July 29, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Mount Everest

Somewhere along the way, I became utterly fascinated with Mount Everest.  I think it was after reading Jon Krakauer's book Into Thin Air, about the ill-fated 1996 expeditions to the top of the world.  At the time, Josh and I were hiking a lot, and he loved to climb to the top of every peak along the way.  While I was reading the book, he mentioned that he wanted to climb Everest, and that might have been the scariest thing he's ever said.  Climbing Everest isn't like hiking in the Appalachian Mountains (we were living on the east coast at the time.).  It's got glaciers and crevices and hurricane-force winds and sub-zero temperatures and no hospitals nearby.

It's dangerous, for sure, and I started to wonder what it was that drove all of these people to climb the mountain, particularly in the early days.  I read about George Mallory and Sandy Irvine, who attempted to reach the top in the 1920s with some fairly pitiful gear, by today's standards, and was amazed at how far they made it (it's still unclear whether they reached the summit-- they died on the mountain during their final attempt.).  Then there were Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who were the first people to officially set foot on the summit in 1953, and their climb.  What fascinates me is the determination and calling to the mountain that these early climbers felt.  George Mallory participated in three expeditions in the 1920s, trying to make it to the top, despite his wife begging him not to go on the last one.  It was as if he was enchanted by the mountain and simply had to go back into the unknown, and others certainly felt this way as well.  Fascinating.

So, after all that, this week's diamonds go to...
- Netflix.  They have a plethora of documentaries about Mount Everest for me to listen to while processing photos and to get my Everest and exploration fix.
- Lewis and Clark.  Another amazing expedition that has, in a roundabout way, inspired us to bicycle across the country someday.

And, of course, coals to...
- Our internet connection.  It's really hard to watch the above documentaries when the connection is constantly buffering.  What's up with that?

Have a wonderful weekend!

July 28, 2011

Adventure Camera - Kayaking Mono Lake

Back at the beginning of the month, Josh and I took a little vacation to go paddle in some lakes we've been talking about for quite some time.  We first visited Mono Lake a few years back, and when we found out that it's open for paddling, we were determined to go.  It's one of the most unique experiences-- the water has an incredibly high salt and mineral content, making it even more buoyant than the ocean, and leaving a crusty, oily residue all over everything.  It's also crystal clear, and teeming with teensy tiny brine shrimp, one of only two organisms that can live in Mono Lake.  To add to the moon-like feel of the place, there are the tufa (that's "too-fah.").  The tufa are large mineral formations that form on the bottom of the lake, and grow upwards.  Some are huge, breaking the surface of the water and rising up like a jagged lunar mountain range.  Others can only be seen through the water.  All this, right in the middle of a rather stark desert basin.

On the morning we paddled in Mono Lake, the winds were calm, and the water was placid, creating a stunningly reflective surface.  We paddled in and out of the tufa fields, and were the only boats on the water until early afternoon, when we saw a small kayak tour near the South Tufa.  It was pure solitude in an otherworldly atmosphere, and I definitely recommend it, even if your boats, all your gear, and yourself need to go through a carwash afterwards!

Now, the moment I know you've been waiting for.... the photos!

Occasionally, Josh paddles into my photos.  In some cases, I like the effect-- the shape of a kayak is really elegant, and lends a sense of scale and solitude to the image.

Other times, I wait for him to paddle through the frame...  On really calm water, you can see that kayaks actually leave a wake.

 Happy Thursday!

July 27, 2011

Sneak Peek - Stinson Beach Engagement

I'm starting into the processing for Jessica and Jay's engagement shoot, and I'm positively in love with the images!  They are such a fun couple, and so in love!  So, because I'm really bad at keeping surprises (just ask Josh-- as soon as I buy him a birthday or Christmas gift, I have to give it to him, I'm just too darn excited about it to wait!), here's a sneak peek!

Happy Wednesday!

July 26, 2011

Sunny Mornings

I love sunny summer mornings, especially after a long stretch of fog, like we've had lately.  There's something almost magical about waking up with the sun shining in and a cool breeze gently blowing the curtains.  It energizes me, and makes me feel as if I can do anything.  It also makes me feel like going on an adventure, but that's for another day...  So, here's to sunny mornings and all the good feelings they bring!

