Yes! We Are Pregnant!

The time has come, and we are 'fessing up!

Matt and I are expecting!

We have been keeping this under wraps because we didn't want to shake any of our clients' confidence regarding their 2013 wedding photography; despite being pregnant for over half of our wedding season we both produced some of what I feel is our best work to date without adding any stress to our clientele's wedding planning process. Additionally, we have no intentions of retiring Luminaire Images, so we didn't want to curtail referrals for 2014.And speaking of 2014...Q: When are you due?Our due date is officially February 14th, 2014. Yes. Valentine's Day. Our own little lovebug!Q: Will you be "taking it easy" from now on?Matt and I found out we were pregnant in early June. Since then, I personally have photographed four engagement sessions, ten weddings, four non-wedding events, ten portrait sessions, and continued to attend client consults and networking functions as per usual and felt just our foreseeable plans are "business as usual." I have been careful not to alter my workout regimen so that I may stay as fit and energetic as possible for continuing to service our clientele.Q: You should be "taking it easy!"Every pregnancy is different, and some are less difficult and low-risk than others. We are fortunate that ours is thus far fairly mundane and uncomplicated, which is of course the most medically desirable! That said, I intend to continue working full-time right up until our due date, or as close to it as possible.Q: I need you for an event coming up, are you sure you'll be OK?I plan on photographing events and portraits through November and early December, which is when most of our final bookings are for 2013. If at any point Matt or I grow concerned about my abilities to deliver the quality that typically meets our standards, we will be bringing an additional assistant (or in a more extreme situation, a third photographer) to help out, at no expense to our clients. Matt and I go to great lengths to be fully prepared for every event, and any issues that arise will be addressed ahead of time with you in the loop!Q: What if I want to hire Luminaire Images for an event or session that falls between late December through your due date?Matt and I having been working with a small team of trusted associate photographers for years now, so as before regarding dates when I was not available, Matt and/or one of our associate team will assume the role of primary photographer for all events/sessions, though I may still be present for supervision and client support in some scenarios. I will, however, personally continue to edit all weddings, events, and portraits in-house to maintain our standards of quality, as well as manage all client inquiries and correspondence.Q: What about after you deliver?Our due date falls during what is typically our slowest months of the year, so there should be little impact on any of our clientele. A modest delay in product delivery time is the only change-up for which we are currently making preparations.I plan on being back out in the field 100% full-time as soon as I’m able, hopefully no fewer than 60 days after our kiddo arrives! Any unforeseen complications that arise will be discussed on a one-to-one basis with affected clients, since (as most of our past clientele know and appreciate), we are fairly transparent when something concerns us about our ability to service their expectations. Every Luminaire Images client will be taken care of to my highest standards, regardless of the circumstance.We love what we do, plain and simple. We have no plans on scaling back the amount of clients we accept, or the types of events we will consider for April 2014 and onward. Matt and I are a dual-income household, so dropping out of the business or going part-time is definitely not on the table!Q: How long will it take to get my event(s) edited after you have your baby? Luminaire Images is usually super-fast, by industry standards!We are estimating that the average event/wedding may incur a delay of just a week or two more, as we adjust into a new work/life balance. Long-term, our goal is to deliver edited images in the same time frame that Luminaire Images clients have come to expect!Q: I have kids, so I know SOMEBODY has to be watching them at all times! How do you intend to continue working as a team on events?Matt and I are incredibly lucky to have a very eager family network living close by who have all expressed major interest in babysitting (yay)! As stated before, we will also be relying on our team of associates for added support.Q: I just saw you recently and could have sworn you were NOT pregnant. How can you already be five months?!If you saw me anytime after mid-June, then I can assure you, yes, I was. And yes, I was aware of it at that time, and no, regardless of what you recall, I was not actually drinking anything alcoholic. This is my first pregnancy and it's common to be "slow to show" the first time. As of September I also have been wearing layers and loose, flowing blouses...ladies, I can totally works to hide a belly!Q: I just saw you recently and suspected something was up!I have a short list in my head of people who I figured might know something based on very, very subtle indications (believe it or not I was paying attention). Message me sometime and I'll tell you if you were on it! :)Q: Was it a surprise?No, this pregnancy was planned and was not a surprise. Though I'm pretty certain a lot of what we're about to discover about parenthood will be!Q: Spill! Is it a girl or a boy?That information is strictly confidential for personal reasons...but we're welcoming guesses!

