I'm kind of a big deal around here: SF Chronicle's Best of the Bay Contest, award winning images, and other silver linings

It's been an incredible summer to be a wedding photographer. Yes, it's true that overall consumer confidence is down, even when it comes to wedding spending (the so-called "recession proof" industry), and I know a lot of people, including photographers, who are struggling.

At the same time, so many amazing things are happening, I cannot help but be affected by them. So while like every other small business owner I have felt the strain of the declining economy, I have also seen more than one silver lining on this cloud, and I cannot help but feel hopeful about the future. It's funny when you've been working for something so long and then all of a sudden the day comes when everything seems to fall into place. So in order to keep things in perspective, I made a list.

Cool stuff that's happened this summer:

1. Nominated for SF Chronicle's Best of the Bay!

BayList Best Nominated: Best Wedding Photographer in The Bay Area

The Baylist Best contest allows SF Bay area citizens to choose their favorite local businesses by voting for them. This is just amazing--it's awesome just to be nominated. I'm up against some very heavy competition, photographers who have been in the limelight a lot longer than I have, as well as some of my incredibly talented friends like Lisa and James Sanders, Lilia Ahner, Tara Arrowood, and others. But I think I've got a fighting chance as long as everyone I know puts in their vote!

I also just had a look for the first time at the reviews people have left with their votes, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to read all the wonderful things people wrote about me! Here are a couple of examples:

"Lauren is able to integrate beautifully the technical aspects of photography with the heart and soul of her clients. She is a very gifted and passionate professional artist."
"Lauren a phenomenal photographer who never stops honing her craft so she can deliver the best service possible to her clients. Beside being a very talented artist, she's an amazing person who cares deeply about her clients and the meaninfulness of their weddings."
I've got nine 5 star reviews on there already. Thank you so much you guys! If you haven't done so already, you can vote for me for best wedding photographer by going here.

2. My wedding pictures are in demand: images from Wedding Wednesdays get published in newspapers and broadcast on the 11 o'clock news, a KRON 4 primetime special on gay marriage, and HBO Family!


Ok, here's the backstory: The last time I was on TV, I was 8 years old. My class was interviewed by 20/20 on the subject of "gross toys" (Madballs, Garbage Pail Kids, and the like). John Stossel asked me if my mom knowingly bought these things for me, and I in all my adorable little smartass glory replied, "She buys them, she just doesn't know what she's getting into."

Let's say it all together now; "Awwww..."

So as you might imagine, getting TV attention as an adult is something entirely different. I have been inspired by these incredible weddings and the rich, varied, yet shared experiences of each couple. I am lucky to be the one to tell their stories, and thrilled at the opportunity to bring my work to a wider audience. It would be exciting to carry this work outside of the context of weddings, perhaps as a gallery show or something else having to do with the fine art world.

3. Certified by Here Comes the Guide!

Certified by Here Comes the Guide!

Here Comes the Guide is a prestigious wedding resource that represents only the best wedding vendors in California. In order to become a part of it, you have to go through a screening process, in which they interview 30-40 references about your business, including established wedding vendors, and at least 10 actual wedding couples who have hired you. If these people don't absolutely RAVE about you, you don't get in.

I originally heard about HCTG early in my second year of business and wanted to get on board, but when I got to the part about the screening process I stopped--I couldn't even think of 15, much less 4o, wedding references I had worked with at that point. So I put it aside until a few months ago, when I looked at their site again and realized that now approaching my 5th year in business I had more than enough references and happy brides I could send them. This is actually one of the major benefits to the brides who use HCTG to find vendors: the screening process weeds out the fly by night or newbie businesses, as well as those who have a less than ideal reputation.

Unlike most other wedding resources, the text part of your listing on herecomestheguide.com is written by the staff at HCTG, made up of all the nice things your references said about you during the interview process. It's great if you are a bride, because you know that what's written about the business is not self promotional hype. I'm really excited to see what my references said about me.

4. Published in Today's Bride magazine!


I knew when I shot Tammy and Jamey's wedding last fall it was special, which is why I have a lot of images from that wedding in my sample albums and on my walls. As beautiful as the decor was, I also knew it would probably make it into at least one bridal mag. I am happy to say I was right! Two images from their wedding at the Ferry Building made it into the Idea Gallery section in the latest issue of Today's Bride. TB is a nice little publication, handbook sized, with lots of information and ideas for engaged couples. Unlike many other wedding mags there is a LOT of great photography in there and the vast majority of it is from actual weddings (as opposed to editorial photo shoots with models). TB targets an upscale but individualist, somewhat offbeat modern bride population, which makes it a great fit for my work.

5. My image of Ted and Brian wins an award from the WPJA!


This image won 5th place out of hundreds of entries in the "Emotion" category of the WPJA's Q2 wedding photojournalism contest. You can see the placement on their site here and a list of the judges and their qualifications here. Here are some of their comments on my winning image:

"From the distance and lens selection, the photographer has let us see this couple in their own world in the middle of a very big day in their lives. It’s a great picture of a couple paying complete and compassionate attention to the other."

