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A Guy Walks Into a Bar and Finds True Love {Claire & James, Longshadow Ranch Engagement Session}

Today I’m reminded why I do what I do…it’s because, I love everything about LOVE!  I love witnessing the bliss couples experience before and during their wedding and I love getting to meet couples like Claire and James.  Claire and James could not be a more perfect couple to sum up how wonderful it is to find your soul mate.  This couple is as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside, and that is hard to top!  I loved hearing their story about how they met.  Before writing this blog post I asked Claire to send over a few extra details that I could add to the blog.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from James instead, below are all the sweet details written by a man in-love…

Claire and I met early in 2007, when I headed to the Shamrock Bar in Newport Beach for a quick beer.  Little did I know that I was about to meet the woman that would later become my wife.  Claire and her friend Lauren were also at the bar, when Lauren offered to buy a beer for me.  The three of us struck up a conversation and Claire and I realized we had mutual friends. In fact, my roommate Dave went to the same high school as Claire.  At the end of the night, I asked Claire for her number, figuring that Claire probably would give me a fake one.  When I later mentioned to Dave that I met a girl from his former high school, Dave laughed and said, “Good luck dude; that girl will never date you.”  Dave proceeded to tell me that Claire was the senior class president of their high school in Newport, and she would probably never date me because I was not from Newport Beach.

Thankfully that was not the end of the story, as James and Claire finally reconnected after she returned from a trip. Their first date was to The Cannery restaurant in Newport Beach on January 25, 2007 and they will soon be married at the beautiful Los Angeles Country Club among the pine trees nestled at the end of one of the golf courses.

 For James and Claire’s engagement shoot, we visited Longshadow Ranch Winery in Temecula. This is a beautiful, rustic property with a full winery, barns, horses and stables.  If you haven’t been wine tasting here, I highly recommend it.  It is nothing like the other wineries, I love the laid back vintage country atmosphere.  Not to mention, the wine is phenomenal!

We had soo much fun during this shoot.  Claire and James were such great sports and were willing to change outfits three times and continue taking pictures even though it was FREEZING!  I love it when a bride brings her whole closet for me to pick outfits with them.  We had a great time picking out the perfect dress, stellar shoes and matching accessories!

Claire and James, I can’t wait for you big day!!  I know it is going to be spectacular!!


Debbie - February 21, 2012 - 5:56 pm

Absolutly breathtaking!

Debbie - February 21, 2012 - 5:56 pm

Absolutly breathtaking!

Mark H. Brown - February 21, 2012 - 4:50 pm

Quite a outfit for Claire to be horseback riding in????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark H. Brown - February 21, 2012 - 4:50 pm

Quite a outfit for Claire to be horseback riding in????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


An Honorable Mention {Stacey & Justin, Villa De Amore Wedding}

Stacey and Justin met through mutual friends while he was stationed in Texas.  She was in her last year of college at Texas A&M and he was finishing up primary flight school in the Marine Corps.  When I asked how Justin proposed to her, this is what she said:

While Justin was still deployed in Afghanistan he sought the help of my long term best bud Katie about rings and how to propose.  He returned the day before Thanksgiving and we went to Texas to spend Christmas with my family (he had never been [to my family’s house]).  Little did I know he was transporting the ring from CA to TX.  I lived out in the country and wehn we go to my parents’ house he asked for me to take him out on the golf cart around the neighborhood and to our little pond to just mosy around.  When we got to the pond the sun had set and there was this tree lit up with lights and decorated ornaments.  Tea lights were leading up to 2 medium sized boxes.  he asked me if people usually decorated trees and I told him not usually, but I hadn’t been home in a while so maybe a new neighbor had.  He told me to open one of the boxes and I said, “I dont’ want to open someone else’s stuff!!”  When he asked me again it finally started to dawn on me what was going on so I bent down to open the box and found a GORGEOUS diamond Solitaire inside.  When I looked away from it I saw Justin on one knee and he asked me to marry him.  I tearfully said, “YES!” and inside the other box my best friend has put a mini bottle of champagne and cups for us to celebrate.  Everyone had known about it except for my mom.  Needless to say she went very catatonic when I held my hand up for her to see.  It was a wonderful proposal and so thoughtful.  We got to celebrate with my family the rest of the weekend.

I’ve never met two people that were so in tuned with each other.  It was like they knew each other better than they knew themselves.  They got each other in a way that no one around them could understand.  Their love was mysterious and magical.  It was captivating and alluring.  It was something that I very seldom get to be a part of and I LOVED it!!

Stacey and Justin were married at the beautiful Villa De Amore and their wedding was captured by Marcella Caldwell from The Studio by Leah Marie.  The Studio by Leah Marie is a subset of my business that allows for my most trusted photographers to shoot weddings in my name.  Each photographer at The Studio has been personally trained by me and their style is consistent with the Leah Marie Photography brand.  I still retain all creative control over the images and manage each of the weddings from beginning to end.  Marcella has been working side by side with me for several years and it was a natural progression for her to start shooting weddings for wedding on her own.  If I had known her when I was getting married, I would have used her to shoot my wedding in a heartbeat.