Photojournalism and Stills from "Night at the Fights"

Doing as many weddings as we tend to do, sometimes it's really fun to be given a freewheeling photojournalistic assignment with few to no limitations or expectations...aside from a preferred shot list entirely comprised of a whopping three images, and the rest left up to my "own vision." So much freedom!So it was exciting to get a call from Pat at Sight & Sound Events regarding photos to compliment the video he was producing at a boxing match. The focus was on an up-and-coming New Zealand boxer named Joseph Parker, who was slated to fight another Kiwi heavyweight, Brice Ritani, during a private themed gala event. The video itself was commissioned  by a New Zealand events marketing company specializing in business, sports, and politics---so there were a lot of elements at play, some of which I wasn't even aware of until afterwards: a huge private black-tie party, two international heavyweight athletes, an independent documentary video, and numerous reporters following everything. Fun stuff, and especially interesting behind the scenes.

Joseph preparing with coach Kevin Barry

Ultimately after six rounds and no KO, Joseph was declared the winner unanimously by judges due to (from what I can only guess thanks to my limited experience) his impressive speed and style as the two were fairly evenly matched otherwise.

Regardless of personas that I understand are cultivated for sports careers in front of media, both Brice and Joseph were the epitome of polite and friendly to everyone around them---model athletes with what are sure to be exciting careers to watch.   

Luminaire Images Selected for TwoBrightLights Editors' Choice Awards 2012

We're immensely honored to be among the winners of photo marketing site TwoBrightLights' 2012 Editors Choice Awards! This award signifies that our number of published features in 2011 placed us among the top 5% of all Two Bright Lights members. High fives all around!According to TwoBrightLights representatives, "The 2012 Two Bright Lights Editors' Choice Awards is a signature program that recognizes those whose number of published features in 2011 placed them among the top 5% of all Two Bright Lights members. Winners were published across many of the most respected lifestyle, wedding and other print and digital publications in the United States and worldwide.The 2012 honorees reflect those that have demonstrated a superior quality of work for their customers, and those that have used Two Bright Lights' online platform to quickly and easily get published by submitting their authentic, stunning imagery and services directly to the top industry publications and editors.Among thousands of photographers and vendors competing for publication, the Editors' Choice winners represent the best-of-the-best."Editors Choice Award - HeaderHere's to 2012 being an ever more stellar year!

In Honor of Steve

Last month Matt and I were truly saddened to hear that Steve, the father of our May 30th client Wendy, passed suddenly during a motorbiking expedition in his native South Africa. Shortly thereafter, Wendy designated her favorite picture of the two of them together (which we created at her wedding) as her new profile picture on Facebook in his memory.We only met Steve on Wendy's wedding day, but he was a bright spark of a personality, full of mischievous grins, funny suggestions for photos, and visibly beaming with love, joy, and pride for his daughter that day.  Matt and I glad to have met him, and are so, so honored that our images of him with his family on Wendy and Sean's wedding day are treasured by Wendy and her family.  This is among those times where it's hard to express the value of moments captured like this one, and how rewarding it is for us as photographers to have been able to give Wendy and Sean something that is so important to them, especially now.Rest in peace, Steve! 

1,000+ "Likes" on Facebook!


You love us, you really love us!To commemorate the Luminaire Images Facebook Page reaching over 1,000 "Likes," we enlisted's unbiased help is selecting three of our 1,001 fans for a gift card giveaway!  If you see incomparably lucky Jenni Price, Madeline Harlton-Chapman, or Michelle Tortuya, tell 'em we're looking for them and that there is an iTunes or Starbucks gift card waiting with their name on it! :)

Congratulations ladies, and thanks to everyone for liking us and what we do!


