Thank you, clients! A badge earned for connecting with customers

Thank you, clients! A badge earned for connecting with customers

Thank you clients!

My top priority as a wedding photographer is to ensure my clients have an amazing time with me and that they receive unforgettable moments captured in their wedding photos. It’s because of my clients’ positive experiences in working with me that I get to continue growing my business. They often make my job the highlight of my days.

weddingwire photographer badgeSo when WeddingWire awarded me the WeddingWire Rated™ Badge, I was overcome with gratitude. It’s one thing to receive referrals from past clients, but there is an indescribable sentimentality in reading people’s reviews about my work. To read so many of my clients’ positive reviews is a career milestone for me, and each review gives me a fond memory of my work and connections with others.

Photography’s my job, connecting with my clients is my passion. It is an honor to work with all of my fantastic clients, and I can’t wait to continue exceeding expectations. If I didn’t say it already, thank you, clients!

Fates intertwined: Jaimie and Wes’ sweet love story

Fates intertwined: Jaimie and Wes’ sweet love story

It’s astonishing how our paths intertwine and change others’ lives in the most beautiful, surprising ways.

inspirational wedding story brant bender photographyI recently worked with this very cute couple and heard their even cuter love story, as I documented their boho-meets-military wedding on the shores of Lake Arrowhead. Jaimie and Wes hold a history that inspires you, uplifts you, and most importantly, makes you smile.

The backstory

Years ago, these two met in San Diego through a mutual friend. Their chemistry was evident, but fizzled over time, as Jaimie resided in San Diego and Wes lived in Virginia Beach. Then, upon hearing the heartbreaking news of their friend’s passing, their fates crossed again. A friendship formed from their grieving, and in honor of their fallen friend, Jaimie visited Wes for a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list

The wedding

Now, we flash forward to their serene destination wedding at Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, located in Lake Arrowhead, CA. These two bask in the outdoors whenever they have spare time, so this location served as the ideal place for their matrimony.

bride and bridesmaids pink orange whiteJaimie picked an array of warm tones like various pinks, cream, burgundy and orange to compliment the late summer colors of the lake, which also happened to pair well with the crisp white uniform of her military man. The towering pine trees, vibrant foliage, and clean sunlight that surrounded the resort provided a woodsy yet refreshing backdrop to their stunning ceremony. If there was any place in the world that embodied these two, they found it in Lake Arrowhead.

Dress Whites for military in weddingOn top of choosing a perfect location and hues for their wedding, it was also imperative to this couple to include family, tradition, and honor. Wes wore his Dress Whites; fellow military members wore their Dress Blues. Jaimie savored a special moment with her father, where he had his own “first look” of his baby girl before he would walk her down the aisle. The military sword detail in concluding Jaimie’s and Wes’ exchanging of vows emphasized their value of serving our country, and also provided a humbling experience for guests.

It was a fantastic event, and a heartwarming history to hear about. These two were so much fun to photograph, and it was inspiring to take part in celebrating their remarkable marriage. Wes’ and Jaimie’s story carries so much depth, and we can all agree that fate had a very special plan for these two.

Jamie and Wes’ love story emerged from devastation. Little did they know it would be their late friend’s biggest gift to them. Every part of this wedding meant something important to the happy couple, and the day was spent focusing on their bright future, their gratefulness to their friend, and the loved ones and experiences that made them who they are now. Cheers to Jaimie and Wes, whose romantic love story will serve as inspiration for those still waiting for their destinies to unfold.weddings lake arrowhead brant bender photography

Why telling your photographer everything makes for an amazing wedding

Why telling your photographer everything makes for an amazing wedding

Laurel and Michael had a perfect wedding photo shoot.

No awkward encounters, uncomfortable pictures, or unwanted reunions. All the most important people in their lives were captured together on camera. Every image meant something to every member of their bridal party. And it’s because Laurel and Michael gave me extensive details on how to best photograph their family, friends, and guests on their big day.

Couples that provide me extensive information about the special relationships they have with their guests set themselves up for a better experience. Laurel and Michael let me know that they specifically wanted a few fun pictures on a carousel and listed the guests they especially wanted pictures with. They also told me about a few locations where they hoped to get some funky shots in with their bridesmaids and groomsmen as well.

However, being honest with your wedding photographer can come as a challenge to some couples. I get it–privacy is important, and I’m just the guy taking pictures. But keep in mind that giving me extensive details on the photos you want is in both yours and my best interests. It’s my life’s goal to give you great pictures, and great pictures come from great experiences, which are almost always free of conflicts.

On a personal note with these matters, confidentiality is a key element in my business. Every family or friend group has its secrets, but every family or friend group has its sweetness too. My passion in my work is to capture the good and memorable moments that make your wedding one of your most cherished memories.

Giving me backgrounds on (sometimes sensitive) family/friend issues leverages my abilities to execute group photos and give my clients exactly what they ask for. That honesty and openness sets the stage for smoother, quicker group formals that make way for the more important and fun parts of the wedding. Telling me about your vision for some of your pictures helps me help you capture your relationship with your bride/groom and lets you focus on your wedding, instead of potential drama or missed picture opportunities.


A beautiful story continues – checking in a year later

A beautiful story continues – checking in a year later

This family continues to find their smiles, just like he wanted.

