When Erin & Ryan hired me to photograph their wedding weekend in the Denver, Colorado area, they made it apparent to me that it was going to be a huge celebration. The two have made a successful careers working in Palo Alto, California – Erin at Facebook and Ryan for the AGC of California and they wanted a wedding that could accommodate all of their friends coming in from all across the country. After the last three and a half weeks of processing their wedding photos, I can honestly say that it was one of the biggest weddings I have photographed. My day began with an early morning start with Erin getting ready with her bridesmaids at the home of her aunt and uncle in Parker, Colorado. It was a huge, beautiful custom-designed mansion complete with antique furniture and big windows that cast in a lot of natural light. It really set a nice scene for the pre wedding preparations. It reminded me of being in some fancy European castle.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, photographing Erin’s wedding was a mini reunion for me because I knew her and many of her bridesmaids from high school in Crystal Lake, Illinois. It was so great to see them all again. As the girls got ready, they sipped champaign, laughed over old high school stories and helped Erin get ready for her big day. Once they were finished with their make up and hair by the stylists from L Raymond Styles Hair Salon, they got situated into their black, designer dresses from Rent the Runway and we were able to do some Vogue fashion style formal portraits. As the wedding start time approached, we loaded up into a stretch Hummer and made our way to the church. Erin and Ryan decided to have a more traditional catholic wedding held in the Ave Maria Church in Parker, Colorado. It was there that my hired assistant Justin Edmonds, a photojournalism friend and fellow Eddie Adams Workshop Rust teammate, arrived and we worked together to document the story of their wedding day. Having a second photographer to help photograph a wedding allows me to have multiple angles and to provide a much more thorough coverage of my client’s wedding day. It really makes a huge difference and if it’s something you are considering for your own wedding day, I can’t emphasize benefits enough. He was a big help.

Erin got a lot of assistance with all of the wedding details and decoration ideas from her wedding planner Stacy Pisani, of Alexan Events. Where the wedding ceremony followed a tradition catholic undertone, the reception was a stark contrast of hip, luxurious style and design. A large air conditioned tent was setup in the backyard of Erin’s aunt and uncle’s house where you could find a full dance floor with DJ music from Scratch Weddings, a club style lounge with couches, table settings and chairs from Event Rents, an assortment of gourmet food stations from Epicurean Catering and fine wines from The Wine Experience Café scattered through out. It was an incredible evening complete with delicious food, a fun, Greener Visuals photo booth that I set up and the guests danced well into the early morning. These guys know how to have a good time.

This is a sample of some of the photographs from their wedding day. You can see all of my favorites from the day under my wedding stories section hereYou can view and purchase all of the photos from the day here.

Wishing Erin and Ryan all the best with their new life together. Congratulations!

I’m just about finished with their Colorado wedding photos. Stay tuned…..

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a wedding peak over the top of awesomeness. A couple weeks ago, I helped Erin and Ryan do just that by setting up a photo booth for their guests to play in and take photos of themselves throughout the reception. What I love about offering photo booths to my clients is that they are totally customizable by the fun props and backdrops clients provide and are limited only by the creativity of their wedding guests. I have yet to keep a straight face while editing a photo booth take. So often they yield hilarious results. Being a high up the totem pole in the marketing department over at Facebook, Erin really wanted step it up a notch and have a social media aspect to her wedding day. She approached me about a concept of having her photo booth photos posted straight to Facebook throughout the evening so her friends and family could tag themselves and share the photos. I thought it was a pretty cool concept that I had never tried before but was up to the challenge. Through the help of my trusty photo assistant and local Denver photographer Justin Edmonds, we were able to figure out a solution using presets in Adobe Lightroom 3. The result was a couple easy clicks (on my computer which was tethered to my camera) and the photos uploaded straight to her Facebook page dedicated to her wedding day. It was a huge hit with her wedding guests and a new challenge I was pleased that we were able to conquer. In the end I couldn’t resist and stepped in to make a couple photos of myself. Too much fun. Here are a couple of my favorite images that were made during Erin and Ryan’s wedding. You can view the full photo shoot here on my archive site. Stay tuned for their wedding shoot. Coming soon. Until then, -M

