June 30, 2011

Adventure Camera - San Francisco Botanical Garden

My folks love flowers and landscaping, so one of the places we visited while they were in California last week was the San Francisco Botanical Garden.  We had a gorgeous day for a walk around the grounds, and both my dad and I took tons of photos.  (It's sort of what we do together.)  One of the things I love about shooting flowers and plants is the patterns and shapes that occur naturally-- it always intrigues me how nature produces such perfection.  Here are a few favorites from the day....

Happy Thursday!

June 29, 2011

Rachel + Wayne - Livermore Winery Engagement

It all started a long time ago in middle school.  Rachel and Wayne met, "went out" for a month, and then broke it off to go their separate ways, never thinking that destiny would intervene to bring them back together.

Years later, they found each other again on an online personals site, and both wondered if it was the same person they dated so long ago.  A few cautious emails later, they were back together, regaling the past and catching up on the time in between.  Over the next couple years, their love blossomed, and Wayne decided that it was time to pop the question in one of the most elaborately planned proposals I've ever heard!  Rachel loves movies, so Wayne spent several days and sleepless nights recreating posters of scenes from Rachel's favorite movies... from construction paper.  He rigged lighting to highlight the posters, and when Rachel walked into the kitchen, there were four photos on the table-- Will Smith, Rachel, Mary Tyler Moore, and Wayne.  Wayne told Rachel, "I invited two friends to dinner-- Will and Mary."  A moment later, Rachel realized that the photos spelled out "Will you marry me?" and the rest was history!

Rachel and Wayne love wine and are working to build a collection, so they naturally chose the Livermore Wine Country for their engagement shoot.  We had a gorgeously toasty day, and headed over to the beautiful grounds at Concannon and Wente Vineyards for a very memorable shoot, full of laughter, fun and, of course, love!

We started the evening at Concannon's estate house and wine bar with some nice soft light and good wine.

A quick wardrobe change later, we were headed over to Wente for a slightly different feel...

If I were to choose a theme for Rachel and Wayne's shoot, I'd go with laughter.  They love to laugh, and I found myself laughing along with them for most of the shoot!  This moment was no different...

I just love the feeling of this last one...

Rachel and Wayne, I had so much fun touring wineries and laughing with you, and I can't wait for your Big Day!

June 28, 2011

Wedding Trend - Best Women and Flower Men

Previously unheard of especially in more traditional in wedding ceremonies, it's becoming more and more common to see a blurring of gender roles.  For example, the bride's attendant of honor might be her best guy friend, or the groom may have a "best woman."  One of the more rare attendants to see, however, is the "flower man."  Yes, you read that right-- flower man.

A flower man might carry the traditional basket of flower petals, or in some cases, fling petals from the pockets of his suit, or simply wear a special boutonniere.  In any case, the role usually played by a young girl is played by, well, a man.  It's an interesting phenomenon, and one that I'm personally not so sure about.  I'm all for personalizing your wedding (of course!!!), and having those closest to you play significant parts in your Big Day (as it should be!), but this just seems a little out there to me.  I would think that having a flower man might add a certain comedic element to a ceremony, and for me, a ceremony should be heartfelt and loving, not funny.  But that's just me-- I'd love to hear what you think, so please weigh in!

Happy Tuesday!

June 27, 2011

Sneak Peek - UCSF Engagement

It's another busy Monday morning, so here's a sneak peek from Amy and Jerry's UCSF engagement shoot!

June 24, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Visitors and Construction

Back in the day, growing up in Michigan, we had a saying that goes "There are two seasons in Michigan: winter and construction."  Out here in sunny California, construction continues on through the winter usually, but this spring, once the rains finally stopped, there has seemingly been an explosion of construction in the area, from the highways and roads right to our neighborhood.  It makes for an interesting symphony of hammers, saws, and heavy machinery, and reminds me of Michigan.

This week's diamonds go to....
- My parents!  They're out visiting this week, and we have a boat-load of adventure planned.
- Ladda Thai Cuisine.  We had planned to eat at the Chicken Coop until we realized that it's counter service and we had an hour and a half to kill before my folks' flight arrived.  So we went exploring and found this little gem.  Lots of good food for not too much cash.  Yum!

Coals to...
- Limited parking.  The construction crew seems to be taking up half the parking spots around here... Not fun.

Have a wonderful weekend!

