Friday, June 15, 2012

First Look Portraits | Love at First Sight

Traditional Bride vs Trendy Bride

It's traditional for the groom to see his bride for the first time when she's walking down the aisle. Many of today's couples are choosing to make their own wedding traditions and opting for a "First Look."

First Look is the moment during which the bride and groom see each other privately for the first time on their wedding day. As a photographer, I like to make sure the couple has the space to experience the emotions of the moment. I photograph them from a distance as they smile, laugh, cry, kiss... Many couples that do a first look schedule most of their formal portraits afterwards, before the ceremony.

Some of the benefits of doing a first look:

1. Less time needed for formal photos after the ceremony.

2. More time for you to spend with your guests.

3. Photos of you as a couple with your make-up looking fresh. (And time for touch-ups before the ceremony.)

4. No need to worry about whether you'll still have sunlight after your ceremony. Not a concern for most summer weddings, but if you're getting married in fall or winter remember the sun sets early and ceremonies often run late.

5. Experience seeing each other for the time during a private, romantic moment.


Jen and Darin are not a traditional couple by any means. They are not afraid to be different or to start their own traditions. I'm so happy they decided to see each other before their ceremony. I love Darin's reaction when he sees Jen for the first time and spins her around. And Jen couldn't stop smiling all day long.


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Friday, June 8, 2012

Getting Ready | Temecula Ranch Wedding

Longshadow Ranch
Temecula, California
Jen and Darin's wedding is stylish and laid-back, just like the bride and groom.

I start the day capturing details and getting ready photos of Jen. She is so beautiful!

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Weddings are about celebrating the love between a couple and becoming a family. Some of my favorite photos are of Jen's mom helping her into her wedding gown and her new mother-in-law fixing the pearls gracing Jen's neck. My favorite getting ready moment, however, is not a photo. It's Jen's daughter Nevaeh hurrying her mother by yelling from downstairs, "Mommy, mommy! Your prince is waiting!" Jen and Darin are lucky not only to have found each other, but to be surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends. Love creates family.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Congratulations Jen & Darin!

Temecula, California
Michael and I had a great time with Jen and Darin at their Temecula wedding at Longshadow Ranch. Here's a sneak peek. I'll share more this week!

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Monday, May 28, 2012

To Those That Serve and Those That Love Them | Yellow Ribbon Photographers

Vista, California
To  all of those who serve, like Michael, currently deployed in Afghanistan. To Kim, his wife, and to all of the military husbands, wives, and families who wait for their loved ones' safe return. Thank you for all you do.

Polka Photos is proud to be a photographer for Yellow Ribbon Photographers which offers family portrait sessions at no cost to men and women in the service. If you or someone you know is in the Armed Forces, please spread the word about this wonderful organization. I am one of a few Los Angeles photographers available to travel in Southern California and there are many other photographers across the United States who have also offered their services.

Happy Memorial Day!!!


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Friday, May 25, 2012

The Bride, the Groom and the Balcony | Wedding Portraits

Krakow, Poland
It's  Friday! Since it's the last week day, here's one last photo from the balcony series.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Eye of the Beholder | Beautiful Bride

Krakow, Poland
There's something about a wedding gown that makes every woman even more beautiful.

Which version do you like more, color or black and white?

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Romeo, Oh Romeo | Classic Bridal Portraits

Krakow, Poland
I believe in creating classic images with a twist. Classic, like Shakespeare, stands the test of time. It's a black cashmere turtleneck. It's not that same pose that everyone is doing this year. You look good in classic and classic looks good on you.

The twist is capturing what makes your wedding unique. Are you a glamorous bride or beach chic? Is your wedding vintage or ultra-modern? The twist is that leopard print scarf or polka dot handbag. It's you.

What does classic mean to you?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Door to Happiness | Candid Bridal Portraits

Krakow, Poland
I love incorporating elements of a building like doors, windows, and archways into portraits. They often create a nice frame for the subject of the photo.

We started the morning with Iza and Mariusz on our hotel balcony. Some of my favorite photos are the unposed ones, like this one.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Going to the Castle | Romantic Portraits

Outside Krakow, Poland  When I was a little girl I had a notebook full of sketches for the castle I was going to build. I may not have built my ch√Ęteau but I still love old buildings. Photographer extraordinaire Gokhan scouted this gorgeous location. If you'd like to move in they do have rooms for rent - but you have to become a monk first.


