Michelle & Keller // Old Mill Park Elopement // Mill Valley Wedding Photographer

Michelle and I had both connected so lovingly from the moment she reached out, but it was her energy and deep love and admiration for Keller on her wedding day that truly lead me to create this collection of photographs. Being a part of a couple’s elopement, where there are typically just a few others present is such an unbelievable thing, and knowing how hard they’ve worked to get to this moment made me even more honored to be able to be a part of this day. Michelle, so giddy, so smitten; and Keller, so calm, and so attentive, I couldn’t get enough of these two.




Yuliya & Aron // Jewish Ceremony

Yuliya & Aron’s ceremony was straight out my dreams. They had an intimate ceremony with 40 of their closest a couple of days before their incredible wedding at Campovida. I loved the idea of bringing together cultural traditions and an intimate ceremony, not to mention a gradient salmon colored dress. There are no rules to what you can do to celebrate the person you’ve chosen and those you love. You can have one ceremony or three!

I was in tears by the end of this ceremony because of how incredibly personal and inclusive it was. Their (second) ceremony at Campovida was just as amazing and so personal to them.

I wanted to share some of the meaning and symbolism behind a lot of these traditions you will see throughout the photographs, and also because well, they’re awesome. Yuliya, Aron and their guests began the afternoon circled around the couple singing songs and blessing the couple. They are gathered around the Ketubah, and for those who don’t know - the Ketubah is a Jewish prenuptial agreement that outlines the groom’s responsibilities to his bride. When it comes to same sex marriages, many Ketubah artists are working to adjust the Ketubah text accordingly. In this case, the Ketubah text does not outline a husband’s rights and responsibilities to a wife, but serves as a symbol of a couples’ equal commitment to each other in marriage. It is interesting to note the evolution and growth of the Ketubah over time. It was once a vehicle to protect the woman in a marriage, it is now a vehicle that is embraced and created by women (many Ketubah’s are requested by female artists).

What you see the couple standing under and four of their chosen friends to hold is called the Chuppah. A chuppah has four open ‘walls’ and a covered roof to symbolize the new home they are building together. The four posts are held up by friends or family throughout the ceremony symbolizing support for the life the couple is building together.

And the breaking of the glass, a more well known tradition, yet most don’t know why we do it! There are multiple meanings to why the groom (and the bride at some weddings, let’s grow that tradition) breaks the glass but I will share my favorite one - the fragility of glass suggests the frailty of human relationships. And remembering that will always infuse us with gratitude and not take things for granted, for we know how fragile so many things in life truly are.



Two Thousand & Eighteen // Moments in Review

I truthfully look forward to creating this journal post all year long. There are so many moments that make up an entire wedding day, moments that are so present that tears start streaming, and eyes begin to disappear from laughing so deeply. When those around me don’t even notice I am there and focus on each other instead. These are the moments that always stand out to me the most.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from the minute I entered into one of the most intimate crafts in photography is how badly we as humans want to connect. We search for sentiment and nostalgia becomes our greatest high. We crave connection and search for it endlessly. As we should. And I found myself with the same cravings and same endless search for intimacy with these strangers reaching out because they connected with my words, my work, who I am. Never was there a moment did I have to be someone else, never did I have to create a moment to fill in an uncomfortable situation or silence. Instead, I would ask an inquisitive question because connectivity was my job, I would relate intimate details about myself because constructing a relationship was the basis of the work I create. The collaboration of intimacy can only be done when both myself and my couples are also running on connectivity and honesty. What I’m getting at is that even after years of doing this unbelievable job, I am in shock that my world revolves around an idea that I believe so deeply about, one that I am truly passionate about. Closeness. And in every aspect of the word. So many of the photos you will see here are not taken with a zoom lens or a long focal length, they are simply me getting real close in any situation, with no fear of how the camera will affect the intimacy of the moment because of the relationship, trust and connection that has already been so beautifully created prior. But as I always say, I couldn’t do any of this alone - this is a pure collaboration and without that trust and comfortability to be themselves, the people in front of my lens and in these photos wouldn’t reach such deeply honest and fervently uncontrived moments. Closeness is my job, connectivity is the most powerful tool in my arsenal, and these people are my passion. Feeling immensely grateful to be able to fit that all in the small bubble of a venn diagram that usually seems impossible to reach simultaneously. Writing that out made me laugh out loud.

This past year I focused more on growing roots into shooting closer to home. Creating homemade relationships with couples I still get to see or shooting at venues that I feel even more familiar with. I will always favor and love new experiences and amazing new places to see, but there is nothing quite like shooting in your own backyard (or at least what feels like San Francisco’s backyard) and being a part of a community that feels like home.

I am so grateful for every moment and every love filled day. I am so grateful for getting to do what I love and foraging connections all while connecting to my surroundings. I am grateful for every moment of vulnerability I get to be a part of. Being a part of one of the most personal and intimate days of a person’s year is so wild. Being an observer and a documenter of affection and interaction is truly amazing. I am grateful for what I do and those who let me in to do it. But above all else, I am grateful for constantly staying true to myself and what I believe for that is what attracts these truly rad humans and these absolutely meaningful weddings. People who simply just want to be themselves too.

As you may have read here and there, my work is heavily influenced by my street photography and I use the same mindset on a wedding day - present and immensely observant, building relationships with your people that allows me to take intimate photos of people with their guards down, and yet simultaneously being ready to hit the shutter at a moment of intimate affection or gorgeous outburst of laughter. These are some of my proudest moments and this post is unapologetically long but I am so happy to share them with you.

-Nataly

Ariel & David // Blackbird Farm Wedding

Ariel & David // Blackbird Farm Wedding

Ariel & David // Blackbird Farm Wedding