June 23, 2011

Shoot First, Focus Later

Every morning, Josh reads the New York Times online, and sends me links to interesting articles.  It's a pretty sweet deal in that he basically creates a customized newspaper just for me, and I love it.  Yesterday's find was an article about a new camera from a start-up company called Lytro.  Now, I know that there are bunches of companies out there making point-and-shoot cameras, but Lytro's camera is unique in that it allows you to decide which part of the image you want to focus on after you've taken the photo.  The camera has an array of sensors that capture light from a variety of angles, and integrated software then recreates the image with the chosen focal point.  Just think-- no more of those images that you love the feeling and composition of, but just missed the focus on your subject.  Pretty cool, huh?

The camera is scheduled to hit the consumer market later this year in a point-and-shoot format, and could be the next big thing in camera technology.  So, Lytro, if you need more testing done, I'm just on the other edge of Silicon Valley, and would love to try one out!

Happy Thursday!

June 22, 2011


Summer arrived yesterday with a bang, or rather, a heat wave.  Temperatures soared to triple digits in parts of the Bay Area, and the smells of charcoal grills and hum of air conditioning units filled the air.  I always love this time of year, when you walk out of the house in the morning, and the sun instantly warms your skin.  It makes me think of outdoor adventures, lounging in a lawn chair with a book, grilled foods and mojitos.  So, here's to firing up the grill, minty drinks and heading outdoors.... Happy summer!

June 21, 2011

Sneak Peek - Ainsley House Wedding

Happy Tuesday!  Here's a sneak peek from Katie and Rob's gorgeous Ainsley House wedding!

June 20, 2011

Jessica + Bryan - Hacienda de las Flores Wedding

All week the forecast called for rain on their wedding day.  That morning, still expecting rain, the dinner tables at the Hacienda de las Flores were moved inside, and plans were made to have the ceremony outside, but without chairs, in case they needed to move indoors in a hurry.  The clouds rolled in and out, and patches of sunshine danced around, teasing.  As Jessica got dressed with her bridesmaids, she started to relax.  Rain or shine, everything was going to be perfect because she was marrying Bryan.

During the ceremony, while her maid of honor sang Rascal Flatt's "Bless the Broken Road", the sun broke out, and Jessica teared up.  By the time their rings were exchanged, the clouds had parted, and the sun was there to stay for the rest of the afternoon.  The perfect icing on a perfect day.

Jessica and Bryan's wedding was as unique and heartfelt as they are, and every moment was tugged at your heart.  It was the type of wedding that makes you fall in love all over, and I'm so honored to have been there to capture it.

We all know that girls love shoes, and Jessica's pink sequined sandals gave me total shoe envy.

Her dress was gorgeously unique as well, and I loved the beadwork and t-back.

One of the things I love most about Jessica and Bryan is how tender and loving they are with each other.  After their ceremony, they took a few minutes by themselves, and Josh captured this moment.  Love!

During Jessica and Bryan's engagement shoot, I discovered that her smile is positively contagious.  Her wedding day was no different, and there was so much joy, I don't think anyone could keep from smiling.

Their first dance was especially romantic.

To head off to their honeymoon, Jessica and Bryan hired a Bentley, which pretty much made my day.  

Ring shots with the Bentley emblem?  But of course!

Jessica and Bryan, you two are so in love that it inspires everyone around you, and I'm so honored to have been the one to capture it!  Love and happiness... Erin

June 17, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Ball Caps and Coolers

Since wedding season started, our house has taken on a certain aspect of chaos, and several things have mysteriously disappeared.  A battery charger I use for my mouse.  Several water bottles.  My favorite ball cap.  It's been a good several months for chaos, but that changed this week-- I found my ball cap in our cooler, along with some very stale pretzels, tupperware, and Kool-Aid.  Since then, I've been wearing my hat around the house like there's no tomorrow.  Because I can, and because it's a hat with a story.  And because my hair, well, it has a tendency to go AWOL.  But, back to the story... Way back when we were in high school, Josh went to Chicago with his family for a weekend and brought me back a Niketown Chicago ball cap because he missed me (and possibly because he wanted one of his ball caps back... What can I say, I'm a ball cap kind of girl!).  For the past 13 years, every time I've worn that hat, I think of Josh, who we were way back then, and how much we've grown together since.  It's one of those things that just makes me feel like, well, me.  And that's always a good thing.

