Pinch me…

Is it really over? My head and my heart are still in Joshua Tree after the best camping girls trip ever… Also my FIRST girls only camping trip… but certainly not my last. The older I get the more I love to be outside… I think a lot of it comes from how plugged in our world is. Technology is AMAZING. I love it… but so many of us lose ourselves in it, and we forget to just BE… which I think is why I am loving to unplug more and more. I will admit, having absolutely no service on my phone makes me a little anxious. No, not because I need to check in with the Facebook world or my Instagram following… but because I don’t like the feeling of not knowing if everyone I love is ok. I don’t like the thought that if something happens to someone, there’s no way to reach me. That being said, I also LOVE the excuse to turn off my phone completely… I know for a fact that when I don’t have service – there’s nothing to check. As long as my husband, sister and Mom know where to find me… I can let go and dive in… and that’s exactly what I did last weekend.

I have not camped in YEARS…. My cousin Stacey, bestie Annie and I decided on a whim a couple of weeks ago to just go for it. Stacey is what I’d like to call a camping professional. Annie and I are what I’d like to call… camping rejects. We don’t really know what’s up. This trip would never have been as successful or as epic without Stacey. For one thing, between the three of us there were absolute non-stop laughs. Stacey and I were driving in the car yesterday laughing so hard we were crying, just talking about some of the funny moments of our trip… But for another thing, we also did not pack the right clothing and would have probably had to leave to find warmth if not for Stacey bringing extra pairs of the right pants and buffs for our heads. That girl scout is always prepared. These other girl scouts? Not so much.

I’ve heard about Joshua Tree forever. Everyone says it’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to go… and it was finally my chance. I knew it would be amazing but I had no idea what I was really in store for. I still feel like the whole place was fake in the best way. It was so unique, so beautiful, so mind blowing, that I felt like it wasn’t real. We got there early to stake our claim on a camp site. We landed at Jumbo Rock and I couldn’t have asked for better. We set up our camp and hiked out into the boulders… Hike is a generous word. Stacey was running around like an animal basically par-coring, while Annie and I, afraid to slip and break our faces, crawled across them like toddlers. After a few drinks, and the realization that we too, could leap from boulder to boulder with ease… we got more comfortable and jumped around like monkies too. We settled atop some boulders, drank some wine and made jokes, told stories, played silly “getting to know you” games (because we forgot to bring normal people games), and laughed until we cried, and then laughed some more. Below are the silly cell phone photos we took. Please don’t judge me for posting cell phone photos on my professional photography blog… Or whatever – judge me. I can take it. These are a mix of cell phone photos from all of us, as well as photos from my camera. You’ll be able to tell the difference. (side note: yes, my hair is naturally that curly… this is a rare site, I never wear it this way unless I know I wont be able to wash it, haha)

We then headed back to camp, added some layers for sunset, and I grabbed my camera and instantly became mesmerized by every little cactus or desert plant treasure I could find. Annie brought out her new camera and I gave her a photography lesson. While Stacey sat on a boulder contemplating life, Annie and I snapped away. Eventually we settled into the perfect spot to watch the sunset, and set up my tripod to photograph the stars. I was told that the stars would be incredible out there, and they did not disappoint. We also did some yoga poses on some boulders…

That first night Annie and I slept horribly. We were FREEZING cold, our toes were frozen, and we couldn’t get comfortable. I was in a 20 degree sleeping bag so I should have been fine as it only got to about 40, but I wasn’t. Meanwhile Stacey in her 0 degree sleeping bag is bitching about how hot she was. Annie and I wanted to punch her as we shivered in ours. I basically was half or fully awake all night. On Saturday morning as the sun rose the coyote’s started to howl. It was an incredible sound. We got up and decided to go on an “easy hike” that day through Lost Horse Trail. There was a 6.2 mile option or a 4.2 mile option and along the way we would see one of the most successful gold mining camps in California. We packed up our lunches which consisted of Lara bars, with PB&J on corn tortillas… or as I liked to call them, peanut butter and jelly tacos… because I insisted on eating mine like a taco. They taste a lot better than they sound, I promise. We started our hike on the wrong end and didn’t realize it until we were 4 miles deep and ran into some people who told us we went the wrong way. So we ended up on the 6.2 mile hike which was a lot steeper than we had planned, but it turned out to be amazing. The best part for me, was that Stacey is training to summit Mount Rainier so she wanted to do this hike with her backpack as full as possible…. which meant I didn’t have to carry anything. She carried our lunches, our waters, my tripod, my lenses, the rocks I picked up for Adalynn along the way (hahaha), and our outer layers that we took off as the sun beat down on us. I carried my camera, and was not at all sad about letting her carry all of our ish.

