Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tim and Ginny: Modesto Wedding Photography

I’ve long held the belief that in times of great need the universe will often put people in our paths that possess the power to help us through our troubles. It’s up to us to decide where we go from there. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own strife that we can’t see the help for what it is and continue on without that help. Other times we walk with them for a short while, taking what we need and then parting ways. I think most interactions, especially with regards to romance, start out like the latter.

Perhaps that’s how things started for Tim and Ginny when the universe, acting through Tim’s sister, set them up on their first date. They were just two people out for a good time and a little distraction from life.

Now, as I see it, there are many ways to come out of hardship. The first is the way that most people come out of it: cautiously. Really, that term ‘caution’ is just a stand in for ‘fear.’ We are afraid to repeat the pain we just experienced, and so we block out joy for the comfort of the familiar.

While caution is the most common way to emerge from hardship, I’d say that the least common way is with a deep appreciation of not just life, but of living. The greater the hardship, the deeper this gift places itself in our hearts and minds. For to know great loss, you must also have known great love. The wisest of us emerges from pain and suffering with the shackles of pessimism broken and bearing the gift of appreciation. We no longer look at life through excuses; in fact, we don’t look at it at all. Instead, we live it.

That’s exactly what I saw in Tim and Ginny when I photographed their new family. It’s what I heard in their voices when they talked about their ‘quick’ wedding. These were people not bound by pessimism; they were people who understood how terribly fragile life is and they wanted to live it before it was gone.

So come with me now to the Historic Seven Sycamores Ranch in Ivanhoe, California, and bear witness to some of the images that commemorate that living of life and the deep appreciation these two have for the presence of one another.  

Seven Sycamores second venu
There were two weddings going on at Seven Sycamores that day. This was the outdoors setup for the Tim and Ginny's.

Wedding snack bar
Uhm, yum?

Wedding popcorn
Let's zoom in on that popcorn goodness.

Detail shot of wedding popcorn toppings
So many choices.
Rustic wedding sign
Little elements like this go a long way to filling out a sign in table.

Sign in table ideas
Here's a fantastic idea. Tim and Ginny used their engagement shoot as a combination engagement/family shoot, then had
pieces printed for their home that doubled as decorations for the ceremony.

Receiving table ideas
Love the way the photos help to convey the sense of family.

Wedding Sign
Signs. I love signs.

Guest peeking at reception hall at seven sycamores
What's behind those doors at the barn?

Head table seven sycamores
Yes, that's an arbor inside a barn, . . . sort of. 

Tables set up at seven sycamores
The barn, from the outside, looks just like a regular barn, but inside you find that it's a facade for an open air reception area.
Detail shot of the cake
Tried shooting this cake with natural light because the sun was poring in on it, but it just didn't do it justice. 

Bride looking in the mirror
I'm sure that Seven Sycamores has another getting ready area but their secondary spot is a bit crowded and has terrible
light, hence the black and white.

bridal gown tip
Here's a great tip that Ginny shared with me. Use a hooked crochet needle to help with the buttoning up of the bride. Those
that have seen my wedding survival box will now be able to find one of those in there too.
Bride at the doors of the Seven Sycamores barn
Just a little time for some quick bridals before the ceremony.

This gives a better perspective of how the Seven Sycamores barn looks like a barn from the outside but is actually open on the inside.

The ceremony took place after dark and that resulted in terrible light, but none of that matters when you have heartfelt expressions like these.

After dark wedding photography at seven sycamores
Shooting after dark is incredibly difficult and yields far fewer shots because of the amount of setup it requires. On the other hand, the rewards can be amazing. Lots of color and beautiful lights in the background at Seven Sycamores after dark. 

One of the troubles we ran into with another wedding going on, was that it was difficult to find places not crawling with other guests when we took pictures. Here we're shooting on the back side of a shed. What you don't see off on camera left is the wedding party waiting to be introduced.

There's a nice long walk up to the reception area.

Blessing the food.

Our best man.

Loved the way the light danced in our maid of honor's eyes.

First dance under the long gazebo.

Now that's passion.

Dip shot showing the barn at Seven Sycamores
This was the last shot of the night. Okay, the last several shots. Had to set this up on a tripod and do several takes in between guests interrupting us. I then had to merge it in photoshop. Made a video about it that I'll put together and share soon so be watching for that. Speaking of video, I'm finding that I particularly enjoy this shot when cropped to 1.85:1. I've been learning about and investing in videography lately so that I can start hybrid shooting (photo and video from one person for a cohesive presentation). If that's something you might be interested in, let me know when we sit down to talk about your wedding.

Venue: Historic Seven Sycamores Ranch in Ivanhoe, California.