So, this week's diamonds go to...
- My ball cap.  For reminding me of high school, my best friend, and making me feel like my sporty self.
- The weather.  I know the weather shows up in my posts pretty frequently, but I am so thrilled that it's finally sunny and warm (or hot, if you're in Livermore)-- my folks are visiting next week, and up until this week, the weather in Michigan was looking better than the weather out here!
- The family that owns the last orange orchard in San Jose.  For allowing me to incorporate heavy machinery into an engagement shoot.  Thank you!!!
- Rosa and Raudel.  For looking fabulous with the above-mentioned machinery.  Love!

And coals to...
- Our cooler.  For hiding my hat for a few months, among other things...
- Our house.  Didn't it say something about a self-cleaning feature when we bought it?  No?  Bummer.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I'll catch you on the flip side!

June 16, 2011


Every so often, I wake up in the morning, full of ideas to blog about, and just can't find the words to do so. Today is one of those mornings.  I have shoots to post, excitement, experiences and memories to share, events to talk about, and the words simply aren't there.  Seems I may be a bit overwhelmed this morning.  So, I'm just going to say this:

1. Tuesday's shoot with Rosa and Raudel was awesomely fun, and incorporates a farm tractor-- images to come soon!
2. I am totally excited for Stephanie and Rick's wedding this weekend-- they're an amazing couple, and I'm thrilled to be working with them on their Big Day!
3. I'm also excited to be heading to the Livermore Farmers' Market with my honey this evening... It's a little thing, I know, but it makes me happy.  :)

And, because every post is better with a photo, here's one that always makes me smile....

June 15, 2011

Shea + Gus - San Jose Rose Garden Engagement

Shea and Gus are all about love, laughter, and being yourself.  Gus is always making Shea laugh, and you can see the love between them when they look at each other.  One of the things I absolutely love about Shea and Gus is that they just let go and be themselves, no matter what.  They're real.  Real people, real fun, and really in love!

Since they both work at Mineta San Jose International Airport, Shea wanted to incorporate airplanes into their shoot.  So, we headed to the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden for their engagement shoot for an afternoon of bright flowers and sleek planes.

I just love the laughter and happiness in this one... Looking at it makes me smile!

The rose gardens are right under the take-off flight path from the airport, so we watched the skies and set up shots as the planes were flying over.  Gus works for Southwest, and Shea for Alaska Airlines, so there was a little friendly competition throughout the shoot.... I'm not throwing my vote either way, but I sure do like how Southwest's orange-and-purple planes pop for photos!  (Sorry, Shea!)

Shea and Gus, I had a wonderful time wandering through the roses and chasing airplanes with you!  I can't wait for your wedding, and have so many fun ideas for shooting around Tahoe, I can hardly contain myself!

June 14, 2011

Adventure Camera - Summer at Lake Natoma

I know summer doesn't officially start for another week, but the warm summer weather has arrived in the Bay Area.... Finally!  After weeks of cool, cloudy and rainy weather, Josh and I celebrated by doing what we always do when the sun comes out and the temperatures heat up.  We went kayaking.

Lake Natoma is another one of those places that's been on our kayaking to-do list for a while now, and we headed out of the valley fog towards Folsom for a day of fun in the sun.  The lake was peaceful-- with a 5mph speed limit, there were only a few motorized boats on the lake, and more kayaks, paddleboards, paddleboats, canoes and human-powered craft than I've ever seen in one place.  It was great to see so many people enjoying paddle sports!  We slathered on the sunscreen and managed to get two laps around the lake before the day was over.  Along the way, we explored a maze of marsh canals, crossed under several bridges, fought (and won!) against several battalions of Canadian geese, and played in some fast-flowing rapids where the American River pours into the northern end of the lake.

All in all, a great day, a great lake, and a definite thumbs-up, though I do recommend bringing a bilge pump for lunchtime goose control.... ;)  Now, for a few photos!

Before the afternoon winds picked up, the lake was glass-like and peaceful, and the water was so clear that it appeared as a crystalline blue color.

One of the things I love about paddling near civilization is the bridges.  Paddling under a bridge gives you a totally new perspective on the engineering that goes into bridges, and you get to see the beauty in the lines and supports that you don't see when driving over it.

Happy Tuesday and enjoy the warm weather and sun!

