Sherre + Rich | Intimate Wedding Elk California| Northern California Destination Photographer

It is said that “age is nothing but a number” when it comes to love. For Sherre & Rich that couldn’t be truer. They were high school sweethearts before heading off to college. They drifted apart. After 27 years, they found each other once again on facebook. SEVEN Years of dating and they finally decided to take the plunge and tie the night. They chose to get married surrounded by their best friends and closest family members in a house they rented for their first trip away together in Elk, California.

After the ceremony, they enjoyed some appetizers & sparkling wine with their family and friends. Then, Sherre & Rich snuck away with me to the beach beneath The Elk Cove Inn for photos of the two of them. I won’t try to explain, you’ve gotta see for yourself.

After the celebration at the house, Sherre & Rich invited me to be part of their dinner party that was held at Elk Cove Inn. The food was amazing and the company was even more superb. Even though I was off the clock, I couldnt help but capture a few more photos.

5 Tips For a Successful Photo Session

So you've decided to hire your favorite photographer to capture our RAD love story. Now what?!? You're probably nervous. You're likely dreading the moment that your photographer lifts their camera and sticks their lens in your face. I GET IT!  It's kinda scary right!?! The moment that camera comes out we all of sudden we feel awkward and shy, and what the heck am I supposed do with these arms?!? Can I get an amen?!?

Not to fear, I want help you prepare so that you are more comfortable and ready to have fun during your next close up. All it takes is a little advance planning and knowledge. I have come up with 5 things to do to get comfortable for your next session. 

Let's say yes to self confidence and bye bye to shyness and anxiety. You ready?!? Let's go! 

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1. Forget about your photographer

Yes, this means you have my permission to pretend your photographer isn't there! Truth is, the less you focus on the fact there is a camera in your face and the more you think about how much you love each other, the better the photographs!  Pinkie swear, it's true. So go ahead, stare into his/her eyes, forget there is anyone else around, and focus on how much you love each other. Feel free to snuggle, hug, kiss, heck make out if that's your thing. Look what we just did! We seriously turned your photo session into a make out sesh! Now your photos will be more natural and less posed! Woot woot! 

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2. Hair and Makeup Look GREAT in photographs

I'm not saying that you can't go au natrurel if that's your thang. What I AM saying is that no matter your style, a little of attention to your hair and make up will go a long way in photos! Makeup is naturally smoothing to the skin and helps even out tones. Hair can be done so many different ways and depending on what style you are going for in photographs in can add an intentional vibe.  Here's a bonus tip: consider getting your hair and make up done professionally and then going out for a day on the town all dolled up! Spa day plus a date with your lover, win/win right?!?

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3. Plan your outfits in ADVANCE!

We've all done it. Threw together outfits 10 minutes before we needed to leave on a date or to an event. And of course, nothing looks right so it looks like a bomb went off in our closet by the time we finally choose our attire! yup. Been there! Trust me, you do not want to be doing that on the day of your photo session. It will add unneeded stress to your day. So here's my tip, PLAN IN ADVANCE. Heck, send a few outfit options to your photographer and let them help you decide if your coordinated enough! 

The clothing choices that you make for your session are EXTREMELY important. They are the center of what guides the look and feel of your session. You want to choose an outfit that is both form flattering and comfy. No one wants to be feeling like they need to adjust a too tight dress or scratching because they chose an itchy fabric. Solids are always a safe bet, but don't be afraid to go for a pattern. Just make sure that whatever color/pattern you choose that they compliment each other. IF you opt for a pattern, choose something simple, like jeans and a solid t-shirt or oxford for your partner.  Solid, neutral colors are always a good rule of thumb, but don't be afraid to play with color or patterns! For colors, make sure they are complimenting whatever your partner is wearing.  And PLEASE, don't be matchy matchy. It's awkward and really leaves something to be desired in photographs. 

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4. Accessorize and add props

Have a fun hat that you love to wear? WEAR IT! Love statement jewelry? ROCK IT during the session. Pack a picnic. Bring flowers. Have a favorite board or card game that you like to play together? Let's do it! Anything that adds to the style and mood that you are looking for is fair game. We LOVE props! 

