Category Archives: wedding

a journey | tuscany

Happiness is a journey, not a destination – D’Souza

In my younger years (stop laughing), I often sought out the words of my predecessors to find inspiration. I had an insatiable hunger for quotes filled with knowledge of life, love and happiness. I guess I figured that those who had traveled the road prior to me, would have the answers. The right way to find happiness and reach the ultimate goal of bliss. Was it in finding the right man, settling in the perfect town, landing the most illustrious career. All the things I was taught would bring joy. But, as each goal was checked off I still felt empty and unfulfilled. Confused and feeling lost after crossing off each task, I sorta gave up.

It wasn’t until this past year, and even this past few months did I realize that it was my very path and each task or event that made up happiness. It wasn’t just the pride of graduating college, it’s the late night study sessions eating junk food. Nor is it the wedding day, but more the small moments of laughter and challenges you overcome to get to that point. Lately, I find myself just holding and rubbing Steve’s hand. Cherishing the fact that we are here together, today and able to hold hands. It is this that makes me happy. It is less the idea that maybe one day we may own a home (well this could be exciting) and more the reality of just being able to be together. The fact that today we can go out and enjoy a meal together, whereas he was unable to eat last week. It’s funny how these things bring you closer together. I’ve heard it before, but never truly understood it until we lived it.

I have learned, from my own life, the true meaning of the above quote. That life is full of obstacles to be overcome (hey they build self esteem) and this is the main part of happiness, the journey.

Amidst all the personal challenges since March, we did manage to take a journey to Tuscany’s Spannocchia to celebrate our good friends’ (yes plural we love the bride and groom) wedding. Originally, we were supposed to photograph and video the event, but we’ve had a sudden change of plans and had to bow out. Thankfully, we were given last minute clearance to go for one week. It was a much needed trip to be around loved ones before our next challenge began at home.

Our trip made us realize that life is definitely a series of happy events, rather than a journey to reach a single place of happiness. It is these small chunks of time with loved ones that empower us to face the not so “happy” times. Our friends, Kim and Gary, had one of the most spectacular wedding weeks. Yes week. They had pizza night, cooking classes, an attempted trip to wineries, a ‘hen’ party in Siena, pool days and on and on and on. All these events were amazing, but mostly it was the time spent sitting, talking and sharing that I will remember the most.

I leave you with a few pictures I snapped. And an excuse for not blogging in a long time…

I know i haven’t blogged in months. I could have made this post a long winded explanation about what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been working way to much at my day job here, here,  and here –  among other places. But, I’m not going to make long winded excuses. I’m going out now to enjoy Friday Dinner with Steve and our good friend, Patrick.



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Wedding | Los Angeles Arboretum Wedding

So I’ve been thinking about this business, this business being photography. And, I’ve been comparing it to my other business, that being TV/commercial production. To say that each is without fault would be impossible. To say that each is with reward is true. Both are creative. Both are difficult. Both are rewarding. Both create a network of not only talented, diligent coworkers, but the added bonus of friends.  All the while you also have friends that become clients and clients that become friends.

With photography, however, I have discovered one surprising irony of the so called “competitor”. Human Nature often lends itself to survival of the fittest and fending for oneself. Even though there is this underlying protection of one’s livelihood, there is something more powerful lurking on the sideline that often supersedes fierce unruly rivalry.  There is camaraderie. A connection. A nurturing that I have discovered through the majority of my interactions with the “enemy”. It is odd. This “rival” actually supports you.  They really want you to do well. They are encouraging and nurturing. They post nice blog comments. They inspire with their work. They share their “secrets” (at least a few). The even care about you personally.

You may ask why is she rambling about this. Well, I have to say Heidi Ryder is one of those people that I am honored to call the “enemy” (although I only wish I was her equal competition).  Throughout Steve’s battle with cancer she has checked in, sending good vibes and offers of meet ups for a glimpse of normalcy (one of these days I won’t be so flakey). Just a simple tweet or email to say “hey we are thinking of you”.  She is kind. She is fun. She is a real human being. She even did a relay for cancer (including us as a dedication among many others she knows).  Steve asked me, “who is this awesome girl”.  I replied, “she is the enemy, but ‘we’ like her still”.  So, when she asked me to second shoot, I wasn’t sure I could commit so far in advance (like I said, one word, flakey). But the stars aligned (and my day job didn’t get in the way) and I was able to join Ala Cortez, with Heidi for a fun filled day.

