The Lanza Wedding, New Jersey


The Lanza Wedding.

I just returned home to California from Joe and Erin’s wedding out in Jersey. At I have to say spending the last three weeks with these two was a blast. Yep. Three weeks.
So let elaborate a bit more on who I am for those who might just know me as “Joe’s California friend”. I’ve known Joe for 13 years. We did the Disney College Program together. Ironically, while we knew each other somewhat during that 9 months at Disney, we moved in different social circles. So we actually never hung out. It wasn’t until a few months after returning home, and re-connecting online as all us former-lifeguards did to keep in touch, that was when Joe and I realized how much we had in common.
He’s been a very dear friend of mine ever since.

And while many friendships since our days at Disney have changed, I would quickly point out that Joe and I have only become better friends over the years.
During my many trips back out to Florida I stayed with Joe over half of them. And on those trips spending most of the time sitting around talking was pretty much the norm.
Joe would joke with me that “Your room is always available” about his guest room in his apartment. And when him and Erin recently bought their house, one of the spare rooms they both refer to as “John’s room”. It’s funny, but also very sweet.

But what the most fun part of the entire Lanza wedding as a whole? In any aspect?

That’s easy. It’s having been part of Joe’s life, and now Joe-and-Erin’s-life, long enough to go from those college-years-conversations with Joe about “I don’t think I’ll get married, John” to “Things are pretty serious with Erin, man..” and eventually “I’m going to propose.”

That was very cool.

And I love Erin – she and Joe are great together. And to be part of their wedding weekend (and entire wedding month pretty much) was great. But before I get into all that, let’s have some fun and take a stroll down memory lane. Shall we?
I have the most extensive photo record of our circle of friends since ’03… so this’ll be fun to zip through real quick ;)

What do you say, you guys ready to scroll through tons of photos?
How about you, Joe?

FLA Jan 2006 191

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The runDisney Princess Half as the #PrincessMen


The impact we had on others during this race was an unexpected, flattering, and emotional surprise for all of us. What started as a silly joke to laugh at ourselves ended up encouraging others around us through our humor and energy.
It was never about getting a medal for our group. It was about the laughs. And I’m glad we were able to bring that to so many others.
The kind words from everyone, the many posts online of and about us, and the overwhelmingly positive response made our decision to continue this idea next year and beyond an easy one.

So I just recently returned from Orlando where I competed in the DisneyWorld Princess Half Marathon. I know a lot of people laughed when I said I would be doing a race that was such a short distance, and also a Disney race.
For those who don’t know me, I’ve never been big on the idea of “Pay to Run” (by myself). And the races I have started to compete in recently are 140 mile Ironman triathlons – I have three Iron races I’m doing later this year, actually.

The reason I’ve never been keen on paying to run is because I don’t feel like going and running a race by myself just to get a medal, and my newer hobby of triathlons is ridiculously expensive. But as an ex-cast-member the appeal of doing a Disney race with my old lifeguard buddies was still there.

Click the break to read more about our experience as #PrincessMen at runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon!

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The Biggs Wedding – Annapolis, MD


Another Disney lifeguard wedding for the books!
In the last several years I’ve had the pleasure of watching several of my friends from DisneyWorld get married – and this past weekend the next person to add to that list was my good friend Chris Biggs when he married Brandy.

I met Chris (who we’ve always just called Biggs) 11 years ago when I was a lifeguard on the Disney College Program. He was a lifeguard at Typhoon Lagoon, and I was a guard at Blizzard Beach – Disney’s two water parks. However, we worked together the first several months and had enough mutual friends that we still saw each other and remained friends throughout the year.
In the years that followed working for Disney, Biggs was one of the core group of guys that stayed in touch with each other, planned additional trips, and did our best to keep our friendship strong despite all of us living hundreds or thousands of miles from each other.

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The Thesing Wedding – Clearwater, FL


So, last month I was at the Thesing wedding – pronounced “Tess-ing”…
Did you guys know that we’ve all pronounced Aaron’s last wrong for ten years and he never bothered correcting us?! I’m completely serious. Aaron NEVER corrected us… ten years… TEN years, guys. Joe and I couldn’t believe it.
Seriously. We – as in “all of us from lifeguarding” – have pronounced it THES-ing… apparently the “H” is silent. Ha! Joe and I, in shock (TEN!!!) asked Aaron why he never said anything. Aaron laughed and said “Well, how often do you guys really use my last name… and it’s not like you don’t know who I am. So it didn’t matter”.