Our elopement celebration!

It's time to take a little break and blog about what Matt and I agree on what was the best marriage celebration EVER. Our own!You probably know that we secretly eloped to Napa in December, and when we returned we began planning a little party for family and friends who were eager to celebrate with us.  That party happened April 10th at the Red Horse Barn in the Huntington Beach Equestrian Center, and in most ways it was just like we are...laid-back, low-key, just a day with food, fun, and family.  There was no ceremony or anything that could really stress us out, just eating, drinking, and visiting with familiar faces.  It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day (many of us even got sunburned!) and overall we could not have asked for anything better.Part of the reason it was such a success is largely due to the generosity of our vendors, many of whom were friends of ours within the event industry.  We were really excited to expose our family and friends to these talented people and cannot thank them enough for the unsolicited rate reductions they gave us, or the policies they'd overlook just because we were not typical clientele.  That said, I must acknowledge that it was difficult to choose among so many friends who are all skilled and qualified vendors; ultimately we made our selections based on style.  We know dozens of obscenely gifted planners, florists, rentals, food vendors, etc etc etc but when it came time for us to choose, we knew that the number one priority really should be how well our vendors' style meshed with our own.One of our toughest decisions, naturally, was photography...the photography market here in Southern California is enormous, and we certainly are not lacking in talented friends who were jumping at the opportunity.  In the end, we went with a fellow Huntington Beach-er, Carolyn Troadec, who is sweet, frank, and relatively laid-back, like we are.  We are familiar with her work and know she does well with posing (family pictures were hugely important to my mother), and can actually deliver when it comes to creating a solid image in-camera as well as working firmly with the post-processing, which are skills that Matt and I value but feel that many photographers out there actually lack, at least in tandem.Wow. She does not disappoint!  Matt and I are thrilled with the results...But here I am rambling about style and skill, when pictures speak volumes more!

invitesKnowing full well that many guests just toss the invitation once the date is inked onto the calendar, we used seeded invitations ("plantable" paper) ordered via Of The Earth in the hopes that some of them would try recycling or even planting them in their gardens.  Love, love LOVED the result!



I searched long and hard for a money/card box that wasn't, in my opinion, run-of-the-mill fluffy bridal white.  So when I found this awesome, custom-designed box on Etsy from Designs by Karen, I flipped.  It was easy to order and customize.

Matt and I are longtime friends of Ian Tacquard, who is a special events manager for St. Margaret's Episcopal School. He happens to have an account with Signature Party Rentals, so he totally hooked us up with the chairs, tables, and linens, and also gave us great advice regarding our "natural/neutral" color scheme.  We also had our friend Wendy from Sorelle Weddings & Events on hand to keep the vendors in line as they set up, as well as keep the event moving...which was an enormous help!  I can't imagine how stressful any event would be without a planner, even ours.

Floral design is by Dandelion Ranch. Isn't it rad!! I love their look.  They also surprised us and gave Matt a gift boutonniere, and me a gift corsage.

fantasy frostingsInstead of a traditional cake, Matt and I went with a varied dessert table by Fantasy Frostings.  Gloriously scrumptious, as always, and lead cake artist Leslie even allowed me to send her my grandmother's poppyseed cake recipe for her to recreate with little bundt cakes.  I made the signs myself.

We used Verterra plates that Matt and I had discovered last year at Catersource.  Totally biodegradable, Mother Earth-approved.  My mom suggested (and donated) baskets to hold them so they didn't blow away.


We brought in my old friend from high school, Danny Maika to perform during the event, and he was a SMASH HIT.  Everybody kept asking who he was, and wanted his card.  I was in choir with Danny back in the day, and now he is an OC Music Awards finalist---not to mention a PERFECT choice for atmosphere!

