I am such a nerd for Christmas.

My husband likes Christmas too but he likes to try to stifle me until December 1st usually. We have a light-hearted argument as Thanksgiving draws near every year about decorating for Christmas because he knows I like to decorate the moment Thanksgiving is over. I’m not SUPER crazy – I don’t ever want to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving because I love the fall decor too and I like to let Thanksgiving have it’s time 😛 As a kid I always felt bad for Thanksgiving because all the stores just skipped right over it… and I thought the holiday probably had some legit feelings and was probably pretty depressed about it.

But anyway – back to not being “allowed” to bust out the Christmas decor until December 1st… last year I played a little game with myself. Each day after Thanksgiving I snuck out one small piece of Christmas decor and put it around the house to see if my husband would notice. The first couple of days he didn’t notice, so I put bigger items out and he finally did. I thought I was pretty funny… so did he. But because we bought a real tree – I still couldn’t get my tree as early as I would have liked since I wanted it to last until Christmas.

This year we decided to get a fake tree. Last year we went to three or four different lots before we found a decent tree. Everything seemed half dead already due to the drought and it was a wake up call for us… We decided that being in California with this drought, it was probably not a very good idea to buy into the real Christmas tree market that takes up water resources. So just before Thanksgiving we bought our fake tree. And since it wasn’t up in the rafters where I couldn’t reach it, I had this great plan to put it up by myself the Monday after Thanksgiving while Randy was at work… BEFORE December 1st. Which I found to be a hilarious idea… But he threw me a curve ball you guys!!! We were out at dinner on Black Friday and he spoke the magic words; words I never thought I’d hear  from my husbands mouth; words that nearly made me fall out of my chair and certainly made me question the authenticity of this being who looked like my husband but certainly wasn’t talking like him… uttering a question he had never uttered before… “Do you want to put the Christmas tree up tonight?” I stared at him dumbfounded trying to make sure that the words he spoke were the same words I heard… wondering if maybe I imagined it, I said, “excuse me?” AND HE SAID IT AGAIN!!!! He’s probably never seen a smile on my face so bright as he did in that moment. So although I couldn’t play my funny game again this year… I was happier than a pig in shit when we got home and started decorating. By Friday night my home was now my little Christmas haven and every time I come in the house or come down the stairs and see it, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

The next day I dragged my cousin Stacey out to Joshua Tree with me for the weekend to photograph some couples in the desert. I didn’t so much drag her as I asked her to come with me and she was like “hell yes.” We both equally have an obsession with Joshua tree. So while it was hard to pull myself away from my sweet magical house full of Christmas… I was amped to be back in a place that I feel is every bit as magical as Christmas. I photographed three engagement sessions in Joshua Tree and loved them all equally!

First up was Jade & Casey – avid campers and adventurers who moved to California from Connecticut a couple of years ago, and were absolutely the perfect couple to go on this adventure with! Take a look:

 

 

See why I’m so obsessed!? All the heart eyes!

For more information on engagement sessions locally or an adventure shoot like this one, check out my website and drop me a line at http://www.briannacaster.com

 

This is my absolute favorite time of year. There is just a different spirit in the air… I love to see peoples gratitude posts around this time, and see all of the families coming together to share a meal. With this season comes a lot of busy work to do, cooking, cleaning, hosting, driving, traveling, shopping, etc. and it can become overwhelming. I often hear people talking about how many places they have to go, and how many Thanksgiving dinners they have to attend, and I find myself smiling knowing that people have somewhere to go, and people who want them there. Because we often forget that not everyone has somewhere to go for the holidays. So when we find ourselves stressing out over all of the people we have to make sure we see, I am very quickly reminded of what a blessing that is each year and the stress melts away. To be loved, to be wanted, and to have loved ones to share this season with is the greatest blessing anyone could hope for. Whether your tribe is large or small… whether you have one house to visit, or four houses to visit… aren’t you lucky?

