another engagement session in and around laguna

I’m shooting Monique and Steven’s wedding in three weeks, but did their engagement session just last Sunday with one of my favorite concepts: “In & Around Laguna.” Strolling around, we stop where I see an opportunity for photography that expresses who they are as a couple. For example, the locations I chose have some harmony with the clothing my subjects are wearing. Some couples opt for shorts, sandals and t-shirts. That leads to a entirely different session than Monique and Steven, for example.

There are just so many nooks, crannies, and special spots that only locals know. And, after living in LB for so long, I’d like to think I’ve discovered them all!

Monique looked like a gorgeous porcelain doll, and her Chinese red and gold dress was stunning. Really looking forward to the wedding!

Looks like we traveled to Asia or Morocco, doesn't it?

Looks like we traveled to Asia or Morocco, doesn’t it?

Looks like we traveled to Asia, or Morocco, doesn't it?

 

Loving this luscious cocoa-colored treatment.

Loving this luscious cocoa-colored treatment. Much cooler than your typical sepia. More like a black and white… but brown.

Yeah!

Oh, yeah!

Awesome advice for an unplugged wedding

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This photo is what was actually happening behind me when one of my couples was having their “private” first look at The Ritz Carlton in Dana Point. What can you do?

I’ve got to say, competing with family members and guests for a memorable shot is an ongoing issue for me as a professional wedding photographer in Orange County. For example: I work to get a couple looking beautifully romantic for an image I know is killer. Next to me are 10 people who also want the shot. Typically family or members of the bridal party. Meanwhile, the couple is terribly distracted by all the other lenses staring at them and don’t know where to look. The results are less an ideal for all of us.

If the couple doesn’t speak up, I politely ask the others to let me get the shot, then they can have their chance. What they probably don’t think about is the fact that we’re on a schedule. We are being paid to deliver. And that’s our priority. So, I apologize in advance if you think I’m being selfish, bratty, or {insert adjective here}. I just want to do my job the very best I can.

That being said, the amazingly talented wedding/event planner, consultant extraordinaire Natalie Vishny (http://natalievishny.com) just did a blog post on this very same issue. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you Natalie.

Here are Natalie’s thoughts:

Wedding ceremonies are more fun when your guests turn off their cell phones.  You get to live in the moment and actually “look around” and enjoy.

Twice, in the last week, I’ve been asked from couples about etiquette for unplugged weddings. 

Here are my simple three pieces of advice for wedding couples:

1)  If you have a cool invitation that allows for an extra verbiage line, you actually can say, “At our ceremony, we ask you enjoy and be “unplugged”.  

2)  Have “PARTY signage.”.  This could be a LARGE framed sign at the sign-in book table, or a sign at your greeting beverage station reminding your family and friends to turn off their cells. An example of signage includes, “There’s a person here taking pictures, we’d like to only have one. Please set down your cameras until our ceremony is done.”

3) Make sure that your wedding planning team knows that you would like an unplugged ceremony, so that they can go and provide a note or a hug to the “lady” who is taking photos.

Having an unplugged wedding definitely makes the moment seem more intimate. 

Tips on makeup and hair styling for your wedding day

You’re only going to be a bride once (at least we hope that’s the case) so you want to look picture perfect. Not just for your husband-to-be,  but for the photos you’ll have for the rest of your life. Although some things will surely look dated after a few decades pass, you don’t want to do a trendy look that will scream out “2014”. Think timeless.

Here’s some advice I can offer after years of photographing weddings.

1. Do a makeup trial. And if you don’t like the first one, do a second…or even third. You want to still look like YOU. Well, maybe a more made-up version of you, but if you’re a “less is more” kind of girl, you don’t want to end up with thick black eyeliner and red lipstick.

This is a look I LOVE. Natural eye, and a little more emphasis on the cheek and lip. Great for photography.

This is a look I LOVE. Natural eye, and a little more emphasis on the cheek and lip. Great for photography. And let’s talk about the pearl and rose gold hair ornament.

2. Bring photos of makeup and hair that are examples of what you’d like to look like on the big day. A picture says a thousand… Of course, your particular hair length, texture and thickness will mean you can or can’t do certain things, but you can still convey the vibe. Classic, sophisticated, hippie, boho, fresh, etc. And please don’t decide to change your hair color the week before the wedding!

3. Speak up if you aren’t happy during your trial. That’s why you’re doing it. It’s possible that he/she won’t get it completely right, so this is the time to let the artist make changes.

4. The personality of the makeup and/or hair stylist is also extremely important. You want someone calm, positive and happy. And, PLEASE make sure they can stick to a schedule. In my experience, if hair and makeup run behind, your whole day is messed up! It all starts with them. A call to a previous or client or two should help you learn that important bit of intell. I’ve had brides keep 150 guests sitting in an un-airconditioned church for an hour because the hair and makeup folks had NO sense of urgency.

5. Make sure your stylists bring enough staff for you, your relatives and your bridal party if you’re all getting “did.” Very important.

6. Let the makeup artist apply false eyelashes. They don’t have to be long and super thick, but your eyes will look much better in photos. And, again, the trial will help you get used to the feeling. Having them put on for the first time on your wedding day isn’t such a good idea. And, your makeup should be set with a loose translucent powder. Not only will it set your makeup and help it last longer, it gives a smoother, more flawless finish.

Simply beautiful. And beautifully simple.

Simply beautiful. And beautifully simple.

7. Same goes for hair extensions. While you may not need that extra volume every day, they’ll add that extra “oomph.” AND, extensions hold the curl. So while your own hair is wilting from the humidity, the extensions will look freshly curled. Trust me on that.

