West Cliff Dr / Santa Cruz Engagement (She Said Yes!)

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West Cliff Dr / Santa Cruz Engagement (She Said Yes!)

It seems like shooting surprise marriage proposals are 90% planning and 10% execution. I mean, I don’t want to accidentally stalk the wrong couple, or maybe be hanging out 100’ from where the guy decides to drop to one knee – so it’s important to use past experience to inform a perfectly planned and photographed proposal.

I knew Steve wanted to propose to his girlfriend on West Cliff Drive (a very special place for them), and specifically on one of two benches near a cool tree at the intersection of De La Costa Avenue. The problem? The benches are constantly occupied by pedestrians who (rightly) want to stop and enjoy the view. My solution? I went up to a gentleman who was hanging out on “the bench” and told him what was going down in about 15 minutes. After confirming he planned on hanging out that long, we conspired… I showed him the picture I had of my client, so when they got close he simply got up and walked off, leaving it free for my couple and nobody else.

Small things like this delight me, and of course when Steve transitioned from bench to down-on-one-knee, I was ready and shooting away. Here’s a few of my faves…. enjoy!

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Silicon Valley Capital Club - San Jose Wedding - Lily + Nolan

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Silicon Valley Capital Club - San Jose Wedding - Lily + Nolan

It’s not too often you run across a couple as sincere, sweet and good-intentioned as Lily and Nolan. From the moment I met them at an inconspicuous Starbucks in San Jose, I knew they were special, and I was going to be in charge of their wedding day memories. We had a practice / engagement session in Japantown, a place that represents the roots of their relationship and holds many special memories for them; it was amazing to capture them in their element, and to experience a previously unvisited place to shoot through new eyes, combined with my in-the-moment vision.

For the wedding, it was also a new location for me. The girls got ready in the always-fabulous Fairmont Hotel, amazing natural light providing for some stunning pre-wedding candids. I met the guys up in the Capital Club bar – on the roof of the Knight Ridder building right next door – and I could tell right away that not only does the groom have a best friend for a dad, he’s also got a crew of amazing men in his circle of friends. There was as much emotion swirling through that bunch of guys as there was with the girls next door. The day was a whirlwind of laughter, tears and sweet moments. I took a TON of photos, many more than usual, and want to share a few of my favorites below. The spreads below are like open album pages – the ultimate album, if you will. Enjoy…

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Roaring Camp Wedding Photos - Felton, California

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Roaring Camp Wedding Photos - Felton, California

If you love trains and you’re getting married, you really have to check out Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, California. Carol and Nick (well, especially Nick), dig these steam-driven monuments to living history, so it was a natural choice for their Big Day to choose Roaring Camp as their wedding venue. It was Cinco de Mayo, and we were graced with amazing weather all day. Even though Roaring Camp can host large weddings with over 200 people, these two wanted something a little more intimate, allowing for family-style tables at the reception, and setting up a really cool lounge area outdoors around a fire pit. The ceremony was held in the upper redwood grove, and the train ride up and down Bear Mountain is always one of the most memorable aspects of a Roaring Camp wedding. I got so many great candids throughout the day, please enjoy some of my favorites in my album design below:

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Marriage Proposal / Engagement Photo Shoot at Panther Beach, Santa Cruz

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Marriage Proposal / Engagement Photo Shoot at Panther Beach, Santa Cruz

Aside from weddings, I probably put the most effort into helping plan surprise proposals for romantic guys who really want to make this moment special for their girls. From detailed and diagrammed satellite imagery outlining the target area for where I’ll be waiting, to making sure I receive a selfie of the couple so I don’t accidentally “stalk” the wrong couple, I go to great lengths to ensure all the randomness of nature and life don’t prevent me from capturing the moment, then expanding that moment into many moments, guided by my experience and natural feel for this sort of thing.

Even though we had a surprise river bisecting the beach, even though the tide (and waves) were so high that we couldn’t explore half the beach, even though it was a Sunday afternoon and we had a ton of partying teens cheering the couple on – everything came together in a magical way that I hope was everything Shamik imagined it could be. Here’s the highlights of our short time together, I hope you enjoy them.

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Panther Beach - Santa Cruz Engagement Session

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Panther Beach - Santa Cruz Engagement Session

Panther Beach is one of the more popular engagement photography destinations in the Santa Cruz area, mostly because it offers stunning natural features and is fairly private, as it’s challenging to access. But with great beauty, comes another natural risk – big waves! This is the only beach I or my couples have fairly routinely gotten wet at – usually by accident :) Luckily I was able to get a bunch of great photos before the risky shot at the end. A sneaker wave pummeled the rock these two were standing on and utterly drenched them. I got the shot (of course), because that would be a real bummer way to end a session if I didn’t! Luckily they were in good spirits and it wasn’t too cold (even though it’s March). Enjoy a few of my faves below:

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