After the hike we went into town because we were out of wine… and we couldn’t finish our weekend without more silly juice, obvi. We also stopped by a camping supply shop so that Annie could get a pad to sleep on (the pile of yoga mats wasn’t working for her). I chatted it up with one of the employees about how to keep warm at night and he saved my ass that night!!! And my toes! Again – camping reject here – what he told me made so much sense when I thought about it. I couldn’t warm up the first night because I had too many layers on and was trapping my own body heat preventing the sleeping bag from doing it’s job. He told me to take off my outer layer and put it inside my sleeping back for extra warmth and that my body heat would radiate around the sleeping bag to keep me warm. I didn’t trust him AT ALL. I was not looking forward to going to sleep that night because I was afraid it would be another cold and sleepless experience. He was right. I took of my outer later, and kicked my feet around furiously for about 30 seconds to generate some heat (we all got a good laugh over that) and I slept like a BABY! So toasty warm and comfortable. Thank you mystery employee from Nomad Ventures. You’re my hero.

We also wined up and watched the sunset again that night together in the boulders. We danced and hopped around to keep warm while drinking our wine and playing more silly games before going back to our campsite where Stacey made us dinner…. again. She was our designated campfire cook. She made us baked potatoes both nights and eggs for breakfast all in the fire pit. We probably should have left her a generous tip or something. (these photos start with Saturday’s sunrise, through Saturday’s sunset and into Sunday’s sunrise)

Sunday morning when we woke up we watched the sunrise again. There’s nothing like naturally waking up as dawn breaks without an alarm. It’s so peaceful… After watching the sunrise atop the boulder overlooking Joshua Tree we packed it all in and headed back into town to shower and have breakfast and make the two hour drive out to Aguanga to the Temecula Olive Oil Company so that I could photograph a proposal!! What a gorgeous venue Temecula Olive Oil Company is. I would LOVE to shoot here again, or photograph a wedding there. It is stunning. Take a look at John & Riana’s proposal – it was perfection.

These two were such a joy to work with. I just know they will be laughing through the rest of their lives together. Their smiles, sweetness and laughter were absolutely contagious. I was so fortunate to be asked to photograph their proposal and engagement session. It was an amazing way to end our girls weekend. Congratulations John & Riana! Now on to the wedding planning!

 

If you’ve made it this far – thank you for sticking it out through this super long blog post πŸ™‚ For more information on wedding photography, engagement photography, or capturing YOUR proposal – message me through my website: http://www.briannacaster.com

And for the rest of you – I cannot recommend camping in Joshua Tree anymore highly. But bring someone like Stacey unless you’re like Stacey…. πŸ™‚

 

“It’s a free riiiiiiide, when you’ve already paid. It’s the good adviiiiiiice that you just didn’t take! And who would have thought? It figures…” I don’t care what anyone says about whether or not any of the incidences in that song really constitute the use of the word “ironic” – I LOVE THAT SONG. I love rolling down my windows, blasting this song, and belting it at the top of my lungs in the car… You wanna know what else I love? RAIN ON WEDDING DAYS! And what better day to blog a rainy day wedding, than on a rainy day!?

A lot of people FREAK OUT if there’s a threat of rain on their wedding day. I wont lie… I was one of those people last year. Granted… rain on your Southern California wedding day, is not nearly the same threat as rain on your South Carolina wedding day. Thankfully we dodged the rain for my wedding… but not all of my clients have been so lucky. And as a photographer – I LOVE rainy wedding days. Because like a girl scout… I’m always prepared… and like a true nerd, I LOVE the challenge and the opportunity to capture some truly unique images (and I use phrases like, “like a girl scout I’m always prepared!” <— big time nerd).

Think about it… if it rains at your wedding, you are GUARANTEED to get photos different from all of your friends. I know, I know… “but it’s not how I envisioned my day!” Guess what sweetie pie… LIFE. That’s what.

