Tag Archives: wedding photographer

It’s Engagement Season!

Let me guess, it was Christmas morning/New Year’s Eve/Valentine’s Day/the one sunny day in January and your finance was acting…. strange. Why were they dressed nicer than usual? What was with all the sweating? You didn’t understand why you had to be facing north at exactly 5:07pm until you saw them get down on one knee and open that box. “HOLY SH*T, THIS IS HAPPENING”, your brain thought as you burst into hysterical joyous tears. You were engaged, and you had the bling and the 3 hour long, 20 person cell phone call list to prove it. You dove head first into Pinterest and nearly drown in all the stylized shoots, insane floral arrangements, and amazing hair and makeup combinations. It was a glorious time, one filled with whimsey and magic. But now? Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. Where? When? HOW? Basically all you’ve got is the WHO (which is great, by the way) and we’re really starting to plan things now.

Luckily, I’m going to make it infinitely easier for you in regards to one major choice, PHOTOGRAPHY! 8 months to a year in advance you should be thinking about engagement photos, and Spring is the perfect season to get them done! A new step in your relationship can be so perfectly reflected in the fresh Spring foliage, the beautiful clear days, and the romantic golden sunsets. I’m here to give you a few options and ideas to set up your very own personalized engagement session!

WHEN AND WHERE DO YOU WANT PHOTOS DONE? If you’re an active early riser, a morning session will give you the crisp clean colors you want. If you’re feeling lovey and romantic, a golden hours session might be right for you. Are you flirty and energetic? Are you snuggly and PDA friendly? There’s a time and a place for everything!

Ashley and Kat – Ocean Beach and Sutro Baths


Jim and Lesteen – Treasure Island


Grace and Chad – San Francisco Pier (at night!)


WHAT DO YOU LOVE? Are you HUGE snow boarders? Do you under water cross stitch? Do you both love cats so much you could cry? Let your personalities shine through in images tailored specifically to your interests!

Moriah and Ben – Both Teachers!


Cassie and Cameron – Adventure Buddies!


Bree and Brandon – Dog Lovers

WHO ARE YOU GUYS? This is SO important! You don’t want to look like everyone else, you want to look like you! Whatever brought you two together, make sure that shines through in your images.

Ryan and Osha – SF City Dwellers


Audrey and Jesse – Young and Modern

Lisette and Chris – Princess and Prince Charming


Brian and Danielle – Romantic Outdoorsy Fools 


All in all, you want your engagement to reflect the unique love and beauty that you two share. Every couple is different and every kind of weird, quirky, wild love deserves photos to match.

Shoot me an email at katherineelysephotography@gmail.com or give me a call at 916-812-5475 to set up your perfect engagement session today!


Maddie and Sean: Under The Sea {2016}

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where a handful of friends have entered the category of “people I’ve known longer than I have not known them”. I’m also at a rad age where everyone around me is getting married, having babies, and all around living their lives to the max. It’s an incredible time in everyone’s lives and it’s made even more magical, for me, by getting the chance to take part in some of my friend’s big events.

I’ve known Maddie since we were about 12 years old. We were amazingly awkward teenage band geeks at a summer camp in the woods when we first met. Nowadays we’re still both thriving artists just trying to make a living and stay sane. I was ecstatic when she reached out to me to shoot her wedding, and I was NOT disappointed with her plans.

It was beautifully foggy and cool when I arrived in Monterey to get some detail shots and capture everyone getting ready.


The bridal party got ready on separate floors, which was ADORABLE because the bride and groom kept yelling up and down the stairs to one another and chatting. Everyone was being ridiculous and having a TON of fun.


The neat set-up also gave me lots of access to both groups of the bridal party, which was super super convenient for me!


There was a tiny space in front of a window for Maddie to dress, but you’d better believe all her girls piled into the room to help!


Once she was dressed, we took a long moment just for her to embrace the feeling of truly and finally being a bride. I teared up looking at Maddie. You could not have asked for a more surreally gorgeous angel of a bride.


