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Friday, November 29, 2013

How to Make A Business Getaway Pleasurable

A fair warning:  This blog is about indulging in earthly goods and if you are hungry and/or thirsty, you should first feed those desires and then come back for some photo-journalistic account of our last weekend.  And this is only a small part of why I am thankful in my life.  Being able to do what I love to do while I am making a living and grow spiritually with my family! Happy Thanksgiving everyone (who celebrates it)!

Jen and I left the baby with the capable, trustworthy and much appreciated hands of grandma last week and drove to Ojai for a little getaway.  We needed this time, not only to unwind and leave the daily grind behind, but also to be with each other and to plan for our family's future.

We are going through a wonderful time of changes where our businesses are evolving in the direction as we  define it.  As things may get a bit overwhelming at times, it may be easy to lose one's focus and steer off course.  While a strongly grounded relationship could keep the parties involved in check, it is definitely worth to step out of the frame in order to get a better view of the big picture and this is exactly what we did.

Of course, leaving town without the baby also calls for some time of relaxation and rejuvenation.  This was a wonderful couple of days of work and pleasure combined in a lovely trip.

We had a long, luxurious and comfortable brunch at The Oak Grill of Ojai Valley Inn.  It's been probably close to 20 years since I've had a Kir Royale... It just seemed appropriate.....
Ojai Valley Inn & Spa's The Oak Grill has a fantastic brunch.

 .....right before the steak and eggs.....

The delicious steak and eggs were served with home fried potatoes and béarnaise sauce

.....that was followed by a Bloody Mary.....

A meal in itself, this ridiculously tasty bloody mary is a must at The Oak Grill

.....which I shared with a humming bird.  No, no, I didn't.  But that humming bird definitely had brunch with us.

At Ojai Valley Inn & Spa's The Oak Grill, it is possible to dine while the hummingbirds feed themselves above you.

If you think it was all play, think again... Both Jen and I were adamant about getting things done!

I don't always play golf, but when I do, I prefer to enjoy a nice beverage and look at the empty field.

As the Oak Grill closed the kitchen at 12pm, we left there around 1pm and strolled down to Jimmy's Pub.  Jen opted for the Rosemary Gimlet and I chose the Watermelon-Basel Margarita while we pigged out on deliciously evil homemade chips.

Before the night's big dinner, we decided to chill at our hotel room looking at the Channel Island Harbor and Mother Nature threw in a great sunset for romance.

Before dinner, we had a delicious wine tasting at Herzog winery.

And we ended up our day-long feast at the terrifiic Tierra Sur restaurant.   Receiver of one of the highest Zagat ratings in Southern California, Tierra Sur is a divinely delightful fine-dining heaven.

Receiver of one of the highest Zagat ratings in Southern California, Tierra Sur is a delight for fine diners.

We were fantastically fed, while quenching our thirst with exquisite beverages and to top it all, we were absolutely productive drawing a well thought plan for the next few years.  Now, if you excuse me, I need to join my wife executing them!

Thank you and cheers!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Windmills of Your Mind...

...or Les Moulins de Mon Coeur.  It is one of my favorite songs (both the original French version and the English language version) and it came to my mind during a wedding I shot a few weeks back...  More on that later.  

Let's meet the beautiful bride Lauren and the handsome groom Jason...  This is the First Look.  It was a wonderful sight to photograph.  The moment Jason turned around and saw Lauren in her gown for the first time, the time stopped, everything, every sound, every movement around them lost their meanings.  At that point they were each other's universe, period.  It was beautiful and intense.

Marina Del Rey's Shangai Red's witnessed an intense and beautiful moment.

Following the first look, we had a lovely and intimate portrait session right before the ceremony.

Lauren and Jason embrace each other while the setting California sun is shining upon them

As I mentioned on another FPB entry a few weeks ago, the Fall season is my favorite.  And Fall weddings can also provide tons of colors and that is the equivalent of the candy store for this grown-up photographer kid.  Look at these gorgeous details...

And, of course, the bouquet...

Wth a little help of the magical light of candles, this very bouquet provided the perfect backdrop for the rings as well...

The color scheme was extremely well thought-thorough and well executed.  The cake and the flowers were in perfect unison.

Even the fire and the orange and pink of the setting sun were contributing to the colorful evening.

Now, as a lover of the Fall season, I also love songs about Autumn.  Like the obvious ones: The Autumn Leaves (another song that was in my mind while shooting this wedding), Forever Autumn by Moody Blues.  Not so obvious ones like California Dreaming and The Windmills of Your Mind.

I only thought of the line "The Autumn leaves were turning to the color of her hair" while I was preparing this blog.  Hence the title.

May your love flourish in endless seasons of happiness, health and prosperity!

The couple having their first dance as husband and wife with the setting sun's gorgeous sky provides the backdrop on a lovely California night at Marina Del Rey's Shangai Red's

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chang and Mehul's Indian Wedding

On a gorgeous, hot day in Burbank last month, I had the pleasure of documenting a lovely wedding.  It was a beautiful Indian ceremony that united the lives of Chang and Mehul and also that fused two different cultures into one family.
You may remember Chang & Mehul from my blog post about their engagement session, here is the beautiful bride, Chang:

And here is the handsome groom Mehul...