I love shooting the weddings of friends especially one’s I haven’t seen in a while. Last weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Denver, Colorado to photograph the wedding of an old high school friend Erin who was tying the knot with her college sweetheart Ryan. The two hired me for a full weekend coverage starting with their wedding rehearsal dinner at the beautiful Wine Experience Café & World Cellar in the southeast corner of Aurora, Colorado part of the greater Denver area. I flew out to Denver Friday morning from Sacramento and arrived mid afternoon in the mile high city. Being back Colorado, I had forgotten how much I missed it. While in college, I worked a couple summers at a outdoor summer camp in Estes Park, CO where I quickly fell in love with the front range of the Rocky Mountains. I had not been back much since and was looking forward to a return. Erin and Ryan had met years earlier while attending undergrad studying Marketing at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado and the two now live and work in Palo Alto, California – Erin at Facebook and Ryan for the AGC of California.  Sharing the same love for Colorado as I do, they decided to have their wedding there where they would be closer to family and friends not to mention having a stunning mountain backdrop for their wedding weekend.

Erin and Ryan wanted their rehearsal dinner to be a relaxed evening event before their big day. They brought their wedding guests to the Wine Experience Café & World Cellar for a wine tasting and light dinner hosted by family friends and owners Rita and Eldon Larson. It was a photographer’s dream location. The cafe had a huge large windows that cast a beautiful soft window light across all of the guests, both local and from out of town, as they wined and dined with smiles on their faces. You could feel the excitement from everyone in anticipation of the wedding the next day. One of the things I’ve been seeing a lot at weddings I’ve photographed this wedding season is couples opting for small samples of many different types of foods served in a tapas style format. I like it because it turns the meal experience into an adventure where guest can really get a feel for the food artistry of the chef. It’s a pretty cool concept and the best part is if there is something someone doesn’t like (a rarity) they know they have more delicious samples on deck. The guests (and the lucky photographer) were served in rounds based off the wine that was being served at the time. As people were starting to trickle in, an assortment of small flavorful dishes like Asian Seared Ahi Tuna paired with a San Quirico Vernaccia di San Gimignano or a Tenderloin Bruschetta with horse radish cream paired with a Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee wine were served as a starter. As we moved into the seated meal, the food changed course and started with a Apple Spinach Salad or Calamari served in a tempura style with jalapenos and french green beans that was then paired with a Sparr Dry Riesling or an Emyael Off Dry Riesling. As the night progressed onward, the main entree’s were served. It was an assortment of awesomeness. Guests had their choice of Seared Sea Scallops paired with a Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Sauvignon Blanc, Wild Boar Fettuccini with sauteed mushrooms paired with an Arrowood Chardonnay, a Filet Mignon with garlic mash potatoes paired with a Luigi Bosca DOC Malbec (a personal favorite), or Pan Seared Chicken Breast with smoked ham and broccolini risotto paired with Century Oak Cabernet Sauvignon. In all it was a really nice evening filled with fine wines, good food and great conversation between friends and family. It was a meal memory won’t soon forget.

These are some of my favorite photographs from their rehearsal dinner. You can view and purchase all of the photos from the evening here. Now onto editing down and toning close to 6000 images I made from the wedding day. I have my work cut out for me. So many great images to choose from. I’ll post them as soon as I finish. Until then, -M

A couple weekends ago, I had another opportunity to spend the afternoon with my wedding clients Gillian and Jeff at a party her mom was having in celebration of their recent nuptials. It was a chance for all of  the family friends that were unable to attend the actual wedding at the Firehouse Restaurant in early May, to come over for food and drink and chat the newlyweds. By far one of the best complements I can receive is when my satisfied clients hire me on for more work. From the get go Gillian, Jeff and I just clicked and the success of their wedding is a direct result of our like minded personalities. I was thrilled to work with them again. For their afternoon party, they wanted me to capture the fun as the party progressed while stopping to take some formal portraits of them and their guests along the way. It was a small but elegant catered event complete with incredible desserts from Pastry chef/sweet goddess Carissa at Sugar & Spice Specialty Deserts and live background music from the band Cold Shot. The advantage to having previously photographed clients and many of their wedding guest before is that they were already comfortable around me and my camera. Unlike the pressures of documenting a wedding day, this was a more laid back event where I could spend more time getting to know each of the guests in attendance. It was wonderful to see all of the immense love and support that Gillian and Jeff have through their friends and family. They are truly a fortunate couple. To see more photos from their Sunday afternoon party please go here. It was a pleasure to spend another afternoon toasting the union of Gillian and Jeff. I wish them all the best. -M