Just wait til my wedding, guys. You’ll find out that you’ve pronounced my name wrong all these years, too!

So a little back story for those of you who don’t know much about me and my past. I lived and worked in Florida briefly during college. While working as a lifeguard and lifeguard trainer for the Disneyworld Water Parks I made some of my closest and best friends that I still keep in touch with and visit to this day. The choice of going to Florida during 2003 was easily one of the most significant impacts on my entire life.


Above: Ryan, Me, and Aaron – somewhere on Disney property. I’m fairly sure it’s at Disney Quest. 

Anyway, because of that decision I have friends scattered all over the country. Most of them I still keep in touch with to this very day. And quite a few of them I’ve even done photography for.
But the coolest part, for me, is the amount of weddings of these great friends I’ve been able to attend. When Aaron proposed to Danielle and then invited me as part of a very small list of friends and family I knew I would have to figure out how to get out to Florida for what would be my second of three trips to Orlando in 2013. It didn’t take long for me to convince myself to just put the trip on my credit card and go have a great time with my friends out there. I’ve been to pretty much every wedding of all my Disney friends that have invited me (in Texas, Boston, Oregon, Calif., etc.).
I wasn’t about to miss Aaron’s.

While working as lifeguards in ’03 Aaron and I were carpool buddies for several months. It worked out well since Aaron had a car in Florida and I’m punctual and always wake up on time for work. So, I would knock on his door at 6:45 each morning, and he’d wake up grab his things, and we’d leave for work at 7:30 at Blizzard Beach. Haha! He’s also been a great host to me over the years when I would visit Florida on Spring Break or during various trips. I crashed with him at his place two or three times – including during my move to England for school when I stayed at his place for several days before leaving the US.

After seeing Danielle and Aaron in March when I was in town to photograph the American Le Mans season opener race I knew I had to solidify plans for the weekend of the wedding. Danielle gave me permission to bring Joe as my date since he’s another Disney friend of Aaron’s and I don’t have a girlfriend/wife to bring anyway, lol. The week that I went out to Orlando – and eventually Clearwater – for their wedding I spent most on my laptop working and doing email.
But regardless of how busy I was with email/calls on the weekdays leading up to the weekend, the actual ceremony and two days in Clearwater with Joe, Aaron, Danielle and their families was a blast.

I had permission from both Danielle and Aaron to take some photos during their wedding, too! Which to me, is great. I’m all for enjoying the ceremony, however photography is enjoyable for me. And, more importantly, I want my own photos of such an important event in my friends lives.

So I’ll stop rambling and reminiscing about Florida, Disney, and all my great memories with my friends there. Click past the break for over 150 photos from the Thesing wedding!

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The Moody’s Snowy Virginia Wedding

Ryan and Jen Moody – on their surprisingly chilly and snowy wedding day in Virginia!

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of shooting for Ryan, one of my old roommates from when I lived in Florida. He asked me nearly a year ago to keep the date open for his and Jen’s wedding weekend on the East Coast. I was paid an amazing compliment when he said “Two things we knew we wanted were the church, and your photography.”
How awesome.
And personally, this photo of the two of them while it was snowing outside made for a wonderfully unique shot.

So, a bit of history about me, Ryan, and best-man Mike. We all used to live together in Florida. We were all roommates while doing the Walt Disney World College Program in 2003. Basically it’s a work program that allows you to earn college internship credits while working for the Mouse. I, personally, was a lifeguard and lifeguard trainer for Blizzard Beach water park. And that was one of the best years of my life so far. Ryan and Mike (his best man) were two of the other six guys I lived with out in Orlando. I have so many great memories with them from our time living together that it was awesome to share such an important day with Ryan.

