HeartStone Ranch

There's a hand painted sign tucked off the side of a path at the HeartStone Ranch in Santa Barbara that reads "We're so glad you're here." A proclamation that perfectly reflected the familial nature of both bride and groom. Even as the preparations for the wedding progressed at a brisk pace, the atmosphere was relaxed and embracing. Much like Santa Barbara itself, which is why I love to shoot here at every opportunity.

HeartStone Ranch is a private estate designed specifically for weddings, an important note because there's no need to think about shoe-horning a wedding into a pastoral setting. You just come and unfold your matrimonial vision and effortlessly experience the special day. As I watched the wedding party engage in lawn games under the shade of ancient oak trees, with goats and horses looking on, I couldn't help thinking that the ranch is just a little magical. There is a flawless balance between the rustic and the elegant that is surrounded by ocean and mountain views. Together it all culminates in an environment that is remarkably unique.

Mercifully, HeartStone Ranch was spared the recent fire and mudslide calamities. I'm thankful because HeartStone is a wonderful place that always feels exactly as their unassuming sign declares; "We're so glad you're here."

Wedding Coordinator:  Kerry Lee Doehr

Venue: HeartStone Ranch

Catering:  Omni Catering

Hamlin Mansion Wedding

They traveled from their home overseas to start their marriage among family and in the familiar surroundings of the brides youth. The color palette of the floral arrangements, rich oranges, yellows, and pinks, struck a striking contrast against the classic dark wood architecture of the Hamlin Mansion.  As the newly married couple walked down the aisle, ribbons descended upon them from the second floor symbolizing a new chapter of life. A tradition that the bride experienced back when she was girl attending grammar school in the same building.The sweeping view of the Golden Gate Bridge reminded all in attendance that this was a quintessential San Francisco wedding that combined the traditional past with the bright future for both Alexandra and Stuart.  Congratulations!

Wedding Coordinator:  Moira Gubbins Venue:  Hamlin Mansion   Flowers:  Green Bouquet   DJ:  Von Woo  Catering: Elaine Bell Catering

The Meadow Club

Wedding guests beamed at the sweet couple from under the shade of parasols. An outsider might guess that they were looking at a traditional Southern ceremony, because it was an astonishing 105 degrees outside, but this was a classic California wedding at the Meadow Club in Fairfax.

It started just over the bridge, in San Francisco, at the Loews hotel which provided the stunning backdrop of the iconic Transamerica pyramid for the all important first look. Then, to continue with the theme of landmark backdrops, the bridal party piled into a bus for stops at The Palace of Fine Arts, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The bus tour concluded at the Meadow Club, an auspicious venue because the bride’s parents had been married there.

As a magician entertained guests during the cocktail hour, the sun began to drop along with the temperature allowing for breathtaking photos around the grounds where even the deer came out to strike a pose for my camera.  All in all, it was a wedding photographer's dream.  Congratulations, Lindsay and Tim!  

A First Look

The first look is a wonderful opportunity to photograph a sweet and quiet moment between the bride and groom before the celebration with family and friends begins.  Occasionally, the bridal party sneaks a peek, and those moments are equally as fun to capture, although I tend to prefer a more secluded environment for my clients.  Always feel free to personalize the first look too, like these lovebirds below sharing a glass of wine.   Cheers!

Wedding Coordinator:  Andria Leigh Events

Flowers:  Milsom & Bloom

Outdoor Art Club

Many times, over the last few years, I have found myself nodding in agreement with my fellow photographers that it can never be a bad day at work when you have a camera in your hand. It is one of the wonderful benefits of being a wedding photographer. But then there are those days that are even better than the good ones.

Down the road from my home, is the Outdoor Art Club. Unique, exquisite, and fun. One of my favorite venues to shoot. When it's filled with a wedding party that is flat out fabulous, the atmosphere becomes inspiring.  I could feel it in my eye as I looked through the viewfinder, down to my feet that scurried to keep up with the action. The candids, the portraits, and everything in between felt just right. When it was all over, I had a set of pictures that truly exhibited my style of wedding photography. What a beautiful day with lovely people!

