Thursday, September 21, 2006

Another gorgeous City Hall wedding...

Yesterday I had the huge honor of being photographer and witness for a couple I had never met before (although instantly adored!). Nate and Edina were married at the San Francisco Civic Center, which, if you don't know, is basically the most gorgeous building in the whole city. I am extra partial to weddings there because my husband and I got married there last December!

Anyway, if you haven't been in to see the Civic Center for any reason, you really need to find an excuse. Need to research some ancestors, or just want to admire the elegant architecture? Go now, you won't regret it! The architecture is just amazing. It's a nice place to get things like marriage licenses, too!

I kind of find the bureacracy of waiting for them to call your number in the County Clerk's office romantic. Then the ceremony takes place at the top of the rotunda, a tall, marble stairway beneath the building's light filled dome. The ceremony is short but very sweet - besides the basic legality of the vows, they stress the emotional and personal importance of the committment you're making. Aside from just the law marrying you, you are making this choice and it is very admirable.

Then, before you know it, the ceremony is over and you're married!

Nate and Edina were thrilled to be newly married, and we wandered out of the Civic Center into a cab which took us over to the De Young and the Japanese Tea Garden, back in good old Golden Gate Park. We had a great time getting shots (without tourists in them) throughout the old fashioned, retro-futuristic scenes of the gardens, and then enjoyed sipping jasmine tea and eating little Americanized Japanese treats. My favorite part was when they opened their fortune cookies - of course they were good fortunes!

Even better, instead of waiting around for a cab, Edina took the lead in finding us a bus back to the Civic Center, where we had all parked. So we got some fun shots of the newlyweds riding around on Muni as well.

Please check out their slideshow here!
You can also view the first SF City Hall wedding I did here!

(edited 9/07 - I've taken the slideshows down to make more server room. Let me know if you're interested in seeing any particular one and I will gladly repost it!)

Here are a few more slideshows:

Melissa and Justin - fun portraits for no particular reason. I love couples who like to laugh! Check it out.

Elisha and Tom - had a gorgeous wedding in a huge private ranch outside of Ukiah. The views were absolutely breathtaking, and as it was a totally private affair with just immediate family, I was able to focus on the family and the couple. We had a lot of fun trekking out into the wilderness, shooting underneath oak trees and overlooking more rolling hills and meadows.

>Here is their slideshow:

edited 1.2.08 - the slideshow has been taken down for server tidiness. Please let me know if you're interested in seeing it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Good day, Sunshine

Yesterday Devon (husband) and I drove down to SF for a fun, random day of culture (or whatever). You see, something happened this weekend that hasn't happened very much all summer... we both had the whole weekend off! Typically there is a wedding (or two), a portrait session, a trip to Santa Cruz to visit his mom, or a myriad of other stuff to do. This was a much needed mini vacation day.

And the weather was perfect!

We thought it might be chilly and foggy (hmm, wonder why?) but it was hot, with bright, beautiful sun, and absolutely the best kind of weather for wandering through the park. So we scrapped our plans of going to the SFMOMA (although I am sad that we missed the Matthew Barney exhibit, closing today) and their delicious museum cafe in favor of heading to Haight St. We found great park-side parking and walked up to the Citrus Club for delicious seaweed salad and noodles, yum! We then successfully resisted the strong urge to go down the street for shoe and record shopping (yay!) and instead jumped into Golden Gate Park.

It was funny, because I had just been talking about how the last time I visited this part of the park was 2 years ago, when I tried to see Morrissey play at the Alice radio yearly festival and he CANCELLED! - what a disappointment. Anyway, lo and behold they were setting up for this year's "Now and Zen" festival! It must be taking place toady - I'm not sure who's playing but I promise you if it was Morrissey, I would be there (because I am a huge music NERD).

We strolled through the park, past the newly fixed up Conservatory of Flowers. There were just tons of families, friends and solo San Franciscans and visitors relaxing and playing on the sunny lawns, and the building itself was so white in the sunlight you could barely look at it. We oohed and aahed over the outside but decided to keep going and visit the inside next time.

Up a bit further was the new, improved De Young Museum. Wow! It looked a lot like some crazy futuristic defense tower... Devon said he expected lasers to shoot out of it. But in a weird way, it was quite pretty too.

We took it in, then went inside. Once you pay admission, you get kind of swept along with all the other ticket buyers into the elevator line. Where is this elevator going? we thought. It could've been going somewhere awful and we would've let ourselves just be driven like cattle into it. Luckily it was going somewhere amazing - to the top of the new observation tower!!

I don't recommend this if you're afraid of heights - I'm not, and felt a little dizzy anyway. Maybe it was from the sheer beauty of it. There is a 360 degree panoramic view of the whole city. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, so we could see the Marin Headlands, the Bay, and the entirety of San Francisco. Wow!

I wanted to stay up there forever. In fact, I was daydreaming of an imaginary client renting out the tower for a wedding - is that even possible? - I will keep that as one of my goals because it is simply GORGEOUS and I hope that I can see that view in all kinds of weather, seasons, and lighting.