When it comes to your engagement session, your family portraits, or your babies 6 month or 1 year portrait session, we can navigate around the rain. We can reschedule. We obviously can’t reschedule your wedding – so we embrace the rain in all of it’s glory and we DANCE in it. Well I do. I take it as an opportunity to blow your mind anyway… and while your images are not what you THOUGHT they’d be – I always promise to deliver something you’re obsessed with.

Take a look at one of my biggest rainy day challenges… We played in the rain, and then warmed up by the fire and got some very romantic photographs at a venue I shoot at all the time, but in a spot I had never before tried to use.

 

I mean come on… despite the rain – that’s some pretty good stuff, right? Right. So don’t be afraid of rain… I’ve got you covered ❀

For more information on wedding photography please visit my website at http://www.briannacaster.com

Happy New Year friends!!!

I hope you all had a safe and wonderful New Years Eve and New Years Day. Mine were wonderfully low-key!

I don’t know how DJ & Brooke Celebrated but I know they must have celebrated BIG as they continue to share the excitement of their engagement with friends and family. A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call about a guy bringing his girlfriend from Florida to California for a couple of days where he planned to propose to her on the shores of Newport Beach… and he needed a photographer…. they came to the right place, obviously… they came to me!

As Christmas drew closer, DJ and I planned out where he would propose to Brooke and how we’d make sure I could capture it without being seen. That part would be fairly easy considering the plan was to propose on the beach, and neither of them had ever met me in person… so seeing me wouldn’t be super distracting as long as I stayed back. The trick would be, making sure I knew who they were when they arrived. I didn’t get to meet DJ in person prior to the big day, but he sent me a few photos of the two of them together. I told him exactly where I’d be sitting when they arrived, and which way to have her turn so that we could make sure HER face was in MY line of sight.

It was a GORGEOUS and warm 80 degree day in Newport on December 29th, so the beach was packed which was a double edged sword. This meant – seeing a photographer on the beach wouldn’t be suspicious since there were about three other shoots happening, but it also meant the beach was crowded. I dragged Randy down to the shoot with me to help me with my gear, and help me look occupied when they passed me. I was more nervous than I thought I could be! I had photos of them but I was still afraid to miss them when they walked by… I knew DJ would be wearing green pants and a white shirt, and Brooke would be wearing jeans and a white shirt… but I swear every time I saw green anything my heart stopped, “is that them!?” I saw the green and nothing else at first.

Finally, I saw them and knew it was them. My heart was RACING with nerves for DJ…. and excitement… and also a little bit of worry about her positioning. I trailed behind them with my 70-200mm lens so that I could stay far enough back, but get close enough shots. My hands were shaking, and my heart was pounding as DJ knelt down while Brooke unsuspectingly started taking photos of the scenery on her phone. After a few seconds of being on his knee… she finally turned to look at him and say something… and the rest is history…

Take a look!

Congratulations again to DJ & Brooke! And thank you so much for choosing me to photograph your proposal DJ. It was an honor to work with you and to freeze this day in time for you forever. Happy New Year and Happy Wedding Planning!!

 

For more information about wedding photography in Orange County, AND around the globe – or to inquire about capturing your proposal, please stop by my website and drop me a line http://www.BriannaCaster.com

 

Did you think I was going to forget to blog this week?

I almost did.

But I remembered…. so here we are! 2017 was an insane year. So much happened in the world, in my business life and in my personal life…. So much that it feels like 5 years worth of things happened in one year. I know for a lot of people this was overall, not a good year. For me it was mixed. I married the love of my life this year! We bought a house… My nephew was born this year… My Mother got married this year.. Our team photographed 136 weddings and 89 engagement sessions… I mean – that’s a good year if you ask me. I don’t want to list the negative things that happened this year because, well – I don’t want to dwell on them. I choose to focus on the good!

We are at 74 weddings on the calendar so far for 2018 which is an amazing start! In the world of wedding photography, and photography in general for me personally – 2017 was amazing, and I believe 2018 will be even more amazing.

My last official shoot of 2017 is today and will be a proposal!! I can’t wait to capture that special moment today. However, my last actual engagement session of the year was with these love birds, Cara & Christiaan. Holy cow – they are stunning… Their wedding at Ponte Winery in April will surely be one for the books, and magazines galore.