After everyone was dressed and ready, we headed over to the Monterey Bay aquarium for a fun and airy first look out on the open sea balcony.


I can do a million first looks, but the look on the groom’s face when he sees his love will ALWAYS make me melt.


We had a few minutes to enjoy the ocean breeze and check out the otters in the Monterey Bay. It was cool and quiet and really really magical.


The ceremony was in front of the ‘Open Ocean’ exhibit and it was exactly as incredible as it sounds. There were literally LIVE FISH watching them tie the knot! It gave a whole new meaning to the term “wedding bubbly”!


After they made it official, we got free reign of the aquarium for a few more wet, fishy kisses. It was the most unique location I’ve ever shot in and their truly palpable love for one another could have filled an entire ocean.


We kept the PDA going, despite the peeping tom. 😉


Luckily we were able to head back outside with the incredibly silly bridesmaids and groomsmen for some super fun bridal party shots before the sun disappeared!


From then on it was go, go, go with a huge party in front of the otter tanks at the aquarium. I’ve never seen a wedding that was hovered over by a whale skeleton, but I’ve got to say, the aesthetic really worked! 😉


Maddie and Sean, I am so unbelievably happy for you guys. I’m proud to have been able to capture your special and unbelievably unique day and I am looking forward to a lifetime of love and happiness for the both of you. 🙂


Ken and Jessica {2016}

As we roll into 2017 I am so excited about all the fun and modern weddings I’m going to be shooting this year. I just love personalized cocktails, live bands, sweeping landscapes, and (obviously) couples who are sweet, playful, and deeply in love. For the next few months, I’m going to be taking a look back at some of my 2016 weddings to provide you with inspiration, excitement, and tons of joy!

First up is Jessica and Ken. I was lucky enough to do both their engagement and their wedding photos and I’ve got to say, they are one darn good looking couple! With them both being SF city people, they decided to bring their amazing (and fluffy!) dog Microwave out to Marin for some crisp Spring photos with views of the Golden Gate and the gorgeous ocean playing in the background.


Their second look took on a more formal style and juxtaposed really nicely with the old run down army barracks we played around in. Touches of graffiti and lots of robust age and personality gave their shoot a lot of unique flare!



After months of anticipation, I finally got to shoot their big day! Their wedding was held at Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel, CA. A beautifully clear and sunny day awaited them both as they readied themselves to walk down the aisle.


In order to spare themselves the heavy tears in front of friends and family, Ken and Jessica opted for a first look. (I love the look on the groom’s face before he sees his bride for the first time!)





After passing around some tissues, we headed off to take their bridal portraits. These two are so in love, I was absolutely giddy over how sweet they were!



After couples photos, it was onward to the ceremony site! Their set up needed no embellishment with flowers or arbors, being furnished instead by views of the gorgeous bucolic valley behind them.



Once wed, it was on to a cozy cocktail hour on the deck followed by formal dances, cake cutting, speeches, and a TON of rowdy dancing inside!






I had such a wonderful time working with and getting to know Ken and Jessica over the past year. There was so much love and joy between the two of them, it was honestly one of the classiest yet relaxed events I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. Humongous hugs to these two for a lifetime of sassyness and happiness!

**Massive thanks to my assistant James from A Moment to Remember Photography for all of his help!***

Winter Wonderland: NOT Disney, Snow White Stylized Shoot

Wedding planning can be overwhelming and having inspiration from a vendor stylized shoot can be incredibly helpful. I recently worked on a NOT Disney Snow White themed photo shoot with a team of INCREDIBLE industry talents for Real Weddings Magazine and let me tell you, it’s got all the lush red and gold inspiration you could possibly ask for!

Everything from the sets rented from Getting Hitched? to the gowns by Sparkle Bridal to the hair/makeup by Melissa at All Dolled Up were utter perfection.

Tan Weddings and Events took care of even the finest of details and our fantastic hosts up at Kirkwood Resort made everything absolutely seamless.

How epic is this puzzled, multi-color, black floral cake from Something Sweet Bakery?

