"Together we can face any challenges as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky."

Marianne Sanada

"I like you more than ice cream"

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

"So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you."

Robert Fulghum, True Love

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”"

Joe Sanada

"Let the awkwardness wash over you"

Bruce Lee

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”

Lindsay - Our hair dresser

"I  forgot that you guys are total nerds"

::Joe sitting up in a deep sleep::
::Sings along to song on Glee::
::Falls back asleep and doesn't recall a thing::
::cannot remember words to song ever again::

A long time ago in a shoe-box of an apartment about a mile from here…


It was 2008. Marianne was a photography student at Cal Arts. Joe was a law student at Pepperdine. We were dating and we were about to graduate. As graduating students tend to do, we were looking at career prospects. Joe’s career path seemed relatively straightforward: be an attorney. Marianne’s path was a little more muddy. For some reason the doors weren’t exactly flying open for a student getting her BFA in photography in 2008… apparently a massive recession and housing crisis makes hiring managers a little grumpy.

Since we were still students we decided that it really couldn’t hurt to try and start a photography business. We figured that if we failed, Marianne would just continue trying to get a job when she was closer to graduation.

At that time, being a wedding photographer was considered “selling out” in the art community. It was what photographers did if they weren’t creative or talented enough to live their lives as a properly tortured starving artist. So, of course, Marianne wanted to shoot anything but weddings and she dabbled in all sorts of different types of photography to try and find her niche.

One day, Marianne was looking for photo opportunities on craigslist and she saw a listing for a second shooter at a wedding that was coming up in a few days. The job paid almost enough for us to purchase a new lens that Marianne had been eyeing. This was a big opportunity because we were both broke students and up to that point Marianne had been working at Peet’s Coffee to make ends meet and we were literally making and selling pies in our spare time to try to pay for gear.

Let’s back up a second… “broke” isn’t quite the right word. “Broke” would imply that we had $0.00. After a collective 10 years of higher education between us, we were way, way, way, in debt. We were so in debt that the very idea of taking on more loans to buy gear was about as appealing as that unidentifiable fuzzy thing that you will inevitably find in a Tupperware at the back of your refrigerator if you go look in there right now (Seriously! What is that thing? How long has it been living in there? Can it be killed or is this the beginning of the reign of our new fuzzy overlord?).

So, selling-out and photographing a wedding sounded mighty appealing at that moment. We also figured that it was a low-risk way for Marianne to try photographing a wedding since Marianne was just going to be the second shooter. So, we decided to send the craigslist person an email expressing interest in the opportunity and they replied that they wanted to hire Marianne!

In a not-so-surprising Craigslist M. Night Shyamalanian twist, the bride was a photographer herself and was theoretically supposed to be the lead photographer at her own wedding. Of course, the bride never even touched a camera that day and Marianne ended up photographing the entire wedding by herself.

Marianne had been unknowingly pushed into the deep end and she found out something very important: SHE! ABSOLUTELY! LOVED! PHOTOGRAPHING! WEDDINGS!!!!!!!

In that experience she found out that weddings weren’t where creative souls go to shrivel up and die like so many art students believed. Sure, there were plenty of photographers who took the exact same shots at every wedding and just did it for the money. But, when Marianne shot that first wedding she found out that weddings are bursting at the seams with amazing opportunities to not only be creative, but to also make meaningful art that will touch peoples’ lives for generations. That’s exactly what every artist wants! That was why she loved photography so much to begin with!

So, we focused on trying to photograph weddings and, much to the chagrin of many loyal pie customers who wanted us to start a bakery, the photography business took off.

Fast forward a couple years and a couple dozen weddings. Joe was sick, laying on a couch at home for the day instead of going to work at his law firm. Marianne walked over to him with a bowl of soup and a camera and said “I know I have been trying to convince you to start shooting weddings with me for a while, but you seriously need to learn photography and start photographing weddings with me now. The business we started is booming and I can’t keep working with different second shooters at every wedding. I need someone more consistent.”

Joe ate his soup and then Marianne took him outside with the camera and taught him a few basics. Joe knew that being a second shooter at a wedding was a big responsibility and he didn’t want to let Marianne down. So he did what any attorney would do in his situation and started ravenously learning everything he could about photography. He read tons of online tutorials to learn all that the internet had to offer and he practiced photographing anything he could: Marianne, his family, their dog… anything.

Joe was a quick student, but there was a big problem: Joe didn’t really like photography that much. The camera was just a little machine in his hands that did what he told it to do. What’s so special about that?

One day, Joe was like “I know photography” and Marianne was like “Show me” just like Morpheus said to Neo in The Matrix before they fought each other in that awesome scene in the Dojo where Morpheus was like “do you think that’s air you’re breathing now?” and Neo’s mind was totally blown because he started to realize that in the matrix he wasn’t bound by ANY rules other than the ones he placed on himself and it was THE key step toward him becoming “the one”...!

Sorry… got a little carried away there.

What actually happened was Marianne said “I think you are ready to shoot an engagement session with me!” We drove up to the Carpinteria Bluffs and shot the engagement session together. The couple was so happy and fun. The sun was shining. The air was fresh. The bluffs were gorgeous. Joe shot some photos that he was actually proud of and that the couple loved.

After we finished the session, Joe asked Marianne “is it always like this?” and she chuckled and responded “Yes! That’s what I have been trying to tell you!”

That engagement session was where Joe had his “Neo in the dojo moment” (BOOM! You thought that the rant above was irrelevant, didn’t you?)  

The thing is: as an attorney, your clients generally don’t like you. They don’t like that they have to hire you to help them. They don’t like spending time with you. They make their disdain for your existence and relationship unquestionably clear at every opportunity. You sit in your office for 12 hours a day reading boring cases, writing boring documents for people that hate you. Occasionally, you interact with opposing counsel, who also hates you. Occasionally you go to court and talk to judges who, you guessed it, pretty much hate you.

At that engagement session, Joe realized that being a wedding photographer is the exact opposite of being an attorney and, like Neo (sorry, we can’t guarantee that this is the last Matrix reference), the only thing holding him back from an awesome new life was him clinging to his old life as an attorney.

The decision to give up being an attorney was easy, quick, and not only painless, but rejuvenating.

Over the next year, Joe finished up his caseload at his law firm, shut the firm down, and became a full time wedding photographer. In the years since, Joe has continued to learn everything he can about photography and has fallen in love with the art of photography. Nearly 300 amazing weddings later, Joe still loves his life as a wedding photographer and he loves that he gets to work with his amazing wife who freed him from the prison of attorney-hood.

And then he negotiated a peace agreement with the machines that imprisoned the minds of the human race to use our bodies for electricity and defeated the rogue program that was causing havoc in the alternate reality that the machines created for us.


Episode I

Episode II

(Holy Moly! Did you read all that?? You're amazing!)