Fort Bragg California adventure photographer

5. Choose a photographer you trust

This is the most important tip that I can offer. In order for us to achieve the natural and comfortable photographs, you MUST trust the person giving you direction.  The difference between a good and GREAT photograph has little to do with you as a person and EVERYTHING to do with lighting and posing. Find a photographer who's work resonates with you. Make sure that you LOVE their style so that you can ultimately trust their direction.  Find someone who is going to capture your LOVE exactly the way you want to remember it. LOVE is RAD and it deserves to be documented awesomely. 

That's it friends. I hope that these tips and tricks help ease your fears and rock your next photo session! 

 

Amy & Mandy | Mendocino, California Lymphoma Survivor BFF Portrait Session | Adventurous Northern California Destination Photographer

Imagine you are just 4 short days shy of your 30th birthday. You're preparing for a celebration, most likely with friends and family. Or maybe, an intimate affair with just your significant other. Regardless of the company, turning 30 is supposed to be a time of fun and excitement right?

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Not for Amy. Instead of celebrating her 30th birthday, Amy would be hit with some of the worst news of her entire life. Instead of unwrapping presents and popping open the bubbly, Amy was facing Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Hodgkin's Lymphoma would attack her lungs, chest, stomach spleen, and bones. She would go on to do six months of ABVD chemotherapy. Despite the diagnosis, Amy was determined to live her best life. She wanted to document her story and leave a legacy of hope for others. she used instagram to document her journey, not only to keep a diary for herself but to encourage others through their own diagnosis and fight, "if I could make it through so could they"! 

 

She joined an online community for Lymphoma patients. That's when she met my friend Mandy. (You've heard me talk about her before. If there is anyone that a girl with Cancer wants in her corner, it's our beautiful and courageous Mandy.) Separated only by a flight across the country, a bond was formed over their illness that is unrivaled.

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For them, "No one fights alone" isn't just a saying, it's a way of life. Each of them understands that positivity is king in the fight for one's life. "When people asked if they could pray for me, I always said yes, because I needed all the positivity I could get."  They needed all the good vibes, prayers, and positive thinking that they could muster. Surrounding themselves with loved ones wasn't enough. They needed more. Enter Leukemia Lymphoma Society's online community.  

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In my experience, when people go through hardships and struggles, there is an overwhelming need for connection with others that occurs. Not for sympathy or attention but because for inspiration and understanding. Before online forums, facebook groups, instagram, and communities, they may have been able to find a support group locally if lucky. Now, with the advancement of technology, people can connect with anyone in the world at any time day or night. For people who are fighting Cancer, the ability to talk to someone who understands at any given moment is gold.  For some it may be that they are having a bad day and others they need advise on which oncologist to see. No matter what the reason for reaching out, there is always someone out there to answer the call.

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For Amy and Mandy, it was everything. They had a whole world of friends who would laugh, cry, share, and be with them. Even now 5 years later, they are best of friends. And from what I understand, there are MORE beauties in their tribe. 

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I hope I am lucky enough to meet them all! 


Chelsi is a destination wedding  and portrait photographer based in Fort Bragg, California. She loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture your life's sweet moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is authentic, real, and emotional. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly living life to the fullest and prefers capturing every single authentic beautiful moment that evoke emotion over perfectly posed photos.

Peter & Katie | Fort Bragg, California Couple Session | Adventurous Destination Northern California Photographer

Paula contacted me a few weeks ago about photographing her in-laws. Here is what she said about this very special gift: 

"This will be a birthday present for my mother-in-law and father-in-law from me, my husband, and brother-in-law. They love each other and their dogs more than anything and we would love them to have a gorgeous memory of all of them together in the place they love the most. "

When I received this inquiry, I was overjoyed that they thought of me, but also that they were doing something so special and timeless for their parents. It is so special and I was honored to be a part of it.

I met Peter and Katie at Jug Handle State Reserve in Fort Bragg, CA early in the morning. They brought their adorable pooches with them for a walk. I was enamored with their love for each other. I really enjoyed photographing these two because they couldn't keep their hands off of each other and kept laughing like it was their first date. It is refreshing and inspiring to see a couple their age still so in love. It gives me hope that we can continue to fall in love with our spouses time and time again, year after year. Marriage is hard work ya'll. These two make it look so effortless. I hope that my marriage looks this good in a few years. 

Anyway, I hope as you look through these photos that you see the joy that can be and hope for the future. These two are really living their lives with joy and it shows! 