Special Notice: I'm gearing up to start offering hybrid packages. That's photography and videography with a single cohesive vision but I don't debut anything until I know I can deliver the goods. If you want to be a test subject, let me know. If you know someone that already booked their wedding photographer but is playing around with the idea of videography who wouldn't mind me experimenting at their wedding, let me know, this is a great way to get an amazing deal. 

Discounts: Everyone in the wedding party is entitled to a $200 discount for their wedding day.
You can see more from this wedding on our Facebook page here.
If you'd like to find out more about our photography, look us up at
Want to see some editing videos that show a bit of how David works his magic?

And if you want to see cute pictures of our kids along with sneak peeks of what we're working on, follow us on Instagram at:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Perfect Anniversary Gift

Just a quick post about something really cool I got to work on a couple weeks back. Two years ago today we shot Rick and Denise's wedding. It was filled with wonderful little details that everyone put a lot of time, effort, and love into. Just like us, they're big geeks and opted to go with Tardis blue for their wedding rings. As a big Doctor Who fan myself, I just HAD to get a good shot of the rings.

In the house Denise was getting ready at was this ancient dictionary with worn binding, and frayed edges. Flipped it open to 'love', set up my light, got the macro lens out and "click."

Later, when we did the showing of their wedding photos, Denise 'loved' this shot. "I want that on a canvas someday," I remember her saying. Apparently, Rick remembered also because a couple of months before their second anniversary he got in touch with me and asked if he could get it blown up that very same photo and put it on a canvas.

Now, if you know anything about our photography, you know I'm NEVER done with a photo. See if you can catch the changes that take this from a pretty good shot of wedding rings, to an even more personalized piece of art for the wall.

Wedding Rings Detail Shot

Wedding Rings

Sharpening, contrast, and all that usual jazz, but then I went in and painted by hand a little more clarity in our ring. Highlights and shadows were treated just like I treat them on a portrait and painted in individually. Then came the really fun part. I hated the prominence of "Louvre Boards" in the shot. Took a while to find a convincing font and even longer to get it to lay just right. But I wasn't done there. This needed one more Easter egg.

Wedding rings as wall art

Christmas is coming. Need a great idea for a present? THIS is it.

Happy anniversary Denise and Rick! May you have many more to come. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Kristi and Fred's wedding photos at Mettler Family Vineyard in Lodi CA

So let’s set the scene. It’s September 20th of 2014. California struggles through yet another year of drought and summer shows no signs of letting go. Wells in the south are going dry, the King fire near Pollock Pines rages out of control, and news of rain is generally scoffed at. Basically, it’s the perfect time for an outdoor wedding.

Throughout the day, the sun showed no signs of going away. For shots of the guys and girls on their own and on through the ceremony, it filled the sky just above the Mettler Family Vineyards. The clouds that did come our way seemed to part just above the ceremony site as they moved on by. It wasn’t until we started taking pictures of just Kristi and Fred that things started to change. Soon the clouds started telling us to wrap things up and get to the reception.

No sooner did we get Kristi and Fred inside and lined up for their announcement than the clouds converged and warm summer rain started to fall. Kristi, Fred, and their guests took it in stride, choosing to have fun with it rather than let it dampen their spirits.

Upon looking back over the pictures and reflecting on the day, I was struck by the timing of it all. It was as if someone was parting those clouds for Kristi and Fred. Someone somewhere knew how important the day was and held the clouds at bay just long enough to get through the dressy parts of the day and then, when the time was right, they shed a few tears, washing the couple in good luck.  Now, I’m not a particularly superstitious man, but I do believe that there is a certain kind of love that can do something like that.

detail shot of bride's flowers
I'd actually already shot the bouquet with the shoes earlier in the day so this shot wasn't really necessary; however, just before the ceremony was about to start, they got this brooch attached to the bouquet. It belonged to Kristi's grandmother, who could only be there with her granddaughter in spirit that day. That's one of those details you don't want to miss as a photographer. With my trusty softbox in hand, I found a decorative spot in a planter box and got to work, getting the flowers and rings back just in time for everyone to start making their way down the aisle.

Congratulations, Kristi and Fred. May you always remember to smile, even when the rains come.

Now let's look at some pictures.

cute ceremony sign for wedding
Loved all the little details at this wedding. So many of them were so easy to do - they just take a little time and effort.

lit wedding dress hanging from gate outside
The gown was lovely, especially when juxtaposed with the old gate leading into Mettler Family Vineyards.

wedding dress detail
A simple little embellishment can go a long way.

wedding table setting Mettler Family Vineyards
Table settings before the guests arrive.

