I’m busy editing, editing, editing… but wanted to share a dew delights from a recent ceremony at the beautiful Chapel of Grace in Grace Cathedral. Love this bride’s style!
Here he is. He just turned six and could not be better at loving, and being loved. Thank you, Lenny Gonzalez, for these photographs that melt my heart.
Suzy was recently contacted by US Weekly who is putting together a celebrity wedding book featuring her work from actress Alicia Silverstone’s wedding in Lake Tahoe. Alicia was an amazing client to work with and wanted an organic, earth-friendly wedding. She planned her wedding in the gorgeous Lake Tahoe area, walked down the aisle barefoot, and used the natural environment to enhance the beauty of the day organically and reduce waste.
Suzy captured Alicia for a bridal portrait that was stunning in this natural setting. Alicia’s sage green sash played beautifully against the foliage in the background.
The couple exchanged vows on the waterfront of the Lake in front of close family and friends.
Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous place to get married. Suzy enjoyed working in the natural elements, capturing the surrounding mountains and sky in this couple’s wedding photographs.
Alicia served an entirely organic, vegan menu to her guests at the cocktail hour and reception. These adorable mason jars were a great touch and, along with the barrels, worked really well with the natural, outdoor environment.
We wish Alicia & Christopher a lifetime of happiness together!
I was so pleased to be included in the fantastic group photography show, Buy Art Before You’re 60, curated by the indomitable Andrea Potts. This show has been a San Francisco tradition since 1998, and I’ve been honored to participate in it from the beginning.
This year, Andrea put a twist on things by holding the show at Cornerstone Sonoma, one of my favorite spots in the wine country. It’s a crazy cool collection of shops, eateries, wineries, and amazing garden installations from the country’s top landscape architects. (My next-choice career after “wedding photographer” was “landscape architect”, so I’m especially mesmerized by the incredible installations.)
Cornerstone is a beautiful site for weddings, and I have shot there… but on Sunday, I had the rare treat to bring my family along for a lovely, summery afternoon in the sun, admiring art and reconnecting with friends… no work required!
Here are the two pieces that were selected for the show:
Here’s how they looked, framed up nice and pretty:
A question that always comes up when preparing to photograph a wedding is whether the couple plans to see one another before the ceremony. There is no question that doing so makes the wedding day flow more smoothly in many, many ways.
First and foremost, the couple is invariably SO much more relaxed once they see one another, and it makes the pre-ceremony time much more enjoyable for them. I always make clear that we will still make “the moment” a very special one, planning it out and finding a beautiful spot that will make for great photos.
They’ll still get to experience the fun and anticipation of getting ready separately…
I love taking the opportunity for a portrait of the groom as he waits for his lady…
A sweet shot as she makes her entrance…
And then, finally, “the reveal”…
In my book, I describe my method of shooting this moment as a kind of choreographed dance. It’s definitely one of the more “directed” moments of the day, which allows me to capture all the many varied aspects of the moment.
Logistically, of course, it makes the photo schedule much more manageable when the couple sees one another ahead of time because we can ask the family and wedding party to arrive early and then get most, if not all, of the obligatory (and often dreaded) “group shots” out of the way. This makes the “formal” session much more pleasant for everyone involved (not just the photographer!) for a couple of reasons. First, people are more inclined to pay attention and follow instructions during the calmer, pre-ceremony time period, so we can blow through the list much more quickly. Second, there is no cocktail hour to lure them away, or cause them the pain of watching other guests enjoy the party while they are stuck waiting for their turn to be photographed. And of course, the beauty for everyone involved is that once the ceremony is over, they CAN actually go enjoy that cocktail hour.
If the ceremony is later in the day and close to sunset, there is even more reason for the couple to see one another so that we can take advantage of the natural light for some beautiful outdoor photography before it gets dark. It’s just silly to painstakingly select a drop-dead gorgeous setting for one’s wedding, and not take advantage of using it while it’s still daylight!
If my clients are truly dead-set against seeing one another before the ceremony, I abide by their wishes. But I’m glad to see that more and more couples are deciding to see one another ahead of time, as it really does make the day more enjoyable for everyone involved.
When I began with photography, I shot a lot of figure studies. I love to bring that sensibility to my wedding work. These are always shot with available light, metering for the shadows to allow the light to wrap around the subject and create a subtle, beautiful glow.
These images were all captured very organically, by being attentive and noticing the beautiful moments as they unfold.
I recently photographed my last wedding for the season. As I was finishing up my “good-byes” with the groom, he grasped my hands, looked into my eyes, and said, “Suzy, thank you so much. Everything was wonderful, and we are so glad that we hired the right person to photograph our wedding. We love everything you did, and we appreciate it so much.”
So great, right? I was grinning from ear to ear, ecstatic that my clients were so very happy with my work… without having seen a single image. This groom responded so strongly to my manner – how I interacted with him, his fiancee, their families and guests. How I kindly-yet-firmly took charge of day at key moments (family portraits!) and allowed things to simply flow organically the rest of the time. How I created a sense of intimacy during the portrait session with the couple, which allowed them to overcome their inherent being-photographed-anxiety and actually enjoy that time together.
This stuck with me over the next several days, and it really illustrates one of the main points I make in my book: that the experience created for the couple on the actual wedding day is important – just as important as the resulting images. As a wedding photographer, I am committed to applying my skills, preparation, and knowledge toward the creation of this type of experience for my clients. I think of it as giving them a gift – one they may not even fully realize they need, but will certainly appreciate once they’ve received it.
Over the past few months, the process of writing my book (hitting shelves in October!) gave me a rather luxurious opportunity to simply spend a lot of time with my images – something that isn’t always possible during the day-to-day of the whirlwind wedding season. It was fascinating to look over years of work, seeing where my style has evolved and where it has held fast. And one element that has remained remarkably consistent over the past 15 years is my use of black & white to create expressive, moving images that are about the relationships between people.
To my eye, exquisitely shot black & white lends itself beautifully to the subject matter of weddings. It minimizes distraction and helps the viewer reflect more deeply on the emotional content of the image, and infuses it with a romantic, ethereal beauty. Trends come and go, but the beauty and emotional impact of richly shot black & white images will always be timeless.