Archives for June 2015

Monarch Cove Inn Wedding in Capitola | Liz and Chris

It’s not often that I meet the bride and groom in person for the first time on the morning of the wedding, but that’s what happened at the quaint Monarch Cove Inn in Capitola.  I first bumped into Chris right when I got out of the car, and he introduced himself as the groom.  Both Chris and Liz are natives of the Bay Area, but Liz went off to study nursing in Arkansas, and Chris accompanied her there.  And later, Chris ended up attending grad school there and Liz stayed to be with him.  So this wedding day was a special home-coming for the two as their close family and friends spent the wedding weekend with them at the beautiful cottages of the bed and breakfast inn.

My team of four (2 photographers and 2 videographers) got there quite early in Capitola, and the usual summer morning fog and mist covered the little beach town.  As we walked around the venue, we can’t help how this inn is perfectly nestled and hidden right on the cliffs above the waves of Monterrey Bay.  Built in the late 1800’s, this family retreat-turned-inn, is also a sanctuary for Monarch butterflies that visit this resort from October to February each year.


The grounds of the inn were already getting prepped for the ceremony, and we can see Liz and her bridesmaids getting ready on the 2nd floor of the main cottage while Chris and his groomsmen got ready in a separate quarter.


First to make sure all the necessities for the bride was ready.  Dress, check.  Rings, check…



And while groomsmen and Dad prepare Chris for the big day…



Mom and the bridesmaids put on the final touches for Liz.


Liz, a big Niners fan, puts on her Niners garter.  Yes, it sports a Niners logo right on the garter!


A lone guitarist starts off the ceremony as Chris accompanies his Mom down the aisle.


Bruce, the doggie ring bearer, makes an entrance down the aisle as well, right before Liz marches with her proud Dad.  The sun breaks out over the clouds for the first time, right on cue.


Liz and Chris recite their vows to each other in front of their family and friends as streams of happy tear flow.


And as they are announced as husband and wife, Liz remembers to stop and acknowledge her Dad.  The Daddy-Daughter bond is obviously strong…


The early afternoon reception took place under a big tent as the live band entertained and played for the special dances.



The Maid of Honor and Best Man’s toasts kept the audience in stitches.


And the garter toss took a surprise spin as Chris pulls out a football from underneath Liz’s dress to the shock and amazement of the bachelors.  It’s quite possible Liz walked down the aisle with the football in her dress.  Only she knows for sure…


As Chris tosses the garter, you can really see the guys working hard to make sure they’re going to be next groom.  Look at them stretch high for that ball!


All that exercising leads to of course dessert, and what better dessert than a Boston Cream Pie cake with a layer of chocolate?  I have to say, it was one of the best tasting wedding cakes I’ve ever had according to one guest…


Everyone had a great time on the small dance floor right in front of the band, especially Liz’s brother who obviously moonlights as a professional limbo dancer.  And of course the guys had a great time impersonating the Sea World seals later with the M&M favors 🙂


It was a fabulous day, and a big congratulations to Liz and Chris.  You guys are awesome and my team thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with you and your loved ones!  Thanks to my shooters Shelby, Albert, and Tiffany for making the day a great success!


Photography: Alex Win Photography (
Venue: Monarch Cove Inn (

Miss Northern Sierra USA 2015 Pageants | The Crowning Moments

In the midst of a busy wedding season, I get a call from Tracy DePaola of Syracuse Image Photography, a photographer friend whom I’ve worked with on several wedding shoots asking if I’d be interested in shooting a pageant.  Tracy, by the way, is *the* photographer that pageant contestants flock to in Northern California when they need a portfolio portrait done.  She not only is the photographer, but also a hair and makeup artist, so she’s got the total package, or as I suggest to her, a monopoly (hahaha!)

I’ve occasionally shot pageants in the past, and it’s an art in itself.  I’m normally perched somewhere behind the audience with a big zoom lens stuck to a tripod, as quietly as I can, but constantly panning and snapping shots a hundred miles an hour, at the same time making sure I can solve whatever lighting challenges a theater presents.  And there’s the crowning moment, similar to the kiss at a wedding ceremony, that brings on the same adrenaline as you know that’s the shot that you cannot miss.  Not just to capture it, but to capture it in perfect focus, exposure, and expression.

The schedule worked out great, and I joined Tracy in Roseville for the Miss Northern Sierra Teen USA 2015 and Miss Northern Sierra USA 2015 Pageant a couple weekends ago.  We were joined by a third photographer, Emilie Bourdages, whom we’ve shot together at several weddings, so it was like a reunion!

The pageant flew by, and in no time, the new Miss Northern Sierra Teen was announced, and it was… Madison Miles!



Next, the contestants for Miss Northern Sierra line up and you can feel the tension behind the smiles.


And the winner is… Courtney Critz!



What’s interesting is that the last wedding that I shot with Tracy and Emilie (sometime last year) was where Courtney and her family were family guests, and we remembered each other from that wedding right before the pageant.


Congratulations to Courtney and Madison, and thank you to Tracy for inviting me to this special event.

Photographer:  Alex Win Studios
Pageant Site:  Miss Norther Sierra Pageants

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