Last fall, I had the privilege of meeting Doug and his wife Jen, photographing their amazing family, and playing a part of Doug’s moving, inspiring story. It was my honor to photograph the family as a whole for one of the last times - Doug faced terminal cancer that would cause his passing a short time later. Their photo gallery visualized the bittersweet grief in losing so great a person too early. Yet, the same photo gallery proved Doug’s relentless optimism and positive outlook on life, which radiated in his and Jen’s kids through their smiles and characters.

I recently met up with this family again to capture a remarkable time for Jen and her six sprouting children. Look how much they have grown in only a year’s time! It is evident that these kids have a striking confidence, honest smiles from their hearts, and unbreakable bonds to their siblings and iron-strong mother.

I am thrilled to report that those kids are blossoming at exponential rates, and that Jen continues to lay the foundations to a bright future. And with tremendous support from their mom, their church, and Doug’s unforgettable memory, I have no doubt each family member will grow into an influential and uplifting individual.

Parents find so much pride in seeing their children grow, especially under different or sometimes difficult circumstances. Doug, they are all doing great.Jen, it is heartwarming and inspiring to see the phenomenal job you are doing with these amazing kids. I can’t wait to check back in on this inspiring story next time they visit San Diego. Until then, follow this family’s lead, and “choose to smile.”

Four tips on capturing the perfect proposal

Four tips on capturing the perfect proposal

It needs to be perfect.

Proposing to your significant other (SO) needs to be flawless. It is a tender and defining moment solidifying your resolution to spend your lives together. To freeze that moment on camera is definitely worth the time and effort of set up and planning; every client I have taken proposal pictures for instinctively reacts to their photos with overwhelming sentimentality and warm recollection. In fact, proposal pictures serve as outstanding wedding announcements to friends and family–often better than any planned or timed photos taken together before or after the big moment.

Capturing the big question can be tricky, but it is definitely doable, and may be the most honest picture of emotion you two ever take together. Here are four proposal tips to keep in the back of your mind as you craft that ultimate, intimate moment:

1. Find a spacious spot.

Look for an area that not only means something special to the both of you, but that also has a decent amount of space for your photographer(s) to snap that ideal picture angle. The more room you give yourself to pop the question, the more perspective your hired help can collect.

2. Make sure there’s light.

There’s no picture without light, and a flash in the middle of a very personal question can interrupt the magic of it all. Make sure your selected area has adequate light, whether inside or outside. If you are considering asking outside, keep in mind that the time of day determines the light’s angle. Afternoon provides a bright and sunny background, while sunset creates twilight rays in between you both.

3. Get multiple angles.

Every standpoint is worth capturing, especially with all the emotion from your SO. Make sure you snap that knee-dropping moment and the unforgettable gasp/smile from the front, sides, and above.

4. Keep clicking that button before, during, and after.

Do not miss a second of your invaluable moment together. The picture taking does not start when you get down on one knee, nor does it stop after you hear “yes.” From the moment you two find the spot to the repeated review of that rock on the left ring finger, keep that camera rolling.

Avoiding wedding makeup mistakes and choosing the best look for your pictures

Avoiding wedding makeup mistakes and choosing the best look for your pictures

After 15+ years in the wedding photography business, I maintain strong opinions on the impacts of wedding makeup. Wedding makeup is an art, involving an in-depth understanding of the bride’s desired look as well as her facial features and her best qualities. It defines the bride’s entire image and how she wants to present herself: classic, romantic, daring, bold, sexy, elegant–sometimes all of the above. When done well, a bride’s makeup makes a major difference in pictures. When done wrong, it makes an even bigger difference.

Mistake 1: Not fitting in with your surroundings.

Different venues and themes tie into the bride’s stylistic approach. For example, smokey eyes and dark eye shadows may not fit a springtime meadow wedding as well as an evening cityscape wedding. When a bride’s makeup doesn’t fit her surroundings, things can seem out of place, which shows up in group formals, first looks, and more.

Mistake 2: Hiring good versus great.

What’s that? You’re looking for a professional makeup artist for your big day? Look no further, one of your bridesmaids recommended her third cousin who has a great Instagram following and brand new brushes. Hiring a friend, or a friend of a friend, who is “good” at makeup means hiring someone that may only understand how to highlight her best qualities, not necessarily others’. Professional makeup artists are educated and experienced in creating stunning looks that vary depending on their client’s features.

What always works:

In every scenario and in my experience, the bold yet classic approach always wins. A natural and dewy glow, rosy lips, and dramatic eyes melt the camera every time. I recently worked along side the makeup gurus at Design Visage, who flawlessly executed the bold/classic combo for the beautiful bride, Dianna. Hers and Stephen’s wedding at the sophisticated and classic Prado at Balboa Park filled the venue with grace and elegance. Needless to say, Dianna’s makeup awed all and held strong throughout the entire day,

Wedding makeup completes the bride identity by complimenting her dress, her venue, and most importantly, her self-image. Don’t lose out on the perfect look for your wedding, and consider the tried and true approach to that jaw-dropping reaction you want from your guests when they see your first steps toward the next big chapter!

Dianna and Stephen’s wedding - vendor credits:

Coordination: High Society Events  | Ceremony Venue: The Immaculata Catholic Church  | Reception Venue: The Prado at Balboa Park | Floral Design: Elegant by Design | Hair + Makeup: Design Visage | Reception Music: Visions Entertainment | Videography: Taylor Films | Linens: Mikasa Fine Linen | Lighting: San Diego Events Lighting | Cake: Cute Cakes | Rentals: Folklore | Transportation: Top Dog Limo Bus

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