June 13, 2011

Sneak Peek - Livermore Winery Engagement

It's Monday.  Josh and I slept in just a little, only to wake up in a panic when we heard the garbage truck driving down the street-- we forgot to put out the cans.  Again.  After rushing out of the garage in pajamas and socks to catch the truck, we've declared it to be one of those Mondays.  Yup.  It's time for some coffee.

So, here's a little love and happiness from Rachel and Wayne's Livermore engagement shoot to help you start your week off right!

Happy Monday!

June 10, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Netflix and Whale Wars

In the wide world of television programming, we're a "Limited Basic Cable" household.  Since we only get thirteen channels, and only four of them are worth watching, we end up watching most current shows online, or simply order the season on DVD and have a marathon TV night when it's released... a couple months later.

Enter Netflix.  Josh somehow stumbled upon their site to find that they were now offering online content streaming, and discovered that we finally had a TV modern enough to be able to connect to the internet.  So, the free trial month was started.  Josh browsed through the online menus to find all matter of shows and movies that I never even knew existed (including some I'm sure the world would be better off without...), and settled in to watch three season's worth of the Discovery Channel's Whale Wars.  He was hooked (pun intended).  For days, any free time, and some not-so-free time was spent following the plight of the southern ocean's whales and their defenders aboard the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker.  I have to hand it to Paul Watson and the Discovery Channel-- the show draws you in, and it's been identified as "Television with a Conscience" for a reason-- I have never been so stressed about the fate of whales in my life.

So, this week's diamonds go to...
- Netflix.  Thousands of TV shows and movies at our fingertips.  This could be our new solution to our Limited-Basic-Cable problem.
- Summer!  Grab the sunscreen and flipflops-- summer has finally arrived in the Bay Area!

Coals to....
- Netflix.  In addition to Whale Wars, we watched Hot Tub Time Machine.  And yes, it was just as bad as the name would suggest.

Have a great weekend!

June 9, 2011

Wanny + Mike - Yosemite Engagement

Let me start off by saying that Wanny and Mike are a truly awesome couple.  They totally fun, up for anything, and absolutely in love!  Like Josh and me, Wanny and Mike love the great outdoors, and spend a lot of time hiking and backpacking together.  So, when Wanny suggested Yosemite as the location for their engagement shoot, I was thrilled!  A gorgeous couple in an amazing, iconic place?  But, of course!  We planned the shoot to take advantage of the huge snowpack this year, and Yosemite's waterfalls were tumbling down the granite walls in full force and the Merced was roaring down the valley.

I loved that Wanny brought her wedding dress along for some bridal shots in Yosemite.  When we happened upon a motorcycle rally, it was the perfect opportunity to go wild!  Many, many thanks to Kevin May of Vintage Restorations and the rest of the Indian Motorcycle folks!  Kevin's beautiful 1947 Indian motorcycle was the perfect prop for some of my all-time favorite shots.

A little while and a wardrobe change later, we were headed towards the far end of the valley for photos near the Royal Arches and Yosemite Village.

I love these next two.  You can just see the love and happiness!

Of course, what would a trip to Yosemite be without a shot in front of Half Dome?

And a little more love and Yosemite Falls to wrap things up...

Wanny and Mike, I had an absolutely wonderful time touring the valley with you, and I can't wait for your wedding in October!

June 8, 2011

Sneak Peek - Hacienda de las Flores Wedding

I am totally in love with Jessica and Bryan's wedding at the Hacienda de las Flores last weekend!  Here's a sneak peek!

Jessica and Bryan, you two are amazing, and I hope you're enjoying wedded bliss on your honeymoon!

June 7, 2011

Adventure Camera - Reflections of the Bay

With all of this crazy weather lately, getting outside to bike or kayak has been a bit of a challenge.  On windy, rainy days, we usually stay a little closer to home, and decided to try out a paddle we've been planning for quite some time-- Alviso Slough.  Just minutes from the hubbub of the heart of Silicon Valley, Alviso Slough's quiet, natural sanctuary is seemingly out of place.  However, it's a wonderful place to paddle and escape it all.  As you paddle away from the newly-constructed (and very nice!) launch facilities, the tech buildings melt away behind you, and you're surrounded by innumerable waterfowl, harbor seals, and tall reeds.  Worries are forgotten, and stress is left behind.

