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May 132015
 

This is my second and final post on Cinque Terre… for now that is (until I return again ;o)  so I wanted to share a few more thoughts on this magical place. Yes my favorite of the five peninsulas indeed is Riomaggiore. No question. But I was recently asked why I love Cinque Terre in general. What is it about Italy’s rocky west edge that you love so much?… In short, I love its color, character, old-world charm- interacting with fishermen that are 60 & up is always a good time, and it’s food!… The food is a cloud nine all of it’s own. Cinque Terre is a pleasure center for all of the senses, so much so that it is most important, when you get there, to allow them to lead you. It is the best place to simply walk, eat, drink, be still and be merry. Don’t think too much, just be. It’s the Italian way and it’s ever so present in this small slice of Europe. Don’t fight it. Just be.

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

1. Take the hike around each of the peninsulas- “Sentiero Azzurro.” This walk will lead you into each town, its small mom-&-pops, a wide variety of cliff-dwelling seafood-serving restaurants with wine and coffee stops everywhere. You may even be invited into someone’s home for an espresso break. For example, meet Michaelangelo (below)- a seafaring fisherman and Cinque Terre native. When we stopped at his doorstep to announce an over-exuberant “Ciao!,” he immediately invited us in, served us an espresso and gave us a tour of his recently refurbished home, complete with roof-top garden, where one can while away the hours pruning or catching-up with the locals (practically everyone has a roof-top garden, it’s awesome). The nature of the five peninsulas is one of calm, beauty and socializing. Each town is so different, explore them all. Ditch the car and be sure to say hello to everyone.

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

The five peninsulas are:

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

2. Make sure to walk to the tip-top of every town. Same principles as the above paragraph apply here. I’d also like to add that the higher you go, the more history appears to pop out from random alley-ways to bitch-slap you in the face. History is around every corner and when you least expect it. Do it. Get lost. If you get tired, take a break, have an espresso, write about it, and then walk again.

3. Sit in a church. Ridiculous? Boring? No way. Find an old church and sit in it, take it in, pretend your one of Anne Rice’s sex-crazed vampires… I don’t care what you do but sit, let your imagination go, write about it and then go get an espresso. Are you catching on yet?

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

4. Find a cozy spot and watch the sun set. Cinque Terre has some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. They’re mind blowing, like melted crayons and rebellious watercolors. Whether you’re with a companion, your camera, or just a glass of wine- make sure to watch it, without movement, without words, just once. You’ll forget to breathe, it’s that good. Then shoot the hell out of it the next day.

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

This was a self-portrait I took during one of our many sunsets. Above: my view from the train tracks, below: my reflection, with Joe to my left, in the neighboring window.

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

5. Take the train back. Since you’ve now experienced the walk, wine and dined to your hearts content and watched the sun slip into night, it’s always reassuring to know that you can hop on the local train to get back. You can meet many locals there as well and the price per ticket is very reasonable.

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

That’s it. It’s that simple- walk , eat, drink, be still, be merry…. and then repeat. Giuseppe Verdi said it best,

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”

Cinque Terre, italy, Sentiero Azzurro, Jen Castle Photography, Mediteranian, photographer, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola, travel

 

Apr 182015
 

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

Our most recent wedding, with Wei and Heidi, was actually an elopement. Set within the lush hills of Topanga Canyon at the Mermaid Mountain Inn, this elopement had originally been set to take place at a nearby courthouse but the groom decided he wanted to surprise his bride instead. He wanted to bring her something more intimate, colorful, placed within nature and involving the people they both love and care about most. So he booked The Mermaid Mountain Inn, invited 10 of their closest friends/ immediate family, hired Moxie Bright Events as their coordinator and me for their photography.  Game on.

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

Wei had every detail prepared, from the bouquet and boutonniere down to the brides favorite colors. He coordinated it all. My favorite detail was in his shoes- blue and green stripped socks with a dash of navy laces to top it off… so thoughtful!

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

Everything was in place and Heidi was beaming from ear to ear when she arrived. Before walking her down the Inn’s pebble-lined aisle, we had her father wait for her so that he could see her alone, in her dress, for the first time. She tapped his shoulder, he turned and the look that slowly spread across his face as he saw his little girl was priceless.

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

Their ceremony was set under the warm outstretched arms of a large oak, just behind the property.  In front of them was a view that went on for miles, lined with the loving faces that cheered them on. It was all so beautifully intimate and completely romantic.

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

As they walked down the aisle as husband and wife, Wei had arranged for the DJ to play their song, LaVie En Rose.

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

In the end, their wedding was breathtaking and flawless. I was so completely thrilled to be involved with this elopement (turned wedding). I live for surprises and absolutely love intimate settings such as this. So congratulations again, Heidi and Wei! We wish you much love and happiness.

elopement, wedding, topanga canyon, mermaid mountain inn, ©jen castle photography, wedding photography, journalistic story-telling

            .

Apr 052015
 

 

easter, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography, diy, photo booth, portraits, family, birthday, holiday, photography

easter, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography, diy, photo booth, portraits, family, birthday, holiday, photography

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Easter Sunday. This will be my only work for the day, before I run back into the arms of my family. I’m sure you have plans for dinner or a party of sorts so I thought I would share a fun photographic DIY tip… It’s always important to document family and friends on these occasions since everyone is usually dressed their best, feeling good and let’s face it, it’s rare (at least in my family anyway) to have everyone in one room so make a photo booth. It’s super easy and it’s a great way to collect photos. Take a look around your home and see if you can find a bed sheet, wrapping paper, tissue paper or any extra material laying around. Anything with a cute pattern and a pop of color will work. Next find a well lit wall (anything across from or near a window), tape up or hang your material within that designated area and voila, you’re ready to go. It’s that easy and anyone with a camera phone can use it. You could even compliment it with an accessory or prop box for added fun. It’s a great way to get pictures of the kids AND the adults and it’s fun to watch their imaginations soar within it.

easter, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography, diy, photo booth, portraits, family, birthday, holiday, photography

easter, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography, diy, photo booth, portraits, family, birthday, holiday, photography

For these portraits, I was asked to create a booth for a three-year old’s birthday party. Mom wanted to have something the kids could warm up to and pose in with their friends. We set up the booth with a pastel spring-like tissue paper. It was a small space however with no natural light available so I used my flash for all of these. Later these images were sent out as gifts, to each family, thanking them for coming to the party. An excellent parting gift in my opinion- low cost, fun, super cute and easy to assemble, that’s my kind of DIY.

Happy Easter everyone!

easter, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography, diy, photo booth, portraits, family, birthday, holiday, photography

easter, Los Angeles ©Jen Castle Photography, diy, photo booth, portraits, family, birthday, holiday, photography