Inside Out :: Second Shooters

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” - John Lennon

Life has so many unexpected moments. Over the years, I have learned the importance of always having a backup plan. While planning for wedding season, one thing at the top of my checklist is making sure that I have a roster of great photographers with a mutual trust and shared commitment. Our wedding day “dream team” is in place to ensure that we’re offering a smooth and positive experience for our clients.

There is always the possibility of something happening to Mike or I. While we do everything (and I mean everything) in our power to be at every event we commit to, we want our clients to know that if we are very sick, injured, etc. that our team of second shooters are just as strong as any first shooters.

It's sort of like when the flight attendants talk about the unlikely event of a water landing, but give have an action plan just in case. 

I've been violently ill at a three day shoot in Del Mar, and called in my second shooter (Hanna). I was still able to art direct all day and no one was the wiser. 

With a trusted group of photographers, we go into every wedding day feeling confident and excited. I’m grateful to compensate these artists for their craft and give them an opportunity to improve at every wedding.  It also makes the event more fun because we can challenge and cheer each other on.

Whatever the universe has in store, it will be a magical day for our brides and grooms.

Here are a few awesome shots from the super talented Hanna at a recent wedding at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. 

Inside Out // Communicating Through Photography

Dear Wanderers, 

Words often fail me.  I always have so much to say, but feel a struggle to paint an accurate picture.  The nuances are so important to me. 

With a camera in my hands, I can create a really specific point of view.  It's never bothered me that people may interpret my images differently than I do, because most often, I expressed exactly what I meant. Something I could never say with words. 

There are moments where light flutters around someone and I feel that I've captured something of the beauty that's inside them and it's such a moment of peace for me.  I hold my breath and shut out most sound. I feel like I'm simultaneously flying and so calm.  It's a bubbling up of energy that breaks my heart open; I shoot and then exhale knowing I gave something back.  I captured some wonder.  

I live for those little moments when I'm saying exactly what I mean.  People can look at the image and interpret it with whatever filter they bring. However, I have peace in knowing I said exactly what I wanted to, to the best of my ability. 

The muses and I communicated.  And the photograph is left over as a souvenir.  A little bit of proof that life is wonderful.

There is great happiness in saying just what you meant and putting it out there.


Inside Out :: Healing

Dear Wanderers,

I remember a girl named Kristen at art school. She was creating an album for a class assignment that documented her injuries. She had 4x6 prints and even a few polaroid images. The image spanned several images. Cuts. Bruises. The usual injuries in life. The album I turned in was a collection of images I shot in Cuba a few months before. My class spent seven days in Havana exploring the arts and meeting so many interesting people. 

This year has been a tough one. My brother has labeled it "The year of hospitals". My friend Brian, who has lost greatly this year, has labeled it "The best summer ever". Really, what choice do we have?

My heart is frayed. Mike and I are torn around the edges. This summer, my dad will start chemo, so we will rally. This is a fight he will win. There has been so much heartbreaking loss and terrible diagnoses that we have fought and ran from. Right now, we are going to fight a very contained lung cancer and win. I know to be hopeful, but shadows of loved ones lost knock me over now and again.

I keep getting a bruise on my right arm. It’s on my inner bicep. It looks like someone tried to grab me. I’m pretty sure its from the metal on my camera strap. Every time I see it, I have that feeling of falling down, of having too much on my plate.

I’m the type of person who counts my blessings. This season of amazing events running alongside heartbreaking events is a confusing one. I’m looking to heal and express these feelings that are leaving me so raw. I don’t want to make a list of the tragedies. It’s not my way. I also don’t want to be too quiet or I may find myself breaking down and falling apart by the smallest of bruises. 

So if anyone is interested in having the best summer ever, I’m your girl. I’m here to celebrate the small, beautiful moments and count them as victories. I want to honor these painful moments with living thoughtfully and enthusiastically.

To everything - turn, turn, turn

Love always,

Inside Out :: Photography, A Lifestyle

Dear Wanderers,

When I first picked up a camera, the biggest emotions I felt were relief and gratitude.  Profound gratitude for finally having a way to communicate. This art form would be my voice. I would never lack just the right word and would always be able to wear my heart on my sleeve. I was a struggling artist who finally found her medium at age 17.

The most surprising part of all? This gift could become a career that I was proud of. A career where I could meet couples, their friends, their family and be blessed to witness a most incredible day in their life. Who knew that I would meet so many wonderful collaborators and create a legacy of work with them? And that I would also experience the emotional ups and downs of running a business and becoming a part of this emerging community. Traveling, creating my own schedule, throwing everything I have at Shewanders and passion projects; what a life art has given me.

Now this little spark is growing. It documents my daily life and my family (even sometimes from my silly iphone). I can’t stop sharing images on Facebook, at meetings, to the waitress, etc. Photography is my heart - I am so proud and so in love.

This messy, imperfect life is all mine and I’m floored by how much photography has given me. I’m going to keep capturing every moment, even if things are crazy and my family is annoyed to have their picture taken for the thousandth time. If I don’t have the right outfit or my hair is a mess, it doesn’t matter, because it is while taking pictures that I am most shamelessly, me. Watch out family, here I come. 

