Category archives: Personal

Do all things in Love

I recently read an incredible book. It is called The Alchemist.

For a year or so now I have been on this journey of self improvement and spiritual discovery. What direction am I going? How can I make all things I want in life into creation? How can I make my time on this physical earth the greatest experience I possibly can have?  The Alchemist finally gave me the epiphany.

Do all things in Love.

I have found that switching my way of thinking is drastically changing my world. Instead of stressing about making my couples happy, I remembered how much I loved them and wanted to create beauty for them. My photographs became more beautiful than ever. Work outs became something I did because I loved my body enough to give it that gift. Conflicts with loved ones started to decline because every response to them was crafted in love, not fear. I used to scroll through social media for hours in fear of my life adding up to the countless lives competing with mine. Putting down the phone and remembering that I love to paint and read changed my evenings from going to bed in fear, to going to be full of loving experiences to calm the soul.

The more I was operating in love, the more things I loved would come into my life. Today I took my beautiful friend who needed some love in her life to some of my favorite places in the bay area. I brought my camera and I documented a day that I will always love.

I even showed her how to take a few photos. Because… I also needed my epic hero shot.

“This is what we call love. When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

 

fine art beach wall art Stinson Beach engagement photos Stinson Beach Wedding Photographer








Why choose San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Photographer Heather Elizabeth?

Let’s be honest, the San Francisco Bay area photographer market right now is loaded with wedding photographers. 1 out of 10 people will probably tell you that they are a wedding photographer. While most of these wedding photographers may have some raw, beautiful talent at a very appealing price, it’s important to remember that there is a whole lot more to your photographer than pretty pictures.

So why should you choose me as your wedding photographer? How am I different from the endless sea of photographers out there?

MY PHILOSOPHY

“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.” – Annie Leibovitz 

I read this quote years ago and it always resonated with me. In fact it resonated so much that it made me re-think how I approach weddings and portraits. No longer was I just concerned with pretty light and composition, but the connection as well. The photographs you see on my site are from not shutting the door to friendship with these people. Through connection I am able to let them fully let their walls down, and help them trust me to document their wedding day. Authenticity is what makes a portrait. It is the single most important thing, and as a photographer who is a mixture of Artistic, editorial and photo journalistic styles I believe that if I didn’t have this key component I wouldn’t be able to deliver the images that I do.

At the end of the day I am an artist who is in love with creating beautiful things. Beautiful things with a personal meaning. Honest, beautiful things.

A STYLE THAT AVOIDS TRENDS

Trends come and go. And while sometimes it is great to have the latest trend in your fashion or hairstyle… your wedding photos should always stay relevant. Remember when your parents had soft focus on all of their wedding images? And I am sure you remember when it was the hip thing to turn the whole image black and white with just one thing in color. In the movie Sin City that was awesome… your wedding photos however, not so much!

I pride myself on having a timeless style. I keep to a very simple style of post processing to make your images not feel dated when you are looking through your images 20 years from now wishing you hadn’t had all of your photographs with a “hip” filter. Your photographs are meant to tell the story of the two of you, not what was hip in the photography community at the time. Your wedding album will be a collection of storytelling images that will stand the test of time.

YEARS OF KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE

I’ll be honest, it’s hard to not be tempted by the cheaper options out there because they do have that pretty back lit work on their website. The reality of the situation is that digital cameras are easy to get a hold of. Presets are available. People can hit one click and get a decent photo. There is no denying that.

That is fine for a quick family shoot. It’s fine for some controlled pretty headshots. But this is your wedding day. Your photographer gets one shot at this.

I have been privileged to photograph over 150 weddings since I started my career. I have lived, breathed, and experienced every kind of wedding you can imagine. A random downpour of rain what wasn’t scheduled on your wedding day? I’ve dealt with it and I created stunning images. What happens when your schedule gets completely messed up and you are down to a very limited time for portraits? We make it happen, shuffle things around, and we make it work.

