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Why an Engagement Session?

I offer a free engagement session with all my packages. Yes, I said free! As in $0. I absolutely love engagement sessions and view them as an important step in in the whole process. There are a few reasons why I find them so important and urge all my future wedding clients to do one:

1. It is a great way for us to get to know each other! Just think of the day as hanging out with a new friend…with some photos thrown in. We will be spending a lot of time together on your wedding day, so you don’t want a stranger hanging around you for hours and hours right? Can you say awkwardddd??

2. It is like a trial run for your wedding. The perfect opportunity to get used to being in front of the camera, while gaining a feel for my style of shooting. At the end of the day you will feel more comfortable about taking photos on the big day, and what to expect from me.

3. It is the perfect way to get some great photos you can use for your save-the-date cards, wedding website, and guest book.

Not sure about where to take the photos? I suggest you choose a location that is meaningful to you. The place you got engaged? Your first date? Your favorite beach or park? Or maybe there is something you love doing together, like camping or fishing. It could be as simple as heading out for a day at the farmer’s market followed by some ice cream. Do you love coffee? Let’s head to your favorite coffee shop and wander around the area. We could stay at home while you bake cookies together. The possibilities are endless but it does not have to be complicated, and I am always here for helpful suggestions if you get stumped. My aim is to get some great photos of you celebrating your love and your new engagement!

From my brides-to-be I get a lot of “but he hates having his photo taken, he won’t want to do an engagement session.” I get it, I really do! So many people are not comfortable in front of the camera (including myself!!). But I work hard to make both of you as comfortable as possible, that is what I am here for. Part of the shoot I will work like a ninja, secretly capturing real moments without you knowing; and other times I will tell you exactly how to pose, all-in-all making it stress-free for both of you.Things to think about: do you want an urban setting or an outdoor nature setting? Do you want lots of props or just the two of you?

To see these engagement shoots in detail, click here

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San Diego Wedding Photographer :: Rachel & Trevor

1 year ago today, I shot a special and very unique wedding – a St. Patrick’s day themed wedding with a green dress for the bride and 4 leaf clover details, among other things. Trevor & Rachel’s story was very touching. They were high school sweethearts but ended up going their separate ways, then reconnected about 10 years later…on St. Patrick’s day! The deep respect and love they shared was hard to miss and this made them such a joy to photograph. Originally, their wedding was set to be outdoors on the beautiful golf course at El Camino Country Club, but a massive rainstorm (very uncharacteristic of southern California) forced the day indoors. Not once did either of them stress over the change, get upset, or complain. They rolled with the punches and cared only about the meaning of the day, not the location. Finally, at the very end of the reception, the rain let up for about 5 minutes, I pulled them outside and we got a few shots amongst the greenery. Happy 1 year anniversary to Trevor & Rachel and happy St. Patrick’s day!

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Nicole - Sweet picture and a very cute story. Love all the green.

Rustic DIY Washington Wedding – Kate + Jeff

Just in time for Valentine’s day, I have another wedding to share with you! This was featured over at Budget Savvy Bride HERE.

Homemade honey, home brewed beer, handmade centerpieces, fresh flowers, and an usually beautiful November day in Washington. Sound warm and inviting? Because that is exactly how Kate & Jeff’s wedding was. I have been friends with Kate since 2008 when she moved from Washington to southern California to live with a mutual friend. It was wonderful getting to know her and I know we will always remain friends, but she eventually decided to move back north. While it was bittersweet to see her go, I think it was meant to be because at her new job she met Jeff…her future husband! They started talking about marriage after just a few months, and one day while sitting on the patio of a local pub, they began talking about rings. The conversation went something like this:
Kate: “you probably haven’t had the chance to look at rings yet”
Jeff: “yes I have” (pulls out a ring to ask her to marry him)

Taking place in Kate’s parents’ backyard in Kent, Washington, their wedding was so intimate and down to earth. Guests were surrounded by the lush greenery of the northwest, a lovely pond and bridge where they exchanged their handwritten vows, fresh local grown flowers, and DIY touches. Kate & Jeff planned it all themselves and their hard work shows in the little details…take a look for yourself!

One of my favorite details of the day was their favors. Kate’s cousin & wife raise honey bees at several sites in western Washington and one of those sites has been at her parent’s house for the last few years. Every family/couple left with a 4 ounce jar of honey made from the bees who live on the property! They added some cute fabric & handmade labels for a unique, personal touch.

