Stanly Ranch Wedding

At the Southern tip of Napa County, California close to San Pablo Bay lies a rambling dual purpose property – both luxury resort and working ranch. Stanly Ranch, an Auberge Resort, is one of the newest additions to the Napa Valley, and a fabulous place for a wedding. The resort pays homage to the agricultural sensibilities of Wine Country, while maintaining a modern and luxurious demeanor.

On a radiant and windy day in late July Marie & Charlie were married by a close friend at an exquisite altar of native California greenery rising from the ground at once natural and uncannily sculptural in a nod to Ikebana.

The day began with the bride and groom preparing in suites at the Ranch, surrounded by their closest friends and family. Marie’s choice of a modern chic gown by Carolina Herrera from Jin Wang Bridal was a stroke of brilliance – the gown’s architectural beauty played harmoniously with the geometric quality of Stanly Ranch, whether the rows of lavender or the playful shadows from slatted pergolas.

Earlier, as I approached Stanly Ranch I noticed a eucalyptus tunnel at the edge of the property and knew it would be the perfect spot for the first look. We jumped in golf carts and headed into the trees for portraits, a few of which have become anchors of my portfolio. Photos in the Bell Suite and the adjacent shade followed.

The ceremony was framed by the Cutting Garden’s idyllic backdrop of wildflowers and greenery. During the ceremony the wind decided to have it’s way with Marie’s veil, so the two switched positions. Following the touching vows, guests savored signature cocktails on the patio outside the glass-walled banquet hall, while enjoying mesmerizing views of the olive trees and lavender gardens.

Marie and Charlie were an absolute joy to photograph – their calm and positive demeanor made for captivating photographs, alternating between carefree laughter and elegant portraits. I knew this going in, as I had the honor of photographing their engagement session at Sutro Baths earlier that year. As the sun set, I took the couple aside to capture the magic of golden hour up and down stone staircases, through olive orchards, and against outdoor fireplaces. We were gifted a dramatic sunset, and we certainly took advantage of that. The warm hues perfectly complemented the venue’s California native plants and sun-soaked stone palette.

Dinner was served in Glass House Barn, a lofted glass-walled banquet hall. Its California-style glass doors opened to the patio balcony overlooking the property. I was able to capture candid moments as the guests laughed, danced, and celebrated in the radiant ambiance, doors open to the breeze.

The lush grounds, framed by vineyards and mountain views, created a very easeful feeling which married well with a wedding reception. Located just a 50-minute drive from San Francisco, Stanly Ranch offered guests a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

I must also extend a special shout-out to Kelsey with Downey Street Events who understood the demands of the venue, and executed flawlessly.

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Wedding planner: Downey Street Events
Venue : Stanly Ranch an Auberge Resort
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Hair and Makeup : Artists by Sherrie Long
Catering : Stanly Ranch
Ice Cream Truck: Noble Folk Creamery
DJ/Band : Dart Collective
Bride’s attire : Jinwang Bride ; Carolina Herrera
Groom’s attire : Suit Supply
Invitation : Bliss and Bone
Florist: Studio Mondine

Essential tips for having a dog at your wedding in the Bay Area

As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen it all, from furry friends as ring bearers to four-legged performers stealing the show. If you’re thinking of including your beloved pooch in your big day, here are 8 things you should keep in mind to ensure it’s a tail-wagging success – for all involved!

1. Plan, plan, plan: Before you decide to bring your furry friend to your wedding, make sure your venue is pet-friendly and arrange for a designated handler to look after them during the ceremony and reception. Also consider your guests and determine if anyone might be scared or allergic! Consider logistics such as their transportation and access for their handler for their drop off and pick up. 

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2. Be honest with yourself: Not all dogs will do well at large, bustling events like weddings – and that’s ok! If your dog becomes easily agitated or frightened, it may be best to leave them at home. Perhaps they are better suited for an intimate photo shoot with just your photographer!

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3. Dress them to impress: You want your dog to look as good as you do on your wedding day! Make sure their outfit is comfortable and doesn’t impede their movement. A simple bandana or bow tie will do the trick. Avoid accoutrement that might end up falling off and getting gnawed on.