Hugs and love,

Inside Out :: Underwater

Dear Wanderers,

Shooting underwater is like shooting in a dream world. I’m excited to share these images with you. I loved the early morning bright light; it was blinding and moved so quickly. I loved the feeling of a kind of blinking blindness. It was a unique experience to take photos through the mask and then view the prints afterwards. 

I've known Anna for a long time now. She's infectious, joyous and I've loved watching her grow up. I am always excited to get Annette's voicemail (her mom) because a younger Anna left the message and it's so fun to hear her little girl voice knowing she has grown up into such a beautiful young lady. I asked Anna if she wanted a play date with me on a particularly busy wedding week. Sometimes if I'm shooting a lot, what I need most is to shoot something without any expectations; just to play with someone I admire and see what happens. I'm really grateful to Anna and her beautiful momma for giving me their time during a crazy week. 

The act of creating this shoot was physically challenging to a degree for both of us. We would come up gasping for air and wipe the water out of our eyes and laugh. It was an exhausting shoot, but also a breath of fresh air. 

With wrinkly hands and a contented heart,

Inside Out :: Saturday

Dear Wanderers,

Words often fail me, while pictures are my comfort zone. They speak a thousand words, flow straight from my heart, and are always right.

Saturday I will be heard loud and clear without speaking much at all. Saturday will be the best day of the week. Not just because of the beautiful flowers, the perfect venue or the timeless hair and makeup. It’s the best day because of my amazing bride and groom. They will open up their world to me and let me step inside. I will get to share these emotional, epic moments with them and use my craft to shelter their memories. I will hold up a mirror to their lives and say “I think you guys are wonderful”. On top of that, I get to meet and capture the family and friends who have facilitated the growth of their unique souls. The love between these two families is beautiful.

Thank you for sharing your Saturday with me.


Inside Out :: Shewanders Wedding Season

Dear Wanderers,

Stamped in your memory may be an image of us climbing on top of furniture, ducking around 150 of your closest friends and family and doing pretty much anything we can to capture ‘the’ moment.

Yikes, that made us sound more like FBI agents than photographers.

Anyways, we wanted to give you a sneak peak into what it’s like behind the Shewanders lens during our wild, emotional, exhausting, unforgettable time of the year…wedding season.

This year we shot 29 weddings,
snapped over 80,000 images,
and clocked over 300 hours of editing.

We captured everything from a three-day destination wedding in Newport Rhode Island, a gorgeous engagement session at a lighthouse in Maine, underwater diving adventures in Bali, the ever ubiquitous tops of mountains that Mike finds himself upon and epic weddings all throughout beautiful San Diego and Malibu.

Phew. I’m tired.

When you see us working at a wedding, we are undoubtedly in the passion zone. Many people who know me outside of work think of me as this sweet, laid back gal (which I am most of the time), but when it comes to wedding day, all bets are off. We stick to the schedule, kindly boss people around and are serious about capturing every possible moment for our bride and groom.

The night before a wedding is my time to get prepared. You can find me resting quietly and calmly in my thoughts. I eat a big dinner, read or watch something really easy going, take a walk with my husband Mike, and triple check that everything is ready to go.

On my way to weddings, I love listening to The Beatles, Mom Jeans Jams playlist and “Here Comes the Sun”. I am crazy about being on time, so I have plenty of extra minutes to pump up with some feel good lyrics.

I love everything about the wedding day, but my favorite moment, hands down, is the ceremony. It is so magical because everyone’s emotions are bursting at the seams. It’s humbling and beautiful.

In order to create our natural and organic Shewanders vibe, I am most interested in capturing people’s faces and the natural movement and interaction between them. I love light and the way it can pour into a lens. I use open shade, back lighting, side lighting and rembrandt lighting to add joy to the day.

From start to finish, we shoot about 2,500 images and end up delivering about 800 perfect shots after removing all duplicates and imperfections. We also use 3-6 different lenses depending on the day.

Some post-wedding nights feel like Christmas eve and I will stay up all night pouring through them because I am too excited to wait! Other times, I have given it everything possible during the day and will wait until the morning to see the beauty come to life all over again.

With the high demands of being ‘on’, it’s important for me to refresh and take some down time. I am able to recharge with my morning page journaling, lunch by the sea, staring at the movement of the ocean, body surfing, playing with my nephew, painting and goofing around in Photoshop and a cold IPA with Mike in North Park.

Some other wedding season remedies include vitamins, comedies, yoga, swimming, laughing with Gaiden who keeps me on my toes and Sunday football with my family.

Lastly, my trick to staying creative throughout the year: gratitude. I feel so blessed that incredible people hire us every season to witness and document their wedding days. It’s such a joy. I also do a lot of personal work and photograph my own family as well. It keeps me experimenting and sharp at my craft.

Wedding season 2015, that’s a wrap.

XOXO and some Z's,

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