I shot this sweet pair’s wedding last year and now baby Winston is on the way! We spent Easter Sunday under leaves in the hot Californian sun.
Meet Dawn, or as her friends call her, Monkey! I met this happy spirit a couple years ago through a mutual friend and we shot some photos together. Through social media, I started following her yoga journey, her practice and her progress. What an inspiring journey it was! Dawn took her first vinyasa yoga class in 2011 when a friend encouraged her to try it out. From there, her practice became a daily routine, a lifestyle, and she continues every day still to evolve and grow within herself.
Yoga has been a huge part of my life for the last 10 years. I took my first yoga class in community college with my sister about 10 years ago and quickly fell in love with the practice. I learned of yoga through my mother who fell in love with the practice long before it was the cool thing to try out. My mother, a devout yogini who finished her 2 year teacher training last year inspired me to try the practice. In my mother, I saw what a beautiful change it had made to her spirit. I saw how the practice brought balance to her life and a sense of calm to her soul. It brought her a sense of purpose and of passion. After making yoga a part of her lifestyle, she began freelancing in translation and created within herself a life that had meaning to her. There are many things I love my mom for, and one is bringing me in touch with the practice of yoga.
At the time when I had taken my first yoga class, I was more just looking for a workout or even just a college credit for my physical education requirements. Little did I know what an impact the practice would have on me years later. I practiced very on and off… here and there when I had the chance, but didn’t realize how important routine practice was. When I transferred to UCLA I found Bhakti Yoga Shala in Santa Monica and my understanding and love for the practice and lifestyle really came to me.
For the last year or so, I’ve been making my yoga practice a vital part of my life. Not just simply by going to class but by using the practice to transcend into my lifestyle. I’ve learned to take things step by step. I’ve learned that, like perfecting a pose, that it’s more important to be correctly aligned even if that means I have to use a strap or a block. I’ve learned to take a moment of quietness and to accept that things come slowly sometimes. Things take time and patience and practice. My headstand, for example, I get frustrated when I can’t get up into it, but then I realize I am still working on it and it’s the journey that matters, not the end goal. And if my shoulders aren’t strong enough to get me there, it means I am not ready and I can only continue to practice daily until I am able to have the correct and safe alignment. I can’t get frustrated and give up, but instead, take a moment to breathe and continue to do my best. It’s not a failure to not be able to get into a pose… that’s just the place you are in at the moment. I’ve learned to honor my efforts and understand my limitations. I’ve learned that only through small daily practices can you expand your limits. Not all at once, but every day, with practice and dedication. I’ve learned that with intention, practice, devotion and a clear head, anything is possible. I’ve learned NOT to multitask, and I now take each task one at a time and put 100% commitment into that task. Life, as yoga, is about balancing everything. You can’t spend a year focusing on career and then the next year focusing on health and then the year after that focusing on relationships… it all must be balanced within your life. As in yoga, you wouldn’t just perfect one pose and then go about sloppily with the rest. You move into one pose at a time and give each pose 100% commitment and focus, once you’ve breathed into the pose long enough to really feel and understand it, then you move on to the next pose and continue to give each one the balance and commitment needed. My goal this year is to do everything with intention… everything I do, from the smallest tasks like taking my dog on a walk or washing the dishes, I want to do with intention and commitment. Through my practice of yoga, I’ve learned to bring this intention into my life.
I was so thrilled when Dawn approached me for this session. It was such a fun and beautiful day, we shot around the hills of Echo Park and ended up in gritty downtown. Moving into each asana slowly and with intention, we were able to capture some really nice moments. I’m so excited to start a new journey into putting together my two largest passions… yoga and photography. This session could not have been possible without the help of my lovely assistant Gabriela Manevich, Yogala Studios in Echo Park and malas created by Mary Caroline Jewelry. Also thank you to Onzie Active Wear for the pants! Please make sure to visit Dawn’s website Yoga With Monkey to follow her journey and find some awesome classes & events!
Enjoy these images, take time to view each one and have a wonderful, intention-filled day!
Marion & Makoto… the most adorable duo you will ever meet. We spent the day in Malibu splashing through water and hopping on rocks. These two laughed the whole way through and my heart was warmed. Sometimes the most simple ideas can make for the best.
Christa is a lovely hair & makeup artist I had the great pleasure of photographing. A blonde pixie & amazing style… yes please! We shot in my natural light studio & home. I brought out a roll of tulle I’ve been saving and we had some fun. She’s a super talented artist and I’m excited to be working with her more often, follow her @christapalige on Insta.