Pizza Love

Take the pizza parlor, Forge, in Oakland's Jack London Square. Sprinkle it with beaming family and friends formally dressed. Top it off with a beautiful couple to exchanging vows on the opposite coast from where they grew up, and you end up with a perfect ceremony of complimentary contrasts.This wasn't a wedding as much as it was journey to a place where the past and future came together for a celebration amid the comforting smells of baking pizza dough.  

Congratulations, Andy and Anna!!!  Smile on forever!!!!

Happy Home

Many clients frequently ask me where they should take their engagement photos.  The bay area is filled with so many beautiful locations that it can be an overwhelming decision.  To narrow down options, I tell my clients to choose a place where the two of them are relaxed, happy, and have fun.  If that place is home to them, then let's shoot there!  (I'm outdoorsy but I'm a homebody at heart, so I have a particular affinity for this engagement shoot.) 

Elegance At Hamlin Mansion

Elegance accented by love filled Hamlin Mansion. Draped white lights cast a soft glow on the woodwork of the classical architecture, and orange accents of the floral arrangements. In the background a pianist played to the delight of all in attendance. The stage was set for the marriage of Rob and Darin. The toasts were so thoughtful and heartfelt that even one blossomed unexpectedly into a beautiful rendition of a Whitney Houston song. After dinner, each of the grooms danced with their mothers until the guests took to the floor to create a major dance party.  What a wonderful celebration to document and remember.  

Venue:  Hamlin Mansion   Event Coordinator:  Moira Gubbins   Floral Design: Green Bouquet Floral Design

A Beautiful Wedding At The Ritz Carlton

Betty and David took courage and happiness from the rain that fell on their wedding day because we all know that rain brings a dose of luck and prosperity.  Giddy bridesmaids stood by while Betty presented her gorgeous Carolina Herrera dress.  Every detail down to the floral crowns worn by the flower girls was attended to with meticulousness and grace.  After the pronouncement that Betty and David were joined together, the sound of enthusiastic applause could be heard all throughout the Ritz Carlton.  Dinner was intimate, and the dance floor provided a stage for guests to show off their extraordinary dance moves.  It was the perfect night for a beautiful wedding.  Congratulations, Betty and David.  

Floral Design by PoppyPetalWorks

A Stroll Through Lafayette Park

I can always rely on San Francisco to provide a charming neighborhood park and gorgeous city views. Lafayette park is one of my absolute favorites to photograph engagement sessions. It's full of lush trees, comfy benches, and stairs.  I have to give these sweet love birds some props for suggesting we take photos on the rooftop of their apartment building.  That was a fabulous and fun way to end this photo shoot.  Enjoy the photos!

Marin Headlands Engagement Shoot

Engagement shoots are my jam.  It's a great way to get fun and pretty photos in a casual setting with the love of your life.  Everything leading up to your wedding should be romantic and fun, right???!!!  

These two love birds are getting married this year, and I am soooo excited for them.  Here are a few favorites from their engagement shoot that was taken in the Marin Headlands.  A beautiful backdrop for a sweet couple.  Cheers!

A Happy Anniversary In San Francisco

 I had the pleasure of photographing Anthony and Wayne's beautiful wedding last year at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco.  It was one of the most intimate and loving celebrations I had ever witnessed. In celebration of their anniversary, we all reunited again and took photos at the Sutro Bath Ruins and Sutro Park.  It's a lovely reminder to keep honoring the bond you have with the people you love.

Love At Falkirk Cultural Center

I love weddings that blend both traditional and contemporary style.   It was the subtle contrasts that made this wedding so stunning. Both bride and groom cleverly displayed a little reverence for then, and a little pageantry for now. Combined it was a beautiful homage to forever together. The storied ceremony was set against the historic backdrop of the Falkirk Cultural Center in San Rafael. An intimate venue with enough space to wander through the breathtaking gardens with friends and family.  Such a lovely day with beautiful people.  Enjoy the photos. 

Simple And Sweet At San Francisco City Hall

I love city hall weddings in San Francisco.  A small parade of beaming brides and grooms look at each other lovingly and say "I do," while the rest of the city buzzes about its day-to-day business.  It is a singular experience.

Kristina and Tyler exchanged their vows on a busier than average day.  After the ceremony, we sought some quiet areas to shoot portraits.  With my trusty Hasseblad and a couple rolls of black and white film, the couple and I produced a few of my favorites portraits this season.  Congratulations Kristina and Tyler! 

