- Heather "at work" with Kelly and Jimmy on their wedding day. Hannah Kate Fotographie
Get to know Heather, Central Coast Wedding Photographer.
I first met Heather of Heather Nguyen Photography at a local wedding professionals gathering in northern San Luis Obispo county. Taylor Street Favors was supplying some wedding favors for the event and Heather was shooting the event. Meet and greets are not my thing, but I am so glad I went that night! Not only do I love Heather’s wedding photography and her warm, easy going vibe, but she continues to be a big supporter of everything Taylor Street. Here is our interview with Heather.
TSF: What is your favorite part of a wedding to shoot?
Wedding Photography is so much fun! If I had to choose one part it would be when I am photographing the couple alone. To me, that is the most exciting part. Some see each other before with a first look and others have waited until their “I DOs”. That is the chance to really see how in love they are. That is the first chance they get to have a candid conversation and complement each other’s outfits.
TSF: Most important question you rarely get asked by couples considering you for wedding photography?
The most important part of the day, photography wise is sunset time. I have a long list of questions to ask but for couples that is usually the last thing they are thinking about. When you think of your wedding, the most important part would be the couple photos when the light is soft and flattering. I usually suggest sunset photos depending on their schedule.
TSF: Tell us about yourself
I have been a photographer for 9 years now. I am a wife of 9 years and a mother to a 6 year old and a 3 year old. They keep me busy during the week, which is why I love my job as a photographer. I am able to enjoy time with them during the week and work on the weekends.
TSF: What is one favorite part of your photography business?
Delivering the images to clients. I always send out the email and wait for their response. Hearing how much they love their images and how well their day was captured is such a pleasure to hear as their photographer.
TSF: Best piece of advice you could give couples planning their wedding
To take moments for themselves and keep dating. When I work with couples, sometimes stress gets the best of them and they forget the wedding is all about their love. After their big day, they will be left with the memories of the guests, their ceremony, and how much fun they had.
TSF: What is your photography specialty?
My specialty is wedding photography. Though I also photograph families, newborns, kids & couples, I spend most of my year on weddings. I love having clients stay with me from their engagement to their family photos years down the road. I really do have an amazing job!
TSF: What inspires you professionally?
I was inspired after my own wedding. I had such a amazing time planning our wedding. So when I meet a couple, I love discussing all of the fun plans they have started and the vision they have.
TSF: 3 questions every couple should ask their wedding photographer
- Do you shoot in RAW? RAW images hold more information than JPEGS which help with post editing. All professionals shoot in RAW.
- How many weddings have you photographed? I shoot about 15-20 weddings a year on average, so 8 years and 15 weddings a year I would say I am around 120 weddings. It’s very important for your photographer to have lots of wedding experience.
- Do you edit the images? As for editing, I edit the lighting, bring up colors(especially your wedding colors), edit out anything that takes away from the image. Every image a client receives from me has been touched. I never send unedited images.
TSF: Biggest pet peeve with modern technology in weddings today
Cell phone and tablets. I have been a wedding guest many times and I personally have no problem with people taking photos during the day. When it comes to the ceremony, it makes my job very hard to have to ask guests to move (when they should be seated) or change my position because someone is holding their phone out in the isle. When a couple spends so much on their wedding photography, they don’t want cell phones in the way of their vows or first kiss.
TSF: Weddings are stressful. How do you keep yourself relaxed and energized?
I spend time with my kids during the week and usually get massages after a long wedding. I carry a backpack with all my lenses and gear so once the wedding is over, my back is usually sore.
TSF: What one superpower would you want for your wedding photography work?
That my legs would never get tired. After being on my feet for 12+ hours, I am usually exhausted. Legs that would keep going even into the late night hours would be marvelous!
This month’s spotlight is shining brightly on the husband and wife team Cheetah & Cheetah. The Cheetah’s, Nadine and Brian, were introduced in spring of 2000 by a mutual friend who recognized their mutual love of Cheetahs.