The guest book was actually a slice of a tree trunk that was cut from a fallen tree on the wedding site weeks earlier. Once it dried out completed, their names and wedding date were written in black sharpie in the center of the tree ring and guests signed around the edges. It kept with their natural and backyard theme and is a lovely piece of art in their home now.Kate’s beautiful and simple bouquet was made from dahlias grown at a local farm and kale grown in her neighbor’s yard! So fitting for the theme and a nice nod to Kate’s love of gardening…not to mention the beauty of those bright colors. Kate said when she told friends she was planning to have kale in the bouquet she had mixed reviews…but everyone agrees…it looks so nice!

The bride and groom set up lawn games set up for the guest and activity kits made for the kits. I loved that prior to the ceremony, they spent quality time with their guests before they got into their wedding attire.

From Kate: “Another one of our favorite creative touches actually took place prior to the wedding day. We learned of a Louisiana tradition of burrying a full bottle of bourbon upside down at the wedding site exactly one month before the wedding to ward off rain. Having an outdoor wedding in the Seattle area in October was risky at best so we gave it a whirl! A family member of ours had used this tradition at her Montana wedding just months before our big day and it worked beautifully, as did it for us! Guests were able to enjoy sandals and sunshine instead of sweaters and umbrellas the whole gorgeous 70 degree day.”

I love the handmade candle holders used for the centerpieces! So simple, so well done, and so fitting with the whole theme..

Instead of asking for wedding gifts, Jeff & Kate asked their guests to contribute something to their potluck style meal. Handmade cards let guests know what they had to choose from, who brought it, and how that person was related. The groom even perfected his hobby of home brewing to make a special “You and Me” ESB beer!

Congratulations to Kate & Jeff! xo

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Los Angeles Wedding Photographer – Jenn + Mike

I am so excited to finally be able to post the photos from Jenn + Mike’s wedding! The photos were published over at The Every Last Detail, check it out here and read about the day through their eyes. As I was creating this post, I was having so much fun reliving the day. Not only were they such a fun couple to be around and get to know from the beginning, but the beauty of the homemade origami cranes, the cheery green and orange color combination, the sentimental touches. Their intimate wedding was held at their charming Pasadena home.

I loved the orange dahlia in Jenn’s hair.

The girls got ready at the Westin Hotel in Pasadena, where we also did the first look between Mike and Jenn and the wedding party portraits. I was in heaven with the colorful tiled walls, the greenery, the architectural details…heaven.

The groomsmen wore orange Toms shoes and the bridesmaids wore Toms wedges….such a fun touch!

Jenn & Mike wrote their own vows, and Jenn even read hers from the ipad that Mike used to propose to Jenn!

My favorite detail of the day was the paper cranes. Mike’s mom made over 1,000 in their wedding colors to decorate their fence and bring them good luck!

Jenn was very close to her grandmother and I was so touched by the tributes Jenn made in her honor. She used her favorite color, lime green, as one of her wedding colors, had the day catered by Gus’s BBQ, her grandparents’ favorite restaurant, and Jenn’s ring belonged to her grandmother. We even took their engagement photos at a bench that was dedicated to her grandparents, click here to read about their engagement and see the photos.

A special thanks to all the vendors who made the day happen! Planner/Coordinator: Sooz Events // Hair & Makeup: Nicole Laffin // Catering: Gus’s BBQ  // Floral Designer: Flowers by Sharon // Cake Designer (whoopie cakes): Susie Cakes // Cake Designer (wedding cake): Cake Sensations // Cupcakes: Polkatots // Cookies: Brown Butter Cookie Company // DJ: Get in the Groove Entertainment // Photobooth: Mad Mochi Photobooth // Lighting: Ambiance Lighting // Pre-Ceremony Location:  The Westin Pasadena // Rentals: CMC Party Rentals

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Eleven Up and Coming Photographers – That’s Me!

This post is long overdue! But I am so proud to have been named one of eleven up and coming photographers to watch out for in 2013…by Utterly Engaged! This all came to fruition after the wonderful and amazing Propel workshop I took with Caroline Tran. Check out the magazine and more of our photos here!

The flower photo below is also mine!

A special thanks to everyone who was a part of not only all that was Propel, but also everyone who made the shoots possible. Everyone worked hard to provide a phenomenal experience for us all! To see other shoots from this workshop, click here and here!

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Nicole - Good for you, girl! Congrats :)

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