I can’t believe it is the 4th of July already. I’ve been so busy with weddings and photographing events that the patriot holiday snuck up on me this year. After a long fun weekend in Denver photographing the wedding of an old high school friend, I returned home exhausted but satisfied. Since my return, it’s been nothing but one hundred degree heat and barbecues with friends in Sacramento and Davis, California. It was a treat to slow down and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. I decided it would be fun to set up my Greener Visuals Wedding Photography photo booth for the event. It was a great excuse to play and draw with sparklers. It reminded me of my youth growing up catching lightning bugs and celebrating the Independence Day fireworks in northwest suburbs of Chicago. Happy memories and just like that…summer is halfway over. Time flies when your having fun. Happy 4th of July everyone! -M

A couple weeks back I was emergency hired to document a family reunion of Plush Wedding & Events planner Michaela Rodgers. Her former photographer backed out at the last minute and she was left scrambling to find a replacement. Through the great wedding network of Sacramento, Michaela was able to track me down and asked if I could help her out. Being a professional photojournalist at newspapers for the past six years, I’ve often been thrown into a photographic situation at the drop of a hat where I’ve had to roll with it and make captivating images. I was happy to offer my photographic services and a couple days later, I found myself hired and driving eastbound towards Lake Tahoe for my Saturday with the Rodgers documenting their family festivities.

The Rodgers Family gathering was focused around the birthdays of the grandparents Donna and Kirk and their kids wanted to celebrate the event with a surprise weekend in Lake Tahoe. Michaela married into the family with her high school sweetheart now husband Cameron, the youngest of the six children. The two have known each other since their junior year of high school.

Coming from a smaller family of three kids, my eyes were definitely opened to a whole new family dynamic of six children and ten grand children. There are eighteen grand children now,” said Michaela Rodgers about life as a Rodgers family member, “It’s never a dull, or quiet, moment.  I knew right away that this family was special and they have taught me a whole new meaning of what being a family truly is.”

The whole idea of their special surprise weekend began months earlier stemming from Cameron’s older sister, Tawna (third oldest sibling).  Their parents, Donna & Kirk both recently turned sixty-years-old this past year and their kids and grandchildren wanted to do something meaningful for them. The kids figured since their parents had taken care of, supported and loved their children and grand children every day of their lives their recent birthday was a good excuse to celebrate in style. So Tawna gathered the family members together, gave us each tasks and assignments to get the planning underway.

I’ll let Michaela describe how the weekend went with a letter she sent to me.

Everything about this weekend was a surprise to the parents.  The first day, we put together a scavenger hunt that began in Lincoln, CA and led Donna & Kirk up to the cabin in Lake Tahoe.  They were welcomed with a huge gift basket of their favorite treats: Popcorn, Hot Tamales, Diet Pepsi, Pellegrino, M&M’s, all their favorites along with beautiful fresh flowers to brighten up their room.

The second day, we surprised them with our fabulous photographer, Mike Greener of Greener Visuals Wedding Photography.  The idea of having Mike share our weekend celebration with us was so that he could capture the everyday silly, goofy, emotional and special moments that we have with one another regularly. It’s those special moments that we rarely are able to capture because we are always “in the moment”.  We wanted Mike to document our day with his beautiful pictures and he delivered above and beyond what any of us had envisioned.

First, let me back and up and mention how we came to find Mike…and let me say too that he was our savior for this weekend!  We actually had another photographer lined up, but she canceled two days before our departure!  Needless to say, I was in a panic, and happened to call a dear friend/colleague of mine in the wedding industry, and she gave me Mike’s name and information and said I have to give him a call.  I was a little hesitant at first, being that I had never met him before, and we all know how important pictures are, right?  So, I checked out his website and was blown away!  I gave him a call and his kindness, compassion and eagerness to help us in our oh-so-desperate situation was more than I ever could have ever asked for!