Nadine, a fashion design graduate obsessed with all things cheetah print, and Brian, the loud and very friendly DJ Cheetah, discovered that besides Cheetah’s they also had a mutual love of music.
Nadine: “We bonded over our love of music. Going to Melrose in LA was one of our favorite spots. We could spend hours digging through records trying to find that record we just couldn’t live without. After finding records we would go shopping on Melrose looking for that unique outfit no one else has.”
After dating for two years Brian proposed on a hill called “the top of the world” in Laguna Beach and on September 8th, 2002 we got married at the Hotel Laguna.
In 2009 when their son was 4 years old and expecting their daughter, they decided to make the move to San Luis Obispo, the happiest city in America! SLO, to all the locals, really is the best place to raise a family.
Starting over in a new location was a challenge, but after years of hard work they were back on top and booking most of their weddings together as a husband and wife team.
Brian: “Watching our business grow each year is such a rewarding experience. Especially knowing that we did this all on our own.”
Working together is their preference, always looking for ways to help each other out. As an example Brian will get on the mic and make an announcement to help me get the perfect shot. And Nadine, being out among the guests, will help pass around the wireless mic during toasts. Being a team the collaboration makes things run smoothly. Brides and grooms can be at ease knowing …
Nadine’s love for photography started when she was a teenager.
“I had a pink film camera that I used to take photos of my friends and pets. I would drop off rolls of film to get developed. It was so exciting to get the photos back and see how good my shots were. I also loved to buy fashion magazines, tear out all the fashion photos that inspired me and put the images up all over my walls. The walls in my room were completely covered with beautiful Supermodels like Nadja Auermann, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Shalom Harlow, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. In high school the book LaChapelle Land by David LaChapelle inspired me take photography classes. Which lead me to photographing the fashion section of my high school year book. Being a wedding photographer is the perfect fit for me. I get to photograph brides in beautiful dresses. Giving me that perfect mix of fashion and photography”.
Brian’s DJ career started by seeing a ‘DJ wanted’ flyer while in college.
“I answered the ad, got the job and immediately knew this was my passion. Bad Boy Bill and Richard Humpty Vision inspired me with the way they mix music. I love to feel the music and bring energy to the dance floor by beat mixing, scratching and adding sound effects. I enjoy weddings because every client has different music requests for me to mix. It’s fun to find new songs that work well together inspiring me to create new mixes.I have so much fun at every wedding I DJ. It is so rewarding to keep the dance floor packed and watch my clients having a good time.”
In 2017 The family, together, made the decision to legally change their last names to cheetah. It is because of their mutual love of cheetahs Brian and Nadine met, married, started a business and a family.
“We all feel very proud to have the last name cheetah.”
Follow the Cheetah’s on Instagram: @DJCheetah.CheetahPhotography
LIKE the Cheetah’s on Facebook: @DJCheetah.CheetahPhotography
June 24th, 2017
Who proposed to whom? Tristan proposed to me on the Santa Barbara Pier on our anniversary.
Wedding date? June 24, 2017
Venue? Edwards Barn in Nipomo, CA.
Edwards Barn is a product of three historic redwood barns on the central coast that were dismantled and reassembled into one by David and Mavi Edwards. A beautiful location filled with rustic and vintage elements. It is truly unique central coast wedding venue located in Nipomo, CA.
Catering? Edwards Barn also catered our reception.
Cake? Cakes Cathedral.
Serving the Central Coast of California, Cakes Cathedral works closely with their clients to create intricate, sculpted masterpieces into a “less is more” confection your guests will love.
Cake Topper? Plum flowers arranged around an initial K.
Photographer? Heather Nguyen Photography 😊
DJ? Dj Solstice.
Florist? Darlene Romero and Rebecca Arnold.
Hair/Makeup? Hair – Alyssa Rivas, Makeup – Myshel Gordon.35.0469236-120.5249141
September 16th, 2017
Who Proposed To Whom?