Springtime In The City

 Engagement shoots in the springtime are my favorite, especially in San Francisco.  Golden Gate park is showing off it's spring flowers and everything is crisp and green.  I did choose probably the WINDIEST DAY EVER to take Haley and Justin's engagement photos, but they were such good sports about it that I would probably do it all over again (ok maybe with slightly less wind.)  What I love about their engagement session is that you can really tell how much fun they have together. Their relationship really shines in their laughter and affection.  I'm so excited to photograph their wedding in September.  I have a feeling I might be reaching for my tissues during their ceremony.  

The Lyford House

I'm always amazed how utterly breathtaking everything is in the Bay area.  I'm even more grateful for the lovely and talented individuals I've met in the wedding industry who's support and vision keeps me inspired.  A big thank you to those wonderful souls whose collaboration and creativity on this styled shoot made it all possible.  

Teasers from our styled shoot are below and please take a look at the full gallery featured on Intimate Weddings.  It's just LOVELY.


The following women made this shoot possible...

Photography:  Emily Merrill Wedding Photography

Planner:  Parties Parties Parties

Floral Design: Green Bouquet Floral Design

Vintage Rentals:  Katy Birds

Chef: Chef Stephanie

Hair and Make-up:  Tess Felix

Invitations:  Sheryl Denker

Cake:  A Spoonful of Sugar Cakes

Cocktails:  Laughing Glass

Styling:  Annie Felix Green

Venue:  The Lyford House

Bring The Dog

Lovable dogs with just a splash of Diva attitude are always welcome at my engagement shoots. Miss Emma brought her fabulous humans, and we all spent a beautiful afternoon in San Francisco taking pictures.  Should Emma make an appearance at the wedding, I'll make sure to have a film canister full of treats for her. 

Here are a few of my favorite images, captured on 35mm film.  I adore these guys!

The Sutro Baths

You can usually find me at the Sutro Baths carrying multiple blankets and juggling camera equipment while politely asking tourists to move along.  This location favorite of mine, is typically quite cold, windy, and full of wanderers taking in the view (and getting in my shot.)  On this surprisingly warm day in San Francisco, I made sure to take complete advantage of the Sutro Baths and luckily didn't run into many people competing for the same space.  YAY!

I'm slightly obsessed with the black and white images from this engagement shoot.  They just make me smile every time I take a glance.  Counting down the days for this sweet couple's beautiful wedding in Napa!

Beautiful Reminders

Sometimes you can just feel the love that two people share.  It shows in a snuggle, a forehead kiss, a good laugh, an embrace, holding hands, quiet moments, and of course, a big smooch on the lips.  Photographs can be beautiful reminders to take the time to express love for the ones we cherish the most in our lives.  Congratulations to this sweet couple for finding each other.  


My sensitivity goes into overdrive and my awareness gets heightened when I shoot a wedding because it’s my job to depict the day in the most honest and beautiful way possible. I love this image. I love the flower girl’s curious expression, the warmth of the church environment and I love the composition of the shot. Most of all I appreciate that everyone in this photo appears to be fully aware that they have been invited to witness a marriage. We all were collectively adoring a moment and waiting patiently for the next. There's no sharing of selfies to the world to let it know where we are and what we're doing. No "this just happened" captions nor "that time that" a cute flower girl walked down the aisle hashtags. Visually this photo would have been less impactful had anyone pointed their camera phone in my direction to seize the moment for themselves. Ceremonies deserve reverence not self-centeredness. It's rare to find and harder to visually depict when everyone around us is trying to stay connected and relevant. I’m not suggesting that wedding guests never take a photo with their cameras. I understand the appeal and the importance of capturing moments and life as it happens. What I am recommending is a kind reminder to all guests to unplug, especially during the ceremony. There are many ways to effectively communicate this request to your guests. I find the best way is through some kind of sign (make it pretty but bold) and another reminder in the wedding program that is handed out prior to the ceremony. Trust that your ceremony will be beautifully documented by the photographer you have hired for the day. Most likely, your guests will feel the same way and respect the request to unplug for the short duration of a once in a lifetime moment.