I am never able to turn down a food drive or donation opportunity this time of year because I am also reminded of how many people need this comfort food in their bellies. I am grateful to the kitchens who serve those without a place to call home, and grateful to the grocery stores and all of the organizations who accept donations on their behalves as well. Knowing there are so many people who remember the less fortunate, and make sure that they are not alone this time of year, is another blessing to count.

This month has been full of chaos and tragedy around the state California… and I cannot thank God enough for the safety of my loved ones and the opportunity to spend another Thanksgiving around a table seeing their smiling faces. I have found myself disappointed that certain family members wont be at our table this year as they have other tables to sit at… but then I remember, at least they are here, they are healthy, and they are happy… and I will see them another day. There are many reasons to feel Thankful this year – but none greater than the health and wellness of our family and friends.

Tomorrow our day will be filled with laughter, conversation, new friends, old friends, family, and delicious food… it will be loud, it will be chaotic, and it will be amazing. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because everyone comes together.

Of course I am also thankful for all of my incredible clients that I had the honor of photographing this year. I have two weddings left, and several other smaller shoots to come before I call it a year in the photography world – and I am grateful for it all. Take a look at Jake & Julianne’s wedding at Mission Viejo Country Club:

 

May you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving Holiday. Stay safe, stay warm, and spread all of the love and gratitude you can to everyone you come in contact with.

Some weeks I straight up SLACK on blogging. Some weeks, I am SO freaking busy I just can’t find the time. And some weeks I get hit with hard decisions in business, tragedy around the world brings me down, or something eats me up in my personal life, and I just don’t know what the hell to blog about… and I feel like “it’s not a good day.”

I don’t want to say that this was “the week from hell” because things could ALWAYS be worse…but I kept putting off blogging this week because I felt like the timing wasn’t right, and I didn’t have anything fun or silly to talk about. It was a hard week in business, it was a hard week in my heart with yet another mass shooting way too close to home, and hearing of the passing of someone I loved dearly. This morning I decided to blog anyway. My heart is heavy this week and as much as I’d like to blame it on the crazy hormones running through my body, I think the tears roll today for completely legitimate reasons.

I am a person who’s emotions run very deep. I don’t cry over everything, but I feel people’s pain very deeply and events that most will find sad and tilt their head at … I can sometimes obsess over for way too long. I find it to be a both a blessing and a curse. So on days like today, or weeks like this week – to prevent myself from going too far down the rabbit hole… I have learned to give myself some grace. I allow myself to step away from work if I feel I need to… maybe spend time with my niece and nephew who ALWAYS make me smile… and focus on things that make me happy.

I know it’s been a while now, but one thing that makes me incredibly happy is the legalization of same sex marriage. As a wedding photographer, capturing same-sex weddings still makes me feel like my heart could burst. I remember what a fight it has been and how proud I am to be in the presence of such love and joy. I love photographing weddings in general, but every time I get to photograph a same-sex wedding it still feels like a victory.

So in an effort to keep today’s blog short and sweet because I just don’t have much else to say… I will jump right into this beautiful wedding I photographed for Arica & Christian. I hope that everyone can find some peace today, and when you’re feeling low… remember to give yourself some grace, let yourself feel sad, and count the reasons you still have to smile.

 

 

For more information about same sex wedding photography, or wedding photography in general, please visit http://www.briannacaster.com and send me a message.

Wishing you all peacefulness and love.

 

I’m getting really T.O.’d about this weather lately you guys. I am literally itching to bust out my warmer clothes but it’s still hitting 90! Mother nature teased us a bit with a good solid 24 hours of rain about a week and a half ago, and then the next day it spiked right back up to 85. What is this crap? The mornings tease me… it’s cloudy and crisp and glorious… and I want to put on an over sized sweatshirt and drink a piping hot cup of PSL… and then by 9:30am I am reminded that it’s basically still summer… and the layers have to come off. But what can you do? I guess I’ll just continue to sit here, staring longingly out the windows dreaming of rain boots, scarves and rain drops on my windows… and wait not-so-patiently.