Your wedding day should be a joy. You should be living in the moment with your heart beating from excitement. As a professional photographer with extensive wedding experience I take on the stress of making the day go smoothly. The chaos is something I am familiar with, know how to deal with, and can make magic happen with my camera despite anything that might go wrong. I have photographed bride and grooms that are terrified of the camera, but with my coaching and their experience with me are able to let loose in front of the camera and be amazed at how they look in their final galleries. I have helped my couples deal with their difficult family members so that they can really take a breather. From my years of experience in front of the camera from modeling, as well as behind the camera since I was 17, I can fully tell you “It’s not my first Rodeo, I got this”.

Know what else is awesome about being an experienced wedding photographer? I’ve been grinding out this gift since I was 17 years old. That means if you get married in a ballroom, I know how to use artificial lighting to still make dynamic images. That means if you get married in the Winter when the sun is down by 4:30pm that we still have potential for beautiful images. My studio and editorial background have prepared me for every lighting situation that I might be stuck with on a wedding day.

I AM WILLING TO BE SLIGHTLY CRAZY FOR THE RIGHT SHOT

At least I am honest about it, right? I think it takes a little bit of crazy to be a great artist. I wear cowboy boots and all black with my hair up because I generally know at some point of a shoot I will be inspired to crawl in mud, climb up a very questionable rock, hang off the side of a building, or hang out of a car going 30MPH to catch a classic Chevy Belair drive across the San Francisco Bay Bridge. My clients love about how I can get incredibly passionate about what I am photographing and even sometimes do a little dance of excitement. Passion creates the greatest art.

(No Heathers were harmed in the taking of any of these photos, but her hair might have gotten completely trashed.)

A romantic Anthropologie wedding at the Mountain Terrace as a bride comforts her crying groom during their ceremony by Heather Elizabeth Photography

I’M PART OF AN ARTISTIC COMMUNITY

Being an experienced San Francisco Bay Area Wedding photographer doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t happen solo. It happens because I am so close to a community of incredible talent that really helps each other.  I learn from these artists. I get advice from these artists. These incredible talents come and second shoot for me and I can trust them in case of an emergency. It goes right back to them – I will be there for them. I’ve covered weddings for sick photographers, I’ve been able to refer my couples to other incredible vendors to help them with their big day. It’s an honor to be able to help new photographers who have heard of me and want advice on how to better their craft.

I am so blessed so say that I have some really talented friends in the industry. I am also blessed to say we all have each other’s backs. I really have a long Christmas card list, is what I am saying.

I NEVER STOP LEARNING

Every year trends change, technology changes, new methods come out. Or perhaps there’s just methods I haven’t learned yet. Part of my service to my couples is truly being able to deliver when I say I have the experience and knowledge to take on any wedding. Hours, dollars, and dedication go into workshops, classes, and books to better myself as a photographer and business woman.  There is never enough knowledge. I will never be done learning, and it is that acceptance that truly makes the best artists. We are always evolving and always striving for better.

At the end of the day, you have gone through your life and it has brought you here to this moment. Both of your lives have their stories that have intertwined and brought you to this place of dedicating yourselves to each other. This moment doesn’t happen multiple times. Photography doesn’t get put in the closet after the big day. Photography doesn’t wash out of your hair in the shower. Photography doesn’t go in the washing machine with the wedding china. Your wedding photography album will be in the hands of your children so that they can be a part of your story. It’s there for you when you want to ring each other’s necks and you can look at the images and be reminded of why you came together in the first place.

Photography isn’t just an item on your wedding day. It’s an investment that you will truly treasure more and more as each year passes. Pick a quality photographer, because you deserve to have your story be told.

 

The Bucket List

I freaking love my job. Photography has given me such amazing opportunities in life. Photographing weddings have given me the ability to see things that I never dreamt I would see as a small town girl from Castro Valley, California. However, I have been blessed enough to photograph weddings at some of the places on my travel bucket list including New York, Baltimore, Puerto Rico, Santa Barbara, St.Louis, and Washington D.C. just to name a few.

As much as I love shooting weddings in the amazing San Francisco Bay Area, traveling to new locations is refreshing for the creative spirit. We all have a bucket list for life right? Well I started a special bucket list of Unique Wedding locations that I would love to photograph weddings and elopements at! And don’t worry – this doesn’t mean that California is out of the Bucket List. I am so grateful to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are several Unique California wedding locations that are on my bucket list.