So, when Mike arrived at the cabin, we had our picnic lunch all packed up and we headed out to the beach!  There we ate lunch, played some football, volleyball and baseball and simply hung out and enjoyed each other’s company.  Mike was awesome!  He captured everyone in his or her truest state of being and living.  We gathered all twenty-three family members for a family picture in front of Lake Tahoe and let me note there were two families that weren’t able to make it.  We have a huge family!

After the beach we made Donna & Kirk one for their favorite meals, Mexican food galore and each family member around the table shared a special memory that we had of them.  Needless to say, the room was filled with an immense amount of emotion, love and tears.

Following dinner was the biggest surprise of them all!  Tara (second oldest) wrote and directed a play for her parents.  This play was a representation of Donna and Kirk’s life together, beginning when they first met in 2nd grade, their marriage at 16 (just juniors in high-school) and they re-played each child’s birth.  The twelve grand children that were there played the parts of their parents as they were growing up, high-lighting extra special events and moments that occurred throughout their lives.  Having such special meaning only to our family, watching stories being acted out that we have heard throughout the years, the amount of laughter and tears that were shared during this moment, were indescribable.

And thanks to Mike, he captured it all flawlessly.  Because of him, we will forever have these intimate memories of this weekend to look back on and reminisce about and forever smile upon.

Thank You! Thank You!  Thank You!”Michaela Rodgers

Upon my arrival at their snow-covered, cabin doorsteps it was immediately apparent that this was a loving, tightly knit family. I had so much fun watching and documenting the Rodgers family play and laugh together. I quickly felt right at home. One after another there were jokes and stories of the family’s past being retold and laughter and hugs ensued. You knew it hadn’t always been smooth sailing for them like most families I know but here they all were older and wiser laughing till their stomach hurt, recounting all of the antics and struggles big and small that they endured over their childhoods. This was a family that had grown strong together. A family that had supported each other through thick and thin and now were here to honor and celebrate the two parents that had given them that unwavering foundation and guidance along the way to adulthood. It was a cool thing to behold…laughter, tears and all. Here are a couple favorite images from my time with them. It was yet another fun weekend photographing in the mountains. I was glad to help them out. –Mike Greener

After all of the excitement is photographed on the wedding day, the long hours editing and the careful attention to make each photo look it’s best, there comes the point in the process of hiring Greener Visuals Wedding Photography that brings the experience full circle…the delivery of the photos to the bride and groom. For the longest time I would send my clients their DVD of images in a simple, paper based disc holder. My wedding photography business redesign offered me a chance to ferment on how I was operating things throughout my business and a chance for me to improve on them. I knew I wanted to make my presentation from start to finish stand out. I want my clients to be proud of their wedding photography and be able to show it off to friends and family whenever they want. I knew I needed to raise the bar. I found my answer in Jewelboxing cases. These high quality cases are durable, have a sleek, modern look and are beautifully designed. They are a perfect way to preserve my clients wedding memories for decades to come. I’m thrilled to have them as a new standard for my Greener Visuals Wedding Photography clients.

When my wedding planner friend Catrina, of Catrina Maria Designs asked me to speak about green wedding photography at last week’s monthly meeting of the Sacramento NACE (National Association of Catering Executives) I was both excited at the proposition and a bit panicked. It has been many moons since I last made a big public presentation and the thought of it made me pause. But the idea of “going green” has been on my mind for years now and this was a great opportunity to think about how I could make my wedding photography business even more sustainable. So…What makes a green photography business?

From film to digital and how it has changed photographer’s workflow. A very brief history.

Back in the days of film there was substantial waste. The whole photography workflow was comprised of a wide variety of chemicals used in film development and print processing. There was a lot of waste ranging from spent developing chemicals that usually found their way down a drain to scrape photo paper emulsions being tossed in the trash. It was the chemicals (developing baths, stop baths, fixing baths, and rinse steps) themselves that were the most problematic. Many of them had limited shelf life and also could be hazardous to your health over extended periods of time.

These days most photographers have gone digital both from an ecological and economical standpoint. Digital photography offers a paperless and chemical-free way to capture an event, including being able to view online proofs before deciding which ones to print if at all. The transition from film to digital has greatly diminished the amount of waste produced from professional photographers.

In many ways you can say that the professional photography realm has naturally progressed towards many of the practices the green movement. But what business practices make up a green photographer? In other words, how can one make their photography business greener?

Making your wedding business greener?