Fatimah emailed me about doing a Trash the Dress session for her and Anthony’s 1 year anniversary. I shot their wedding & engagement session last year so I was super excited to do another session to celebrate their anniversary. They’ve always been into any of my strange ideas, I knew it would be a good one. Fatimah’s wedding dress was her mother’s handed down to her, so we didn’t really want to “trash” it. Since their engagement session & wedding were both on the nature side, I thought it would be fun to do something more urban. Something even grungy to juxtapose what they’re dressed in… I stumbled onto this spot underneath the freeway one day on a walk with my dog and thought it would be perfect. A homeless man’s paradise… it’s not really a place you’d notice since it’s just a hill behind a torn up fence with some construction in the background… but something about it grabbed me. I saw opportunity where others might see a place to dump their half empty McDonald’s french fries. There’s always beauty even in the ugly! We got up early, it was going to be a hot and sunny day, I wanted to catch some of that morning light and so glad we did!
And here’s a behind the scenes shot taken by my wonderful assistant Gabi Manevich!
I met Allie & Jeremy at Stumptown Coffee in downtown. I got there a little early, ordered my ice vanilla coffee and sat down to read a book. Soon after, I looked up to see this adorable and happy couple bustling in with two dogs in hand. Babysitting one dog, and Jackson, their baby was able to join us on the day of the session. Allie & Jeremy were already married when I met them. They never got engagement photos and weren’t super stoked about their wedding ones, so just wanted something sweet and personal for the two of them. Jeremy mentioned he proposed to her in a cabin in the forest, so my first thought was to shoot in a forest.
We didn’t trek too far, this forest was actually here in LA in the San Gabriel mountains. I’m always in awe of all the different scenery southern California has to offer. This session was great, no one was around, it was just the four of us (lil Jackson included of course) and the sounds of nature. We frolicked and explored and had a lovely little afternoon together.
Starting over is kind of crazy… rejuvenating and a little scary. With a brand new drastic haircut, a new loft apartment… my business was the next thing to start over. Well, move forward more than start over. I’ve been working on this website re-vamp for a couple of months now, solidifying my brand and creating a website that is more ME! Last year, after my wedding season was over… I did some traveling, some soul-searching. I felt a little burnt out and wanted to step back from it all and think about what I wanted from life. I started shooting photos for me, things that I really loved and that inspired me. I even made a whole personal photo series website. I suddenly found a new avenue I wanted to take my business. That sparked this whole revamp of my website & blog. I went through all my wedding images and found the ones that really spoke to me and thought about WHY. The ones that weren’t so posy but had some true emotion, the ones where I remembered the story behind them, and the ones that had those really intentional compositions. Some that had vibrant color and some that had milky & grainy tones. Those stood out to me. I thought about what made me different than other wedding photographers out there… I realized through my personal work that I loved photographing people, not always through their perfection but through their rawness and honesty. I like those “in between” moments, not necessarily the ones you plan for, but the ones that bring out that real and organic beauty. I like to know people’s stories, I’m interested in struggles as well as blissful moments. Our struggles help us become who we are and help us get to those happy times.
It was a hard decision, but I decided to flush out my old blog and start over. I’ll post some “throwbacks” of old weddings & shoots I love, and you can see a bunch of my favorites on my new galleries, but sometimes you have start fresh. I remember in college, I had this great art teacher who one day had us draw a still life on a large sheet of paper. It took us maybe 2 hours, and at the end of class he told us… “erase it.” Everyone was shocked, but the lesson was that sometimes you can’t hold on too tight to your work, you have to be brave enough to erase it.
I want to start off this blog with a wedding I recently shot of two dear clients of mine, Sahra & Dave. They have a relationship I really admire and I feel like I’ve learned a lot through them. They also started over… life pulled them apart and then they found each other again years later and they were ready to start the journey together. Life is funny like that, you never know where and with who you will end up. You just have to keep your heart open and remember life rewards you when you do.
This wedding was very small, just 35 guests, in a beautiful botanical garden in the South Bay. There was no bridal party and the whole thing was very casual, a celebration with all their closest friends. It was far from traditional and that’s what I loved about it. The ceremony was filled with sweetness and the vows were something so special and real. It made me remember how special a real love & marriage can be… it’s about overcoming those struggles together, going through the depths of life together and opening your heart to someone fully. It’s about accepting someone for who they are and not trying to make them into someone you want them to be. It’s about balancing your responsibilities and letting the other person be right. It’s about respecting each other’s choices and holding their hand through it. Love… real, honest, crazy love.. there’s nothing like it. Sahra & Dave ended their ceremony by asking their blessings from the universe and giving a congratulatory high five! Yes! It was a day to remember and I feel really special to have been able to be a part of it and get to know these two.
Hotel: Beach House Hotel
Ceremony venue: South Coast Botanical Gardens
Reception venue: Abigaile
Hair/makeup: Unveiled by Christina Vo
Coordination: Angellah Petruso
Flowers: Dao Lee
Videography: Trumpet Bird
Associate Photographer: Kristine Ko