If you know me, you know that I love living like a vagabond. My job gives me the ability to never really settle down in one place. Some might see that there is a lack of security in that, but I thrive on it. So here I am putting my bucket list out into the Universe!

 If you are doing a Destination wedding or are getting married locally to you in any of these locations, you can benefit from $500 in print product credits! 

The Bucket List


Northern California Wedding Locations

Sierra Meadows Ranch
Loma Vista Gardens
Wind and Sea Estate
Carneros Inn
Wuksachi Lodge at Sequoia
Green Oaks Creek Farm
Cypress Grove Research Center
Nestledown

Southern California Wedding Locations

The Ruin Venue
Hammersky Vineyards
SmogShoppe
Millwick
The Riverbend Farm
La Cuesta Ranch
440 Seaton

Outside of California, there are several states and countries that I am dying to photograph! Many of them for personal reasons, and wanting to visit and photograph places that held a special place in my family’s history. Others just look absolutely inspiring to my creative mind.

Wedding locations on the United States

ALASKA

If you are planning on getting married in Alaska, or know someone that is getting married in Alaska, let me know! This beautiful land held a special place in my grandfather’s heart. He would come home to visit after living up there in his travel trailer (he lived tiny to travel before it was cool!) and tell us such amazing stories. What really is stuck in my mind is the hundreds of photographs he came home with to show us.  To be able to travel there and photograph the amazing wilderness of Alaska would be a blessing. No matter the venue, if you are getting married in Alaska, let’s chat.

LOUISIANA 

Oh the beautiful state of Louisiana. Once again this place holds a special place in my heart. Specifically, The Big Easy, New Orleans.
You see, my late Uncle Ed was from this city. Of course years ago after he met my Aunt he ended up here in Sunny California, but always had his Louisiana Charm and recipes for some damn good cooking. He talked about always wanting to move back and showed us photos of him growing up there. Unfortunately I lost my Uncle in 2010 to cancer, so he was unable to go back.  However it’s always been my dream since I saw his photographs and heard the stories to visit the city he loved so much. So if you are planning a New Orleans, Louisiana wedding, or know someone that is…. you know the drill.

COLORADO

I come from farmers in Colorado. My Grandfather was raised on an old farm in Durango, Colorado. I remember as a child staying for weeks at a time at my Great Grandmother’s cabin. It had a glowing star above the front door that is etched permanently into my mind forever. My family still lives up in Colorado and have family reunions there where they trade old stories of my Grandfather and others in my family tree. Colorado is where I come from, so to be able to immortalize it in some incredible photographic art would be a dream come true.  Are you planning a wedding in Colorado or know someone that is? Tell me your wedding or elopement dreams! 

Puerto Rico | Film and Travel

The season is upon me.

My plants are dying. Dishes pile up. My dog isn’t getting quite as many baths as he should have (which he is quite happy about). I forget my work outs because I want to get that next session finished and then all of a sudden it’s midnight and I should probably sleep. And then the last casualty of wedding season… the blog.

Yes… Wedding season has been going strong for a few months now, and it’s just about the get crazier. I will try to keep up and share some of the wonderful people I have been luck enough to call my clients.

I am extremely blessed to have my busiest year yet. I’ve been to San Diego, Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico…. it’s been an exhausting but wonderful experience.

I have so many photographs to share. For now here are some of my film scans from my adventures in Puerto Rico back in June for a wedding.
puerto-rico-wedding-travels-1 old san juan wedding in puerto rico by heather elizabeth photographypuerto-rico-wedding-travels-5puerto-rico-wedding-travels-6puerto-rico-wedding-travels-7puerto-rico-wedding-travels-7puerto-rico-wedding-travels-8 puerto-rico-wedding-travels-5puerto-rico-wedding-travels-6 puerto-rico-wedding-travels-4puerto-rico-wedding-travels-12puerto-rico-wedding-travels-13puerto-rico-wedding-travels-14puerto-rico-wedding-travels-2puerto-rico-wedding-travels-3bridal portrait in puerto rico with a pink wedding dress in old san juan puerto-rico-wedding-travels-2 puerto-rico-wedding-travels-3

I didn’t know what to expect. Heck, part of me didn’t even want to do it.