It comes down to a self-evaluation of how your business operates and identifying things that can be improved on. Start at the core of the green movement with the 3 R’s –Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The following is a list of things you can use to help green up your business.

Printing less stuff equals having less paper waste

You can help reduce this waste by using as little paper as possible, and being smart about the paper you do use. If paper is a necessity, using recycled paper can help. Evaluate your workflow and figure out how you use paper products. Is printing out emails and other documents pertinent to your productivity? Try keeping your digital files organized in their digital format. You can keep emails in your inbox but organize them in a way that makes them easier to find and reference. Many online email providers like gmail.com have made this step nearly effortless. It’s always a good idea to make back-up copies of important files and emails but instead of storing boxes of paper files, consider keeping them on an external hard drive. When you do need to print important documents, make sure you use a sustainable paper, and set your printer or copier to print on both sides of the page.

With unlimited storage online and the concepts of cloud storage system it is easier than ever to go digital with your documents and photography by merging that information into your online presence.

I try to have as much information on my website as possible. I have purposely chosen not to have my website based in Flash and instead have it based off of a WordPress CSS based blog format from Graph Paper Press. The open source code allows for faster load times and uses a fraction of energy consumption of Flash sites. Flash based websites consume a ton of energy to upload, are slow and worse of all they are invisible to search engine optimization algorithms like Google.

A great way to reduce paper use and get contracts and documents signed more quickly is to use electronic signatures programs. I am sold on ShootQ.com and I am slowly integrating it into my workflow. It’s a virtual studio manager that assisting me from the moment a prospective client contacts me through my website to the delivery of the photos. The program helps you manage the workload, stay organized, it provides a place for your packages and rates to be password protected online until the final images are delivered. Your entire business workflow is online with minimum to no paper waste.

The digital workflow also allows me to post the entire digital wedding take online for proofing instead of printing out a bunch of proof sheets for my clients. There are plenty of online photo archival sites that let clients search my full wedding take. It allows them to make print purchases, and/or download low-res images purchases for social media purposes instantly online. I use online photography photo storage company called Photoshelter but there are others like Pictage that can be good options.

Some other practices I’m integrating into my business are…

-Using rechargeable batteries in strobes to offset the waste of used batteries going into land fills. I’ve started using Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries. They have a higher price tag than alkaline batteries up front but the price is offset by the amount you can use them. They can be recycled hundreds of times. This fact can take the cost down to less than couple cents per energy cell over time. Sure, it costs some money for the power to charge them. But that is minor compared to the cost of replacing an alkaline batteries over time.

-I’m printing my business cards on 100% recycled paper from a great business card company called Moo.com. For a less expensive option check out PSPrint.com

-I buy more energy efficient hard drives for storing photos

-I try to buy used camera gear when possible if it’s in good condition like my new, used Nikon D3 pictured above.

-I strive to keep all of my equipment clean and free from dust. This helps my electronics run more efficiently. This also saves me a ton of time having to photoshop out dust spots on my images.

I have all of my electronics – computer, printer, external hard drive, and other office gadgets plugged into one power strip. By turning it off you can ensure that none of your appliances are secretly robbing energy. I was surprised to learn through my research that cell phone chargers left plugged into a wall when you’re not using them still draw energy, regardless of whether there’s anything plugged into them.

So…in conclusion, how can you sell your clients on green photography practices?

-Encourage brides to buy prints of only the photos they really want.

-Offer your brides an option to buy digital wedding albums or if they want a physical wedding album have green album options made from recycled material. Plenty of great choices out there like Wild Magnolia Design Albums

-Offer the option of them receiving their images on flash drives for photo delivery instead of DVDs. They are reusable and double as a cool promo for your business. There are numerous companies out there that can do this like FlashBay

-If brides insist on a DVD, (which most do) design it so that it will be something they will cherish. I use Jewelboxing.com cases that allow me to create beautiful high quality jewel display cases. They are durable, they look fantastic and with the right design can really make an impression on your clients.

-Eliminate the need for lots of camera flash use by encouraging your wedding clients to have their ceremony/reception in naturally lit areas for the wedding which could also mean just having their wedding earlier in the day (having a venue with lots of windows saves energy and creates beautiful soft light for photos).

Remember that becoming green is not about being perfect on day one. Making a commitment to the environment is an ongoing process. Take it in small steps. It can be easier than you think. All the best. Go Green.

