Aimee + Som [South Natomas Community Center Laos Wedding]



One of the rewarding perks of wedding photography is the exposure to cultures and customs outside the day-to-day reach of my Western comfort zone. I've documented Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean and Indian wedding celebrations, and, had I not been the photographer for these events, I'm not sure I would have had the opportunity to experience the uniqueness each has to offer. And so when I was approached by Aimee & Som to photograph their Laos wedding, I jumped at the chance, as I knew it would be an introduction to a wonderfully new set of details, colors, rituals, and bonding — and let's not forget tasty cuisine!  Yes, it was my first Laos (aka Lao) wedding, but new experiences make for a hungry eye, and I couldn't help but snap everything up and share in abundance with you!

I arrived early that crisp morning at the South Natomas Community Center to capture family staging the ceremony decor and putting the final loving touches on arrangements.  Aimee wore the traditional Lao silk sinh (Lao skirt), with Som dressed in the loose-fitting salong (pants).  As is customary, the groom's family must first bargain and negotiate with the bride's before the groom is allowed passage into the ceremony room. Levity ensues, a karmic cover charge is paid, and Som enters to join Aimee for the baci ceremony.   Designed to enrich the newlywed couple, the baci ceremony involves the tying of strings around the wrists of the bride and groom, inviting a unity of spirit and soul.  Though this may be a Lao custom, the crisscrossing of threads really made for a striking image and served as a reminder that the crux of all weddings really is the spinning of a renewed web between family, friends, and couple.  

Mother Nature blessed Aimee & Som with a full bloom of cherry blossoms, and we finished our day by taking advantage of all the glorious color. Thank you again Aimee & Som for having me not only as your photographer, but welcoming me as a participant. I'm so glad I made the trip up your way. Best wishes to you always!

Ceremony + Reception: South Natomas Community Center | Those Yummy Cakes: Ettore's European Bakery & Restaurant

Wedding Roadtrip on the 5



Last weekend, I had the pleasure of documenting a wedding up in Sacramento.

Rather than flying there, I decided to make the trip on wheels — up the 5 freeway one day, and then back home the next.  For those not familiar with the Golden State, "the 5" is one of two really scenic passages one can take when making your way up and down California.  It's a pretty straight shot from Los Angeles up to Sacramento, and though it's a good six hour hike one way, I prefer the freedom of the open road to being a sardine in a pressurized cabin miles above the earth.  There's just something soul soothing to driving this stretch of freeway, especially this time of year.  Most of the journey is framed by sprawling farmland on either side, and the sights are something to behold.  Mile upon mile, blossoms fall from the citrus groves like snow, crops hypnotize with their repetition — and thanks to some desperately needed recent rains — the rolling hills thrive with greens and the yellows of mustard grass.

Along the way, I took a few quick detours down random roads, which often morphed from asphalt, to dirt, and then, to the mountains of the great beyond.  There's a peacefulness to be found there, left with nothing but your thoughts, the buzzing bees, the warmth of the sun, and the inviting possibilities of the uncharted path ahead.

With both my Canon 5D Mark III and iPhone 6+ on hand, I definitely had to get some picture time in.  The first few photographs below are from the Canon 5D mounted with a 70-200mm lens.  I typically only use that lens for getting cozy with the bride & groom during a ceremony, because it's a pretty big lens to be carrying around for casual shooting. But seeing as how the lens was on hand for the wedding, I made a go of using it for these landscapes, and I think I just might be carrying it around with me just a bit more often.

And here's a few with the iPhone 6+ — which has really become such an amazing photographic tool for capturing those quick moments on the go.

 Southern California 5 Freeway Landscape | Stephen Grant Photography
 Sacramento Cherry Blossoms | Stephen Grant Photography
 Southern California 5 Freeway Landscape | Stephen Grant Photography
  Southern California Citrus Groves Landscape | Stephen Grant Photography
  Southern California 5 Freeway Landscape | Stephen Grant Photography
  Southern California 5 Freeway Landscape | Stephen Grant Photography
  Southern California 5 Freeway Landscape | Stephen Grant Photography
  Southern California 5 Freeway Landscape | Stephen Grant Photography

I leave you with a sneak peek of the wedding venue.  Looking forward to sharing the pictures from that event soon.  Happy travels!

  Sacramento Cherry Blossoms | Stephen Grant Photography