I was going completely out of my comfort zone. I was going alone into not only a cabin with three room mates that I had never met… but into a whole camp with 400+ photographers running around.  Other than at weddings, I basically avoid situations like this unless I have my best friend or brother with me.

Stepping on to that dirty, rocky path to get to the check in line, my heart raced. Would people like me? Would anyone recognize me? Will my room mates like me? Will I like them? Should I prepare myself to just go to classes and then to sit in solitude in my cabin?  Does my dog miss me? Does my cat even notice I am gone?

I was greeted by internet buddies the second they saw me (Thanks, Dave!), and then kept finding more and more familiar faces. Ok… calm starts to set it.  I’m warming up a bit. It just might be ok!

A moment of fear that stuck out was the good 20 minutes I sat at Cabin 202 by myself. While I had chatted here and there with my roommates before – I had no idea how they were in person. Maybe I am just fun on the internet?  Did I bring too many bags and it’s going to bug them? Oh God what is going to happen when I need to curl my ten pounds of hair and take up the bathroom?  Anxieties overwhelming and then I heard the voices chatting letting me know that they had arrived. And that’s when I met my new soul sista Sarah Maren, and the wonderful Bardots. They greeted me with hugs and immediately my fears fell away. They give hugs. Clearly, they are my kind of people.

5 days later, and I feel so immensely proud of myself. Are the people I wish I had talked to more? Yes. Do I wish I had taken more photos? Yes. Do I wish I had opened myself up more to making more friends? Oh definitely.

However, I did walk away with a new view point on my work. I decided to show the images that spoke to my heart when attending a class of Jenny Jimenez. I always have had this insecurity that the work that speaks from my heart and that I love wasn’t being received how I wanted it to be received. That it wasn’t loved the way I loved it.  Without going into tons of detail about her class, I walked away with confidence about my vision and finally seeing that people were seeing what I was trying to project.

I walked away with friends that I never thought I could make. I took from this experience that I am capable of walking up to people and asking about their lives and getting to know them. The world doesn’t crumble.  I made blogging buddy friends. Wedding referral buddies. Disneyland party time buddies.

Walking into this Field Trip, I felt alone and pretty damn scared. I sometimes still feel the same way, but now there’s a lot more hope in my eyes for connections and my work. It’s going up from here, and I feel it with every threat of my being.

Regrets? Frolicking in a field and rolling my ankle. Also, I didn’t get to meet a llama due to rolling my ankle in the 2nd night which make hiking sort of a terrible idea.  High lights? My bad table dancing, new best friends forever, hanging out with the cat at the market, tons of hugs, and finding myself just a bit more as an artist. I feel like the highlights definitely outweighed the regrets.

Here’s some pretty pictures from the trip. A mixture of film, iphone, and my DSLR.  Enjoy. And thank you to Sarah Maren for snapping the two photos of me in my lovely hat on my camera.

 TMAXX 100 film 35mm at Photo Field Trip in Santa Barbara by Heather Elizabeth Photographyheather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip1heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip4heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip5Documentary photography by Heather ELizabeth Photography TMAXX 100TMAXX 100 film 35mm at Photo Field Trip in Santa Barbara by Heather Elizabeth PhotographyPortra 400 documentary photography of Photo Field Trip 2015 by heather elizabeth photography heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip14heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip12heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip13Lisa Bardot of the goodness at photo field trip by heather elizabeth photography. heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip6heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip17400H porta portrait of lisa bardot of the goodness at photo field trip by heather elizabeth photographyheather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip18TMAXX 100 film 35mm at Photo Field Trip in Santa Barbara by Heather Elizabeth Photography100 TMAXX 35mm of the sweet cat that lives at El Capitan Canyon at Photo Field trip by heather elizabeth photographyheather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip21heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip22Heather Elizabeth at photo field trip by sarah maren photographyheather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip23heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip24el capitan beach at photo field trip by heather elizabeth photographyJeff Newsom at photo field trip by heather elizabeth photographyCreative portrait at photo field trip 2015 by heather elizabeth photographyheather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip28heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip29heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip30sara bryne at photo field trip by heather elizabeth photograpysara bryne of sara and dylan photography by heather elizabeth at photo field tripheather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip33caroline ghetes, sara bryne james bitz and  Benjamin Chernivsky at photo field trip 2015 by heather elizabeth photographymegan saul at photo field trip by heather elizabeth photographyheather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip36heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip37heather-elizabeth-santa-barbara-fieldtrip38