It’s fitting that Heidi would have clients of a mirror image. Throughout the day, yes there’s lots of proof below, much fun was to be had.  Without a doubt Annie and Robin were as Heidi had promised; fun, loving, full of laughter and kind. There were so many events to be had and so little time.  Consequently, I kept my eye open for potential stress. But to my surprise there were constant laughs, lots of love and much kindness. One eventful glorious day…Where the temperament of the three people (Heidi, Annie & Robin rock!) with a potential for stress, was only of peace, joy and happiness.

The Photographer: Heidi Ryder

Caterer: Grace Catering

Florals: Cat Tuong Flowers

Lighting: Mobile Illumination

Venue:  Los Angeles Arboretum

DJ: Ernee Felix

Cake: Amor Bakery

2nd Photographers: The Modern Type & me

The day could not begin until the boys paid up. And Stacey (one of the funniest bridesmaids EVER), wasn’t discriminating between forms of payment; and there were lots of them!!

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This may have been the ONLY time I caught Annie in deep though (at least without a smile). She is stunning

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The Father of the Groom

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We traveled to both Annie & Roger’s Homes were the families shared tea & exchanged gifts.

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Then we got ready for main event.

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See what I mean. Smile.

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All of the bridesmaids were caring, nurturing, but of utmost importance FUN!!!!

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The Rose Garden at the Los Angeles Arboretum is whimsical and romantic.

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Heidi said that Annie & Roger loved color. She wasn’t kidding.

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I’d say someone’s done this before, professional.

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Don’t worry, she is laughing. I promise.

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The flowers were so vibrant. Cat Tuong Flowers may have a future in this. Ya think!

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See what I mean. Happiness attracts Happiness.

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I mixed up my processing here a bit. I couldn’t stop the romantic in me.

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Heidi had so many great ideas. I tagged along and stole some intimate moments.

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Stacey. She smiles ALL the time as well.

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Almost time.

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Did I mention that she is ALWAYS smiling!!!!

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I had never seen a ceremony with a Japanese Sensei. It was beautiful.

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Can you tell they love color…

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Happiness attracts Happiness. (yes, I’m like a parrot)

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anne & edgar | wedding

Sometimes I wonder how I got here. Here, next to encouraging creative people. Here, next to people who are making a promise that last a lifetime. Here, next to Love. I am amazed by the generosity of photographers that allow lil ‘ol me to ‘compliment’ (used with hesitation & lightly) their professional work (built from lots of dedication and innate talent).  Equally so, I am unequivocally impressed with bride & grooms that, without a blink of an eye, allow us into one of their more intimate and treasured journeys in life.

As a second shooter, duties most often involve assisting a main wedding photographer (no need to elaborate Jasmine Star sorts it all out here). Often there is little or no contact with the bride and groom, especially prior to the big day. The main shooter has built the relationship and most often we are there to help cover the many festivities, fluff a dress, catch a stray hair or carry a bag. So, when a bride & groom are kind, amidst their hectic day, and take a moment to recognize the photographers (and especially the lowly 2nd shooter) it is really something (yes i’m corny).  Anne and Edgar were so kind and gracious. Instantly welcoming. Instantly fun.  (I know I wasn’t so calm and friendly moments before my wedding). Thank you for having us. Thank you for being so kind. Thank you for beautiful a evening.

You let me share in your story and I hope I’ve done it justice.

Photographer: Jenny Liu

Hotel/Getting Ready: O Hotel

Venue: Union Station – Downtown L.A.