How / Where Did You Get Engaged?
San Diego on a gondola
What was your Wedding Date?
September 16th, 2017
Apple Farm & The Monday Club in SLO
Did you have a Coordinator / Planner?
Did you have a Theme / Color Scheme in mind or did you wing it?
Grey & Teal with a Bohemian theme
The Bear & The Wren
Did you have a special cake made?
Sea Breeze Cupcakes made a beautiful teal drip/marble cake
If Yes, what was your Cake Topper?
What was your song?
I chose you by Ryann Darling
Twig & Arrow
Any advice for couples planning weddings today?
Hire a Wedding planner
September 23rd, 2017
Who Proposed To Whom?
Jordan proposed to me, Ashton 😊
How Did You Get Engaged?
Jordan planned the proposal out weeks in advance. There was a hike that I had wanted to try out for quite some time. It was May 14th, 2016. Jordan planned for a couple close friends to join us on our hike up the Malibu mountains. Once we reached the top with the stunning view of the pacific ocean at our backs, Jordan got down on one knee, and made a me a promise. A promise that he will always love and take care of me, to always put me first, and to always make life an adventure. With these promises, he asked if I would spend the rest of my life with him. I cried, threw the ring on my finger, and jumped into his arms with a resounding yes!
September 23, 2017
Portola Inn, Atascadero
Peggy O’Malley at the Portola Inn, Atascadero
Flora & Fauna Fine Foods
Wedding Decor – A Shop On Etsy
Heather Nguyen Photography 😊
Friends And Bridesmaid
Anything Else You’d Like To Add?
Our day was absolutely perfect! Everything went according to plan and every single vendor was a delight to work with. It was a stress free day full of love and laughter. 😊
A girl dreams of her wedding day and I can truly say it was the wedding I had always dreamt of. ♥ Thank you Heather for capturing such a beautiful day for us!
August 5th, 2017
Who proposed to whom?
Ryan proposed to Megan
How did you get engaged?
Ryan proposed at Chamisal Winery in Edna Valley
August 5, 2017
Molly @ The Grace Maralyn Estate & Gardens
Cupcakes by Ribline
A replica of our dog
Heather Nguyen Photography
Second Shooter- Leana Myra
Kat Slay @ Luna Loft in Paso Robles
Wedding photos have [finally] arrived! Now that bills are paid (ugh) and thank-you’s are mostly written (I know, I’m sorry) we must decide on whether and how to create a wedding photo album.
The “whether to” decision is an easy one for us – Yes.
Digitals are great, but digital images are never going to be discovered by your children or grandchildren in the attic. You will never just happen upon your digital images while sorting through a stack of books left untouched for too long. There is nothing special and almost no intimacy involved in gathering around a device to stare at images that are too small to appreciate. Wedding photos are best experienced as part of a narrative — a story that unfolds in a deliberate sequence with one image building upon and informing those before, after and around it.
So as David and I review our images, reflect on the day, and decide how we may want to remember the moments, the wedding album creation & production decision looms — influenced by budget, creative energy, available time, and technological know-how.
I’ve summarized our wedding album website alternatives into 3 price brackets. All of these websites have beautiful wedding album examples to get your creative juices going. Disappointingly, however, none have a same-sex couple prominently displayed in their gallery. Time for some new images everyone.
$$$$ – Custom design/print/bind service. We select the basic layout and the cover, upload the images, provide suggestions for any copy we may want to include with particular images or on certain pages and then let someone else create and print. Cost: Wide range based on number of pages and cover type, but $600 to $1700 covers most of the options available. Yikes.
Blended Motion is a turnkey provider, whereas Storybook Pages focuses on the design component and then allows you to select the print/bind vendor from a list of companies they work with. Both of these companies work primarily with wedding photographers, but they have expanded their service to “retail” as well.
$$1/2 – DIY design using templates/print/bind service. We select from a wide range of pre-formatted designs, most with some customization available, upload the images in the size and position and order we want, then let them produce based on the paper and cover we select. Cost: $200’ish to $750 covers most options available.
