Winter in Kyoto

Happy Lunar New Year! I’m back in the office after two months of traveling throughout Asia and ready to update the blog, starting with a selection of highlights from a trip to Kyoto. :) January is the best time for wedding photographers to travel and photographers are some of the coolest people to travel with! For two weeks straight, my friends and I embraced the cold with our camera bags in tow and went sightseeing across the country. I can’t wait to see their shots. In the meantime, here are some of mine.

Kyoto Imperial PalaceArashiyama bamboo forest

My friends and I hiked up Mt. Arashiyama to visit Iwatayama Monkey Park, where wild Japanese macaque monkeys roam and play (and eat the food that us tourists buy to feed them). The sun was setting behind the mountain but there was just enough time and light to snap these shots.

We were instructed not to look them directly in the eyes because they could get aggressive. I hid behind my camera. Good plan, right??

Definitely one of my favorite shots. :)

We visited the Fushimi Inari Shrine on our last day in Kyoto – thousands of torii lead to the inner shrine. I came here while studying in college and it is much, much creepier at night.
These wooden plaques for prayers were shaped like foxes! So fun seeing the different faces people drew on them.

And last but not least… an undeniably cute ninja, spotted at the Sanjusangendo Temple.

Coming up next… Nara, Osaka, Tokyo, plus a handful of engagements and weddings!


Cookie Monster

I can’t help but gravitate toward kids at weddings. They’re cute and funny and highly entertaining. And at weddings you’ll find them in the most precious little outfits. :) Sometimes it’s not feasible for me to photograph guests because I’m occupied with the couple and bridal party (as I should be!). But every once in a while I’ll shoot a low-key wedding that gives me a spare moment to walk around and capture moments like this… 



Marissa & Arman: Berkeley Wedding Photography

Let it be known: Armenians know how to throw a good party. I mean, wedding. ;) What an experience!  It was an honor to second shoot this fabulous Armenian wedding for the talented Jason Chan. I was fascinated by every cultural tradition that came into play – the crowning of the bride and groom, the AMAZING one-man band, the baba ganoush! But in the end what truly blew me away was the dancing. Everybody joined in, young and old. Enjoy: I love the details that set every wedding apart. Marissa’s beautiful dress was unlike any I had ever encountered before. We had a quick moment to take some first look photos by the Berkeley Marina before heading off to the church. I could not get over how cute he was!!! Future heartbreaker.

The ceremony took place at the St. Vartan Armenian Church in Oakland. Here’s something you don’t see at every wedding – the entire wedding party consisted of already married couples! Each bridesmaid/groomsman pairing was a husband and wife team. It was windy that day!Favorite shot.
Arman and his mother, center stage!Father of the groom. :)

Venues: Berkeley Marina Double Tree by Hilton, St. Vartan Armenian Church, HS Lordships
Makeup: Rhonda Cordova
Hair: Changes Salon
Flowers: Frank’s Florals
Cake: Julie Durkee at Torino Bakery


Kay & Jonny: Disney’s California Adventure Engagement Photography

This has to be one of my favorite sessions to date. How could you go wrong with a FABULOUS location (forget Disneyland… it’s all about California Adventure) and a ridiculously beautiful couple??! If you follow my facebook page then this image above is a familiar sight – it’s been my profile picture for a while now and I can’t bring myself to change it. ;) Kay and Jonny were the first couple I had ever photographed, and my goodness did they make it easy for me! Both are naturals in front of the camera. Though they were dating at the time, I am very happy to report that they are now engaged (guess who’s shooting their wedding… hehe).

Earlier this month I acquired a Disney Annual Passport and I could not be more thrilled. For anyone reading this… let me know if you want to schedule a shoot here. I guarantee amazing results. See for yourself:

Love how the scenery mimics the colors they’re wearing (Jonny’s blue shirt and Kay’s red hair).

Did you know that there’s a winery inside the park? :) 
Every nook and cranny of this theme park offers unique and colorful backdrops.
Vibrant colors – totally my style! Super cute.Next time you’re at the park, look out for the larger-than-life garden hose tucked away in “a bug’s land.”Kay and Jonny will be tying the knot in May so you’ll be seeing more of them later this year!


This One’s for Bev

I have the privilege of knowing some of the top wedding industry professionals in the Bay Area. And what’s even more amazing about that is I don’t just “know” them… I am honored to call them my friends. :) Many, if not ALL of these talented people are entrepreneurs. God blessed me with role models to look up to as I develop and market my own business!

I would love to start a series featuring small business owners. Starting with Miss Beverly Yip:

This incredible woman believed in my success before I even knew what success was. A former pageant queen herself, Bev continued to volunteer her time and energy by training pageant contestants for their time in the spotlight. Enter… me. A very self-conscious high school senior, curious to know what the pageant world was like. I get the type of stage fright where I have to stand backstage wiping the palms of my hands on my clothes because they’re sweaty. Why in the world did I sign up??! (In retrospect, it was probably the allure of those sparkly tiaras. I adore sparkly things.)

Well, that’s where I met Bev. The seventeen contestants of the Miss Teen Chinatown Charity Gala met every Saturday for rehearsals in the middle of Chinatown. It was there in a cold auditorium that she taught us how to walk, talk, and pose with confidence.

All of this happened so long ago that much of it has long since vanished from my memory. But there is one moment that has stayed with me throughout the years. Towards the end of the pageant, the judges announced eight finalists to return to the stage. We all waited in nervous anticipation right behind the platform, crossing our fingers and holding our breaths. One by one the names were called…

… My name was not one of them.

Girls around me wept in disappointment but I was secretly relieved that I hadn’t been summoned for the dreaded Q&A portion. It was then that Bev appeared by my side with shock written all over her face. She leaned over and whispered to me, “I thought for sure you were going to win.”


Who knows if she said that to everyone else! Haha. I guess I’ll never know. :P But I can tell you, it meant a whole lot to me.

Enough about me. Back to Bev!

Bev is currently the President and CEO of Especially Yours Chair Covers and Chivari Chairs. Her company is booked for up to 14 events PER WEEKEND. I have a lot to learn from this woman! ;)
It’s not just about the chair covers (though they are gorgeous and can transform the atmosphere of a room instantly). EY Chair Covers earns its success through impeccable customer service. I know this is beginning to sound like a paid advertisement but I promise you, it’s not. I’m so excited to set higher standards for my own business in terms of client interactions and exceeding expectations. I was thrilled when Bev contacted me to update her professional headshots. (Sidenote to other entrepreneurs out there: don’t underestimate the importance of putting your face on your website! It’s a lot easier to connect to a business with a face.) We had a great time chatting and driving around South San Francisco to take these shots. The sun was shining but it was chilly that day, so Bev ended up wearing my jacket. :)
We took these shots inside Ozone Thai Restaurant in San Francisco. I love the soft window light paired with her romantic curls.

So playful! Bev changed into this STUNNING sequin dress that I am going to borrow someday.

Thank you for your friendship, encouragement, and most of all, for being YOU! Your enthusiasm is contagious. :)

Hair and Makeup: Joey Cheung