Bride & Groom: Anne & Edgar

The Dress: Nicole Miller

The Planner: Kelly Demaray

These photos: ME

There are the details

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There is the dress, go Nicole Miller

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There are the socks

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There are the little moments of solitude and perfection

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There is the getting ready and deep thought

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There are the plans and the time

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There are the moments of calm simple happiness

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There are those that mean so much

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There is the first look

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There are the stylish fashionable awesome bridal portraits crafted by Jenny Liu
(look closely and see her in action)

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There is the place

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There are the special friends who share in the moment and speak volumes

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There are proud moments

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There is the excitement shared by the ones that know you oh so well

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There is the leaving of childhood and entering of a new chapter of life

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There are the intimate words that mean so much more shared with each other

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There are the tears of joy

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There are symbols

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There are the smiles of joyblog_anne_edgar_20090905_1701

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Finally, there is the man and wifeblog_anne_edgar_20090905_195bw1

We have little touches…

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…and grandiose love

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We have the fruit of much hard work and planning (via the bride & groom and Kelly Demaray)

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We have light

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There is respect

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There are words spoken that had been saved a lifetimeblog_anne_edgar_20090905_242bw1

With Cheers…

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and more cheers

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and finally we have celebration (& plan ‘ol fancy moves)

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Last but never least, Jenny. Who has been nothing but nurturing and encouraging to all… brides/grooms/guests and lil ol me

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In three’s | The workshop

There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.

–Benjamin Franklin

Three is the magic number that it takes for the human mind to establish a pattern.  In science, DNA has a triplet codon system. In geology we have the 3 basic planes: Above- Surfaced- Beneath.  In astronomy we find the 3 types of galaxies:  ellipticals – spirals – irregulars.  Freud proposed that the psyche was divided into three parts: Ego- Superego – Id.  In Christianity there is the trinity. In Taoism, the Three Pure Ones. There are three main Abrahamic religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Some three’s are not so great:    3 strikes and you’re out;   In Vietnam, it is bad luck to take a photo with three people in it;   Luck, especially bad luck, is often said to “come in threes”;   It’s been 3 weeks since my last blog (bad bad bad)

Some three’s just are: The Three Stooges & not to be forgotten The 3 Amigos;   Three dimensions to an object: height, width & depth;   In Bowling, 3 strikes in a row = a turkey;   Life is in three, past-present-future.

Some three’s are good: 3 scoops of ice cream;   it’s 3pm and I’m in my pajamas (I’m kidding, maybe);   3 is a magic number;   Steve just finished cycle 3 of chemo, off to 4, 5 & 6.

Now you may ask yourself, why I am talking about 3’s (mostly it’s because I like to talk)

I’m sure most of you have heard of Jasmine Star. Well if not, you have now. She recently put on her 3rd workshop (yes i used the number three again). And yes, I tried THREE times to get in. And, as luck would have it, the 3rd time was a charm. And, let me tell you it WAS a charm. But, if I’m being honest (uh oh you say, here she goes…), I was a bit torn about attending due to recent events and my lackluster for pretending to be happy. Consequently, I was scared. Yes, me, I was scared.  The Chicken in me knew that Jasmine had such an upbeat personality and massive amounts of energy. How was I going to put a happy face on ALL day. (Luckily she doesn’t offer refunds for wimps.) I woke up that morning, slapped myself in the face a few times and Wahla/Viola,  I made that mental flip in my head. I promised myself to practice my own words of seize the day. It helped when I remembered that I’m not the only one. Who better to have as a mentor than someone that has been through a similar (hers definitely a different degree of scary) obstacle.

Even though I only have a couple of workshops to compare, I have to say the Jasmine Star Workshop was worth the wait, the time, the money and the mental energy. It was an all encompassing day, taught by an all encompassing woman. We covered branding and blogging, shooting and processing, client relations and networking. Professionally, I was, yet again, inspired by her work. Personally, I was inspired by just the very presence of her mother (thanks “mom” – you said I could call you that).  Romantically, I was inspired by the way she and J.D. care for each other – he constantly made sure she was hydrated. Nothing says true love like hydration. (J.D. thank you for lunch, ice cold water and your kind smile).

I was inspired. I am motivated. (I swear there are photos on this post somewhere, not just ramblings). I am thankful that there are those who not only teach for financial reward, but they pay it forward with 100% of their heart and soul. And even though it was hard for me to get up and go, I think I left knowing a little more of myself.

The Teacher: Jasmine Star

Venue: The Club at Woodbury

The Models: Melinda & Vern

The Flowers: Carissa of JL Designs – seriously see for yourself…

The Beauty: Vivian Tran of All Made Up – i have never seen anything like this before & she gave the girls a lil makeup gift!!!

The Dress: Monique Lhuillier


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Seriously, Jasmine has a way of motivating the masses, all the while maintaining a wicked fashion sensibility.