Happy Tuesday!

July 25, 2011

Adventure Camera - Old Sacramento

Recently, we took a little time to go visit a place we've never really been, even after having lived in California for nearly seven years.... Sacramento.  Sure, we've driven by on I-80 countless times, and looking over at the city, said to ourselves, "Hey, we should go there sometime..."  Somehow, though, we just never got around to it.  That is, till now.

To start off our exploration of the area, we biked from Sacramento to Davis, and then on to Winters.  One of the things that I absolutely loved about all three towns is how bike-friendly they are.  Bike lanes are on almost every street, and paved biking and walking paths criss-cross parks, neighborhoods and open spaces.  In Davis, there's a place to park and lock your bike every five feet, it seems, and the sheer number of riders is just astounding.  Truly a great place to be a bicyclist.

Then we headed into Sacramento proper and wandered through Old Sacramento and the state capitol.  What a neat place!  Old Sacramento features period architecture that's been preserved through the years, and though a lot of the storefronts are now occupied by the usual touristy kitsch shops, there are a good number of other professional offices and services as well.  The architecture is gorgeous-- they just don't design all the ornate details into today's buildings.  Columns, scrolls, arches and organic carvings abound, surrounded by cobbled streets and boardwalks.  The waterfront houses a few river cruise boats and path running along both banks.  In the middle of it all is Tower Bridge, which spans the river and glitters in the sunlight.  The bridge is painted a bright metallic gold that really stands out against the deep blue of the California skies.  Below, boats cruise up and down the river.

Overall, it's a really neat place with a ton of great backdrops for an engagement shoot, wedding day photos, or even some family portraits!  So, if you're interested in taking a tour of the town and capturing some great moments, let me know!

Happy Monday!

July 22, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Dreams and Nightmares

Every once in a while, I have the nightmare.  The one that I'm convinced just about everyone has at some point in their life, in some variation or another.  In mine, I'm wandering around a college campus, perhaps I met a friend for lunch or had to stop by to pick something up.  In my pajamas, of course.  Because that's totally what I wear in public.  Right.  In any event, it suddenly occurs to me that I signed up for a few classes at the college, and I'm excited for them to start.  Then I realize that it's July, and that the semester's over, and that I didn't go to the classes, and panic.  Is it too late to drop the classes?  Did they fail me?  Is this going on my permanent record?!  And then I wake up with a start, which wakes Josh up.  And I ask him, in all seriousness, if I signed up for any classes.  Nope, just a nightmare.

So, let's start with the coals this week, shall we?
- Nightmares.  In particular, the nightmare.  Whether it's showing up at work in the buff, forgetting to study for a high school test (even though you're 28 and your 10-year reunion is upon you...), or not going to that phantom class your signed up for, it's craptastic.  
- The Postal Service.  I use their automatic postage machines to send packages out.  This week, one of them came back with a little note that I didn't put enough postage on it.  Hello, it's your machine that weighed it and told me how much postage it needed!

And now, this week's diamonds...
- Dreams.  As in the ones you follow.  Like leaving behind the corporate world to be a wedding photographer and live life on your own terms.  No matter how tough it may be at times, there's nothing in the world like living out a dream, and the fullness it brings in your heart.
- Josh.  For always being supportive, and for keeping me sane when a silly nightmare ratchets my stress level up.

Have a wonderful weekend!

July 21, 2011

Bagdad Cafe

Since signing up with Netflix's streaming service a little over a month ago, Josh and I have watched a lot of movies.  And, because we'll give just about anything 15 minutes to prove itself, we've seen quite a few really bad movies, a large number of mediocre and pretty good movies, and a few truly great movies.  Last night, we found Bagdad Cafe, and it's one of the best movies we've watched on Netflix to date.

The story takes place at a truck-stop/cafe/motel in the Mojave Desert, and follows Jasmin, a German tourist, and Brenda, owner of the Bagdad Cafe, both who have recently separated from their husbands.  After a rough start, they begin to form a bond and a friendship blossoms.  It's a German film, and is billed as a comedy, though there are more serious undertones.  The theme song, "Calling You," is played throughout the movie, and is hauntingly beautiful and simple.