All of the WPJA contests are judged by critically acclaimed working photojournalists and news photographers at the top of their field. Having judges like these insures that the winning images maintain a high standard of journalistic integrity and storytelling, and are of sufficient quality to stand on their own, outside the context of weddings. This is my third WPJA winning image this year.

Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Presidio Log Cabin

Lydia and Mike
July 20 2008


Slideshow here
Full set of images here

I've been looking forward to this one for a long time. Lydia was actually my first booking for 2008, over a year ago, and I knew when I first met her and Mike that their wedding would be special. Then when we shot their E session together it pretty much sealed the deal: I was inspired by the couple's edgy, glam/punk rock style and LOVED the images we took out in the Mission at night. They were very fun to work with too. I was very excited to see what the wedding would be like.

The ceremony at Holy Trinity was a traditional Russian Orthodox service, filled with ritual. The inside of the cathedral was intense: covered wall to wall with shiny golden objects, relics, candles, and reflective paintings. The ceremony managed to be both solemn and lighthearted at times, such as during the crowning of the bride and groom. Heavy ornate crowns are held one handed over the couple's heads by the best man and maid of honor, for what seemed like 20 minutes, and about halfway into it you could see the muscles in their poor arms start to tremble violently as they tried to keep the crowns up. As the minutes ticked by it became a kind of hilarious inside joke among the wedding party; with everyone watching and waiting to see if the two could keep it up, and ending in a collective sigh of relief when the preist finally told them to lower their arms.

In contrast, to the ceremony, the reception venue had more of a rustic, casual feel. The Presidio Log Cabin is in many ways a typical log cabin...but I loved the bank of windows in the dining area, which gave the room a soft glow from the sky at dusk, and the chandeliers which dressed up the exposed wood ceiling. It was the flowers and decor however that made the venue come alive. The head table alone had about 15 separate pieces on it with interesting combinations of grass and green plants in pots, spiky seedpods and trailing ferns, and big tropical flowers in green hurricane glass vases, all of which sat on deep orange tablecloths and napkins. It's one of those complex, multivariety set-ups that could be either bold and incredible, or tacky as hell...and only a genius designer like Sara Hackforth could take all those contrasting elements and make them work perfectly together. And to top it all off she wasn't even a hired vendor, but a friend of the bride, who does do this for a living but not under her own business name. I'm hoping she has a website or portfolio out there somewhere so I can give her credit.

I almost forgot to mention the Queen Anne Hotel, where everyone got dressed. The QA is a campy, retro-burlesque paradise filled with velvet curtains, beaded lampshades, tassles and brocade on everything...plus great natural light in the lobby and in many of the rooms. Lydia tipped me off to the place months beforehand so we made sure to set aside a few minutes for some bridal portraits in the hotel before we left for the ceremony.

Lydia looked gorgeous in her simple, elegant strapless A-line dress with a ribbon at the waist and a custom made shrug by Designs by Erika. Her pictures below are a great example of an important motivator in my work, which is to celebrate the beauty of real women; to illustrate that even in a wedding dress a woman doesn't have to give up her individuality or strength to be gorgeous, and that it is in fact the outward expression of her inner self which makes her that.

Bridal portraits are typically something that gets put on the backburner at weddings-- brides only take time out for them if there is extra time to be had. But Lydia's bridals have reminded me how much I love doing these, so from now on I think I'm going to ask all my brides to set aside a few minutes for them. Speaking of portraits, the Queen Anne would be a great place for future hot photo (boudoir) sessions, especially those who want a pin up-type look.

Well, now that I've spent 5 paragraphs talking about wallpaper and flowers, I should probably mention the people! ; ) First of all, Lydia and Mike's friends rock. They all know how to have a good time and they frequently hammed it up for the camera, especially the guys. Lydia's dad is also a very funny man: he introduced the cake cutting with his very accurate impression of that "Lets get ready to rumbuuuuuuuuuuuuuuullllll!" guy. All the other vendors were super nice and fun to work with too. DJ Matt was particularly awesome and the 80's music he played helped keep up my energy all night, and videographer Dana was very friendly and helpful. I was told the caterer, Caterman, helped with the awesome decor, and the made the BEST carrot cake I've ever had. Overall, this was just one of those magical weddings where everything seemed to go right.

Here are some highlights, with links to the slideshow and full set of images (pending) below.

family heirlooms
lydia does marylin
check out the funky hotel decor
cathedral detail, by my assistant gerry. I took basically the same shot but i think i like his lower lit version better.
those crowns are heavy! you can see the look of grim determination on the best man's face.
pics with the couple at City Hall
presidio log cabin interior
awesome unique flowers
one of the favors, a chinese finger trap (with their rings). Hmm, what's the metaphoric significance of a chinese finger trap at a wedding anyway? ;)
i think this shot really shows what it feels like to catch the bouquet.
this one kinda reminds me of the dance contest scene in Pulp Fiction. i love my 85mm f1.2L!