 

 

 


Chelsi is a destination wedding and elopement photographer based in Fort Bragg, California but loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture your life's sweet moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is authentic, joyful, and hope evoking. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly: authentically capturing every single  moment  to evoke emotion over perfectly posing for photographs.

Amy & Raul | Fort Bragg, California Engagement Session

I met Amy and Rual at a little coffee shop in Fort Bragg a few weeks before their engagement session. It was kismet. We had so many things in common with each other. Amy's love of tacos and margaritas. Raul's gypsy soul. I just couldn't get enough of their fun and adventurous personalities. Needless to say, they ended up booking their wedding with me.

All of my wedding and elopement packages come with a complimentary engagement session. I feel it is important for both myself and my clients that we have a chance to get to know each other prior to what will be the most significant day of their lives together. I NEVER want my clients to feel like they have a stranger at their wedding putting a camera in their face and directing them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Enter the engagement session. 

Amy and Raul chose the location, which was their coastal residence that will also serve as their reception site. Just a days prior to their session it had been pouring down rain. God showed up big and gave us a beautiful day!   The coastal views in Fort Bragg rarely disappoint, and our day together was no exception. We spent a couple of hours together exploring the property (which is littered with beautiful trees and foliage), whale watching, and viewing one of the most beautiful winter sunsets I have seen in my lifetime. 

As we sat and watched the end of the sunset together, Raul admitted to me that he had planned on proposing to Amy while they were in Alaska. His ultimate plan was to propose to her on a glacier. Weeeelllll, that DID NOT happen. He had the ring and was terrified to propose while they were in Alaska. So, instead, he proposed to Amy at the red bench that are in these photos. Fort Bragg's coastal views are an awesome consolation prize to Alaskan glaciers if you ask me! Obviously Amy wasn't disappointed and these two love birds are due to be married this summer, so, way to go Raul! 

Enjoy this beautiful couple, the beautiful views, and the love these two share!

Do you love photos that capture laughter and love? Wanna have some fun on the coast, get wild and adventurous for some photos? You can book your engagement session with me, or shucks, it can be just because, I'm game! Let's have some fun together on the coast, or anywhere for that matter! You can book with me here

 

 

Chelsi is a destination wedding and elopement photographer based in Fort Bragg, California but loves to travel and will go anywhere to capture your life's sweet moments. She lives for seeing the world, capturing authentic love, and making people feel fabulous. Her style is authentic, real, and emotional. She believes in laughing too much, singing too loud, and most importantly living life to the fullest and capturing every single authentic beautiful moments that evoke emotions over perfectly posed photos.

2017 was a whirlwind || Adventurous Portrait Photographer Fort Bragg, California

I am just getting around to blogging sessions from the end of 2017.  woooh, it was a whirlwind towards the end. Oh who I am kiddind, it was a whirlwind the entire year.  Up until the beginning of 2017, for he most part, I had put my camera away. I purposely stopped advertising, took down my website, quietly put my camera in it's case, and just stopped.  Cold turkey. 

Why?!? Why would you do that?!?  Well friends, I went through a season of pain and sadness that rendered me incapable of joyful creativity. Photography felt more like a job than a passion at the time that I called it quits. I needed to take a break. I needed to focus on the things in my life that filled me up. My family needed me and I needed them. So, I put the camera away, knowing that I could pick it back up when I was ready.  I would pick it back up when I heard God calling me.

Well, He definitely called. Ahem, screamed. A few emails from a local vendor, a little encouragement from my friends, and a whole lot of love from my husband and I was back. March 2017 was going to be the time. I heard and answered the call. So here, we are. I am getting down and dirty with the business aspects of this art form. Blogging is just one of the ways that I intend to serve my clients/friends through this talent that I have been gifted. 

Are you ready?  No more slacking. You will be hearing from me at least once a week. So what would you like to see? I want to write things you want to read and share photos you want to look at! Tell me in the comments. How can I serve you through my blog?

While you are thinking about it, here are some of my favorite photos from 2017!


 

Survivor || Jug Handle State Reserve|| Fort Bragg, California

sur·vi·vor

noun

noun: survivor; plural noun: survivors

  • person who copes well with difficulties in their life.
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This is Mandy.  She is one of the most inspirational people that I know. This photo was taken 5 years ago after she fought a battle with Lymphoma and won. Last week, I had the immense honor of photographing her again in celebration. 