I really liked Bagdad Cafe for a lot of reasons.  The storyline was simple, heartwarming, funny and interwoven with colorful characters.  (Jack Palance was a favorite.)  The cinematography was excellent, and brings out the beauty of the desert.  There are no big special effects to detract from the story, outside of a few filters and over-saturated colors in some scenes.  In telling the story, enough is revealed to understand the relationships and bonds that form between the characters, but not so much that you're hit over the head with every detail.  You get to use your imagination to fill in the gaps, which I love.  Overall, I really enjoyed Bagdad Cafe, and highly recommend it.

Happy Thursday!

July 20, 2011

Amy + Jerry - San Francisco Engagement

It started with the internet.  Amy and Jerry happened to sign up with the same online dating service and, as fate would have it, were matched with each other.  After a few conversations, they went on their first date together-- "lupper" (that would be a cross between lunch and supper) at a local cafe.  Over their meal, they talked, and at the end of the date, they both knew they wanted to get to know the other better.  By the end of their second date, Jerry was beginning to suspect that Amy might be The One.  She was smart, funny, cute, everything you could ask for all wrapped up in an adorable, energetic package.

As time went by, Amy and Jerry spent more and more time together, and their feelings for each other grew stronger, until one day they started to talk about marriage.  They were so excited about it, they started planning their wedding right away.  Before they knew it, they had a date, a venue, and a photographer, and suddenly realized that they had forgotten to officially get engaged!  Over email, Amy told me she knew Jerry was going to propose soon, but she didn't know exactly when or how.  Then, a few weeks later, Jerry picked Amy up from work, and as they were walking to his car, he knelt down and surprised her with a gorgeous sapphire and diamond ring at the exact same place they had met for their very first date.  The rest, as they say, is history!

Amy and Jerry chose the San Francisco Botanical Gardens and the UCSF campus (where Amy works and Jerry proposed) for their engagement shoot, and both locations fit them to a tee.  We started the afternoon at the gardens, touring through New Zealand, the succulent garden and the conifer lawn.

A while later, we were headed off to UCSF for a more urban background.  The UCSF Mission Bay campus is only a few square blocks in area, but offered a TON of shooting opportunities.

I don't often take jumping photos, but when you have a couple with this much energy, a jumping photo is perfect!

I first met Amy and Jerry at UCSF last winter, and we walked up these very steps after a fire drill relocated our consultation.  I remember thinking to myself, "What a great place to shoot!"  And it is...

Amy and Jerry, you brought so much energy to your shoot, and I had a fabulous time!  Your Big Day is going to be amazing, and I'm honored to be a part of it!

July 19, 2011

Sneak Peak - Mount Diablo Engagement

It's a bright, busy Tuesday morning, and with blue skies instead of last week's fog, I'm feeling particularly productive.  So, while I'm chipping away steadily at my four-mile-long to-do list (everyone's list numbers in the hundreds, right?), here's a quick sneak peek from last week's engagement shoot up on Mount Diablo.

Happy Tuesday!

July 18, 2011

Good Reads - Fatal Cut

Over the last week, I finally got around to finishing one of the books I've been reading for quite a while.  I love to read, and always have, but lately my dilemma has simply been finding the time to sit down with a good book and relax for a while.  I tend to be a marathon reader, and have been known to read an entire book, or two, in one sitting, which definitely doesn't work with a busy schedule.  So, I tried something new, and started reading one chapter before bed each evening.  Suddenly, I'm working my way through books again, and it's been a great way to relax and wind down at the end of a busy day.

Fatal Cut is the first in a series of novellas by Cathryn Grant, a friend and former coworker of mine.  It's is a murder mystery with a romantic twist, which I particularly liked, and the plot moves along quickly, keeping the momentum going throughout the story.  The story is narrated by the main character, Madison Keith, and follows her experiences in leaving the tech industry to start a new job at a community church, only to be pulled into the political and emotional hurricane there, and ultimately discovering a murder.  Madison is one of those characters that you can easily relate to through her thoughts and feelings, and you instantly like her "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude.  Overall, a fun, quick read that leaves you wanting more, and a definite recommend.  It's only available as an eBook, and you can find it on Amazon here.