The one time I was actually glad it didn’t rain when the weather app told me ALL WEEK LONG that it would… was the day of this couples engagement session. We were supposed to get a legit STORM… big warnings everywhere… but as per usual, what we got, was about 30 minutes of a light drizzle that can best be compared to the misters that theme parks and some restaurants have on in the dead heat of summer. And also it was like 78 degrees still…. BUT!!!! It made for the absolute most perfect beach engagement session for Chelsea and Aaron.

Check out how cute they were at Crystal Cove… there was almost no one else on the beach that day. It was magical!

 

It also helped that this beautiful bride was ready to shoot rain or shine… I LOVE it when I have couples who aren’t afraid of a little drizzle. Rainy days make for some of the best shoots.

Happy not-quite-fall everyone!

Is anyone else sick of the fact that by mid-day it still feels like summer? I get up in the morning, it’s overcast and cool and lovely… Take my dog for a walk… have a nice hot cup of coffee… and then the sun comes out and it’s 85 degrees and I get sad. I just really want to wear jeans and sweaters all day. Come on Fall – where are you?

#firstworldproblems

Anyway… I want to talk about this beautiful couple and their wedding at Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu. Josh & Jazmin have been together since high school, and they are sincerely one of the most delightfully fun, adorable, hilarious and loving couples I have ever had the honor of working with. I met the Plemon family several years ago through my sister and brother-in-law who work with Josh. I met them at a holiday work event for their company which was hosted by Josh’s family. Their team hired me to capture their casino night and I immediately fell in love with the Plemon’s. This might sound self absorbed – and I don’t care – but I loved them so much because they reminded me of MY awesome family. I am so proud of the family I come from, and the older I get the more I realize how rare it has to have a big family who truly enjoy’s each other all the time, and opens their hearts and homes to everyone… so in the very rare instances I come across another family who welcomes me into their home the way my family welcomes others in to theirs… I can’t help but instantly feel all warm and fuzzy inside and want to be their best friend!! That is how the Plemon’s made me feel when I first met them.

A little while later, Tracy & Dean (Josh’s parents) hired me to photograph their extended family to honor their parents wedding anniversary. I loved seeing all of the siblings laugh together, and the cousins relationships with each other. We photographed each group together and then went to Ruth’s Chris to continue the celebration honoring this monumental anniversary and birthday. Everyone in their family made me feel like family too, and I couldn’t have enjoyed working with them more. So when Josh & Jazmin asked to meet with me to discuss their wedding photography, I was elated. I knew it would be an amazing event, with an amazing group of people, and a couple that literally no one can get enough of. Their day was right out of a fairytale. From Jazmin’s stunning and unique gown, to Stanley the giraffe (yes – a friggin GIRRAFE!! AND I LOVED HIM!), to the twinkle lights in the oak tree’s – the entire day felt like an absolute dream…. and I so wish we could all go back to Saddlerock Ranch and do it all over again.

This was a day where truly nothing went wrong. It was every photographers (and couples!) dream – Every detail was completed to perfection; every guest had a smile on their faces… and every family member on both sides was beaming with pride and love and everyone had an amazing time. Take a look:

 

 

This incredible wedding could not have been possible without this awesome team of vendors:

Venue: Saddlerock Ranch

Photography: Me. Duh.

Planning: Cat Nguyen at Wish Wonder Dream

Hair & Make Up: Blushing Beauty

Gown: Haley Paige

Florist: Beautiful Savage Flowers

Videography: D.P. Weddings

Catering: L.A. Roots

Rentals: A Rental Connection

Vintage Rentals: Pretty Vintage

Officiant: Words for All Occasions

Sweets & Treats: Sweets by Kacy

DJ: Vox DJ

Live Music: Black Noise

Photobooth: Photo Bus

Late night snacks: Dedicated Danny

Ring Box: The Mrs. Box

 

For more information on wedding photography in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, and anywhere else… please stop by our website at http://www.briannacaster.com – and say hello! Or follow me on Instagram at @briannacaster and Facebook.com/briannacasterandco

 

Peace, Love, and Pumpkin ravioli,

Brianna

 

Hi Friends…

Last week… or was it the week before? I’ve lost track. Anyway – last week (I think) I went a little nuts about how much I love the fall… This week I’m going to tell you one of the reasons I love the fall…

BECAUSE IT’S MINI SESSION TIME!!!