8. The fancier your gown, the fewer accessories you need. You want to look “done”, but not over done. Curate your look and think about every detail you’re tempted to add. Do you really need earrings, a necklace, bracelet, hair ornament, jeweled sash, etc.

Jen rocks a pretty distinctive style in her personal life, so the red lip was perfection. But do  note lack of accessories. Anything else would've been too much.

Jen rocks a pretty distinctive style in her personal life, so the red lip was perfection. But do note lack of accessories. Anything else would’ve been too much.

9. Don’t let your makeup artist apply too much shimmer on your face or body. It can actually bring out imperfections and make you look sweaty or shiny in your pictures. No bueno.

10. Don’t do a crazy manicure for the big day, e.g. nails the color of your bridesmaids’ robin egg blue dresses. It will surely look outdated in no time. Don’t forget you’ll likely have close-ups of your hands to show off your ring and/or bouquet, so a simple French manicure or a neutral pastel is much better.

I'm trusting you know which one is which :-)

I’m trusting you know which one is which 🙂

Truly, if you keep these simple guidelines in mind, you’ll have a flawless look that will look beautiful in person and in your photographs.

 

You Say You Want the Sand Between Your Toes?

This is for those of you who want to plan your own wedding on the sand in Laguna Beach, as opposed to using one of the beachfront properties that offer that option. It is doable, but there are some rules to follow, and reservations to make. Make sure you’re good with an “informal” wedding, because that’s what it’s going to be! In other words, if you’re thinking black tuxedos and a ball gown, this is probably not the right decision for you.

Three Arch Bay, Laguna Beach

Three Arch Bay, Laguna Beach

It’s also extremely important, in my opinion, that you choose a photographer familiar with the characteristics of our beaches. Just one critical factor to consider are the tides, as the sand on some beaches virtually disappears at high tide. Just like the fact that photographing a corporate event is very different from shooting a wedding, a beach ceremony has idiosyncrasies that a ballroom or country club doesn’t.

Here's a chance to use some cute beachy details.

Here’s a chance to use some cute beachy details.

There are many beautiful coves in Laguna! Make a day of it and check them all out. And when you have your short list, visit again at the specific time of day you’re thinking of having your ceremony. Look at the shadows. If the sun is still high you can get harsh shadows and/or squinting if you’re oriented in a particular direction. Neither makes for great photos. And, if you want shots of the sun hitting the horizon, you need to make sure it isn’t setting ‘around the bend’. Pay attention to all the details.

Three Arch Bay, Laguna Beach

Such a cute sign…and flower girl!

Most beach locations are restricted from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. If you are determined to have a summer ceremony, you can choose from those directly below Heisler Park. They are: North Main Beach, Rockpile, Picnic Beach, and Diver’s Cove. Be sure to have your guests stay at a hotel within walking distance, because parking will definitely be at a premium. Don’t worry — there are many to choose from.

At other times of year, you can get a permit for any of our Laguna beaches, other than those south of Victoria Beach, which don’t require one.

This NY couple chose to say their "I Do's" at Tablerock Beach, just south of Aliso Creek.

This NY couple chose to say their “I Do’s” at Tablerock Beach, just south of Aliso Creek.

The permit allows a two-hour use and costs $255 as of this writing. The rules may seem restrictive but it’s an ‘informal’ wedding after all! Here they are:

  • Maximum number of people, including the wedding party is 95. However, capacity at the Gazebo and Monument Point in Heisler is 50.
  • No tables, chairs, archways, or structures of any type. “Decorations” are allowed, but fixed with ribbon or string and removed afterward. No tape, nails, staples, etc.
  • No blocking of paths or walkways.
  • No amplified sound.
  • No rice, birdseed, confetti or flower petals may be thrown.
  • No alcohol or champagne toasts.
  • No open flame, including candles.

Contact the city Community Services Department located by City Hall at 515 Forest Avenue, (949) 497-0716. And, the permit application is available for download online at http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/community/permits/wedding.asp

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A happy, and gorgeous, couple right after their ceremony!

A fun and thoughtful idea to protect your female guests' high heels.

A fun and thoughtful idea to protect your female guests’ high heels.

Click Chicks featured on Borrowed & Blue

Always fun to be acknowledged and have your photos on a cool wedding website. We love Borrowed & Blue! And of course, Jen & Rich. http://www.borrowedandblue.com/orange-county/weddings/jen-rich

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Lavender, oh Lavender

Pantone says ‘orchid’ is the hot color for 2014 weddings. But I prefer Lavender… Lavender Barnes, that is. This 18-month old is just getting stable on her feet and can get away from you right quick!  Her eyes lit up when she saw the balloons I brought to the photo session and the joy was contagious! And, smart Mommy Faith brought bribery in the form of mini-marshmallows. Always helps 🙂

lavender x3And, because she was so darned cute last year, here’s my favorite from Christmas 2012. What  difference a year makes!IMG_1000-1004-2

Dean + Deanne are engaged

Now isn’t that the cutest? Dean and Deanne, D&D, D-Squared, Double D’s … whatever you call them, they are adorable! I’m so looking forward to their wedding day and the fun it will be. Lots of relatives traveling all the way from South Africa to attend. And, Deanne will be a spectacular bride!  We just wandered around Laguna Beach and visited some of my favorite spots. Do you recognize the locations?

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Introducing the incomparable Miss Lavender Darling Barnes…

This cutie pie lives up to her absolutely adorable name! So beautiful; so sweet. So much fun to photograph! Her Mommy, my dear friend Faith, came over to my house yesterday armed with some of the cutest outfits I’ve seen since my Chloe was a baby. Lavender surely is the cutest Christmas elf ever!

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