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Yes, you should have been paying attention!

May 12, 2011

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Remember a few months back I announced that I was giving away a free wedding portrait job? Well, Emily & Tad, who live in Long Beach and are having a super cute backyard wedding, have one. So…yay Emily & Tad!

This all came about in a funny way too. The first thing you have to know about this story is Jenna, my daughter. Jenna is always, always dressed to the nines. I think I’ve seen her without her hair and makeup done a handful of times. She does laundry in high heels. She holds cocktail parties. She could have been switched at birth.

So the other day she tells me she’s off to a 50’s-housewife themed bridal shower for her bud, Emily. “I’m coming to shoot that,” I told her on the phone. “Tell the bride.” I couldn’t wait to see Jen and all her friends in their heels and aprons and pearls and all that stuff that is totally all about June Cleaver. Totally.

From the sign on the front of the house to the amazing (seriously, amazing) handmade decorations (by Tifany, who should definitely be doing this for a living), the whole event was so darling, so cute. I felt a little out of place in my jeans and sweatshirt was totally caught unawares without my leopard print pill box hat.

So I shot it up, told Jen that “she’s going to cry when she sees this and she knows that I”m not shooting her wedding,” Well, I said that because I assumed she had a wedding photographer, but she didn’t; it wasn’t in the budget and instead she had some friends taking pictures.

Perfect. Totally, utterly perfect. I offered to shoot her wedding and she’s been squeeing ever since (honestly, you’d be surprised what you can get from a professional photographer just by squeeing a lot: we live for squees). Her wedding is in a few more weeks, but until then, I wanted to show off the most creative and most fun bridal shower I’ve ever seen (or shot).


Dad’s day or just for yourself

May 11, 2011

fissy loves blaise

May 3, 2011 2 Comments

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A couple of things about Fisayo & Blaise: first, I think Fissy is the best.nickname.ever. I want people to start calling me Fissy. When I first met Blaise, I called him “Blaisey.” I wonder if he remembers that. Ok, so I don’t always make so good with the non-WASP names, but I’m trying. 🙂

Fisayo & Blaise were my first wedding of the year; I’d been spending the first part of the year booked with portraits and other commercial shoots. And man, did they they give me a workout. You know it’s a good wedding when–halfway through–your photographer has to change her clothes in the car. This was more than a wedding, it was like a UN party. The costumes, the traditions, the mix of American & African, it was a visual, aural and photographic feast.

It’s funny; as a photographer I witness so many different types of weddings. From playing-it-straight Mass to on-the-beach barefoot. At the time I’m shooting, I don’t really think about this; but at the end of the year, I’ll look back and think of all the different family & cultural traditions (and quirks) that I’ve seen and been a part of, and I’m telling you, it’s a gas. It’s better than the National Geographic channel.

So back to Fissy & Blaise. So adorable. So generous with the love; so not “all about me.” I think they can now take credit for rewriting that phrase made famous by Hilary Clinton: “It takes a village to put on a wedding.”

Guys (I’m speaking to you newlyweds here); it was an honor; it was a workout; it was fun and it was just lovely. Let’s do it again next year!

it’s starting

April 26, 2011 5 Comments

We’ve had almost three years of complete, blissful denial. we’ve lived in the moment, we’ve pushed the past and, while admitting it was there, refused to acknowledge its presence. But now Jack is almost 10 and T is nearly 7. Jack has developed a lipoma and a bad cough that won’t go away. His anxiety, instead of easing with all the positive reinforcement and love & attention, has worsened.

I was halfway to the ER with Pickle this evening when I put the brakes on that panic; the fear that when something, the slightest thing, is wrong, I He’s wiped out now on Benadryl (for the anxiety) and Tramadol (for the pain). I think his back went out, and it’s frightening him and he’s wimpering. It breaks my heart to hear him wimper.

It would be so easy for me to go back just 3-4 years; in fact, easy enough that I guess I’m in a way doing just that by writing this, but I did turn around on the way to the ER. Instead, we have an appointment tomorrow with our vet.

Xrays and blood tests are coming. Diagnosis, prognosis; it’s a matter of time before the weighty conversations come and consume our spare time. How long before we start checking off the positive and the negative in the back of our minds as we drive to work, on errands, going about our business. As we go about our business every day, our dogs age, and will eventually die. And today is the first day that I think I actually admitted that to myself. I took it from the abstract eventuality to a finite point in my future.