Today, She celebrates 5 years cancer free

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A word from Mandy: 

"Let me start off like this...Cancer effing sucks! Plain and simple. I hate it and I most certainly hate what it does to people. To their lives. To their families.

But, a few things I do have to say, are, that I can appreciate life. Appreciate the little things life has to offer. For starters, my second chance. My second chance to continue to be the best damn Mom to Conner. To be the wife I'm meant to be. To have our miracle, Payton, (after beating this nasty beast). To be a good friend...and the AMAZING opportunity being a coach at my local high school guiding my girls to become not only successful in their HS basketball career but in all aspects of life.

So, with that...I'm 5 years. 5 FREAKIN YEARS CANCER FREE! 

They say that with my "disease" hitting the 5 year mark is gold. Well, come on people...who doesn't want gold.

I'm taking it. I'm taking it that 5 years means my chances of recurrence slim down to some good sounding statistics! I can say I'm officially "cured"!!!!
I get to be with my family, my friends, my teams for LONGER!
I've made some stick with you friendships through this. Even after 5 years I'm finding myself connecting and becoming the best of friends with fellow survivors...people I wouldn't have imagined being close with before. These are friendships that no one else can understand (I'd never wish my closest loves to understand it). So, for them, these girls, I'm just a little more thankful that my journey this many years out, has brought them into my life.

5 years ago I was waiting for the call. The call that would change my life. The call that would tell me I'd be "ok" and able to move forward with a bit more ease OR (the dreaded) I'd need to continue a much harder fight. That one call brought me so many happy tears. I beat it. I won that ugly ugly beast that was trying to break me down. It didn't win. I DID!

I've lost long time friends through finding myself again, which is tough, but I've also gained more from it. Those whom love you will be there. No matter life's challenges. Something I've always believed in. And something I've learned the hurtful way. 
But thank goodness for my family and friends, my tribe that I've got on my side...then and now. I love you all!

Today, 5 years later, I'm stronger.
I'm happier. I'm more frightened.
But, I am me. More so than ever before. I know what life is and how I want it to be for myself and my family.

Life isn't fair. And sometimes it's taken from people we love too soon.
So, love what you have and Love who you have! Let others know. Enjoy your life...because it will pass you by regardless of what's thrown your way.

To 5 years! To 5 more years living life! 5 is a number I'm forever continuing to strive for.💜"

We all have a plan for our lives, or at least we like to think we do. Some of us have a 3 month plan, others a 5 year plan. No where in Mandy's plan, did she ever imagine a year with cancer, but she didn't let it stop her. I had the great privilege of photographing her entire journey from start to 5 years later, and I can honestly tell you that I never heard once say anything negative. 

Of course there were days of doubt, many questions, but she was determined to survive. At the time I remember thinking about what a courageous person she was and how beautiful it would be if she got to share her story of hope and courage with the others. 

Well, she got to do that and more. That's a story for another day, but, Mandy, you are so amazing!

From our family to yours: Congratulations on today's HUGE milestone! I can't wait to travel down this road with you all for the next 5 years, and the 5 after that! Love ya girl!

 

 

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Valuable Lessons Learned While Loving a CAL FIRE Firefighter

Living the life of a firefighter wife is not easy. It requires commitment, honor, respect, and sacrifice. Being married to a CAL FIRE firefighter requires all of that and more.  When duty calls and the California is burning, our loved ones can be gone for a month or more at a time. It can be very hard on this mama and her boys, but we carry on. 

Today, I want to share with you some valuable lessons my boys and I have learned from loving a CAL FIRE firefighter for 10 years. I know that for many who love a CAL FIRE firefighter, right now things seem out of control. We are all a little tired. Fire season will end and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We all need to hold on to positivity and giver ourselves permission to relax.  

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Today, I want to share with you some valuable lessons my boys and I have learned from loving a CAL FIRE firefighter for 10 years. I know that for many who love a CAL FIRE firefighter, right now things seem out of control. We are all a little tired. Fire season will end and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We all need to hold on to positivity and giver ourselves permission to relax.  

We are independent. We love having our firefighter at home with us, but when he is forced or away on a strike team, our plans can go on without him. We may miss him A LOT but we can still have fun without him. 