Besides the view, there was a huge panoramic poster of the whole city, a giant wall filled with a crystal clear satellite or aerial image. I think most people were trying to find their houses, so it was pretty crowded.

The art exhibits could've been anticlimactic after that view, but they weren't at all. I highly recommend the "Chicano" exhibit up now (until October 22nd) - it's really beautiful, with a very wide variety of work (some I loved, some I didn't like, but all of it I felt belonged in the exhibit) and a bunch of interactive stuff and even some comedy.

After that, we took in a bit of the Museum's regular collection and then realized our brains were too full. So we went outside and saw the ripped apart Academy of Sciences. Apparently part of the exhibits are at a location downtown, and the new building will reopen in 2008, but it was a little sad to see the place we had gone on so many field trips to kind of mangled with construction. I could still spy the big animal statues in the courtyard behind the construction!

We walked back to the car and then drove out to Ocean Beach. It wasn't even cold enough for sweatshirts! I got soaked in my shoes and the sun starting sinking over the horizon. We walked up past the Cliff House (where I shot a wedding last May - a highly recommended venue for smaller weddings, with delicious food and an amazing view!), past the under construction Giant Camera, and down to the ruins of the Sutro Baths. I recently found out about these ruins of a giant, indoor swimming palace (bath house, but, um, not the kind that exist today) with heated seawater, a giant slide, and hundreds of changing roms, and it was fun to go and try to mentally transport myself to 1897! I beg you to check out this link and tell me if this does not look like the "most funnest" waterslide ever!

While we were down at the ruins, we noticed a B&G (aka bride and groom) having their photos done on the rocks by the ruins. They looked really fun - he was dressed kind of like a new wave groom, and she had a pretty traditional dress and veil with huge chunky black boots. She was obviously not afraid of falling or getting dirty, as she kept pushing the photographer to go further and further out with her onto the rocks. I wondered who the photographer was (anyone I know?) and thought it looked like a lot of fun.

I realized that some of the (many) things I enjoy about shooting weddings is each couple's excitement about different aspects to their wedding day and photography. Some people want to lay on jagged rocks, having their photos taken for hours. Others want only candid stuff but the emotion they show on their wedding day is not something they could've posed anyway. Plus, I get to visit some of the most beautiful venues in the world, photograph people at their best, and check out all kinds of floral arrangements, delicious food, fancy shoes, and ... CAKE!

Anyway. We drove home contentedly and I slept really well last night. And that is the tale of our fun day in the city.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Labor Day Weekend Update

Wedding season is sort of coming to a close - except in Northern California, it's not really. We are blessed with amazing autumns here, and there are some really vineyard views when the vines and grape leaves start changing. The grapes are just about ripe for picking, and crush will be in, what, another month or so?

I thought I would have a relatively quiet September, but in the next few weeks I am shooting several small weddings including one elopement at City Hall! They should all be fantastic and romantic, so I am very excited. In addition, I'm starting to book up next year - getting loads of requests through May, June, and Fall 2007; and even 2008!

I've got lots of sample products on order from Pictage (, including proof books, coffeetable books, albums, and prints. Fun! I am currently working out all of the details for my album serise - so far it's going to include a really beautiful leather (or metal) bound classic album, customized and designed by me, called the Sequoia album; in addition there are simple and super cute coffee table books in 5x5" and 7x7" called the Bonzai and Boxwood; and I am working to start a completely customized and designed book (from scratch, which means we can basically do anything you want!) called the Asuka book. This last one looks exactly like a real, fancy photo book, so I can't wait to find the time to get that going.

In other (photo) news, Devon and I woke up at 5 am this morning (still dark out until 6:30 or so) and drove to Willits, up in Mendocino county. Then we drove another 40 minutes or so down various gravel roads until we got to Emandal Farm ( This is a beautiful organic farm which opens in the summertime for families who come and camp in the hundred year old cabins, swim in the Eel River (which runs through it), feed the farm animals (including an ostrich!), and help cook their own food. We were on assignment for Wondertime magazine ( to shoot a family doing all of those things, and it was an absolutely blast.

After several amazingly fresh and tasty meals, and hours of following the kids around, shooting them from every angle, the little one went down for a nap, and it was perfect weather and timing for Devon and I to change into our bathing suits and dive into the river. I have got to tell you, it was one of the best feelings I've ever felt. That water is so clear and cool and refreshing... I could've stayed in there for hours. What an amazing day! I will post a link when the story gets published, probably some time next year.

I can't believe it's already been weeks since I've posted. Also, where has the summer gone? Although I love shooting weddings for lots of reasons, one thing it definitely does is eat into your summertime. This might sound silly, but I need to get much more diligent next year about relaxing and goofing off! One of my favorite things to do, ever, pretty much at any point, is to go swimming. I think I've only made it swimming about 5 or 6 times this year - which isn't so bad, but each time I just ooh and ahh and wonder, "what on earth am I thinking, not doing this every day?!"