Both are asleep on the bed next to me right now, and after this post, I’m putting it all to bed. We’ll get on with whatever we need to get on with tomorrow. But for tonight, i wanted to acknowledge that yeah, I see what’s coming. It always does. Come back, I mean.

I do have to say, te past three years; as Billy Joel put it so beautifully in one of my all-time favorite songs, “I’ve loved these days.”

a gentle reminder

April 25, 2011 3 Comments

Anyone who knows even the slightest bit about me knows that I’m all about my dogs. They (you) also know that about three years ago, I was standing on the edge of the biggest, blackest hole I’d ever encountered. It’s a very long story; some of it can be found in my Flickr photostream (though I’ve long deleted many of those dark posts). But below is one of the original posts about that period. I like to republish it every year or so for a few reasons. It gives me solace. We are all, at different points in our lives, going through this, sometimes over and over and over. But mostly as a gentle reminder–to myself and to others–that you should take some time out every day and give the animals who own you a big snorgle. Imprint their scent, the feel of their fur, on you. Remember how glorious this feels, because one day, that memory is all that you will have to comfort you.

is there anything more sobering than the 3 seconds immediately following the injection of the fluid?

of course, it’s not really just 3 seconds. it’s days, weeks, months and years. it’s the same 3 seconds that you think about over and over and replay in your mind and it’s one of those things that you know you can never, ever take back and that is just the oddest feeling, you know? because you can take almost anything back. you can do it again. you can change your mind.

but in those 3 seconds, the reality that you cannot change your mind, you cannot make a different choice or relive it, stops your heartbeat. your head spins, but the world doesn’t. you hear things, mostly silence. and it’s loud.

and when you’re driving down the road, you’re thinking of an appointment that you have to be at, and your mind is on a thousand things all at once and then, the 3 seconds comes back to you. and you relive them.

all over again.

[click on the image to see large]

xo & snorgles to all the babies we’ve rescued over the years; and to those who have rescued us.

Not much time left: I pick April’s giveaway winner at 3:00pm PST. If you’re not a fan, you lose. Oh, bummer.

today’s the day!

April 18, 2011

your bridesmaid may leave you hanging, but your dogs never will

March 16, 2011 5 Comments

Several months ago, I had the pleasure of “meeting” Colleen Paige, a brilliant businesswoman (with lots of charisma) through Facebook. Colleen publishes a number of awesome magazines and runs some great businesses. One of those is The Wedding Dog; “human wedding design with fur kids in mind.” How fabulous!

I’ve been to a few weddings in which dogs were part of the bridal party, and these, for me, are better than candy! It takes all my self-restraint not to go over and snorgle the dogs and feed them cupcakes all day. In fact, I have a wedding coming up this year that is going to include the most adorable & awesome Piggie (a pug), whose portrait I shot a few years ago.

Having your dog be part of your wedding is non-negotiable for some brides, and those are my kind of people. But it’s not all easy-peasy like you’d think. There are a lot of things to take into consideration to make it a good experience for the dog, for you and for your guests. There’s been a lot written on this, but if you want to really do it up right, I highly recommend a visit to Colleen’s site. I’m not just saying that because I love her (though I do) or because she’s honored me as one of her “photographers of choice” for her clients (which, squee!! she did!) but because I know she has the best interests of everyone in mind, including the dog. And really, yay for that. I mean, you can’t just put a bow on your dog and expect him or her to stand still for an hour in the heat while you’re looking all googly eyed into your groom’s eyes. There are ways to do these things. So if you’re going to do it, do it right.

And if that weren’t enough, she gives 30% of her profits to The Animal Miracle Network, which exists for the sole reason of helping animals in need; whether down the street at your local shelter or across the sea in Japan (which she’s doing right now). If you know one thing about me, you know that animal rescue is my thing: like, my number one thing. I donate prints & sessions to fundraisers and I shoot for my local rescues & shelters. When I meet other people who are doing the same, they instantly become my new BFF. Seriously, just like that.

And if you think having your dog in your wedding is silly, consider this quote from her website: “when all is said and done, you can renew your vows, take another honeymoon…even wear that dress or tux again if you’ve been careful to watch those lattes with whip…but your beloved pet will only be there once, to share in the memory of the most treasured day of your life.”


I love the interwebs.

married. and busted.

March 4, 2011 2 Comments

Ok, so. I have a bunch of lovely shots of a recent client of mine who was just featured in a local magazine, and I was just about to blog him when I realized that I missed February’s “Be the Bride”! Gah! Such bad manners.