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Melinda and Vern. Yep you can see they are still in love after almost 2 years of marriage. (and they are hot hot hot)

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She graciously shared her settings while shooting, nurturing “the talent” and motivating the masses. I’d say easy contender for top 10 multi-tasker.

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Between the moustache and the sunglasses, need I say more about S*T*Y*L*E*

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I don’t think I have even seen a dress this stunning. Yikes!

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Melinda (who came to us via my ever so awesome friend Carlie, Go tell Carlie how beautiful she is) was stunningjstarworkshop_20090804_152jstarworkshop_20090804_29jstarworkshop_20090804_35-skinjstarworkshop_20090804_50jstarworkshop_20090804_57cone

I really don’t know how to express the simple elegance and amazingness (yes i made that word up) of both the flowers (check out the matching boutonniere) and hair (Vivian, can you come over everyday please and make me look whimsical!??!). I truly and honestly have Never seen such creativity. If you are a bride, these 2 ladies are your golden ticket. If you are a photographer, surround your clients and yourself with greatness, like these…jstarworkshop_20090804_591Jasmine, J.D. & Mom thank you again. Even though I was quiet, I had much contemplation, joy and gratitude.

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relief from the storm | wedding

For me, June Gloom in Los Angeles, reared it’s ugly head many weeks ago in April. With the gloom came the disappearance of my camera and my desire to capture beautiful moments. I neatly tucked away the camera along with all the endless amounts of joy, memories and happiness that it creates. The fear of feeling anything other than our little battle, was unthinkable.

However, this past Sunday the sun popped out from the clouds (it really did) in Southern California and a new beginning bloomed for a beautiful couple and my camera. Call it fate, stalking or the awesomeness of the bschool, I was fortunate to join the thebecker (yes all one word like other important things such as, “the bears” or “theangels” or  “theeiffeltower” or “thepresident” – yes of the USA) to assist in shoot a wedding. A beautiful Sunday wedding.

Admittedly, I was a tiny bit nervous. It had been a couple of months since I had a done something that stepped out of my little protective bubble. But, as soon as I met up with thebecker and Jenny Liu, I felt an instant sense of reassurance, laughter and motivation. Thebecker (aka [b]ecker) is so generous, humorous, witty, knowledgeable, easy going (but completely dedicated and professional). Jenny is kind and really covered saved me when I couldn’t shoot a wedding in May due to that ugly gloom. Like [b]ecker said, sharing with others in your industry is a “win win” situation. I’d elaborate and say it’s a “win win win” situation. Not only does the mentors/assistants win, but the bride and groom are surrounded by an encouraging, fun, creative group.

In addition to these two providing a collaborate and fun day, but bride and groom, Veronique and Naveen, created an environment that was about love, calmness, peace and plain ‘ol fun.  I don’t think I’ve seen a bride so relaxed and a wedding without stress go off without any hiccups (that I could see). Veronique and Naveen, thank you for allowing me to share in your day and reminding me how it is to love and be loved all the while still  having a blast!!!!

So without further words… (well sort of)

Veronique’s hair was amazing. Sophisticated, classic and gorgeous, just like her dress.

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Not a cloud or gloom in the sky. One happy day.

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I think no words are needed here, except two, wicked fabulous.

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Does she look happy or what?

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I spy, my beautiful wife to be…

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Veronique’s mom was her Matron of Honor. Can you figure out which one she is? I wish I had this gene pool.

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selectsbwp_ttl_10332Mr & Mrs…

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The newlywed. I don’t think she looks happy enough (I’m a kidder)

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Double trouble. Cut to 2 hours later and these two had control of the dance floor.

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Nothing Says Summertime, like fresh a fresh lemonade stand.

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Women in waiting.

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Men, chillaxing

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And we meet again. Fierce.

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I would say [b]ecker found Golden hour. Nothing like it.

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See what I mean by fun. Veronique & Naveen’s Bridal Party put on a surprise musical skit, depicting their love story. You have to be cool people for your friends to orchestrate a show in your honor.

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Nothing says “happily ever after” like walking off into the gorgeous sunset.

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Last, but definitely not least. Commanding the crowds and managing the masses, thebecker. Join the bschool.

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