 



The second part of my duties as the NACE event photographer focused more on the hard work of the other vendors. Like I mentioned in my last post, the monthly events are a time for the vendors to educate on topics but also show off their strengths in what that particular vendor does. Here are some of the scenery images I made of the green layout and concepts from Catrina Maria Designs. I asked Catrina, who specializes in sustainable event planning to explain a bit about what she was striving to accomplish with her beautiful green table inspirations pictured above.

“The table inspirations where done in a variety of four looks. We were inspired by the traditional and expected ‘green’ look that we called ‘hippy/earthy.’ We dressed each table up a bit from there to cover your softer and more elaborate side of the earthy look, your urban look, and finally, a soft, more romantic feel that many brides can relate to.
1. Earthy table-woods and touch of kiwi green. All eco-friendly elements on the reclaimed wood tables. Recycled pots with succulents, and herbs.
2. Rustic table-woods, pewter, clay (brunt orange) and kiwi
Clay pots nestled in grapevine heart. Mix of organic flowers in burnt orange and cream with herbs and succulent accents.
3. Urban Square table- Grey and kiwi patterned linen, other natural elements in a modern feel (wicker, glass…). Gray cinderblock “vases” filled with organic flowers and organic greenery.
4. Romantic oval tables- Natural ekru and ivory hemstitch, rustic metals, glass Tablescape of Burnt orange recycled glass containers and metal accent containers. Ivory flowers and green accents. Add recycled ribbon accents.
5. Cocktail Tables – recycled paper flowers by Beatnik Artist. Made from old books that have recycled into art. Soy candles throughout
Lounge furniture through Classic party Rentals. Their eco line is made from recycled stuffing/padding and flax exterior in burnt orange and kiwi green.”

As the saying goes…the devil lies within the details. It was great to see all of the clever, sustainable concepts that everyone brought to the event. There were the staple green items like using organic produce but also the not so common items like bowls and plates made from compostable bamboo. It’s those little things that make the difference. I was impressed.  So much creativity and so many great ideas to build off of. Again, thanks to all of the vendors who went all out with the May NACE Green event including Ambience Floral Designs, Jackson Catering & Events, Sugar & Spice Specialty Deserts, Classic Party Rentals, Pamela Pamperin, Harpist and Extreme Productions for all of their hard work. -M

 

Last Tuesday was the annual monthly meet up of the Sacramento chapter of the National Association of Catering Professionals. The group is a hodgepodge of wedding planners, florists, DJ’s, photographers and all of the other types of vendors that cater to couples getting married. It has been a great place to network and establish relationships with other wedding vendors throughout the Sacramento area. I feel like I’ve learned so much already. I am brand new to the organization but I have quickly made connections and have met some great people in the organization.

Every monthly meeting is used to help the member vendors get to see a select few vendors to their thing. Each NACE meeting is a professional catered event complete with the goal of educating NACE members on the latest trends, styles and cuisine. It’s like a competition and participating vendors go all out to showcase what they do best. It works two fold. First, it allows you to show others what services you can provide for your mutual clients and second it lets them learn more about you as a person. In business, it’s all about who you know and the system NACE has laid out is perfect for this by creating business friendships. Everyone from all corners of the wedding market working together towards the same goal of having satisfied wedding clients. Brilliant.

This past Tuesday had a green wedding theme and a wedding planner friend Catrina, of Catrina Maria Designs, asked me a month back if I would not only photograph the event but also talk about green wedding photography practices. I accepted her invite and spent the better part of the month researching how I could make my business more green. I wanted to share some of the photos I made from the members that were there. I’ll post my green photography methods in another blog post. It was a fun filled evening at the Beatnik Studios in Sacramento. I loved it. Plenty of big windows, great light and a overall cool space for an event. Thanks to all of the vendors including Ambience Floral Designs, Jackson Catering & Events, Sugar & Spice Specialty Deserts, Classic Party Rentals, Pamela Pamperin, Harpist and Extreme Productions for all of their hard work. Congrats on a beautiful fun May NACE event. I was proud to be apart of it. I’m looking forward to the next one. -M