Well, I’ve been doing taxes and organizing my office for the coming jobs, and I got so immersed in my paperwork that I didn’t get a chance to sit down and plan a BtB outside of the studio. (Although I love to shoot on location, the weather here in LA has been especially cold and we’ve had lots of rain, and the studio is…well, it’s right here! It’s so convenient to just walk into the other room and have all my lights, backdrops, and everything I need just there and waiting.)

So I got home this morning from errands and threw this together for you. This is an idea I’ve had for awhile; the only thing that’s kept me from shooting it is finding one of those mug shot letter boards. They are impossible to find! I called several prop houses and that got me nowhere; there’s nothing on eBay either. But I did come across this app for the iPad. It’s quite clever, but it is a little difficult to shoot the in studio all by myself because the screen can throw off some serious glare.

I think it’s a fabulous idea for wedding portraits, if you can find a message board or even ask two of your friends to bring their iPads to your wedding. You could do an entire series with the bride & groom and the bridal party. Your photographer could put them altogether in a sort of mug shot board, like the post office’s “Most Wanted” posters. I love that idea.

If you don’t have iPads, get a couple of chalkboards or go look at Staples and the other big office supply stores. You may be able to find a message board with letters; but I looked online and really couldn’t find anything. All you Etsy brides could probably come up with something in a snap. And you don’t have to be all mussed up to shoot these: I gave myself a sort of “dragged down the aisle” look, but getting shot with your cute hair and makeup and all that, and they could be really cute.

So there you have it: my February/March “Be the Bride: 2011.”

Married. And busted.

my favorite tree

February 27, 2011 2 Comments

So after all the updating and rearranging of my site this weekend, I found a few minutes for myself to shoot a bit. I’ve been wanting to shoot this lemon tree ever since it started to take on this bizarre shape. The lemons we get off this tree are bigger than grapefruit and they’re wonderful! This makes me wonder what they do to the lemons in the grocery store to make them all so small and uniform in shape.

My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.

February 25, 2011 5 Comments

The love we have for our dogs knows no bounds. We routinely share our food, our beds, our most private thoughts, our happiness and our sadness with our furkids. There is no comfort known to us like the comfort of our dogs. A smart spouse knows to never try and come between us and our dog. (Mr. Susan didn’t know this when we first started dating, but you can be sure that 15 years later, these are words by which he lives.) I’ve shot weddings with dogs involved, and lots of e-sessions. It makes total sense to me that you’d want to share the best day of your life with your other best friend, your other soulmate.

My love for dogs and my volunteer work with shelters has led me to so many other “dog people”. The internet is so vast, yet it seems so small, because hardly a day goes by that I don’t meet & befriend another person whose dogs are the love of his/her life. Like me. Like Colleen.

Colleen is an amazing ball of energy; running so many websites, magazines and companies, including The Wedding Dog. When she first found me online, and we had our first conversation, it was like…well, it was like taking to another me. We talked for an hour straight without a single pause between the two of us. It was the love of dogs that brought us together, but it was our total lack of charisma that made us best friends (that’s an inside joke). 🙂

But I digress.

One of Colleen’s specialties is helping couples find a way to involve their dog(s) in their wedding. This is brilliant! I wish I’d had the sense to do this when Mr. Susan and I got married. I mean, think about it: you’ve gathered all your loved ones in one place to witness one of the biggest, and happiest, days of your life. Everyone who means something to you is there. If a dog is part of your life, how can you even consider not having him/her there as well? You can’t. It’s unthinkable.

You may think that having your dog at the wedding is a no-brainer, but…um, yeah, you’d be wrong. You don’t want the dog doing his business on the aisle, right? (I’m sure it’s happened.) And you can’t take the chance that Fido is going to lift his leg on Grandma’s chair (or, was that her leg?). Oh, that would be such bad juju (and not to mention a high risk of having your wedding gift reclaimed).

Aside from helping you plan the part of the wedding where you dog is involved, she has a line of these awesome little couture pieces for your dog to wear. Nothing frilly or lacy, but outstanding and definitely this side of not making your dog feel ridiculous.

I’m honored that Colleen has added me as her photographer of choice for her clients. Hopefully, this will lead to lots more connections with dog people for me, and seriously, can you ever know enough dog people? I think not.

Check out her site, check out the couture (yes, it’s distinguished enough for male dogs too), and please do check out her other sites. Bonus: she donates 30% of the earnings from The Wedding Dog to rescues & shelters. That makes me completely love her (as if I didn’t already).

(Oh, and the title of this post is a lovely quote by Edith Wharton. I don’t think I could ever say it better.)