Happy Monday, and happy reading!

July 15, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Vacation and Sunburns

Fifteen minutes.  That's all it took.  Josh and I were up at Lake Tahoe for vacation, on our rest day, relaxing and packing for our four-day kayak adventure around the lake.  We finished our errands much faster than we thought we would, and suddenly had a whole afternoon in front of us.  So, we decided to go to the beach.  We walked the quarter-mile from our campsite to the Zephyr Cove beach, found ourselves a nice patch of sand, and then realized we had left the sunscreen back at camp.  Back to camp we went, returning with our SPF 50 to watch the waves and people.  In total, we were out without sunscreen for 15 minutes, but that was enough to give me the worst sunburn I have ever gotten, and my poor feet were a color of red only lobsters can achieve.  It's taken a week and a half, but my feet are finally getting back to normal, and closed-top shoes are gradually making their way back into my wardrobe.

So, this week's diamonds go to...
- Vacations!  We may not take "normal" vacations, but I am a firm believer that everyone should take as many vacations as possible.  It's a time to relax and get back to the real you, and I love it!
- Sunscreen.  For keeping the extra-strong mountain sun from frying me to a crisp, feet excepted.
- WhirleyPop.  Yes, this is totally random.  I love popcorn, and Josh just ordered me 30 pounds of gourmet kernels for my kettle popper.  I can't wait till it arrives!

Of course, coals to...
- Sunburns.  I supposed encasing my feet in wet neoprene and sitting in a boat for five days after getting burned may not have helped, but sunburns still don't rank on my Top Ten Fun Activities in the Summer list.

Have a wonderful, sunny weekend, and don't forget the sunscreen!

July 14, 2011

Vacation Resolutions

Last week, Josh and I took a much-deserved vacation to paddle around some really gorgeous lakes in the Sierra.  It was fantastically relaxing with tons of sunshine, crystal-clear water, and adventure.  We also talked a ton.  I'm not sure if other people do this, but Josh and I always talk over everything imaginable on vacation, and end up re-prioritizing life and making resolutions.  It's sort of like New Year's Day, but without the date restrictions.  Plus, we usually come back with five-year plans in addition to the resolutions.  In any event, we're finally getting everything unpacked and working through that post-vacation recovery period, though a few of the resolutions are still lacking.  So, while I'm digging out, here's a quick image from Tioga Lake.

Yes, those are sheets of ice and snow out there!  More to come soon!

July 13, 2011

Rosa + Raudel - San Jose Engagement

When I met Rosa and Raudel last fall, I just knew they were going to be a great couple to work with.  And, of course, they didn't disappoint!  They are two of the most fun, easy-going, roll-with-it people I know, and we had a total blast on their engagement shoot, even with a minor shoe malfunction.

 We started Rosa and Raudel's shoot at the last orange orchard in San Jose.  Raudel grew up nearby, and knew the owners, and when he touted it's many features, including haystacks and heavy machinery, I was completely and utterly sold!  My favorite was the International front-loader back-hoe combo, and I positively love the fact that Rosa and Raudel hopped right in the drivers' seats when we saw this beauty!

Rosa worked the camera like a pro-- I don't think it's possible to take a "bad" photo of her!

A quick wardrobe change later, we were on our way to downtown San Jose for some evening shots.  We stopped through a neat alley, complete with oversized lantern, then headed over to the San Jose City Hall for some of my favorite shots of all time.

San Jose City Hall has some truly unique architecture, and with all the lights, it made for the perfect place to finish up our evening shoot.

Rosa and Raudel, I had a fantastic time touring farm equipment, haystacks and downtown with you, and I can't wait for your Big Day!

July 12, 2011


When you're in the business of wedding photography, you're constantly looking for inspirations for your shoots.  Often, these inspirations are taken from the surroundings of the shoot and, of course, the couple's personalities and love for each other.  Every once in a while, though, a couple comes to me with an inspiration of their own for a styled shoot.  Whether it's a retro 50s style with classic cars, a country orchard picnic, or recreating scenes from their favorite romantic movies, a themed shoot is always fun.  I have one such shoot today, where we'll be using the movies Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman, and The Princess Bride for inspiration, and I am so excited!  And because every post is better with a photo, here's one from Rosa and Raudel's engagement shoot at the last orange orchard in San Jose....