How adorable is this little pillow by Swoonable? The perfect wedding gift for any couple’s home!



Ok, full disclosure, I think I ate about 6 of these bacon wrapped pork loins from the Kirkwood Catering team. How perfect is this plate lay out too? Almost too good to eat!

We also did some fun secondary looks on our model, Mandi, for her Real Wedding Magazine “Get to know Me” section! Can you even believe how good she looked in this handmade REAL floral cape by Flourish?

And seriously, she is ROCKING the white queen look!

All in all, I had a fantastic time collaborating with all of the talented vendors on this shoot. HUGE thanks to Real Weddings Magazine for tapping me to do the photos!

You can see EVEN MORE from this awesome shoot on the Real Weddings Blog!


The Details  //  Venue and Catering
Kirkwood Mountain Resort  |  209-258-7406  |  kirkwood.com

Katherine Elyse Photography  |  916-812-5475  |  katherineelysephotography.com

Design, Styling and Coordination
Tan Wedding & Events  |  530-601-0914  |  tanweddingandevents.com

Styling and Floral Design  
Flourish  |  916-212-5179   |    flourishdesigns.com

Cake and Candied Apples
Something Sweet Bakery  |  209-745-9000   |   somethingsweetgalt.com

Hair and Makeup
All Dolled Up Hair and Makeup Artistry  |  Melissa Oretta, Hair and Makeup
530-888-1562  | alldolleduphairandmakeup.com

Sparkle Bridal Couture | 916-538-6615 | sparklebridalcouture.com

Cloak & Dagger Creations | 978-486-4414 | cloakmaker.com

Jewelry (Amanda’s Main Look and Additional Looks)
Macy’s | macys.com
Arden Fair Mall | 916-925-2845
Downtown Plaza | 916-444-3333
Sunrise Mall | 916-962-3333
Westfield Galleria at Roseville | 916-771-3333

Jewelry and Hair Accessories (Amanda’s Additional Looks)
Hair Comes The Bride haircomesthebride.com

Hair Accessories (Amanda’s Additional Looks)
Ellen Marie Design | ellenmariedesign.com

Sara Gabriel | saragabriel.com

Bella Vita Invitations | 916-682-8226 | bellavitainvitations.com

Design, Styling and Rentals
Getting Hitched? Wedding Design & Rentals | 916-879-3511 | gettinghitchedweddingrentals.com

Custom Décor Pillows and Foil Names
Swoonable | swoonable.net

Justin Buettner Wedding Photography | 916-220-0159 | jbweddingphoto.com

Special thanks to our real bride model, Amanda, and to all of the professionals who contributed to this feature!


Mother’s Day

Today’s the day we celebrate our one and only Mothers. They’re wicked smart, they’re uproariously funny, they’re always there when we need them and darn it, they’ve put up with us since the day we took away their normal sleeping patterns. We’re lucky folk, you and I, to have moms so wonderful! So today I’ve compiled a short thank you list for all the wonderful moms that I’ve been able to work with in the past.

Moms Collage

Thank you for becoming a mother.  The world needs more moms! You’re sweet and caring and so damn strong. I love watching you rub your belly, tell me your secret name plans, and gush all about the Star Wars or Harry Potter themed room you’ve got planned for your upcoming bundle of joy. I also love watching your significant other revel in the sense of purpose and strength you’ve found while walking this path; it’s always a look of pure admiration. What you’re doing is insanely beautiful and completely unbelievable (at least to someone who has NOT gone down this road yet). Thank you for sharing this special time with me. I am so moved by every single kick and wiggle.



Thank you for sharing your journey. The space you’ve made for you and your little one is so special. I am consistently grateful that you’d allow me (or anyone else) to watch you both and be a part of something so delicate. Your baby is a cute little ball of soft skin and perfect eye lashes to me, but that little bean is your whole world. I love to watch the quiet and tender moments, witness a comforting “shhhhh” to soothe unease, see all the hope for the future that runs across your eyes as you stare down at them. It’s as close to perfection as I can possibly imagine, and I am thankful every day that I get to share in those moments with you.


