I sat Saturday morning, just before beginning two full days of documenting, being so inspired to write and that very writing reminded me of the power of living your authentic purpose as I was there documenting the inspirational Vanessa Simpkins and 13 of her badass, entrepreneurial female clients at a mansion overlooking the magic of this raw island!
Over two days, I connected with and joyfully documented each one of these vibrant souls!
I then spent the next few days diving deep into self love, writing and truly relaxing with the ocean waves as my soundtrack. My goodness, when you’re living with intention and wholehearted authenticity, anything is possible!
Thank you Vanessa and all the Soul Sister Mastermind ladies for such an empowering experience! Thanks for shining your light and being you!
Maternity session heaven over here! It's truly incredible the friendships that happen along the way of living wholeheartedly, purposefully and authentically. A few weeks back, I hosted the first ever "Sisterhood Circle" which is a monthly women's group meeting around real, vulnerable realities.
Alyssa is one of the amazing ladies who blessed us with her presence and in doing so, reminded me of how we met. She called me years ago looking for another photographer to work on a styled shoot with her. Although I couldn't be a part of the shoot, I most definitely wanted to meet her. Upon our coffee date, I witnessed this incredibly sincere, dedicated, determined photographer so radiantly beautiful inside and out.
That, well, that was the beginning of an incredible working relationship and friendship. Over these past two years, Alyssa has second shot on weddings so dear to my heart and most recently I got to second shoot and help guide her through one of her biggest weddings ever!
And then, as if that wasn't already magical enough, I had the honor of documenting her maternity portraits with her sweet hubs and growing little man! The weather was picture perfect, the lighting put on just the right dance, and their excitement and love radiated with each and every time capsule.
Congratulations dear souls! I couldn't be happier for you both! Thanks for the honor of getting to document this sacred time in your lives.
My oh my, did you witness these beauties? They walked away, thanking me over and over again saying, "This was so much fun! Thank you so much! This really was so much fun!"
My heart smiled. You see, engagement sessions really are SO MUCH FUN and some of my all time favorite time capsules to document! Sure, they aren't for everyone.
For some, it's not in their budget, for others, it's not their thing. But, for those who do engagement portraits, my oh my is it truly such a divine time.
You see, there is something so special, so magical, so giddly wonderful about engagement portraits. It's a time to honor, to witness, to really celebrate this expanded commitment to one another. To then, have these tangible time capsules to share with your community.
It's a time to put on some of your favorite outfits, or an excuse to buy some new ones and really show your love and affection in a number of ways.
I've mentioned it before, as I am going to mention it again. There is so much truth in that there are points in a session where time capsules truly begin to take themselves. The synergy between the couple, the lighting, the moment that just radiates perfection.
This, this is one of those very moments!
My dear friends, I couldn't be happier for you both. It was such an honor documenting your engagement portraits and I cannot wait for your wedding!
My goodness, there is this glow radiating between these two intertwined souls.
With each time capsule documented, my giddiness became more and more childlike, their expressions became more and more true to who they are, just the two of them.
This session, started in downtown Palm Springs.
The first location was supposed to be at the botanical gardens, but upon entering, the timing wasn’t right. We quickly made a plan, moved onto the next.
That being, the very venue in which these divine souls will share their vows in just a few months time.
After some time, it was time for the grand finale of locations!
We drove along a long dirt road, off-roaded a bit, trekked a little more and ended up at one of the most iconic locations, that of these windmills.
There comes a point in a photographic exchange where the images just begin to take themselves.
This, this happened at this very moment.
The connection, it was felt, it was understood. The union, it was very clear.
Congrats you two. Thank you for the honor of getting to witness and document this part of your journey.
I am so excited for your wedding!
Below are some of my favorites from this epic couples engagement session in San Ramon, California.
What was so special, was that the locations we explored were just minutes from their home! They wanted something that was them, something that authentically showcased their lives, their community, that which surrounds them.
When I arrived, it was pouring rain, stormy, angry clouds over head.
As soon as we started to head to our first location, the clouds parted and the sun began to shine its light. For this, I know we were all so incredibly thankful.
Rob and Andrew, you two were made for one another!
Thank you fr the honor of getting to document this part of your journey.
I cannot wait for your wedding!
I've been asked over the years, what do you specialize in, what do you document?
Truthfully. People. Souls. Life. Our radiant existence.
There is not just one thing that I am a documenter for and of. I am a documenter, a story teller for so much greatness in this world.
Some moments present themselves as family portraits, others, my goodness, they range from engagements, elopements, anniversaries, weddings, entrepreneurs, clothing lines, lifestyle, families, celebrations, graduations, cultures, customs, intimate details, joyous expressions of the very moment.
For this, I am extremely grateful as we are such dynamic beings with these incredibly dynamic lives. Why limit oneself to just one, when life is so much more than just one?!?
It's so incredibly expansive!
The universe always has a way of bringing to life that which is most meant to be at the time most supportive.