Ryan is originally from Texas, and now lives in Virginia where both him and Jen work in government. Originally when planning my trip out to shoot for them I was expecting one of those stereotypical New England falls with lots of colors in the trees and bright blue skies. And, to be fair, it was like that the day before the wedding for the rehearsal when we all were arriving in town and running various errands.
The weather reports quickly shifted from Sunny, to Chance of Rain, to Rain, to Chance of Snow, to Blizzard. Well, it definitely did start snowing in the middle of the night and continued the rest of the day and through the wedding ceremony. Good thing we were indoors!!

Since I’ve lived with Ryan in the past, and it was just like living with him again while I was there, the morning of the wedding when he was out shoveling snow I was able to run out to take photos and laugh without feeling bad. Actually, I ran out, took a few photos, teased Ryan about how that’s how he got to spend his wedding morning, sent out a photo with my phone to our other old roommates from Florida, and then ran back inside where it was warm.
Lift with your legs, Ryan!

Unfortunately, due to the unexpected weather, it caused a few small issues with the morning. I wasn’t able to get out to the girls while they had their hair done and the usual wedding-morning stuff. There were also a handful of guests that couldn’t make it due to the road conditions. But it also made for a few fun things, like snowboots and photos with falling snowflakes.

Both Ryan and Jen are pretty chill and laid back about things. Which as I’ve said before almost makes things tricky for me because they’re going to be ok with almost anything I tell them or ask them. “Do you want A or B” “That sounds great John! Up to you.” “Wait, no, which do you want!?” Haha, kinda like that…
But we all had a great time. Their ceremony was smaller and made up of their closest family and friends. The reception was at the George Washington Hotel – and many people were able to make it there that may have missed the ceremony earlier that afternoon.

I’ll save the rest of my comments for the captions, as usual. But again, I had a great time meeting both Ryan and Jen’s families. It was awesome to see Mike again, too, who I hadn’t seen in five years since he was still living in Oregon (and we were at another old rooomate’s wedding!).

Click the break for more..

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Chris & Christine become Chris(tine) Nguyen

Chris and Christine became Chris(tine) officially last week.
And part of me is still somewhat feeling like “Wait! They’re so young! No way…”

I met Chris and Christine nearly eight years ago. We all used to work together at the Disney store in the mall. I worked there during two Christmas seasons between my other job with Paramount Parks. But during those two busy, crazy, insane-christmas-shopper-filled seasons I made some amazing friends.

And I can say, to a small degree at least, that I’ve been able to watch this relationship grow from “I think there’s an interest there” to “Awe, how cute they’re dating!”, and all the way to this point now… Married, and sitting on the beaches of Mexico on honeymoon as I write this.

I remember all sorts of silly stories with Chris, while him and I worked the stock room dealing with a million boxes of product. Late night floor moves with Christine who was always soooo shy and quiet – and people at one point trying to figure out if she was being mean, or really just THAT shy.

Many of you may recognize these two from the Disneyland engagement shoot that I posted last Fall. Seriously, we had so much fun.
It really was touching when Chris contacted me and let me know that the two of them were interested in me shooting their wedding. And then of course went on to plan out the Disneyland engagement photos, etc, with me.

My weekend with the Nguyen and Pingel families was a blast.

I remember Christine getting ahold of me because she was concerned about the rain in San Jose that was blowing in for a very un-seasonable June.
I said I wasn’t worried and we’d make it work. That either way we would rock out with some awesome photos and have a great time. Then… It turns out that Christine ordered six bright white umbrellas to use – how amazing is that? A bride that brings her own props for the photos!

The rehearsal was at the church – St. Joseph’s in Downtown San Jose – and went pretty smooth. And despite everyone being really hungry and eager to leave and get to the dinner, everyone made sure to learn what to do and how things had to happen. The parents all seemed excited, but a little nervous at their roles in the ceremony.

And the wedding was beautiful. Rain was mixed in with some sunshine, lots of clouds, and both cool and warm weather. But when things finally started moving along, everyone was in great spirits. It was awesome. And just like I expected, everyone had fun and barely let the small amount of rain slow them down.

I don’t want to write a novel here about the day – even though I know I could go into all sorts of detail. I’ll leave a lot of what I want to add with the captions. But I will say that I had an amazing time. To be able to be included in Chris and Christine’s engagement, and now their wedding is a huge deal to me. I don’t think I would have ever expected to be such a major part of either of their lives years ago when we met.