If you go to any local parks in Orange County this time of year… you’ll see a sea of photographers busting out family portrait sessions. For us photographers it can be quite a challenge to navigate our locations and not get into each other’s way – but it is inevitable that if you look out for it, everywhere you go you’ll see families ready for photos, or having their photos taken. It’s that time of year where everyone starts color coordinating, parents fight the little ones for early naps so they behave for their session, and everyone is anxious to get that perfect holiday photo to send out with their holiday cards. If you see families in restaurants that are color coordinated and you see a massive look of relief on the faces of the parents – you can probably bet they just finished their holiday session and are so glad it’s over.

While everyone wants that yearly family photo it can be TOUGH to get it done because:

  1. Timing – it’s the busiest time of year for everyone! School is back in session, sports seasons are starting, and you have to prep for all of the upcoming Holidays. And for many families getting your kids or dogs to cooperate for a specific amount of time is nearly impossible.
  2. It just always seems that when you finally have your session set, something inevitably goes wrong… one of your kids has a black eye, or a cut on their nose, someone didn’t nap and they’re cranky… someone got sick… the dogs don’t cooperate, etc etc.
  3. MONEY! This time of year is expensive, and so are portrait sessions… While they are worth every penny – it can still be stressful all the same.

This is why we. love. mini sessions!

  1. They are short and sweet. We only spend 20 minutes and we knock out everything you need for your holiday cards! Little ones attention spans don’t last very long, so mini’s are PERFECT for families with little kids, couples who just want a couple cute shots for their memories, or couples with dogs!
  2. Lucky for you we are pro’s and have some tips below to help avoid some of these disasters (probably can’t help prevent your kid from getting a black eye)!
  3. Mini sessions are short and sweet and therefore more affordable than a full length session! These sessions get you what you need in a timely manner without breaking the budget.

Here are our tips for a successful mini session with kids:

  1. Try to coordinate your session for AFTER nap time. Kids always do better when they are well rested! Take them to the park early in the day so they can run out some energy and take a good solid nap.
  2. Coordinate your outfits, but don’t get TOO matchy-matchy. Gone are the days where everyone wears a white shirt and jeans. Choose 3 colors that look nice together and mix it up among your group.
  3. Prep your kids all week long! Let them know in a fun way, that you guys are having a photo session! Make it exciting for them – let them see the outfits you chose, and tell them how they get to wear that special outfit for picture day. Tell them who you want to send photos to, and even get silly and practice smiling with them. This will get them excited for their session and ready to perform for the camera (hopefully!). If your kids HATE getting their photos taken… prep them anyway… and give them some incentives for doing well at the shoot.

If you do not have kids – but want to bring your dogs:

  1. Bring a puppy wrangler! A friend or family member who can help manage the dogs in case you don’t want them in every single photo.
  2. Bring their favorite toy or treats so that we can coax them to sit and look at the camera 🙂

We do all of our mini sessions in Orange County and this year we are only doing TWO dates as opposed to three. Our calendars are filling up fast, so if you haven’t already reserved your spot – don’t waste another minute!! Below are our mini session details and locations, as well as some photos from last years fun.

 

 

 

To book your Orange County mini session – email us at briannacasterandco@gmail.com – or send us a DM on Instagram of Facebook.

HAPPY PHOTO SEASON!

 

In the month of August I basically felt like a stay at home wife. It was kind of nice… but then I got bored. When September hit, I felt like I had a job again! The photography business has so many strange ebbs and flows. To me, it makes sense that August is typically a slow month for us. In Southern California, with the month of August, also comes extreme eat…. most of the time. We usually hit triple digits on and off through out the month and it is rare that we have a day below 95. This year however, mother nature went a little backwards on us. We hit record heat in July, and then August was really quite lovely…. but that’s not the norm.

So I attribute the slow wedding month of August to the anticipated high temperatures. We always get a couple of weddings but this year we had 3 in August compared with 13 in September. As the weather beings to cool, the weddings pick back up!