Thank you for trusting me. Everyone wants good photos of their kiddo. (How else will we make the baby fat and the dimples last a life time??) I cannot thank moms enough for trusting me to capture the spirit and personality of their little ones. Whether they’re 6 months old or 6 years old, there is a story to be told. That’s not just your kid, that is a full blown person with likes, dislikes, emotions (and LOTS of feelings about being photographed). I love capturing the smiles that come with a family shoot. I can always see the infinite love radiating off of you, like heat off the ground on a hot summer’s day. I am so lucky that you chose me to celebrate whatever milestone or step your little one is currently navigating through. I promise you, you’ll never forget those moments. 🙂


Thank you for always being there. Without your care, guidance, and patience none of us would be the person we are today. We were crazy. (Like…. some of us were REALLY crazy.) But somehow you managed to see past those moments and phases and into our souls. That’s what moms do! They know us inside and out, better than we know ourselves. Thank you for the subtle but important advice, thank you for not judging us when we didn’t take it, and thank you for always being someone we can run to for encouragement, a hug, and maybe a glass of wine. Life would not be this rich and full of possibilities without you.


Thank you for everything you still do for us. Some of our mothers are a phone call or a text away. Some of our moms are right down the street or even live in the same house. And some of our mom’s are a bit further than that. Thank you, moms, for teaching us about life, the good parts and the bad. You’ve set us up to live on through the power of your memory, which is the strongest and most ever lasting form of love anyone can ever experience. As 5 year old Alice Oswalt said after the loss of her mother, “When your mom dies you’re the best memory of her. Everything you do and say is a memory of her.” Thank you to all moms for setting your children free upon the world. To the mom’s we have lost, I wish I could have met you, though I often feel like I already have.


There is no way for me to ever thank moms enough. There will never be strong enough words for me to express the gratitude and the love I feel for my own mother, my parent’s mothers, my brother’s wife, the mother’s of all the wonderful people I am lucky enough to have in my life, the mother’s of my clients, and everyone else who has held the title or MOM anywhere in the world. There is a reason I cry during mother-child dances at weddings; because that look I see on the faces of brand new mother’s their babies have  just been born has returned to your mom’s face as she watches you marry the person you love. That moment is infinite and circular; it’s beautiful and full of grace. It’s near impossible to comprehend unless you’ve been in her shoes. I can’t wait to experience that one day and join the ranks of the world’s most loving brigade. Today we celebrate the Mom Squad. Today we all say thank you.

My Mom

(L: Me and my mom circa ~1994; R: my mom, my niece, my sister-in law, and me in 2016!)


First Blog Post: A Brief History of Me

Well, it’s happened. I’ve finally started an official Katherine Elyse Photography blog! Now, I’ve done this in the past, started writing with no rhyme, reason, or plan. But now, NOW I am doing it the right way. I’ve got a list and everything. With this fool proof plan I can’t possibly fail! (Knock on SO much wood.)

So. Here we are. Here…. we… are…… I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about in my first post. I toyed with the idea of just jumping right into advice for brides or my favorite gear or talking about the business aspects of photography, but I figured that might come off a little but strong, a lot-a-bit pretentious, and pretty darn impersonal. After all, the common thread holding all of my business aspects together isn’t really any of that stuff, it’s just me! So, here I am, ready to talk about myself.

I guess I’ve been lifting lenses and shifting shutters for the past 6 or 7 years. To be honest, I have always been a musician, not a physical artist. But when I snagged my first film camera from an ex in college something happened inside of me. It felt like magic in my hands. I felt cool just holding it! I had one goal at my families Thanksgiving extravaganza at my Grandma’s house: get that little pointer thing inside the camera into the middle and snap away! (You can see how formal and technical my excruciatingly humble beginnings were…) I managed to change the film without exposing it to the light and was able to take some photos over the weekend. I remember being so excited to take them to Walgreens to get them developed. In the end about half of my images were pitch black. A discouraging start, to say the least. But some of them, somehow, were magical and perfect (to my eyes, at least)! What had I done to accomplish this?? To pull the shapes from the darkness and balance light?? I had no clue. But I knew that I was going to love figuring it out.