Dining area at Mettler Family Vineyards
I like the idea of putting the signs in frames. You can use the frames later for pictures and they add a nice flair. In this
shot, the sun on the reception area was much brighter than on our head table, which was sitting in the shadows, and so I'm lighting the couple's table with a softbox to even things out a little.

winery placeholder idea for wedding
The only thing I might change about this cute table topper idea would be to not have them on a windy day. I set these
up about three times while trying to take shots because the wind kept knocking them over. They're frozen in place here,
so that's all that really matters.

Cute sign for sign in table
Again, loved all the little signs everywhere. The sign-in book was a part of their wedding package and designed by
Melody and David Photography.

gift table idea for wedding
Having something to hold cards in a decorative manner is always difficult to accomplish. This ornate birdcage works perfectly.

sign on easel for wedding entrance
As a former sign maker, what I like most about this sign is that you can see a bit of the wood grain when the light
hits it just right.

detail of wedding shoes shot outside on metal fence
Shoes. It's always so difficult to figure out how to shoot them. I was thankful for this little iron gate accent right outside
the bridal room.

emergency kit for wedding day
Now this is epic. A survival kit for the bride.

Emergency kit opened to reveal contents
Look at all that stuff! 

everything you need on your wedding day
Brides-to-be (and the bridesmaids who would put together such a kit!), take note!

Detail of penny in shoe
Using window light in this shot.

Putting veil on bride during getting ready
Here comes the veil.

moment between mother and bride during getting ready
Mom set this up and I was so glad for it.

bridal portrait next to piano
A quick bridal portrait before heading outside.

Portrait of groom during getting ready
Fred was tucked away in the wine tasting room over at Mettler Family Vineyards. 

Groom putting his lucky penny in his shoe
Can't forget the groom's lucky penny.

Detail shot of wedding rings.
I set this up next to the bouquet in a side area filled with shrubs. When you bring light and have the time, you can do
details just about anywhere. During group photos, one of the grandfathers said to me, "Hey, you're that guy that was
taking pictures of the bushes." 

flower petal design in the aisle
Loved what the florist did with the flowers. So much more visually appealing than simply sprinkling them.

father getting ready to walk daughter down the aisle
That big moment just before daddy's little girl becomes a Mrs.

Father walking daughter down the aisle
Loved the relationship between the sign and our passing bride.

Ceremony site by the water at Mettler Family Vineyards
Officiants are always in the way of great shots. What I really wanted was the reflection of the bride and groom here,
but these beautiful bridesmaids are a nice stand-in.

Wedding party group photo Mettler Family Vineyards
I told them I wanted class, sex appeal, and attitude. I think I got it.

Bride and groom on pier
Wind started to pick up as those ominous clouds rolled in.

Bride and groom on dock at Mettler Family Vineyards
I admit, I had to do a little wok in post to make this look the way it looked in my head when I shot it. 

candid bridal portrait moment
Sweet moment between these two during bridals. Whenever possible, we try to find a way to give our couples a few
moments of semi-alone time during pictures because it's the only chance they'll get until they leave the party.

bride and groom shot against the setting sun.
Fires raging up in the hills turned the sky orange with smoke that became most apparent during sundown.

Bride and groom walking out in the rain
We finished up and got them over to the reception just in time for the clouds to open up and commence with the rain.

Bride and groom walking down golden pathway Mettler Family Vineyards
So this is the sunset that I REALLY wanted to shoot against, but we had guests waiting, rain on the way, and our
bride and groom were pretty much done with pictures. Knowing that I likely wasn't going to get much out of them
by way of posing if I insisted we take off for a few more minutes, I simply asked them to walk down a pathway
so we could get shots of them in this light.

Dance area at Mettler Family Vineyards
Pretty difficult setup for shooting dance photos, but we made it work.

Couple embraces on the dancefloor
Love catching the sweet moments on the dancefloor. The wild and crazy moments go up on our facebook page.

bride has wild guests behind her for the bouquet toss
Those ladies look pretty pumped. This is what a crossfit bouquet toss looks like.

Leaving through the gates at Mettler Family Vineyards
I grabbed Fred's sister and her man to test my light for this shot so that when our bride and groom came through
I could tell them, "Stand there. Look at each other." Click, click, click'. "Okay, you're done." I think it turned out
pretty good.

Parents waving to the bride and groom.
Caught a couple of moms and a dad waving to the limo as it pulled away.

Venue: Mettler Family Vineyards in Lodi, California.
DJ: Elite Entertainment

Discounts: Everyone in the wedding party is entitled to a $200 discount for their wedding day.
You can see more from this wedding on our Facebook page here.
If you'd like to find out more about our photography, look us up at
Want to see some editing videos that show a bit of how David works his magic?

And if you want to see cute pictures of our kids along with sneak peeks of what we're working on, follow us on Instagram at: