Amanda and Gio-The Homestead Oak Glen Wedding-Exotic Animals-Larissa Bahr Photography

I am so excited to share this wedding that took place at The Homestead in Oak Glen!! Amanda and Gio are an incredible couple, and they decided to be a little unconventional for their wedding day. They did a first look so that they could walk in TOGETHER for their ceremony. As Amanda said, “We are always together, so we want to walk in together!” I thought it was so sweet that they wanted to start their ceremony hand-in-hand walking their fur baby Charlotte, already committed to spending the rest of their lives together! Amanda also has a deep love of animals which led to them hiring Pacific Animal Productions to come out and bring exotic animals for their friends and family to enjoy during the cocktail hour! I have been to weddings that had zoos on the property, but never had a couple arrange to have exotic animals come! It was so exciting! They had an alligator, ant-eater, owl, hedgehog, sloth, spider monkey, and a wallaby! The photos were so fun with the animals!! I was in heaven being surrounded by them all! And the Homestead staff just loved it all too! The other fun thing that Amanda and Gio did was to throw the bouquet together to ALL the single people, men and women; it was a great way to get everyone involved! These two epitomize the meaning of partnership! They support each other, stand by each others side always, get so much joy from spending time together, and they are true teammates in everything! From their engagement to their wedding day, it was all fun, relaxed, and stress free. No nerves for these two, they knew they were meant to be! I am so happy for them both, and so excited to share these photos from their special day! Also a special shoutout to the amazing Minister Marie with Let’s Get Married by Marie for referring this incredible couple! She is an all-star officiant who I adore working with!!

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Brianna and Alex-Joshua Tree National Park Anniversary Shoot-Star Photography

Brianna and Alex got married a few years back, and I had the privilege of being their wedding photographer! We had so much fun for both their engagement and wedding shoot, that when Bri asked me about doing anniversary photos, I was so excited! These two are naturals in front of the camera, and so darn photogenic! After a debate on whether we should do Death Valley National Park or Joshua Tree National Park, we decided on Joshua Tree! We were able to road trip part of the way together, and had a great time catching up on the latest in each other’s lives. It was both Brianna and Alex’s first time actually inside Joshua Tree National Park and I loved being able to show them around! The wildflowers were blooming when we first entered the park, and we pulled over at the closest turnout and began! It isn’t every day that you get wildflowers in the desert! After that came scrambling on Joshua Tree’s Jumbo Rocks, and wandering around the Cholla Cactus Garden! We even tried our hand at dancing in the street as the sun began to set! Our final images were the ones I was most excited to take! I had been wanting to do some star shooting, and we had a perfect New Moon night to pull it off! Brianna and Alex, being as awesome as they are, decided to indulge my star photography fantasy and pose out in the now very cold Joshua Tree Desert night so we could get some night photos with them! And I am thrilled with how they turned out! So thankful for amazing clients who come back time and time again to take photos! You all deserve all the love!

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When a wedding photographer goes on safari! Maasai Mara National Reserve and Lake Nakuru, Kenya

If you can’t tell from most of my wedding work, I absolutely love the outdoors! Scenic landscapes, beautiful places, and wide open spaces just win me over heart and soul! Photography is my passion, and I adore weddings, but at least once a year I like to take a trip with no agenda except to capture the beauty around me. I don’t ever want to lose my passion for photography or my desire to create beautiful and meaningful images. I get super excited when I take photos even though I have had a camera in my hand for most of my life and I have been doing photography professionally for 12 years! But taxes, marketing, emails, endless hours of editing gets to me, and this is why I travel! I want to experience new places, new cultures, and see it all with my own eyes! Not only do I want to see it, but I want to capture it! To be able to say I took the photo of the sunrise over the African plains or of an animal in its natural habitat just thrills me! And so I go, I travel, I capture, in nature I reconnect with my passion and with God, and I come back a better person and better photographer for it!

This trip was special because I was able to travel with my dear friend Jessica, who also went to Alaska with me, and we did photo and video work for a charity water organization called Ekenywa. You can see the photos I took and read about my experience here: Ekenywa Blog! The first half of our trip was about giving back, making a difference, and using our time and talents to help those in need. The second half of our trip was about exploring, going on safari, seeing wildlife in its natural habitat, and experiencing God’s beauty to the fullest! We booked our safari through Apex Photo Safaris and I am so glad we did! Aatish and Aashit Patel are twin brothers who run Apex Photo Safaris, and they took care of our flights from Nairobi out to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the set us up with great accommodations on the reserve, they connected us with Dickson -an incredible guide/driver who had 30 years of experience, and they came out with us on several of our safaris! We all became great friends at the end of the 5 days we spent with them, and we still keep in contact! Our days would start by leaving on safari by 6-6:30am to see the animals in the early morning. We were blessed by seeing tons of lions, a few cheetahs, and even three of Africa’s elusive leopards! The big cats were a big draw for me, and checking off the Big 5 was a must for me! The Big 5, named by early game hunters, were the hardest and most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. This made them the biggest prizes. Now, the Big 5 are the sought after safari sightings and they consist of: the African lion, the African leopard, the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, and either the white or black rhino. On my previous trip to Kenya, I had seen 3 of the 5, but I was missing the rhino and the leopard! So on this trip those were big goals of mine along with sighting some flamingos! We had a one day safari at Lake Nakuru National Park with Elohim Tours and Travels and another amazing guide, Erastus! With him we saw the black rhino and the white rhino and the flamingos along with a few lion sightings and some other awesome animals! So when we went to the Maasai Mara, the leopard was the last one I needed to complete my Big 5 viewing! And on the last few days of the trip, my prayers were answered with viewing not just one but three different leopards! And the last sighting was the best of all! This entire trip was incredible from start to finish, and I loved spending my days driving around the African plains. Kenya will always have a special place in my heart, and I love being able to share a portion of it with you here! Enjoy seeing the Maasai Mara and Lake Nakuru through my eyes! And if anyone is ever wanting to elope and have a wedding out on safari in Africa, you have found your girl ;)

PS if you wan to make this post truly epic, play “Circle of Life” from the Lion King while you scroll through! =D

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Above is a black rhino and her calf in Lake Nakuru National Park! We found her about 30 minutes into the safari and got some great sightings with both of them!

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This was our second leopard viewing, a male and a female were hanging around the same area which is unusual since leopards are solitary animals. We saw the male first and in our attempt to follow him around, we found this beautiful female who stepping out of the bushes to give us some great views of her! We ended up parking the car, and having breakfast there with her resting in the reeds! Breakfast with a leopard? Bucket list item that I didn’t even know I had until being there! =D

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This is a Lilac-breasted Roller, the state bird of Kenya! Truly a beautiful creature!

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Fun fact, male lions will not rule with other male lions unless they are brothers. These three were brothers and were in fact ruling much of the Maasai Mara lions! The one in the front is known as Scarface, and he is quite a famous lion in the Maasai Mara!

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The lion cubs were another big highlight as Jessica and I loved every baby we saw! These 5 were so rambunctious and cute! I just melted! They were part of the Marsh Pride.

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Jessica and I with our amazing guides and friends Aashit (left) and Aatish (right). These two were a wealth of knowledge and information, and were a blast to hang out with! They took care of everything, and we had a great time with them!

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This was our third leopard sighting, and she was gorgeous! She stayed out in the open for 20 minutes even though about 10 safari jeeps were following her! She would switch areas, bathe herself, rest, then keep going! I got so many photos of her, but had to narrow it down so it wasn’t all a leopard post ;)

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These were the flamingos we found at Lake Nakuru, close to where we did the work with Ekenywa! it was beautiful here. Fun fact, Lake Nakuru is a salt water lake!

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We would end our night afternoon safaris watching the sunset from this spot, having some food and drinks, and talking, laughing and dancing to our music as the evening light faded! This group was amazing, and I loved being with them all! Featured from left to right was myself, Dickson, Aatish, Aashit, their father Bharat in the back, Daisy who works at the front desk for the Mara Intrepids where we stayed, Jessica, and Judy who works as a naturalist and works with the kids who stay!

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Our last evening had the most incredible sunset with two giraffes walking across the planes! It was a perfect ending to a beautiful and amazing trip! Kenya, you will always have a special place in my heart! Until we meet again!