The most touching part of the day was the fact that there was an empty seat at the bridal party table next to Justin.  Justin had six groomsmen but only five were present.  His best man, Captin Ryan K Iannelli was killed in action while they were deployed to Afghanistan.  Even though he was not there, he was still Justin’s best man and to honor him Stacey’s maid of honor walked down the aisle alone and there was a seat saved for him at the head table.  It was the most loving, kind and loyal gesture that I have ever seen.

Stacey & Justin, thank you all so much for having us be a part of your wedding day.  Thank you for your service to our country and for sharing your love with us.


Rain, Rain, You Can Stay…{Crystal & Troy, Villa De Amore Wedding}

Crystal and Troy were married at the beautiful Villa De Amore Estate in Temecula Wine Country.  The day started off with gray clouds and freezing cold winds.  At that point, Crystal had a choice to make.  She could be totally bummed out that the weather was taking a turn for the worst and let it ruin her day…or she could choose to remember that she was about to marry her best friend and rain or shine nothing could take that away from her.  And Crystal, being the amazing woman that she is…chose to focus on the fact that she was marrying the man of her dreams.

Even though rain clouds were rolling in from every direction, Crystal wanted to have as many portraits as she could around the Villa De Amore estate.  She was such a trooper and never complained about being cold or wet.  That’s when I knew that Troy had picked a great woman to weather any storm with (no pun intended!)

Thank you guys so much for having me be a part of your wedding day.  You all were amazing to work with and I learned so much from you all that day.  There are people that come into your life that teach you the most amazing life lessons and you all were that for me.  Thank you for more than you’ll ever really know you did.


Laguna Beach + Puppy + Diamonds = The Best Proposal EVER! {Kristin & Dustin, Temecula Engagement Session}

Engagement season has officially begun!  I love getting to know a couple before the actual wedding day.  It’s great practice for the couple and we get to hang out with each other in a more relaxed environment.  I had the privilege of meeting Dustin and Kristin last week and  I immediately knew they were going to be a blast to photograph.  They had great chemistry and I could tell they adored each other.  My favorite part was hearing how they were engaged  (guys take notes).  Here is the engagement in Kristin’s words:

It was a Saturday morning and Dustin had told me he had to work. It turns out he took the whole weekend off and planned a trip without me even knowing! We spent the day Saturday wine tasting and relaxing. That night he had booked a hotel in Laguna Beach (where we first met). We had an amazing dinner at Salt Creek Grill and there was actually a wedding reception taking place at the restaurant while we were there.  The next day we drove to Salt Creek Beach in Laguna. This is one of our favorite beaches. We had a picnic with some wine, cheese, and crackers; very tasty.  Dustin mentioned he had to use the restroom and he left for a bit.  The next time I turned around to look for him he had a puppy in his arms.  I was confused, shocked, and excited all at the same time. It was just moments before he left that I was telling him how much I wished we had our own dog sitting with us.  I got up and walked towards him and I didn’t even know what to think. Did he just ask someone if he could show me their puppy? Is this our puppy? Where in the world was the puppy hiding?! There were so many things running through my head that I did not even think to look at her collar.  Once he told me that she was OUR puppy I was so excited that I turned away from him and went to go sit down with her. Right before I turned away from him he was reaching in his back pocket (I didn’t even notice this at the time).  He followed me back to our blanket and asked me if I looked at her collar.  In my head I was thinking, “no I haven’t looked at her collar! I’m too busy looking at her cute face.”  I finally look at her collar and the tag is in the shape of a heart and it says “Will you marry me?” Then it hits me that he has had this entire weekend planned around this proposal the whole time. I was already sitting down at this point and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.  Of course I said yes!

Dustin & Kristin will be getting married at the fabulous Villa De Amore in Temecula, CA.  Their wedding is being shot by Marcella Caldwell from The Studio by Leah Marie.  What’s The Studio, you ask??  Click here for more info!!


Blue skies.. smilin’ at me…{Photoshop Sky Tutorial}

The fabulous Callaway Winery… 20 minutes before sunset… overcast white sky… For a photographer this is NOT GOOD

Bam!  Beautiful Blue Skies.

Pretty cool eh? I Love Photoshop! Every day can be a beautiful day.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1.  Snag a stock image of a clear blue sky.  You can either take one yourself or purchase one from sites like iStockphoto.

2.  Open your image that needs to have blue sky added and pull your stock sky image on top of your original image as a new layer.

3.  Size the sky image so that it fits the width of your original image and adjust the opacity so that you can see the image beneath it.

4.  Using the eraser tool, erase all the areas of the original image that you do NOT need a sky added to (ie: the people and ground); zoom in for better results around people, faces and hair.  (this is where a Wacom Tablet comes in handy)

5.  Once you are finished…adjust your opacity and BAM!  Blue skies will be smilin’ at you too!

Happy Tuesday!

Krista Chaich - October 31, 2010 - 1:50 am

Awesome photo, Leah….before, and after retouch!