 

Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. Type. Click, click, click, click. Save. Upload. Blog. Shoot. Type. Click. Save. Upload. Eat occasionally. Repeat.

That sometimes how wedding season feels. I love every moment of it but sometimes I forget that Summer is fleeting. The warm weather dissipates, nights get shorter, and all of a sudden it’s Winter again and I am cooped up inside anyway. While I may in one of my busiest seasons ever, I felt like it was time to take a step away from the computer for a week and visit one of my favorite places : Disneyland.

In the company of my sweet mother and best friend (with the same name) Heather, we filled suitcases with too many outfits for five days, and packed up the car and started driving.

We left before the sun came up . The dawn kept trickling in as we drove down the 5 in the direction of  of our destination. My brother Matt recently moved down to Santa Monica, so we came into town a few days early to visit with him and take a trip to Universal Studios. It was rather hot and miserable, but we survived.  The heat hit about 108 degrees that weekend.

I’ve been going to Disneyland since I was a child. Just like my Grandfather took my mother, it just became one of our family’s “things”. Since my childhood Disney has always had a big part of my life. All the movies, music and magic has been a staple in our lives. So many memories over the years. From me being too scared every time everyone wanted to go on the Haunted Mansion, to how excited I was when Toon Town first opened, to riding Splash Mountain over and over again 10 minutes before closing because no one else in the park wanted to go.

Yet still, it just doesn’t get old to me. And my collection of mouse ears continues to grow.

 

For the trip I didn’t want to take my professional Canon SLRs to any of the parks… or anywhere for that matter. They are so heavy, and as much as I love photography it’s so hard to bring them around. So thanks to Borrow Lenses, I rented the Fuji X-T1 and a 35mm (50mm equivalent) lens to document my trip with. I was so impressed by this camera I am totally considering purchasing it for myself.

Light weight. High quality images. Great lenses. It made creating beautiful images easier. Upon editing the files, I was so impressed by the HDR in the files.  I found the files really easy to process. I used Replichrome and Alien Skin Software to process these files. Highlights on the skin would be rough at times, but with some extra tinkering I ended up happy with the final product.  The only downsides to the camera I saw was battery power. There’s really only enough for half a day’s worth of shooting.  And the batter power meter isn’t very accurate – it will go from 75% to dying in a ten minute span.

These are a mix of Fuji X-T1 photographs and Iphone 5S, all edited with a mixture of Replichrome and Alien Skin Exposure.

Also, I am just going to put it out into the Universe that I am an owner of an Annual Pass so I can get into Disneyland 375 days a year.  So… who wants to shoot in Disneyland or California adventure? Let’s make it happen.

Fuji x-t1 landscape photography in Los Angeles los-angeles-photographer2Universal Studios photographed with the Fuji x-t1universal-studios-backlot-photographer3Back to the Future Car on display at Universal StudiosDisney's California adventure in the morning cars-land-disneyland-photographer1cars-land-disneyland-photographer8Ursula Disney inspired make-upCar's Land in the morning at Disney's California AdventureCars Land Portrait PhotographerTattooed portrait session in DisneylandCars Land at Sunset Car's Land at sunset at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim, California disneyland-portrait-photographer5Iron Man Display at Tomorrow Land in DisneylandHaving fun in Disneyland Halloween Day of the Dead display at Disneylanddisneyland-portrait-photographer11disneyland-portrait-photographer4Disneyland Portrait Photographerdisneyland-portrait-photographer2Haunted Mansion at Halloween Time in DisneylandBand performs at Disneylanddisneyland-portrait-photographer10