So, Chris and Christine, Thank You.
I had so much fun sharing such a milestone in your life together. I hope you enjoy the photos below, hopefully we have a few that you’ll cherish as much as the shots we created for your engagement.

Click the break for nearly 200 images of the Nguyen wedding weekend.

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Rock on, Wingers! Well, a little, huh Sarah?

Rock on!
Haha! Sarah was told that she would have to love everything about Erik, including his love for KISS. She agreed.. a little.

Two weeks ago I was in St. Augustine, Florida to shoot the wedding of Sarah Fisher and Erik Winger. Sarah is actually an old friend that I’ve known a number of years. We met through mutual friends. I used to train lifeguards for the Disneyworld Water Parks in Florida, and she’s a performer for Disneyworld and Universal Studios. We’ve kept in touch over the years despite being across the country and she’s followed my work, too.

So, about a year ago when Erik proposed, Sarah contacted me to figure out what it was going to take to get me out to Florida to shoot for her.  This was a big deal for me too. It means so much to me when someone wants to fly me across the country to shoot – and I’ve been booked out of state quite a bit this year. Also, Sarah has been one of the first to comment on every wedding that I’ve shot and added to my Facebook page and point out that “you’re shooting my wedding in a few months!”

I arrived in Orlando a bit early and then traveled with Erik and Sarah to St. Augustine where the wedding would be. I know that Sarah mentioned she was concerned that Erik and I wouldn’t have a lot of time to get to know each other before the wedding the day. I personally feel it’s important that I have a chance to meet the bride and groom before the wedding day if possible so they can get to know me and I can get to know them. Erik and I ended up getting along great – to the point where our joking around and sarcasm was bugging Sarah. I’m pretty sure there was a moment or two she had to say “Hey you’re MY friend” when I was siding with Erik on something, haha. Love you both!

The entire weekend spent with them was great. Their ceremony was beautiful. And there was just so much love and adoration between the two of them that I was able to watch. Honestly, it was wonderful to see Sarah so incredibly happy after all the frustration that came with putting the wedding together.

As usual, I’ll caption a number of the shots below and save you guys from reading too much text here.

And yes, my signature shot I do with most of my clients in some form. We weren’t too sure about beach access for images, but I’ll touch on that a bit later.

Please, read on after the break! I have over 100 images to share with everyone. Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below, or contact me directly via email.

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Another friend married, Theresa Payne.. er, Spoeneman!

Blue eyes is what pretty much anyone will say they remember when they meet Theresa. She has bright, bright blue eyes that everyone notices immediately. They were the focus of this photo… well, actually Theresa made her goofy expressions the main part of this image. But when I heard that she was engaged, among the first things I thought was “Perfect, I know exactly what bridal portrait I was to create with her”.
Cuz that’s what all creative photographers do, right? We use our gorgeous friends for creating beautiful photos, hahaha.

Theresa is a friend of mine from when I was a lifeguard and lifeguard trainer in Florida, at Disneyworld. We are part of a core group of friends, mostly lifeguards, that all spent a good portion of 2003 living and working together. Her wedding was a small reunion for some of us who hadn’t seen each other in years.

This posting will include a number of personal shots since these are my old friends. Typically I keep personal things off this blog, but this is different and I’m even in some of the group shots, too. Overall we had a great time hanging out in Downtown Portland and catching up on life. It was a crazy and hectic week – did I mention I flew to Portland for this wedding less than 24 hours after landing back in California from spending the week shooting in Michigan at the D’Orazio wedding? Yeah, didn’t sleep much at all.

Anyway, enjoy the photos. I’ll put more info in the captions!

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Two wedding, Two States, Four days apart.

What a crazy two weeks! The amount of work and travel was ridiculous – but a lot of fun.