The first weekend in May I had the pleasure of photographing Gillian and Jeff’s wedding day at the beautiful Firehouse Restaurant in Old Town Sacramento. You could not have asked for a nicer day. The comfortable mid day California sunshine warmed down on their outdoor wedding where big oak trees gave a lovely cool shade over the festivities. I met Gillian and Jeff back in February through a wonderful wedding planner I’ve been working with named Catrina Arcularius of Catrina Maria Designs. Right from the get go of our first meeting in Sacramento, we hit it off. We talked for a solid hour and I learned all about their story. Gillian through the encouragement of her good friend Bianca (who would eventually be her maid of honor) and Jeff upon the suggestion of some friends met through the online dating site called JDate, a jewish community online for dating jewish singles. Neither of them had ever used the online dating service before yet on their first date back on July 9th, 2009, they found an instant attraction to each other and have been dating ever since. The two have made a life together in the San Francisco Bay Area Gillian as a lawyer and Jeff as an entrepreneur while sharing a love for each other and dogs. They were quick to tell me all about the antics of their two border collie/chow mix dogs Lila and Maggie. The way these two talked, joked and looked at one another during our meet up it was apparent that they are just crazy for each other. I had no doubts that they would be a great fun couple to photograph on their wedding day.

And they did not disappoint. It was the first time I had ever photographed a Jewish wedding ceremony. It was great to see how other faiths celebrate the union of two individuals. The wedding was beautiful. Between my assistant Brad Zweerink and I we ended up talking over 6300 photographs from the wedding. With so many smiling faces, great finger foods, friendly guests and plenty of dancing that kept everyone entertained throughout the afternoon, it was hard to stop photographing all the great moments in front of me. Catrina along with Shannon and The Firehouse Restaurant staff created a beautiful outdoor atmosphere and layout across the brick patio while flower arrangements from florist Cheryl Sage of Accents by Sage added just the right amount of spring colors to the mix. Subtle yet elegant. To see more photos from their Sacramento wedding you can seeing their wedding story here and their entire photo take here.

Yet another fun day celebrating with and photographing some new friends. I wish Gillian and Jeff all the best. -M


I’m happy to announce that Greener Visuals Wedding Photography is the newest member of the Sacramento chapter of the National Association of Catering Professionals. NACE is the oldest and largest professional association that addresses all aspects of the catering industry. According to their mission statement their goal is to provide catering and event professionals superior education, networking & resources to enhance career success and deliver excellence to clients. The group is a collection of some of the best wedding professionals in the Sacramento area including wedding planners, florists, caterers, photographers and high-end wedding venues. It has quickly become a great resource for inspiration, education and networking. I feel it will be the perfect resource to create a network of solid wedding professionals whose services I can extend to my clients. The members I have met so far have been incredibly outgoing, gracious and welcoming. So much that they recently asked me to speak this upcoming Tuesday during the group’s monthly meeting about applying green/eco-friendly practices revolving around green wedding photography. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m proud to be apart of this prestigious organization. -M

The California wedding season has begun! A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing two of my oldest friends tie the knot at a small vineyard-surrounded property outside of Hopland, California. I met Ashley and Trevor back back in 1994 when I was in sixth grader at North Junior High School in my hometown of Crystal Lake, Illinois. It was a big time of transition at that point in my young life. Junior High meant attending a new bigger school with new kids and multiple teachers, all of a sudden girls started being topics of interests for me and the other boys, we no longer had recess at school (a huge disappointment) and instead, we got our daily fun through games in gym class. It was gym class where I first met Ashley. She was this pretty, firecracker red head who had grown up playing softball and now was a lethal force against anyone playing gym class dodge ball. For all the other pubescent boys and myself it was an immediate infatuation. This girl could throw a ball better than most of us. I’ve been luckily to call her a friend ever since that day.

