast between the two preparation rooms…

I didn’t intend this photo to show off Sarah’s left shoulder where she had her cancer, instead I noticed it during my editing. It is one of my favorites because I think it has a calm and beautifully strong feel to it and I hope she feels the same way.


I wish I could say I planned this photo to look this way, but I didn’t and it was quite a fun editing surprise… although it has a surreal dream feel to it that may not appeal to everyone, so luckily I have normal ones as well.

The Presbyterian Church had a rule about not photographing during the ceremony, which in some ways was nice because it meant I had to be more creative.

And there is so much more to come… but the editing is a lot slower since I am on the road…. so stay tuned for more of Sarah and Zach.

And here is Ann again… I love friends who love being photographed… it is so much fun… this was entirely her idea.

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