I recently returned from a whirlwind trip that spanned THREE different states (not including California, where I live). My travels started off heading back out to Michigan. I was in Detroit-area again, this time to shoot the D’Orazio wedding.
For those who don’t remember, Mike booked me for his wedding nearly a year and a half ago. I was also able to shoot their engagement photos while out in Michigan last July shooting the DeLand wedding. Check out the last image on this page.
Mike and Christina make such a wonderful couple. They were a pleasure to photograph during their engagement session, and their wedding weekend was just as exciting. I have so many great photos from the day and a half I spent with their families. But rather than make everyone wait I wanted to upload a single preview for now to hold you over.

Also, Mike and Christina had this to say after my return home:

“John, we can’t thank you enough for everything! We know the photos are amazing! You are a true professional and we are proud to say you were part of the best day of our lives! Thank you again.”
-Mike D’Orazio

“I couldn’t of said it better myself!
I cannot wait to see the photos! I know how wonderful your work is, and it makes me so excited to see the final product :) You were very professional and did 110%. Thanks again!!!”
-Christina D’Orazio

After returning from Michigan I was home in California for about 15 hours before boarding a plane to Portland for my friend Theresa’s wedding. I was attending purely as a guest – however when a friend with gorgeous blue eyes gets married, I’m going to take some pictures regardless…

This is why you throw down a couple grand and buy an 85mm f/1.2
Yep, you read that correctly… couple grand… f/1.2 – this lens will be worth every penny.

I’ve known Theresa for seven years, we used to work together in Florida where I trained lifeguards and lifeguarded for the Disney Water Parks in 2003. So, when I heard she was engaged, I knew the exact photo I wanted to take on her wedding day… this image above.

I have a lot of photos from my trip north to attend the wedding; most of my photos are actually shots of me and our friends all hanging out laughing catching up on the last five years since we some of us last saw each other. But I also have some shots I took at the ceremony. Those will be coming in later weeks after finishing work for other clients.

Check back soon for an update on D’Orazio wedding!

The DuBose Wedding, Prince Charming gets hitched..

Today I returned home from Texas – and as nice as it always is to be back at your own place, this is a trip I wish had lasted longer.
I went out to Texas to attend the wedding of one of my best friends from when I lived and worked in Florida six years ago, Kyle. Kyle and I went through lifeguard training together and worked at Typhoon Lagoon while on the Walt Disney World College Advantage Program in 2003. About two months into our program however, Kyle attended face character auditions and ended up in the roll of Prince Charming throughout the remainder of his contract with Disney. I was busy saving lives, he, however, was busy signing autographs – tough gig…

Here we are, six years later, all reuniting in Texas for his wedding. Sadly, not everyone was able to make it out, just four of the 10 or so in our group. Becky (NM), me (CA), Joe (NJ), and Deanna (TX) were all guards out in Florida and have remained great friends since. And again, it was just really great to be able to spend three days catching up with everyone while celebrating Kyle’s wedding.This was our second night in town after rehearsals when everyone went out for dinner.

The ceremony was great – and I managed to make some really awesome shots like this one here. This poor little guy looked so bored up there, and was rolling his head around waiting for time to pass.

Tiffanye’s dress was beautiful. And she was sweet enough to ask me to take some photographs during the wedding. I was not the official/hired photographer. However, I don’t attend anything that I may want photos of without my camera. And by the end of the night, I knew I had created many great shots that I’m sure both Kyle and Tiffanye will be very pleased with.
Let’s face it, I don’t want an important friend of mine to have bad images of their wedding if I’m there. I stayed out of the photographers way the best I could, but I’m also shameless when it comes to making sure to get a shot that I see someone else missing. So I ended up coming home with quite a few images.

The flower arrangements were beautiful. Tiff did a great job picking out her colors.

There also was a brief moment of panic when they realized makeup ended up on her dress at some point while putting it on. Five anxious bridesmaids and two concerned mothers later it was taken care of…

Here we are again, goofing off at the end of the night. I would say that after one hot and humid south Texas summer day, lots of walking, dancing, and goofing off later… we all still look pretty good. Haha!

I’m really excited to edit the rest of the images from this weekend. Unfortunately I’m still busy finishing the other three shoots from earlier this month; Kyle and Tiff’s photos will have to wait. I’m looking forward to a somewhat quieter August (less traveling anyway) before ramping up for a very busy September.
Good night all! Hope your weekend was at least half as great as mine!