Waiting for the Barat to start.

The traditional Indian wedding dresses are heavy. But I can tell you that they both carried their dresses incredibly well and gracefully.

Mehul carried that coconut in his hand throughout the entire Barat (Arrival of Groom's Party).  It is there for good luck.  As coconut uses salty sea water to grow and create sweeter water, it is also there to remind the couple that they must use the challenges of life and find sweetness and joy from togetherness, devotion and true love...

Mehul holding the coconut (for luck) during the Barat

There are many aspects to the Indian wedding ceremonies.  Here is Mehul, after being escorted to the Mandap, during the Ganesh Prayer invoking Lord Ganesh to remove the obstacles and to bring prosperity to the couple's life.

Invoking Lord Ganesh for prosperity and removal of obstacles

And yes, you need to remove your shoes before walking to the Mandap.

The priestess, placing kumkum on Chang's parents' foreheads.  Kumkum is the sacred red power signifying good luck.

Priestess is placing kumkum on the bride's parents forehead

The bridesmaids arrive.

Here are a couple of frames from the Hasta Melap (Joining of Hands).  In this part of the ceremony, the bride's parents take her right hand and put it on the groom's hand.  The gesture symbolizes the groom's acceptance of the bride in marriage and his responsibility to take care of and provide for her.

Joining of Hands

Following Granhi Bhandan (Binding of the Couple) where the bride and the groom are connected to each other with a piece of cloth tied in a knot that symbolizes the strength of their relationship, Mangal Fera, or Circling the Holy Fire, takes place.  Chang and Mehul make an offering of rice, ghee and flowers to the fire.  This act symbolizes the eternal witness to their marriage as well as light, warmth and wisdom. The picture is of the offerings.

I had an absolute blast during your wedding Chang and Mehul.  I wish you a healthy and prosperous life together!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Vivienne's First Trick or Treat

Fall is our favorite season.  My wife loves it, I love it and apparently Vivienne loves it as well.  As it gets darker earlier, and as she has some experience from the camping, she loves to explore in the dark with her flash light...

Here she is running with mommy, dancing in the flash light, playing with the neighbor's puppy--a new found friend, pretending she is scared and hiding behind daddy...

A lovely Evening Hike at an alley in the ValleyDancing in the spotlight of the flashlight in an alley in the Valley Running with puppies in an alley in the Valley.

Making silly faces pretending o be scared in an alley in the Valley.

Pretending to be hiding from imaginary monsters in an alley in the Valley.

The main goals of these evening hikes that Jennifer started a few weeks ago is actually t look for insects.  It started with crickets and rolly-pollies (and Vivienne still looks for them) but any insects she can find is obviously fascinating for her!

Where are the bugs?!

Looking everywhere for those bugs!

Found a bug on a rock!

As I have mentioned before, I have never been a "Holidays" person.  Sure, I used to love "Le MarchĂ© de Noel" when I lived in France.  I love snowy Christmas Eve, I like the family Thanksgiving Dinner, I love the Halloween, mainly because of the season and the colors...  And for 3 years straight now, we stared carving pumpkins at the Hanci residence (no, Vivienne's arrival had nothing to do with it, I have no idea what you are talking about...)... The first one was Cedric La Citrouille, which I carved on my own.  The second year we had three for the family following a pumpkin carving party with Vivienne's Uncle Joe and Aunt Jen.

This year, Hanci family carved pumpkins together.  Vivienne was such a great help with the sharpie.  She loved the idea of drawing on the pumpkin and we kind of liked it too as we were not particularly gung ho about leaving a 2-and-a-half year-old with sharp objects in her hands.

A family tradition of pumpkin carving at Hanci residence

And here are the results...

A perfectly carved laughing witch with her eye on you!Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Beat Dam Saints?!

Here are the Hanci family pumpkins for 2013.

I only wore a costume once to make  few family members happy.  I am not big on that costume thing either.  Jennifer was all game in order to support her daughter and she became a pirate within minutes.  It was impressive and incredibly sexy.

Mommy Pirate walking her Ballerina Witch Daughter

Vivienne has been preparing for her first trick & treat for a while now.  She asked her mom to buy her a purple witch hat.  Yes, she did ask exactly that.  And she wore a purple dress and purple shoes (I suspect her mom had a little hand on this costume) and she created the eternal love for me....  Introducing the Ballerina Witch...
She is an incredibly powerful witch.  She uses her powers for the good and advancement of humanity.  No... Really.

It was such a pleasure to see the mother and daughter go trick & treating in the lovely neighborhood of our friends Stephanie and Stephanie who were so giving by opening their house to family and friends to have a lovely evening with food, adult and PG jello-shots, kids in wonderfully colorful costumes and tons of fun.

Todd had an absolutely amazing setup.  When he opened up his garage door, the high-tech headquarters of Batman was revealed with spot lights, Bat-mobile and smoke machine.  Here is the good Ballerina Witch meets Batman in order to join forces to fight the bad guys! 

The Ballerina Witch meets Batman

Yes, it was yesterday... But Happy Halloween anyways!