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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Happy Mother's Day to my awesome mama who is always up for a travel adventure!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Glamorous Bride | Classic Bridal Portraits

Outside Krakow, Poland 
This photo could've been taken at a Los Angeles wedding or any destination wedding really. Weronika is sitting on a staircase behind a restaurant where we took a lunch break from our castle shoot. The blur is all in-camera and not Photoshop using one of my favorite fun lenses, the Lensbaby.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Field of Gold | Romantic Portrait Photographer

Outside Krakow, Poland 
Took this quick photo of Mariusz and Weronika in a burnt field. On one of our first days here we saw a huge fire out in the distance. Our taxi driver told us that farmers routinely control-burn their fields. A few days later we found one of those fields.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fairy Tales, Weddings and Photography | Legend of the Smok

Krakow, Poland
Many brides dream of a fairy tale wedding. And many of those tales end with the prince marrying his princess. Since we were photographing at Wawel Castle in Krakow, we wanted to create an image that was reminiscent of a fairy tale. After all we had all the elements of a good story: the prince, the princess bride, and a fire-breathing dragon.

Before we get to the photo I'd like to share with you the real story behind the dragon. The statue represents the dragon from an old Polish legend about the beast which goes something like this....

Once upon a time, a king ruled over the land that is now called Poland. Everyone lived happily until a dragon moved into the cave at the bottom of Wawel Hill.

The beast was enormous, with green scales, a long tail and a mouth full of sharp teeth. As if that wasn’t scary enough, he also breathed fire.

This dragon, we’ll call him Smok, was always hungry. He demanded that the villagers give him a cow every week. Otherwise, Smok warned, he would start eating the townspeople, starting with tasty young girls, he said smacking his lips.

Soon he had eaten almost all the livestock from the countryside. The king didn’t know what to do. He issued a proclamation: “Whoever slays the dragon will receive the princess’s hand in marriage and become the new king when I die.”

Noblemen from far and wide tried to slay the dragon. Many went into the cave, none came out.

One day, a poor, young shoemaker's apprentice asked the king if he could try to kill the dragon. “But you have no sword or armor,” said the king. The royal court roared with laughter but the cobbler was not deterred. “I have something better,” he replied, “I have an idea!”

The king agreed to let the shoemaker try his hand at slaying the dragon, promising him the kingdom if he succeeded.

The shoemaker bought a dead ram from a butcher. He stuffed it with sulphur powder and carefully sewed it back together with his shoemaker’s thread. Early the next morning, he carried the stuffed ram to the dragon’s cave and set it right outside the entrance.

Smok woke up to the smell of the fresh meat. He was such a glutton that he gobbled up the ram in one bite.

The sulfur caught on fire from the dragon’s breath. Smok ran to the Wisla River to quench his thirst and put out the fire in his belly. He drank and drank and drank, filling up with water until POP, he exploded!

Finally the villagers were free of the dragon!!! The shoemaker married the princess and they lived happily ever after, or so the legend goes.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Cold Day at the Castle | LA Wedding Photographer at Work

In a Land Far, Far Away
There's more to being a model than just being pretty. Great models make it look easy, but believe me modeling is hard work. We were fortunate to work with the wonderful Izabela, Mariusz and Weronika who braved the freezing cold and the wind and the rain and did I say freezing cold? I felt guilty for wearing my warm layers while Iza and Weronika wore a strapless gown AND smiled doing it. Real models are tough cookies.

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Michael is not a real model. Note the pained look of cold in his face. He is however a super photographer who took the behind the scenes photos.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Sword and the Stones | Edgy Wedding Portraits

In a Land Far, Far Away...
We were really excited for our photo session outside of this medieval castle. It was a cold and rainy day but that didn't stop us! Many thanks to our models Izabela, Mariusz, and Weronika who endured the cold and rocked the shoot!!! And another thanks to the fabulous make-up artist Anna and super photo assistants Kamil and Maciek!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Love in an Elevator | Sexy Engagement Portraits

Krakow, Poland
When Michael saw the elevator in our building he knew he wanted to shoot there. So we finished up our session with Gracja and Jacek with some hot photos of the two of them steaming up the elevator.


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Want to know how we took the photos?

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Let's just say that three's not a crowd. Michael was hiding in the corner of the elevator holding up a light as I was shooting from the staircase.

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Thank you Gracja and Jacek for a super fun day!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Behind the Scenes | LA Wedding Photographer at Work

Krakow, Poland
As promised, here are some behind the scenes photos from yesterday's blog post. Thank you Michael Gonzalez for taking these photos and not making my butt look big.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

European Romance | Engagement Portrait Session

Krakow, Poland
We were lucky to photograph the adorable Gracja and Jacek while walking around Old Town Krakow. They were so much fun!!! Tomorrow I'll share a few behind the scenes photos from our adventures.

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