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 wedding photos that convey that feeling. The goal in “documentary wedding photography” is to make images that make you feel what it was like to be at your wedding years after the fact.
Boy in suit and suspenders hugging his daddy's leg at a wedding. Documentary Wedding Photography

2. You want a photo of your best friend doing the worm, of your mom teasing her sister, of your dad hugging you with tears in his eyes, of your niece with that look like she’s plotting world takeover. These are the moments a documentary wedding photographer sees, and immortalizes.

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. 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.

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 make you feel seen. A documentary wedding photographer can make photographs that 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 you were about during the planning.) 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.

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 processing images after the wedding day with the goal of reproducing beautiful faithful color. Some wedding photography is significantly altered in processing, whether that be desaturation, color grading, or excessive retouching. 


Berkeley Hills Engagement Photos

E and B were willing to meet me early in the morning at Wildcat Canyon for a hike and engagement photo session. I think of this as the Berkeley Hills, even though it’s a teensy bit North of Berkeley. This set is a sunrise engagement session! My absolute favorite. We met early in the morning, and used the delicious soft light coming through the grass, rolling over the hills, emanating from the city below, for our glory. While sunset engagement sessions are also lovely and ubiquitous, they generally involve lots of other people in the scene to avoid. We had a particularly quiet morning, and for much of our hike, there was nobody else in eyesight. The part of the hike up on the ridge line next to the forest was special, lush and new. It was January here in the Bay Area, the rainy season, but we got lucky and had a clear, sunny morning. The rain brought out the green grass and the mushrooms. 


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.


Industrial Chic Wedding Bok Building

Industrial Chic Wedding Bok Building – Eliza & Dirk

Eliza & Dirk had the distinct pleasure of walking from their home in their South Philadelphia neighborhood to their wedding venue, The Bok Building. Part of the vision for the day, as far as photography, was a walk through the neighborhood with bridal portraits in front of Eliza & Dirk’s favorite murals. We got lucky, and happened upon an Italian street festival, replete with red white and green pendants strung across the street. Philadelphia is a city of hidden magic on tiny alleys, and we found that magic again and again as the day unfolded.

Eliza is an urban planner, Dirk a geographer, so it was apt that the backdrop for their wedding was a view of the city grid of Philadelphia from above. The florals were fantastic. I love the arrangement at the altar with the city peeking through beyond. Post-industrial splendour exploding with flowers!

Sometimes as I photograph a wedding I pick up on a subtle dynamic I didn’t see coming. On their wedding day, from getting ready, through the ceremony, into toasts, I was struck by what an exceptionally strong chosen family Eliza & Dirk have cultivated, and now cherish.

Let’s also not forget that there was an astronaut in attendance, and he made every photo he graced with his presence ten times better.

I could write volumes, but these photos!! I won’t keep them from you any longer.

Photography : Hazelphoto
Wedding attire : Sarah Seven, Taylor Stitch
Florist : Vault & Vine
Makeup : JKo Beauty
Rings : Bario Neal
Invitations : Egg Press

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