Now that Fall is in full swing – I am a happy camper. The weather is cooling, all of my glass pumpkins are out, the fall wreath has been hung, and my 14 year old nephew is already teasing me about how early I decorate. Just wait until he see’s the Christmas game I like to play with Randy on Instagram where I start sneaking out holiday decorations before he deems it appropriate decorating time. I can’t WAIT to play that game again! I absolutely love this time of year… WHO DOESN’T!? Unfortunately around here it’s still been a bit too warm to bust out the scarves and boots… but I am watching that weather app like a hawk and we’re supposed to get some rain next week!! That literally made me squeal with joy today. I know some parts of our country are suffering too much rain, while we suffer too much heat (brush fires, etc)… but for us rain means less fear of fires, droughts, and the inability to harvest certain fruits and vegetables. So bring – it – on! I want to get COZY… and turn off my AC so I don’t see my life flash before my eyes when I get the next bill. I LOVE THE FAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!

All of this weather rambling was to segway into this adorable engagement session at Irvine Regional Park with Shannon & Lee… and Rowdy! I adore this couple, and this session was so much fun! I feel like their personalities are absolutely beaming through in every photo. They are funny, playful, sweet, and have an adorable dog and a kick ass classic VW truck that has been in Lee’s family for several decades…. take a look:

Doesn’t this session just make you want to start a fire and drink something pumpkin spiced!? It feels like fall to me! ❤

 

HAPPY FALL MY FRIENDS!

 

For more info on wedding and engagement photography in Orange County and beyond… don’t be a stranger. Check out my website at http://www.briannacaster.com – follow me on Instagram @briannacaster – leave a comment on this blog… whatever you feel 🙂 Kloveyoubye.

You guys – I freaking LOVE photographing proposals. I literally can’t get enough of it. I get so nervous for the couple that I tremble with nerves until they arrive… it totally messes me all up and has me completely nervous as if I’m the one proposing. I’ve done three proposals this year and each of them were so incredibly adorable that I can hardly stand myself. James & Ashley were no exception.

James’s mother found me on Google (woohoo!) and I met up with James to plan out his big moment down at the Montage in Laguna Beach just a few days before the big event. The day of the proposal I arrived painfully early because I was afraid to get stuck in traffic, and as I enjoyed the perfect weather and stunning view of the pacific ocean, people walked into the view point where the proposal would take place and started snapping selfies. Then they would leave and the space would be perfectly empty. This only added to my nerves of people getting into my shots. For about 15 minutes the space was completely open, and I sat there thinking “hurry hurry hurry!” And wouldn’t you know it… literally 2 minutes before they arrived a family popped in and started taking photos… and naturally… NATURALLY… a woman showed up with her giant poodle, hair cut exactly as you would imagine, and a bag full of different collars and hats and began a cell phone photo session with her dog. I am not even kidding right now. That happened. I took a deep breath and just thought, “when they see what’s happening, they’ll move.” I thought about giving the poodle lady a heads up, but just as I was about to, up walked James & Ashley.

James told Ashley that they were meeting up at the Montage for a drink with his parents before heading to a restaurant for James’s birthday dinner. Ashley didn’t have the slightest clue that he was going to pop the question. In fact, as they passed by me sitting on a bench waiting for their arrival, Ashley joked with James, “are you going to propose?” and giggled. He let out a nervous chuckle and said, “No, I don’t have ring yet.” Although she joked, she truly didn’t mean it. She later told me that it is totally James’s style to take her to view points and soak in the moment, so this was not out of the ordinary for the two of them at all.

Just as they walked past me I began snapping, and when people realized what was happening, as I hoped and prayed – they took the hint and got out of the way. I don’t even need to say anymore because you can see exactly how surprised Ashley was when you look at this highlight video and these photos…

 

Are they not the cutest!?!?! I can’t get enough of these photos. I feel so lucky to have captured this moment and met this adorable couple.

For more information on proposal photography, engagement photography and of course – wedding photography … please visit my website and send me a message at http://www.briannacaster.com

 

K love you bye!

