Karina and Jared had an amazing wedding at the Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel, California. The wedding went off without a hitch and was fairytale perfect, but just a few weeks prior to the wedding, we didn’t know if it was going to happen at all. Their original wedding was to be at Edgewood Golf and Country Club in South Lake Tahoe. Shortly before their wedding date, the Caldor fire hit, pushing over the mountains and into the Tahoe Basin and forcing the evacuation of all of South Lake Tahoe. They weren’t the only clients we had that were impacted by the Caldor Fire. All told, we relocated 4 of our weddings over a 3-week period. Fortunately, the family had close friends that were residents at the Santa Lucia Preserve, an amazing old ranch that encompasses 31 square miles of property with under 300 residents. As friends of a resident, that allowed them to utilize the 1930’s era hacienda and rustic barn for their wedding and we were able to make the quick switch from Edgewood to Carmel.
Monique and I drove down for a visit a few weeks before the wedding. We love shooting at new venues. We have photographed over 500 weddings in the Lake Tahoe area and know all the venues like the back of our hand, but shooting at a new place is always inspirational because we are seeing everything for the first time. We toured the property and used apps on our phones to determine the position of the sun on the date and time of their wedding and got a decent idea of what areas of the property would look best for portraits, etc. Wedding days are really fast paced. We like to know at the very least where we will do the formal portraits and wedding party portraits because on the day of, there really isn’t much time to take a break and figure these things out. We started at a hotel in Monterey with the getting ready, then drove roughly 1 hour to the venue, arriving just ahead of the bride and groom. We met the videographers at that point and had a quick chat about some of the most important parts of the day and how we could keep out of each other’s way. Kerry from Blue Sky Events was the wedding coordinator and was on top of everything, even down to thinking pro-actively and sending a golf cart to pick up the bride and groom at the end of the portrait session so they wouldn’t have to walk to the reception venue. It’s always important to have consummate professionals to work with on your wedding day. Your photographers and videographers are around you nearly the entire day and you want to make sure they can work together and work quickly. In this case we had worked with the videographers before and we also did the couple’s engagement photography the prior winter, so we knew the groom wasn’t a huge fan of having his picture taken. Hey, I get it! I’m the same way. Monique is a total ham and always wants to do selfies of us nearly everywhere. I usually growl like a cornered wolf and tell her she has 30 seconds. So we worked with the videographers to make sure we could set up situations with the couple that we could both get great photos and video from and also do quickly. (I also do wedding videography, so I know the specific needs of videographers and can work with them to make sure we both get what we need.) We did a lot of the portrait photography with the couple moving and paying attention to each other instead of the camera. A lot of the anxiety about photography comes from people being uncomfortable just standing and staring into the camera, so we did a minimal amount of that. Our backgrounds as photojournalists, (I worked for the Associated Press and USAToday prior to shooting weddings,) bias us toward working quickly, looking for real moments in the day and setting things up only as much as is absolutely necessary. The hitchcockian murder of crows were just a happy accident that we also took advantage of. If you look real close at the groom’s face in the golf cart photo, you just might think he is having fun…..