Now all grown up, I have long since left my Illinois roots and I’ve found that there are not many people from my hometown that have ventured out west of the Mississippi. Ashley and Trevor were some of the few who did. It’s funny to me how as you grow older in your life you never really know what friends will continue to be apart of your journey. Thankfully somehow, some way Ashley and I have remained in contact and have stayed friends throughout. I have had numerous opportunities to meet up her and Trevor (once they started dating) over the years. Their wedding day was a long time coming. These two are perfect for each other and I’ve always been impressed with their shared passion for the flavor of life both in cuisine and culture. Fast forward 16 years since the 6th grade, the two have made a life together working in the fine dining industry of San Francisco and many times they have offered up their apartment couch to me during weekend visits to the city by the bay. Trevor has quickly turned into one of the top up and coming chefs in the San Francisco bay area. I had the opportunity to photograph (and sample) some of his first restaurant dishes as he was starting out. I still dream about them. He graduated from California Culinary Academy in 2005 and quickly became the executive sous chef at Umami Restaurant and has since moved on to become the executive chef at Mission Beach Cafe over the last year. Trevor’s big news is that he just recently signed on to this new project, which will be called Chambers located in the Phoenix Hotel, a notorious destination for famous “rock n’ roll” musicians staying in the city. The restaurant is slated to open the first week of May and the food will be California cuisine with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. If it’s anything like his previous restaurants gigs that I have dined in, I have no doubts it will be a huge success. Ashley is balancing her time between being a head server and wine guru at the Betelnut Restaurant in Marina District of San Francisco while finishing up a major in Business Management with a minor in Economics at the San Francisco City College. I would not be surprised at all if these two opened their own fancy restaurant down the road. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

When I got their wedding invitation in the mail, I knew it would be a mini Crystal Lake reunion. They had their intimately small wedding outside of Hopland, California at the Mendocino Hill Event Center. It was really a beautiful ceremony filled with great friends and warm familiar faces. I attended this wedding as a guest but I decided to bring along my camera for fun. It provided a good opportunity for me to experiment and try out different approaches to shooting. Between catching up with old friends, laughing and telling stories over local wine and eating an assortment of fine cheeses and roasted duck, I managed to snap a couple pictures. Here are some of my favorite images I made of their wedding day. You can find more photos from Ashley and Trevor’s wedding here. It was so great to be apart of their special day. I wish them all the best. -M

It is a very humbling experience for me when my photography is recognized by my photographic peers. On Sunday evening at Scott’s restaurant in Oakland, California, a couple of images I made last year at my position as a staff photojournalist at the Daily Republic newspaper in Fairfield, California were honored at this year’s San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographer’s Association awards banquet at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant in Jack London Square in downtown Oakland, California. I won first place in the Spot News category for an image I made from a school shooting, third place for Best Mini-Doc Multimedia Package from a multimedia story I did on a local skateboard maker (I am particularly excited about this one) and I won an award of excellence in General News category from a candlelight vigil earlier last year. This was a pretty cool honor. There is so much photojournalistic talent in the Bay Area from Pulitzer Prize winners to National Photographers of the Year.  It was great to have my photography honored in a room filled with such exceptional storytellers. Congrats to all of the winners, congrats and thank you to my colleague Robinson Kuntz and a big thank you to my photo editor Brad Zweerink for all of the support and constructive criticism you’ve given to help further my photographic career. In all, the Daily Republic photo staff took home five awards. It was a great night.

Yesterday evening, I had the privilege of attending my first Sacramento Swop Meet attended by of all of the local wedding vendors from around the Sacramento area. The event, a bi-monthly social mix-up, was hosted by the editorial staff of Sacramento Bride and Groom magazine at the beautiful Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, CA. I saw the gathering as the perfect opportunity to introduce myself and my business, Greener Visuals Wedding Photography, to all of the wedding planners, florists, DJs, venue managers and other photographers in my area. I’m quickly learning that so much of what makes a business great is who you know and your willingness to help out others. I found the whole experience a really inviting one. From the moment I walked in the door, SacBride.com publisher Tami Miller and saleswoman Lisa Duncan took turns showing me around and introducing me to the other vendors. I spent the evening mingling, enjoying the complimentary drinks and appetizers while learning about my fellow wedding vendors. I met a lot of great, friendly people who were anxious to tell me about their businesses. I was struck by the stories they related to me about how they became involved in the wedding industry. No two people had the same story as to how they got involved in weddings, but it was clear that each was passionate about their specialized area. Everyone I spoke with was so generous with their time and knowledge. For a young up-and-coming wedding photographer like myself, I was very impressed with the sense of community the event provided. How great is it that these professionals gather together to network, make friends, all sharing the common goal of creating a better experience for potential wedding couples. It was immediately apparent that everyone was on the same page. I’m already looking forward to the next meet-up.