We are stronger than we think. Things go sideways sometimes. We get texts in the middle of the day that say, “I am safe” and then don’t hear anything for 24 to 48 hours. We pray, we ask for support, and we muster up the courage to go on with our lives. We depend on the theory that “no news is good news”. We are strong even when we feel weak.

Find a tribe, love them hard. Finding a group of ladies who live and understand the life of a CAL FIRE is invaluable. The old salty firewife is your best ally, she’s been through most of it, and she probably has a solution for your problem. Find her and love her hard. 

Going to counseling doesn’t mean you are broken, it just means you need support  and to be validated. Our marriage was on the brink of disaster just a few years ago. We made a very good decision to call Employee Assistance and went to counseling. We were not communicating our needs to each other neither were either our feelings being validated. The counselor both gave us sound advice and validated our feelings. Seek support. It’s good for both of you.

If there was a handbook, you would have to throw it out. Every single one of us has a different experience in life. There is no exception in the fire service. We all experience it differently. That’s what makes us unique. Do your own thing unapologetically, and if it works, share!

Our kids may be disappointed from time to time, but they will be proud of their parents. I don’t remember a time when my kids didn’t announce with pride where their daddy was when asked. They wear every “daddy shirt” with pride and they want to be just like him when they grow up. So, when they are disappointed, I just remind them that he is doing an important job of helping other people. 

Make a visual countdown to off duty time. In the winter, it’s the regular shift days. In the summer, its counting down the days until MOU Vacation. If the number goes down because he calls and says he’s on his way, it’s a surprise! Win/win for everyone. No more answering heartbreaking questions.
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Give the kids something to look forward to doing as a family when he is off duty. We plan something big at the end of fire season every year for the kiddos to look forward to. This year it was Disneyland, next year it will be a Disney Cruise. The year after that, who knows. The point is, they need the light at the end of the tunnel just as much as we do. 
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Don’t hide your feelings to spare his, even if he is on a fire. He doesn’t get a free pass just because he has a stressful job. We all have jobs to do and one is not more important than the other. It is important for him to be safe, however, it is not your responsibility to shelter him. When you have a bad day, tell him. If something goes sideways at home, share. If you need a break, he needs to know. Talk to him. He’s wants and needs to know so that he can help. This season, I needed a break, so my firefighter saved all his MOU for fire season. It sucks for him because he hasn’t been to any fires, but it’s helped me to get valuable rest. Next season, he can proceed to party, but this season is about me. That’s what being partners is all about.

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Most importantly, we are lucky to live this life. I don’t know many people who get paid to take 2 weeks off at a time, or that get 4 days off a week. We get more time with our firefighters than we really think. Yes, we sacrifice during the summer, but we get so much time as a family during the rest of the year. That’s awesome if you ask me. We form stronger bonds and make better friends than most people. We have a support system at our disposal whenever we need it. We have kick ass insurance and access to medical care that most people would kill for. And most importantly, our significant others get to do what they love and we are privileged enough to love and support them while they do. 
 

If you have read this far, chances are, you love a CAL FIRE firefighter too. If you are and you haven't found or joined our facebook group for CAL FIRE Wives/Girlfriends, today is the day! Please join us, you won't be sorry you did! 

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A Proposal at Navarro Point Preserve in Albion, CA

"Thank you so, so much! We're completely in love with the photos you took, they're so amazing!"

Kyle proposed to Sebastian on July 24th at Navarro Point Preserve in Albion, California. He hired me to capture the moment and I couldn't have been more honored!  Thank you Kyle for trusting me with this very intimate time in your relationship, I am so happy that you both love your photos! 
 

After Sebastian said "Yes!", we took a little adventure and explored the preserve. I had never been there myself, so it was fun for all of us.

 

If you haven't been out to the preserve, you're missing out. Thank you again Kyle and Sebastian for exploring with me!  

  

T & C Elope at Agate Cove Inn in Mendocino, California

Being one of Elope Mendocino's Photographers is one of the most rewarding experiences and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to work with Vanna. I recently worked on an Elopement with her at Agate Cove Inn in Mendocino. The couple was awesome. The groom serenaded his bride with "Thank You" by Led Zeplin. 

I haven't seen anything quite like this at any wedding or elopement that I have been a part of. It was so romantic and really gave us all a glimpse into their relationship. So "Thank YOU", Vanna for including me as one of your photographers and asking me to be part of this amazing ceremony.