Matt and I were pleasantly surprised to discover Mark's Catering for our event, who didn't mind serving chips and salsa, appetizers, salads, and additional drinks such as iced tea, water, coffee, and tea instead of insisting on furnishing the food for the entire event.  They were willing to work with our special demands, our budget, and our venue's restrictions...AND their food was great.  I really can't praise them highly enough, honestly.

Our other food feature: TACOS. Freshly made right in front of you courtesy of Taqueria El Tapatio.  We had quite a few problems securing a good, affordable taco cart that could also accommodate the venue's liability insurance requirements, and the guys and El Tapatio really rose to the occasion. Fabulously inexpensive way to feed a lot of people and fresh, fresh, fresh!  It's really hard to go wrong with food when it's fresh, so a taco station seemed like a no-brainer!


You can't have an event at an equestrian center and not have horseshoes, right?  My grandpa found a horseshoe set in his garage, and I have to say quite a few of my uncles really took to THAT idea!  Pictured also are my shoes which I already had long before this event, but never fail to garner comments whenever I wear them.  They're Steve Maddens from DSW.

big happy 

My makeup was done by my favorite makeup artist, Jessica Edwards.

My hair was styled by Sayde, at Toni & Guy.

Matt and I actually both bought our outfits at Banana Republic, though I found the necklace at Express, and the belt at a generic fashion shop.  Isn't his Dandelion Ranch boutonniere adorable??

We had such a great time, as did our friends and families.  Thanks so much, everyone!

To recap:

Venue: Red Horse BarnFlowers:  Dandelion RanchDesserts:  Fantasy FrostingTacos:  Taqueria El TapatioCatering:  Mark's CateringPlates: VerterraMusic:  Danny MaikaRentals and Linens:  Signature Party RentalsMoney Box:  Designs By KarenBride's Makeup:  Jessica EdwardsBride's Hair:  Sayde (Toni & Guy)Day-Of Coordination:  Wendy of Sorelle Weddings & Events

DIY Cowboy-Themed Party

This weekend my mother and her siblings threw a cowboy-themed birthday party for my grandpa!  The details were all DIY, and in addition to having Western costumes and BBQ chicken with beans, guests each brought different salad dishes to share.

Announcement: We eloped!

I'm super excited to announce that after eight years of knowing each other, and about seven years of dating, Matt and I eloped this week to Napa, CA!jenniferemerling.comNo, it's not a joke! We really did!And if you're feeling left out of the loop completely, relax!  We actually didn't tell anybody.  Not our friends. Not our siblings. Not even our parents.  That's part of what made it so incredibly fun for was a HUGE secret!And yes, we are very well aware of the irony.  We photograph weddings, but did not take the "wedding route" ourselves.  There were several reasons for this, but I believe the most important was that working in the wedding industry has clearly taught me that regardless of what you do when it's your turn, make sure you do it your way.  Whenever I thought about a wedding of my own, I would get anxious and frustrated. Whenever I thought of secretly eloping, I would feel elated, and excited.  I knew it right down to my core: Eloping felt absolutely right. It was only about two months' worth of "planning", and the only stress I really felt was when we would have to gently maneuver family and social plans away from our travel dates without letting on what we were really doing.  LOL!The only two people on earth who knew about it besides Matt and myself were Michelle my super awesome travel agent, and Jennifer, my friend and masterful photojournalist who drove from Fresno to meet us.  Because this wasn't a wedding, I didn't want wedding-like photographs...I wanted someone who would document it, but who also knew how to take a few portraits as well.All in all, it has been sooooo much fun.  We got up close and personal with some African wildlife at Safari West (seriously, I am such a sucker for activities involving animals), had a hot soak in a mud bath, a little wine time, and a lot of together time enjoying holiday decorations, quaint downtown streets, and the splendor of one of California's most beautiful destinations.  We have been staying at the Avia in downtown Napa and I can't recommend this hotel highly enough. It's beautiful, comfortable, with impossibly polite and friendly staff who, along with our agent Michelle, surprised us with an upgrade to a suite with a fireplace and enormous bathtub. Best vacation ever!We're overwhelmed with all the excited comments we've been getting on Facebook, too. I'm not sure who's more guys or us!