It has been a hectic two weeks and I have not posted a blog… I hate it when that happens!

I have been highly focused on transforming my home office so that I can start meeting clients here, and I am thrilled to say that it is ALMOST DONE!! It was a huge project, but I am really excited about it. From the time we moved into our new home, which has this beautiful little office space off our dining room, my office has been a disaster. I set up my shelves but never full organized it. It was functioning, but it was cluttered and I absolutely HATE clutter. I just didn’t know what to do with it all…

Until one day I met another photographer who helped inspire me to transform my business, which inspired me to transform my space. There’s a part of my market that I have left untapped… and that is the product part. I get asked quite often if we offer albums or wall art and while we do offer those things, we don’t really TRY to sell them. Mostly because we didn’t have much space to show them. We have albums at our studio, and that is helpful… but I believe that the culture of wedding photography is shifting again, and I want to be a part of that shift. We have let ourselves get into this phase of instant gratification, and fell deeply into the idea that all we need are digital files, because all we want to do is post the photos online, and get likes. But the reality is that, sure that’s fun for a minute… but it gets lost in your Facebook timeline or your Instagram feed after just a couple of days, and truth be told – people stop caring after the first glance. I believe the trend is starting to shift again back in the direction of tangible products and… wall art.

So I have  re-designed my space in a way that will not only allow couples to meet with me over a glass of wine in a cute cozy environment, but that will also allow them to see the different types of wall art they can have, and give them an opportunity to purchase the highest quality art work to display proudly in their homes. What’s more is that when they walk into my home, they will see that I stand by my products so much I have them all over my walls from my wedding.

So that is what I have been up to, while also juggling engagement sessions and client meetings and all that fun stuff. August was a fairly slow month for us, but September is coming with full force! 12 weddings total for the team! Bring it on.

Here are some lovely photos of a very lovely couple. I photographed Susan & Ryan’s engagement session at Irvine Regional Park, and we had a ton of fun as you can see. I just adore their personalities and I love that they really shined through in this session. Take a look:

 

Aren’t they the cutest? I can’t wait to photograph their wedding 🙂

For more information on wedding photography in Orange County or anywhere else, please visit http://www.briannacaster.com and send me a message!

Accountability

Guess what day it is!

It’s Wednesday. Nothing special…

Happy Wednesday friends. I’ve been doing better with my planner again this week. I looked at it MONDAY this week. That’s an improvement from the week before… when I didn’t open it until Wednesday :-X  I’ve also made some good headway on my new home office space. I am so excited to have it all done and share it – most importantly, I can’t wait to start hosting client meetings here and review sessions! We will still keep our studio space in Tustin for our Shy Heart Studios clients of course, but going forward I will be meeting my BC & Co. clients in my home office over a glass of wine, in my new adorable little space. It will be awesome!

Point being – I am meeting my goals and have been more organized than ever before. You know what is helping besides my planner? My accountability partner Annie! We have been having weekly meetings where we talk about what we accomplished the week before, and discuss our goals for the next week. We give each other feedback and advice over lunch and it has been so helpful keeping us each on track. I highly recommend it. Whatever your goals are, whether they are business goals, money saving goals, weight loss goals – get yourself an accountability partner! Chat with them every week over lunch or over the phone. It REALLY helps keep you on track.

Ok – onto some beautiful wedding photography. Last month I had the pleasure of photographing Michelle & Christian’s wedding at The Retreat in Corona. It was a hot day, as usual this summer (anyone else’s electric bill threatening to give them a heart attack yet?) but these two were amazing all day. Their wedding party was top notch… everywhere Michelle went, the bridesmaids and groomsmen were there to help her with her dress, keep her hydrated and make sure she had what she needed. We could see and feel how loved this beautiful couple was everywhere we looked that day.

Take a peak…

 

Aren’t they the cutest!? Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Jackson!

For more information on wedding photography in Orange County or the surrounding areas… or anywhere else your little heart desires… please visit http://www.briannacaster.com and send me a message!

 

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