Take a look at these cuties:

 

For more information on Orange County Wedding Photography (And around the globe) please visit our website and drop us a line: http://www.BriannaCaster.com

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’ll be totally honest. I’m having a really hard time focusing on what to write for this blog post because I’m too busy singing and bopping around in my chair to 90’s Pop on Pandora. Currently singing to “Walking on the Sun” by Smash Mouth. I dare you to put that song on right now and NOT bop around and sing to it…

It’s almost Christmas people… SIX DAYS and I’m not done shopping. Are you? The nice thing is, all the stressful stuff is pretty much over…. I’ll probably finish my shopping today. (And now Say it Ain’t So by Weezer is on… I mean give me a break – how can you NOT love this stuff? I should really pause it until I’m done with this blog… but nah…) Christmas is SO close that all I want to do is bake and shop and dance around the house…but I can’t!!! I don’t have any more weddings for the nextΒ  few weeks so even though I’m not going anywhere I feel like I’m about to be on vacation. I totally have ants in my pants and ADD and I’m also hyped up on too much coffee and sugar since it’s Stacey’s birthday and I got donuts this morning…. I need to run around the block a few times.

Ok focus Bri, focus. You’re a professional wedding photographer – just get a blog post done. It’s the last post before Christmas!!!!!! So naturally… the wedding I’m going to share is my last wedding of the year… Christmas themed! Stacie & Tanner got married on December 3rd and their colors and decor were so much fun, and had me SO pumped (as if I wasn’t already) for the holidays. (And as I load these images I’m now listening to How Bizarre by OMC… God I love the 90’s!)

Enjoy this cuteness!

 

For more information about Orange County Wedding Photography and around the globe…. check us out at http://www.briannacaster.com

While I fully feel that way – that song gives me a slight touch of PTSD. When I was a little girl, before I dreamed of becoming a wedding photographer, I dreamed of becoming a famous singer. There were two problems… 1. Believe it or not, I actually DON’T like to be the center of attention, and struggle with becoming a total mouse on stage and 2. Uh… I can’t actually sing.

But back then my parents were kind enough to humor me and put me and my sister in “vocal lessons”. You had to be sure to call it VOCAL because it sounded way fancier than VOICE. Anyway… we had a Christmas program, and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year was my solo song… My proud parents recorded it… and during a mortifying playback at home in front of friends and family, I was faced with the terrifying reality that I was a terrible singer.

So yeah – that song has never sat right with me after that experience. HOWEVER, this IS the most wonderful time of year and I might actually qualify in the running for worlds cheesiest Christmas Dork. I love everything about this time of year. Every day I come down stairs to my Christmas tree I smile, and I’m as excited as my 2 year old niece when seeing Christmas lights….

Most importantly… I’m a total nerd of nerds for my family. I freaking LOVE my crazy ass, wine drinkin’, party throwin’, loud talkin’, each other lovin’, big, huge family. And I get extra excited about seeing all of them this time of year, even though we see each other all year long for the most part.

And not to get too serious – but I also realize that not everyone is as lucky as me this time of year. Not everyone loves their family, not everyone wants to be with their family, not everyone has family. So I try to give extra this time of year as well because I believe everyone should have at least a little glimmer of gifts from others, whether family or not. Whether it’s cooking for the homeless, donating a bag of groceries, or just sending extra love notes to those who need them… it doesn’t have to cost money, time is often more valuable. Just don’t forget to give this season, friends!

And finally… my other favorite part of this year is photographing families. I talk a lot about mini sessions, and most of the year I’m talking about wedding photography… because it’s no secret that I photograph weddings far more often than anything else… but I love that this time of year allows me to change it up and work with beautiful families like the Mirtle’s. Our full portrait session (as opposed to mini’s) in Anaheim Hills was a blast. Their sweetness, laughter, beautiful smiles, and truly apparent love for each other was so easy to capture and such a good reminder of what this time of year is all about. Love.

Take a look:

PS – be kind everywhere you go. Say hello to people. You never know who you’ll meet that will become a dear friend. I met Brenda at Yoga and then I got to photograph her beautiful family… and I feel so lucky to call her a friend, yoga pal AND client πŸ™‚

For more information on wedding photography, family portraits, or anything else photography related – check out my website at http://www.briannacaster.com and send me a message! πŸ™‚

Happy Holidays Friends!