I’m pretty sure I swindled my parents into buying me my first camera soon after as a joint Christmas/birthday present. It was expensive for something so small that I had never shown any interest in before. Their act of faith in me and their willingness to help me to expand my passion is something I’m thankful for on a daily basis. That is the type of people they have always been. Always pushing me forward, always keeping an open mind to my fickle and ever changing interests. Long story short: They. Are. Wonderful.

Anyway, after I got my first camera is was months of photoshoots with my friends, taking pictures of my roommate’s reggae band, going to the skate park with my Zumiez co-workers, and wandering around trying to be deep and taking pictures of single flowers on lonely vines. I was every inch and artist at heart, I just didn’t have ANY technical skills. I was figuring it out the long way; experience first, explanation later. I find I still do this and it really makes me laugh. I could have learned SO much quicker had I walked to the library and read a darn book, but where’s the adventure in that?

I’ve always been a pretty speedy learner and I seemed to constantly have a creative thought in the back of my mind so I’m happy to say I got better quickly. I practiced all the time (HINT: PRACTICE IS KEY) and I was having so much fun! From candid shots to portrait sessions to themed shoots, I was working hard to get better and that is exactly what happened. Then I remember having a few friends inquire about doing their senior sessions and it stopped me in my tracks. These were photos that were going to be shown to family; photos to commemorate a huge step in their life; photos that would be around FOREVER. I was terrified. So I agreed, but I was adamant that we go shoot with low expectations and then see how they turned out. No way was I going to guarantee good photos. I mean, they could potentially end up being absolute garbage! No guarantees, I said over and over. But in the back of my head… in the back of my head I thought maybe. Maybe I could do it. Maybe I could pull it off.

HUZZA! A small taste of success! Are they perfect? Is my editing on point? Not quite. (Looking back at them I do cringe a little bit.) But were they useable? Did they capture personalities? Were they at the very least acceptable? Yes! I had never been so thankful to have friends who loved me. Friends who trusted me to do this. Even if they didn’t know it then, this first round of sessions helped me break a barrier I had within myself. Maybe photography was not just for my personal pleasure anymore. Maybe this art form wasn’t just for kicks and giggles. Maybe I could get GOOD at it!

After those sets of grad photos everything was a whirlwind. I kept practicing at shows and in fields. I co-led a project that I am still proud of that centered around word play and tastefully nude women (yes, you read that right). I graduated from college, I moved to the Bay Area to follow my heart, and through it all I managed to get hired to take photos of people I hadn’t previously met. I was ecstatic! I don’t think I realized it then, but the path photography took me down has continued to make me happy in ways I never expected. Life was (and continues to be) good.

                             2009               2010                2011                             2013


Fast forward slightly to 2016 and here I am writing a blog about myself to a handful of friends and fans. 2015 and 2016 have been the most incredible years for me as an artist and as a person. I’m receiving consistent requests for wedding photos, family photos, maternity shoots, and everything in between. I’ve grown into a human being that I can honestly say I would want to be friends with. Together with my boyfriend we’ve built up a beautiful world to exist within and I’ve fallen more deeply in love with him than I could have ever imagined. I’ve begun to focus heavily on and nurture the relationships that are most important to me. And, of course, I have developed a deep strong passion for photography and grown my little business into a (nearly) full time venture. I’m always out capturing engagement kisses, meeting big crazy families, rubbing pregnant bellies, and watching people marry the person they love most. I’m feel lucky and proud that a simple interest in photography has sparked something this incredible. It’s a wonderful art form with an incredible community of people to be a part of.

Oh! And to all you dear readers who are struggling to find purpose in their photo work, the take away here is that I never knew I’d ever be standing here, owner of my own business, building my little empire. But I’m here now, and I wouldn’t change a damn thing. 🙂


                                                                      2016 (So Far!)