Happy Tuesday!

July 11, 2011

Guest Sign-In Album - Moira and Rob

Moira and Rob's stunning guest sign-in album arrived last week, and it's one of my favorites to date!

Happy Monday!

July 8, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - New Windows and Moving Furniture

The good news at our house is that we're getting new windows soon.  The bad news, well, we have to move all the furniture away from said windows.  I've never realized this till now, but we seem to have a habit of putting a piece of furniture under just about every window in our house, which means we've had a lot of furniture to move.  One item, of course, was my desk.  Another realization: a whole desktop workstation takes a lot of wiring and plugs, especially when you've been customizing it to have every little thing at your fingertips for a long time!  So, while we're sitting really close to the television now (Remember when your parents used to tell you not to sit so close when you were growing up?  Yeah, we're that close!), we're looking forward to those shiny new windows.

So, this week's diamonds go to...
- New windows.  When they get here, it's going to be great.  I can feel it.
- The Voice.  I could never stay up late enough to watch it live, but I've been catching up during the day while processing photos.

And coals to...
- Moving furniture.  Where do you put it all if not under the windows???
- The Voice.  Yes, I know it was a diamond too, and Javier has an amazing voice, but I really wanted Beverly to win.

Have a great weekend!

July 7, 2011

Sneak Peek - Monterey/Carmel Engagement

Monterey is one of my most favorite places in California, so when Wendy told me that she'd like to have her engagement there, I was totally stoked!  We were in and out of the fog all day, but the lighting was gorgeous, and I'm loving the photos.  I'll post more soon, but here's a sneak peek to tide you over in the meantime.

Happy Thursday!

July 6, 2011

Sneak Peek - Marin Wedding

I'm just getting started on Stephanie and Rick's wedding photos, and I'm so in love with their wedding!  Here's a sneak peek of one of my favorites from the day... More to come soon!

Happy Thursday!

July 5, 2011

Adventure Camera - Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge

Here's a quick photo from last week's trip to San Francisco with my folks to get you going after the holiday weekend!

 Happy Tuesday!

July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

The Fourth of July always brings up images of barbecues, fireworks, boating on the lake and time spent with loved ones for me.  Growing up, all of our extended family would head up to our family lake house and celebrate with hamburgers, hot dogs, "Flag Cake" (yes, it's a cake that's decorated like the US flag...), and my grandma's potato salad (the BEST in the world!).  We'd go swimming in the lake, decorate the boat for the annual boat parade, set off firecrackers and roast marshmallows over a bonfire in the evening.  It was always a grand celebration of family, friends, life and freedom, and this year will be no different.  So, have a wonderful, safe holiday, and celebrate away!

July 1, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Swimsuit Shopping and YouTube

Let's talk about shopping for swimsuits, shall we?  If there's one thing universally dreaded by women worldwide, it's swimsuit shopping.  For some, it's finding a swimsuit that covers the right areas, emphasizes other areas, and makes them look hot.  For others, it's finding one in just the right size.  For me, it's finding one that works for sports like kayaking.  I'm not sure if it's just me, but I've been hunting for months for a good athletic bikini.  For some reason, none of the sports stores seem to carry two-piece Speedos anymore, and I've had a heck of a time finding a suit that isn't just tied on with a few thin strings.  Do women these days play sports in tiny halter tops?  I feel like I must be missing something.  So, after months of hunting through all the local shops, I'm resorting to the Nike Outlet at the Great Mall.... Wish me luck!

This week's diamonds go to...
- Christina at Platinum Wedding Events.  She's a totally awesome wedding planner and coordinator, she shares my views on vendor meals at weddings, and I'm really looking forward to working with her!
- YouTube.  I grew up watching MTV when they actually played these things called music videos.  YouTube now lets me relive those days, and I love discovering new music while processing photos.

Coals to...
- Swimsuit designers.  Come on, folks.  How about a nice functional bikini?  Please?

Have a fantastic weekend!