The funny thing is this-- there are little (well, actually, some are quite large...) sanctuaries like this all over the Bay Area, from Monterey up to Point Reyes, and not just for kayaking.  Peaceful hiking trails, adventuresome mountain bike tracks, and quiet road bike rides abound all over the place, if you just know where to look.  It's one of my favorite parts of living in the Bay Area-- nature's always close by.

But back to our paddle on the slough... The tides lined up perfectly on a dark, cloudy day, and there wasn't a soul in sight as we launched our kayaks and set out towards the Bay.  The water itself was quiet too-- calm and glasslike.  As the clouds rolled through, we watched their reflections in the water, and felt like we were floating through nothingness.  It was one of those truly surreal experiences, and made for an amazing trip full of reflections, both in the water, and in life.

Have a reflective day!

June 6, 2011

Pizza and Wine

Last night, Josh and I went out to dinner for the first time in quite a while.  We've been crazy busy lately, so we thought a little reward was fitting, and headed over to Bruno's for one of our most favorite meals - pizza and wine.  Bruno's is one of our favorite Livermore restaurants - good food, and the ambiance can't be beat.  Oh, and they have good, reasonably-priced wine.  But the greatest thing about Bruno's is that it always brings us back to us - we remember the little things that brought us together and made us fall in love with each other.  We relax and talk and laugh about nearly everything.  And for me, there's nothing better in the world than laughing with your best friend.  It's pure happiness.  So, let's all raise our glasses (or coffee mugs, as the case may be!) to love, laughter and best friends!

Happy Monday!

June 3, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Blogging

Today marks my 100th blog post this year, and I have to say, I'm pretty darn proud of myself.  I started the new blog in January, with the goal of posting every weekday.  I knew it would take a lot of commitment (believe me, it does!), but I really wanted to give my readers a look into my life and who I am.  It's been tough-- sometimes I just don't feel like blogging, or I get the worst case of writer's block.  Then there are the days when I have so much to say that I can hardly keep from writing a full-length novel.  It's a veritable roller coaster, and a bit of a personal journey of sorts.

So, here we are, 100 blog posts and nearly six months later, and I'm thrilled to be writing this.  I'm looking forward to commemorating my 1000th blog post... in about three and a half years.  Maybe I'll throw a party  at 500 just for fun.  :)

Diamonds to....
- Blogging!  Tough or easy, it's somehow satisfying to let readers know what you're all about.
- Josh (aka the Best Husband Ever).  For taking care of the groceries this week, and surprising me with red velvet cake from the farmers' market last night.  Yum!
- Amy and Jerry.  For bringing so much energy to their engagement shoot-- Love it!

Coals to....
- The weather!  What is up with these big storms in June?  While getting married in the rain is supposedly good luck, well, most brides would still prefer sun!

Have a wonderful weekend!

June 2, 2011

Angela + Paul - Lake Tahoe Engagement

Angela and Paul are utterly adorable together.  The way they hold hands when they walk together.  The way they look at each other shyly and smile.  The way he poured coffee for her at breakfast, and how she brought over an extra slice of apple pancake for him.  Adorable!

Growing up, Angela's family spent time every summer at Sugar Pine Point State Park, on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, and Angela and Paul have continued the tradition together.  Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places in California, so when they suggested having their engagement shoot on the lake, I was all for it!

We started the morning off at the park, which has a pier into the lake that I am positively obsessed with.  The dark wood reaching into the blue expanse of the waters and an adorable couple in love to boot... Love!

When we originally planned the shoot, we were envisioning mild, sunny weather and green grass.  The reality was three feet of snow a few days before the shoot, and a drive up to the lake through a small snowstorm!  However, entirely undeterred by the chilly temperatures and patches of snow, Paul donned shorts and Angela changed into breezy linen pants for some photos on the beach.  We thought warm thoughts, and found a little slice of summer waiting for us along the sand.

Another quick change later, and we were headed into Truckee to finish the shoot with a little different look.  There's something about the casualness in this one that I just love.

While touring the downtown area, we came across the Truckee Railroad Museum, which happens to be housed in an actual Southern Pacific railroad car, and it was the perfect backdrop for some of my favorite shots of the day!

Angela and Paul, it was so wonderful dodging snow and spending time with you in such a gorgeous place!  You two are so adorable together, and I simply can't wait for your Big Day!