This is a more competitive market space, and there are a number of companies. Each of these 3 are worth considering – each with “a look” and particular software & production strengths.
- Milk — wedding focused, minimalist look, basic options, not a budget buster, quality product
- Blurb — oriented to commercial / professional productions, wedding albums as a side business, flexible design system with default templates for the novice
- Adoramapix —Template based with plenty of design flexibility, widest price range based on paper type, page count and cover material
Note: We are not considering BrideBox. Why? There was no “bride” in our wedding. Might be a clever sounding name, but it’s not very welcoming to my husband and me.
$ – DIY design using templates/print/bind service. The primary difference between this price point and the category preceding is that these two providers are not providing a wedding specific product. Their design flexibility is more limited and their production options far more limited. Their product, however, is considered high quality with very fast turnaround. Cost: $100 and under
- Apple Photo book — we are an Apple family. I was a reluctant convert, but have come to fully embrace (accept) the Apple way of life. We have used this service before to make albums of family events and the results have been beautiful.
- Snapfish & Shutterfly — excellent for the novice/non-tech user, low cost, high quality, very limited design flexibility, quick turnaround. You don’t have to own an Apple.
We are going to go-down-the-middle and use Adoramapix. We will share the end result when we’ve got it to show. For us, it’s a good balance of cost, time spent and design flexibility.
Whatever you decide:
Don’t overspend/overthink. Better to get your favorite photos printed in a scaled down book than have no book at all.
Do not let too much time pass. Your wedding album project will get lost in the “to-do’s” forever…and the story you wanted your wedding photos to tell won’t be telling any stories at all.
We had an ‘engagement’ photo session with photographer Jeff Newsom.
Since we started talking about getting a photographer for the wedding it has felt a little nerve-wracking. I was not comfortable with the idea of being in front of, or followed by, a camera. Do we pose? Do we look at the camera? Do we stare longingly into each others eyes? Do we hold hands? Too many questions. And, at the wedding are we going to FEEL like the camera is watching us EVERY moment? It made sense that we, and by we, I mean I) needed a way to work that nervousness out.
Working with Jeff on an ‘engagement’ session felt like a way for us to get comfortable with him and him with us. Since Jeff is going to take part in our day we needed to feel like he was comfortable with us as well. Knowing he was sincere in his world meant we would then get real and honest imagery that showed the sincerity of love in our family.
When we first met with Jeff, he and his wife invited us to their home. That was a big deal. That showed us who he was. We looked at his book. He told us a little about himself and his life and we talked about our family and what we wanted. Jeff and his wife both made us feel right at home. We told him we would take a few days to think about it, but by the time we were in the car we had both decided he was the one.
We did check out other photographers. Looked at websites, read reviews and made calls to a couple wedding photographers that seemed like they might fit. Face-timed with one of them, but did not get the same easy feeling we got from Jeff.
When we finally booked Jeff we had decided that we wanted a family photo session and not an ‘engagement’ session. We have been together for nine plus years and it felt like ‘engagement’ just didn’t really fit our situation. We thought it would be more fun to have Leo and the dogs involved.
For the location we met Jeff at a field at Santa Margarita Ranch. After considering a couple of other locations — the beach, here at home, a winery or two (because wine!) — we decided on Santa Margarita Ranch – it just felt right. The place where we are getting married. There are big fields so we could have the dogs out running around. We could toss the football (I know right! A football.) with Leo and just feel like we had lots of room to roam around with the dogs off leash. Plus, it’s the Historic Santa Margarita Ranch. It’s beautiful!
So in the end I had nothing to worry about. The photo session was great. Jeff made us feel really comfortable. There is a very authentic way about him. I am much less nervous about that part of the wedding now. I can now let those nerves move over to the guest list RSVPs!
A few of the photos are below.