Alexa + TJ: Secret Garden Event Center Wedding

Secret Garden Event Center wedding ceremony

Wedding season kicked off in February for me this year, not in SoCal, but in Arizona. This one wedding brought me out to Phoenix at the Secret Garden Event Center. In the middle of winter, daytime skies were tinted green with patchy clouds stretching in every direction. It was Arizona’s version of overcast and it lended itself to me on this day.

The elegant personal expressions like the vintage cape Alexa’s grandmother wore for her wedding, her white opera gloves for the first dance, TJ’s custom cufflinks nodding to the Southwest are things I live for in my photography. If I shot the entire day in black and white film, I feel like the story would still maintain its flow and mood. I’d accept the challenge. Would you?

Secret Garden Event Center wedding ceremony site
Secret Garden Event Center wedding ceremony site
Secret Garden Event Center wedding decoration
Secret Garden Event Center wedding dress hanging black and whiteSecret Garden Event Center wedding bridal prep black and white
Secret Garden Event Center wedding bridal prep
Secret Garden Event Center wedding bridal prep
Bride wedding portrait portra 800 nikon fe2 Secret Garden Event Center wedding groom prep
Custom silver wedding cufflinks
Secret Garden Event Center wedding groom prep
Secret Garden Event Center wedding groom prep
Secret Garden Event Center wedding bride portrait
Secret Garden Event Center wedding portrait
Secret Garden Event Center wedding portrait
Secret Garden Event Center wedding ceremony
Secret Garden Event Center wedding ceremony
Secret Garden Event Center marriage license signing
Secret Garden Event Center wedding portrait
Secret Garden Event Center black wedding cake
Secret Garden Event Center wedding first dance
Secret Garden Event Center wedding first dance
Secret Garden Event Center wedding reception candid
Secret Garden Event Center wedding reception black and white
Secret Garden Event Center wedding exit sparklers black and white

Jennifer + Jordan: Wedding at the Cicada Club

Cicada Club wedding portrait

This Cicada Club wedding was one I looked forward to for the longest time! Perhaps due to my New York roots, I am a huge fan of old, historic venues to balance out all of the sunny, outdoor weddings. Tucked away in Downtown Los Angeles, the Cicada Club opened its doors in 1928 and is adorned with wood tones, gold accents, and art deco styling. Due to the moody and dim interior,  lighting is a challenge and reminds me of a clean slate to work with. The challenge is almost like setting up in a photo studio.

To remain faithful to the styling of Jennifer and Jordan’s wedding, I approached this wedding no different than any other, adding some of my own lighting without overriding the ambience the couple and lighting designers created. I want couples to look back and see what they remember, not an entirely new scene I created with flash.

While I’m sure next year holds many amazing weddings at sunset or overlooking the ocean, I also look forward to photographing many more historic interiors like the Cicada Club!


Cicada Club wedding invitationJolibee wedding ringsCicada Club window signCicada Club decorCicada Club entrance signCicada Club wedding first lookCicada Club wedding first lookCicada Club wedding party portraitCicada Club wedding party portraitCicada Club wedding party portraitCicada Club wedding processionalCicada Club wedding processionalCicada Club wedding processionalCicada Club wedding ceremonyCicada Club wedding ceremonyCicada Club wedding ceremonyCicada Club wedding candid momentsGrapefruit Fizz cocktail bar Cicada Club wedding first dance Cicada Club wedding guestsCicada Club wedding sweetheart tableCicada Club wedding candid momentsCicada Club wedding candid momentsCicada Club wedding toastCicada Club wedding candid momentsCicada Club wedding cakeCicada Club wedding candid momentsCicada Club wedding candid momentsCicada Club wedding candid momentsCicada Club wedding candid momentsCicada Club wedding candid momentsCicada Club wedding candid momentsCicada Club wedding portraitCicada Club wedding portrait

Advice on Hiring a Wedding Photographer

Over the years, I’ve attended many weddings, met a lot of people, visited many locations. I figure I’m in a good position to offer advice on hiring a wedding photographer but I won’t try to come off too critical!

Are you and your photographer a good personality match?

You’re going to spend 6-10 hours with this person on the day of your wedding. Just like any working relationship, you need to get along. If you have similar interests, humor, and visual sense, this goes a long way. Wedding photography is a difference service from coordinating or catering in that you will have to continue working with your photographer after the big day as we work on editing the photos and designing albums.

A lot of my clients include personal touches in their decor or dresses. Does your photographer favor a more traditional approach or does he or she catch onto the subtle personal stories?

Wedding photography is a creative service, but it is also a relationship where we both have to make an effort. Without being too whiny, I’ll present to you two potential situations that can sour the mood of a wedding day.

If a couple or their coordinator wants to manage a photographer the entire wedding day, they risk curbing the photographer’s freedom and desire to be creative. While you can talk about what types of photos you enjoy during your hiring phase, if you can’t find yourself trusting them to do what they specialize in, you’re bound to hit more bumps on the road.

Do they get you?

I let my clients know I have a no pressure approach. We’re all different and so are our needs. What may be great for one couple is not for another. A great example is an engagement session. You might want one to get over any camera shyness or to get to know your photographer better (while also doing a hair and makeup trial).

Even though I offer this service, I find that a lot of my clients pass on this, however, or they go for something different. Getting to know you and your style will help me keep on delivering the best service and photos.

Some companies specialize in volume sales and delivering similar locations/photos/looks to the majority. If this appeals to you, I strongly recommend you contact them instead.

Is their work consistent?

Photography is a craft that isn’t immune to trends (Instagram, anyone?). As artists, we go through growing phases and try new things. However, an important day without do-overs isn’t a lab for blatant experimentation.

I personally try to strike a balance between risk and reward. Ability to take a few risks comes from the experience of dozens of weddings a year. We get the rhythm down of what to expect, where the emotions are, when we have more free time to try things out. Sometimes you sense the right opportunity and you try something daring and you reap the rewards! Because it ties in with the rest of my experience, it usually matches the rest of my work and feels like an extension of my creative self.

Speak or meet with more vendors!

You’ll get a better understanding of what options are available out there in terms of style and approach. Two photographers with similar aesthetics could turn out to do things very differently. Also, you’re less likely to deal with the “grass is greener on the other side” feeling if you know you’ve done your duty in shopping around.