Planning a wedding, are you? I’d love to share some insight that has not only come to life through planning mine and my hubby’s wedding, but also largely through documenting nearly a hundred weddings.
Now, that’s some real talk. I’ve witnessed it, all.
Wanna hear something crazy? My husband and I didn’t even know if we were actually going to be able to get married on our planned wedding date as my husbands visa from South Africa had been denied a year and a half before and it wasn’t guaranteed it would be approved the second time around. We did what our hearts told us to do and kept planning our weddings knowing it would unfold just as it should! His visa was approved at the beginning of November, our wedding, at the end of January, just a few months later! It’s couldn’t have been more perfect.
If you want to learn more about my sweet hubbies and my story, check out this blog post.
Okay, okay, so you want to hear some tips and tricks, let’s jump in:
1. Find a venue that’s actually a venue :
2. Think out of the box for venues :
3. Getting Ready location matters (and matters a lot for photography) :
4. Work closely with your photographer to get the images you desire :
5. Ask for vendor referrals :
6. Do you research on your vendors :
7. You get what you pay:
8. Let your wedding be the perfect expression of your union, your love (I really mean this one):
9. Slow Down:
10. Yet, timing really does matter :
11. Take a FULL GROUP PICTURE (you’ll thank me later):
12. Make sure there is plenty of time for romantic portraits:
13. Is a first look for you?
14. How should I use/incorporate a wedding coordinator?
15. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it:
16. If it feels right, do it :
17. Videographer or No Videographer?
18. Have fun throughout the planning process:
19. Don’t lose sight of the meaning behind your wedding, it’s an expression of your love :
20. Use the support of your tribe:
Below, are some of my favorite time capsules from our wedding!
Here are our amazing vendors:
Photography : ABM Wedding Photography
Florals & Hairpiece : Evermore Floral
Hair : Jessica Gust Ramsey
Make-up : Mallorie Mason
Day-of Coordination : Timeless Event Planning
Dress : Bridal Showcase Salon
Shoes : TOMS
Location : Oceanside Pier with Visit Oceanside
Reception : Hello Betty Fish House
Cake : Petite Madeline Bakery/Patisserie
Still looking for wedding vendors?
Check out Ashley Strong Photography’s preferred vendor list! You won’t be disappointed!
Her business name, is Happy Happy Free! This radiant soul, my goodness is she just happy, happy, free. The universe, it truly does bring the most radiant souls your way. This Mississippi gal and I connected over a year ago as she was coming to San Diego for a retreat. At the time, schedules didn't work out as we planned. And then, just a little over a month ago, I got an email that she would be back in town. The timing worked perfectly for us to connect and play around Little Italy.
I arrived, and felt like I was reconnecting with a sister. Her beauty, her zest for life, her style, her sincere, passionate, present soul just vibrated on all levels. Each and every outfit, complimented her sunshine soul and each location, created an even more perfect pair to the light that was already present.
Lea, I adore and admire you. I know this is the first, of many exchanges for us as a sister knows a sister when she knows a sister!
Styling : @trishtaylorstyling
These little souls expression says it all!
Over these past couple of years, I've had the honor of shooting and partnering with for a lovely children's clothing line, Sweet Bamboo!
What makes this so excitingly special is every session encompasses anywhere from newborns to three months to seven years in the coming seasons ridiculously adorable clothes!
Each of the youth truly has such beautiful eyes and adorable little personalities.
My goodness, do I just love moments like this!
In the meantime, use the code SBlovesAS to receive 20% OFF your next purchase!
Do you think souls divinely come into your path? I do, as I've experienced it time and time again. I was invited to an event at a local spa, where Donna was speaking. I thought I was showing up 15 minutes early, wound up being 45 minutes late. Either way, Donna welcomed me in with her warm smile. There, there was this immediate trust, this knowing. At the end of the event, I signed up for a complimentary "Discovery Session" to be held a few weeks later at Donna's sacred home. Within the two hours of being in her presence, I felt as if my whole life was laid out in front of me. We identified blocks, areas where my energy was depleted and came up with ways to break through those blocks, take back my energy. It was liberating. It was such a fresh breath. I wanted this to only be the beginning. So, she shared information about an intimate three day retreat hosted at her home in San Clemente that would be taking place in a few months time. I committed. Back out. Committed again.
That investment, that weekend, attending "Discover the Authentic You" was one of the most powerful weekends of my life. We gathered, in an intimate space, one that was so incredible safe, so joyfully welcoming, so deeply sincere and dug intimately through the layers of our most authentic selves. As the tears and laughter began to vibrate, so too did we witness one breakthrough after another. The amount of clarity, the amount of commitment, the amount of expansiveness that now resonates my existence has become one of the deepest inspirations to further expand on my dream life.
Friend, you too can experience this as Donna is hosting another, March 15th-17th 2019! To learn more, visit https://discoverauthenticyou.com!