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4. Hydration is key: Weddings can be long, tiring events, and your dog will need plenty of water to stay hydrated. Make sure you have a water bowl readily available for them throughout the day. Additionally you will want to prep their handler with their food, treats, doggie bags, and perhaps even some toys. 

5. Never leave them alone: Your dog should never be left alone during your wedding, even for a few minutes. They may become anxious or disoriented without you there, and could end up running off or causing a disturbance. Again, make sure someone is aware of their responsibilities regarding your beloved dog!

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6. Accidents happen: Accidents can happen, even with the most well-behaved dogs. The last thing you want to deal with is a less than savory stain at a historic venue or on you or your guests’ outfit. Make sure you have cleaning supplies handy in case your dog has an accident during the ceremony or reception.

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7. Capture the moment: Make sure your photographer gets some shots of your furry friend on your big day. After all, you’ve put in all the effort to make sure they are well taken care of and smiling! 

8. Have fun: The most important thing is to make sure everyone, including your furry friend, is having a good time and no one is stressed out or uncomfortable. Have a backup plan with the handler in case something goes awry or the pooch needs a rest from the excitement of the event!

Incorporating your dog into your wedding can be a wonderful way to add a special touch to your big day, but it’s essential to be prepared and ensure that both you and your furry friend are having fun. By keeping these eight things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating a memorable and stress-free wedding experience for everyone involved.

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2022 Hazel Photo Weddings Year in Review

I’m going to “kick” this off by saying that 2022 kicked my butt. There was a metric ton of pent-up demand for live events this past year.

In 2022 I photographed:

37 weddings,

3 elopements,

A baby naming,

3 multi-day corporate conferences,

5 corporate parties,

3 family sessions,

6 engagement sessions,

and 150 headshots.

I’m incredibly grateful to every last client I worked with, and every person who referred me to clients. To be busy again after the pandemic, has made me feel alive and useful. This was the best year my business has seen to date. It was also the queerest year of weddings I have photographed!

Most of my photo work transpired in the greater San Francisco Bay Area… from Oakland to Orinda to Walnut Creek, from Napa to Calistoga to Mendocino from Sonoma to Healdsburg, from Gilroy to Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay, from The Financial District to Civic Center to the Presidio, from San Rafael to Mill Valley to Bodega Bay.

I did have the chance to travel to Lake Tahoe, Mendocino, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Jamaica to make photographs for clients as well.

I haven’t had time to share very much of the work I made this year, because I was so busy making it. In this coming January and February I am looking forward to reliving 2022 and updating my portfolio with some of the beauty I witnessed this past year.

A few wedding clients this year told me, “We don’t want any posed portraits. Just ‘documentary style’ photos of our wedding day.” I loved those opportunities to turn my entire focus to storytelling images. I felt seen, like my clients understood what I was up to, and wanted me to lean into that strength on their wedding day.

On the home front, our 2-year-old started preschool and brought us on vacation to Japan and Mexico. We bought an old house in Berkeley and have begun to fill it with art, and surround it with gardens.

Venues :
Carneros Resort
Stanly Ranch
San Francisco City Hall
University Club of San Francisco
Triple S Ranch
Ralston White Retreat
Sausalito Women’s Club
Jamaica Inn
City Club of San Francisco
Shakespeare Garden @ Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Club @ The Presidio
Log Cabin @ The Presidio
Beltane Ranch
Hacienda de las Flores
Cornerstone Sonoma
Oceano Resort
The Brazilian Room
The Legion of Honor
Leo’s Oysters
Zaytuna College
Rockefeller Lodge
Grace Cathedral
Ruth Bancroft Garden
The Gardens at Heather Farm
The Secret Gardens, Bodega Bay
Seven Branches Sonoma
Bell Valley Retreat
Eagle Ridge
Gar Woods
Thomas Fogarty Winery
Muir Beach Overlook
Wayfare Tavern
Terra Gallery

