Berkeley City Club Wedding

Berkeley City Club Wedding – Jenni & Andy

Jenni & Andy were married on a sunny day in late December at the Berkeley City Club, a hidden gem of a wedding venue, right next to the Cal campus. Genius architect, Julia Morgan, was at her finest when she designed this “castle in the city.”

As the sun was setting, wedding guests gathered on a generous balcony. The chuppah holders processed. Jenni and Andy’s puppy was led down the aisle by Jenni’s niece. A pair of friends/co-officiants effortlessly wove diverse rituals into the ceremony. Highlights included: the signing of a gorgeous, colorful ketubah depicting, among other things, the Golden Gate Bridge, and their frolicking puppy; a musical performance with Andy on trombone, a friend on sax, and Jenni, with a chorus of friends, on vocals. They smashed a glass, smooched, and headed into the library for cocktail hour, where a full jazz band serenaded guests.

The vision for the wedding reception was crystal clear: “dinner & a show,” oh, and a hora, of course. (Important life rule, never pass up a chance to dance the hora.) Andy’s parents kicked off the show portion of the evening with a riotous slideshow romp through Jenni & Andy’s childhoods. There were traditional toasts, a family band, experimental music, pop covers, a jazz set with Andy and band. Such a lovely full evening!


“Documentary wedding photography” 7 reasons why this is what you really want.

An emotional first look at a wedding. The groom wipes a tear away. Documentary wedding photography.
  1. You care deeply what it actually felt like to be at your wedding, and so you want images that convey that feeling. The goal in “documentary wedding photography” is to make images that are full of meaning, that take the story of a wedding day, and squeeze it into a single image.
Boy in suit and suspenders hugging his daddy's leg at a wedding. Documentary Wedding Photography

2. You want to see images of your best friend doing the worm, your mom teasing her sister, your dad hugging you with tears in his eyes, your niece with that look like she’s plotting world takeover. These are the things a documentary wedding photographer focuses on.

A groom held aloft his cousins' shoulders during a baraat. Documentary Wedding Photography Hazel Photo

3. You want a photographer who has a keen eye for the meaningful gestures, expressions, and details that tell the larger story. A documentary wedding photographer spends years honing the ability to see the unexpected, to frame things just right, so the viewer is compelled by the photograph, and understands the scene.

a little girl in a white dress with a white basket and a bright pink troll, sticking her tongue out and observing it all on a wedding day. Documentary wedding photography.

4. You don’t want your photographer to tell you to have a second first look. One is overwhelmingly wonderful and plenty. Also, hold on a sec, how in the world can you have a second first look? This speaks to the authentic manner in which documentary wedding photographers work, some call it “reportage.”

a groom and his father share a hug at the hotel before heading over to the church for the wedding. Documentary wedding photography

5. You want pictures that see, and compliment the principles that guided you when you were planning your wedding. (whether you sat down and wrote out official guidelines with your fiancé, or you just have a general sense of what guided your decision-making.) Unfortunately some wedding photography doesn’t see you for who you are, and ends up being more a photographer’s idea of what a “romantic wedding” should look like.

a Bride reading a letter from her groom before the wedding surrounded by bridesmaids and mom. Documentary wedding photography

6. You don’t want a photography company that takes over with multiple cameras, and blocks your guests’ view, and makes it feel like a photoshoot, not like an authentic event. In “documentary wedding photography” the goal is to let the wedding be what it is, rather than to step in and change it with cameras and lights and bodies and direction.

7. You like the color of your dress and the florals you chose, and you want them to be true to life in the pictures. The style of a documentary wedding photographer can be carried into post-processing, with the goal of reproducing color that is faithful to what the eye saw on the day. Some wedding photography is significantly altered in post-processing, whether that be desaturation or color grading, or excessive retouching. 


Moments that matter – a year in weddings

Here we have a year of weddings as seen through “moments.” 


2018 brought a lovely diversity of venues throughout the Bay Area and beyond, including the Sierra Mountains, Big-Sur, The Boston T and the Boston Public Library, Art Museums, Tiny Chapels and Massive Urban High Schools, Small High Schools and Redwood Theaters, a Mansion that once belonged to a general


I feel overwhelming gratefulness for all the joy and ritual that I experienced through a camera lens this past year.


But why “moments”? Because they draw us in through their storytelling power. They make us feel what exists on either side of them. They don’t just show a gorgeous dress. They show a woman in a gorgeous dress flushed with joy as she dances with her father. Her gesture shows the freedom and the fun she has shared with him. They don’t just show a marriage license sitting upon a table. They show a group hug between a bride, a groom, her sister, his brother, and the closest of friends, the marriage license gripped between the groom’s fingers.


A photograph is time frozen. Sure, etymologically speaking, it is a light-drawing…but maybe we should have called it a nontempograph… because it’s conceptual implications are: it takes something that exists in the spatiotemporal world, and strips it of time, leaving it to a solely spatial existence. It is of time and yet out of time.  A spatial representation of time at a standstill.


And in it’s spatial existence, it can only hint at temporality. It is those photographs that gesture grandly toward temporality that move me most.

Here’s to a 2019 of making wedding photographs that gesture grandly toward temporality.


Marin Headlands Engagement Photos

Marin Headlands Engagement Photos – Cat & Ross

Cat & Ross met me in the Marin Headlands for their engagement session on a sunny and windy day. We began in the area close to the fabulous Headlands Center For the Arts (if you’ve never been, it is an absolute gem of an artists’ residency and gallery space tucked into the Marin Headlands.) The sun was still a bit high in the sky when we began, so we primarily stuck to the shade. This worked out well, as we were able to make some photos sheltered from the wind before we gave in to the messy magic. But, that is what the Marin Headlands are all about, spectacular windy messy magic. The hills are often windy, and always gorgeous. Tucked away behind the Headlands Center for the Arts we found a field with a row of towering cypress trees, and a eucalyptus grove full of deer hidden away munching an afternoon snack. See if you can spot her. As the sun grew lower, we took off for Point Bonita Lighthouse, but when we saw the Golden Gate Bridge and the beauty of the San Francisco Bay below, we had to pull over to make a few more photographs. The Point Bonita Lighthouse is only open on Sundays and Mondays 3 hours at a time, but the approach is stunning as well. As the sun set further, we enjoyed a few last moments watching the golden hour curl into the blue hour with the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge beyond.


San Francisco Vietnamese Wedding Tea Ceremony

San Francisco Vietnamese Wedding Tea Ceremony

T and H had a traditional Vietnamese wedding with a tea ceremony at H’s parents’ house. There were tons of moments I loved. First the groomsmen arriving with the bright red Mâm quả (Red tin baskets full of presents) for the Đám Hỏi (engagement ceremony.) They were led into the house by T’s parents. To enter the house, all ducked through the archway that read Vu Quy (leaving home.) I adore the photo of H’s aunties putting a present of earings on her ears. The way T would bend over to smooch H. The altar to the ancestors where the tea ceremony took place. The three wedding dresses H wore. The traditional red Áo dài, a Vietnamese wedding dress, and the blue Áo gấm, a similar garment worn by the groom. Then the elegant white Áo dài for H during the reception, and a tux for T. In the morning we had a sweet portrait session among the flowers at a botanical garden.


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