So the other night I was thinking about my successes (for once, instead of my shortcomings) as a professional. I was thinking back on one truly triumphant moment and how I had felt like a World Cup player who's just scored a goal: There is a bubble of excitement, a burst of energy, a moment when you leap for joy, realize you've just scored, you've just won. If you've been watching any of the games, you know what I'm talking about, even if you've never played---it's the moment when the scoring player tears at his shirt in relief, there's a swollen roar from the crowd, and the people in his corner to cheer with him, and dogpile on top of him in triumph.I'm sure there are volumes of literature out there discussing how soccer is a metaphor for have to set goals in order to score, in order to score you have to take a lot of shots on the goal, and you will miss far more than you make.  I've missed a lot of goals, but the ones that I made are so soooo sweet.  And the BIG ones that I made...well, all I can say is that they make the missed shots completely worth it!

Happy Mother's Day!

vegetable and herb gardenMy mom has a green thumb--she loves nurturing things and encouraging them to grow. Last weekend she opened her backyard to the public as part of the fundraiser Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour and drew an enormous crowd of well over 500 visitors within eight hours.  FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE (or more).  Five hundred people wanted to see her "floating vegetable garden" and array of drought-friendly California native greenery. She organized demonstrations of her mulching bin, gave away poppyseed pods, collected donation money on behalf of participating charities, and patiently answered endless questions about her warm and welcoming backyard.bird nest sculpture

Upon meeting my mom and seeing her garden, many of my friends say "Well, know we know where you get your creativity."  And it's true. I don't think my mom is what you'd call a traditional artist, but she is an enormous advocate of shaping your own world.  Don't like the state your garden is in?  Make it your own!  Don't like the looks of your career/attitude/lifestyle?  Take action, educate yourself, try to envision where certain seeds will grow best in the garden of your life, and then plant them there.  Tend to them and then try another place or different seeds if nothing happens.  Stay restless---because gardens need to be maintained and eventually replanted, as many things and people will require your attention in life, and someday much of what you are familiar with will come to an end, as well.

brilliant sunshine

Right  now my mom's backyard is classified by the National Wildlife Federation as an Certified Wildlife Habitat due to the environmental sustainability of the foliage she rears and the insects, birds, and small animals it attracts.  If you know me, you know I love animals and pets. I wonder where I get it from?

orange cat

I think some people feel a little useless when they get older and their children have found new interests and don't rely on them as much for anything.  But really, I still learn things from my parents and use skills and values that they taught me (both on purpose and accidentally!) every single day.  It's like now as an adult I see more of my mother in me than I ever have before, and I don't just mean when I look in the mirror!  I'm so thankful that she is who she is and was able to help me become who I am.

My mama!

Happy Mother's Day!

PostSecret Message

This image was featured on PostSecret this week.  I thought it was interesting because I photographed some boudoir imagery for a young woman last week who mentioned that she didn't want pictures showing off her body so much for her fiancé as much as she wanted them for herself.  "So when I am old and fat," she said, "I can look back and remember what I really looked like when I was in my prime."Really, it's so rare to find that kind of forward-thinking attitude among young people.  It's hard to understand what an "emotional investment" is when you're still young enough not to have experienced the need for one.  For example, if you are a young adult, you may not yet personally know anyone (close to you) who has died.  Because of this, you may not TRULY understand how valuable photographs of this person will be to you someday.Always make sure you have a lot of good imagery of the people you care about!  You'll thank your photographer later.

The Third and the Seventh

This is amazing.First, watch this video.Beautiful light, beautiful focus, beautiful settings, right?  Well, none of it is real.  Those places don't exist, the lighting is digitally generated, and so are the subjects and backgrounds.  Don't believe me?Then watch this:Just incredible.  A slow, painstaking process combining techniques in 3ds Max, Vray, After Effects, and Premiere.  And we photographers thought we were badass just because we have good Photoshopping skills.  Ha!