Boheme Events
Taylor Rae Weddings
Downey Street Weddings
Sachi & Maja
Emily Coyne Events
Limelight Productions
Showrunner Events
Riley Loves Lulu
Sabrina & Co.
Small Shindigs
Dreams on a Dime
MK Event Planning
2 Friends Events

Sutro Baths Engagement Photos

This is part 1 of 2 of an epic engagement session spread between Sutro Baths and Ocean Beach. Marie, Charlie and I met near San Francisco’s Sutro Baths for their engagement session. We started in the shade at Point Lobos where we made portraits amongst the cypress while the sun was still a bit higher in the sky. Then we made our way down the hillside stopping along the way in good light until we reached the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean. Down on the rocks we were joined by birds and ocean spray, which made for some majestic images. Satisfied with our time during “golden hour” at Sutro Baths, we headed over to Ocean Beach for “blue hour.” click here for the Ocean Beach engagement session photos.

Thomas Fogarty Winery Wedding

Lisa and Alex were married at Thomas Fogarty Winery on October 23, 2021. Lisa had first reached out to me about photographing her wedding, almost exactly two years previous on October 24th of 2019. While they did intend to have their wedding at Thomas Fogarty on October 24th 2020, I wouldn’t put it past Lisa to find a photographer two years in advance. From that initial Zoom conversation I felt great excitement and anticipation about Lisa and Alex’s wedding. She was so positive and organized, and a delight to communicate with. Well… we all got to hold onto that feeling of anticipation much longer than we thought we might.

Lisa and Alex met as college students at UC Berkeley. Their friends and family were scattered across the country and globe, so gathering at Thomas Fogarty Winery with its hilltop retreat feeling was appealing.

After more than a year, we finally had the chance to meet in person in May of 2021 on the UC Berkeley campus for their engagement session. But more about that in the blogpost about their delightful UC Berkeley engagement session here.

Thomas Fogarty is a special type of winery and vineyard. It is both perched on a mountaintop, and yet a comfortable drive from San Francisco. The approach along Skyline is glorious: a wooded ridge line reveals views out into the valley. The Winery itself is composed of a series of generous buildings built into the hilltop with the view at top of mind. Almost every room looks out over the sky, the vineyards, and the valley below.

We began Lisa and Alex’s wedding day with a Chinese tea ceremony out on the deck under the gaze of a large double happiness symbol and a floral arch incorporated into one. The tea ceremony ritual that centers the elders and the ancestors took on a deeper meaning as a result of the delay caused by the pandemic. Finally the elders were able to gather safely to bless the young couple . Even at the height of the pandemic, an elopement was possible at a dining room table over Zoom, but this in-person blessing of elders could not happen safely before the vaccine, and finally, here it was. After the tea ceremony, Lisa and Alex changed out of their qipao and changshan into outfits a bit more suitable (get it?) for dancing, and we ran out into the vineyard to catch the last of the light and make a few photographs before dinner, toasts and dancing.

Thanks to everybody who made the day run so smoothly, especially Jutta Lammerts of a Day Like No Other, who dotted all the is and crossed all the ts.

Venue : Thomas Fogarty Winery
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Hair and Makeup : Lydia Song, Brides by Lydia
Wedding planner: Jutta Lammerts, A Day Like No Other
Catering : Global Gourmet Catering
Videographer: Justin & Georgina from Weddings on Film
DJ/Band : Stefano Bortolin from BIG FUN Disc Jockeys
Florist: Janelle Jacky from Green Petal Designs

Pacific Heights Engagement Photos – Michelle & Hayden

Michelle & Hayden’s Pacific Heights engagement session fit my ideal to the tee. It took the shape of a fun and casual date meandering through meaningful haunts. All of this in the good light of course.

We used the occasion of the engagement session as an excuse to revisit their old Pacific Heights stomping grounds. When they first met, they were both living in Pacific Heights, just a few blocks away from each other. We met up for a drink at a sidewalk cafe called Palmers, that they had visited many times in their early years of dating. From there we explored the neighborhood. We stopped in front of their old homes for portraits, and continued our walk down towards the water, eventually we made it to the Marina, and on to Crissy Field East Beach to catch the sunset. The weather and the light treated us remarkably well.

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