besame cosmetics

It Smells Like Paris

Paris by Yves St. Laurent is one of my favorite fragrances. Don't get me wrong, it smells like old lady. But it also smells like mischievous giggling and sneaking cookies at midnight. It smells like squeezing in close to cuddle in her overstuffed armchair and feeling the remarkable softness of her aged and wrinkled hands. It smells like decades of family portraits and school pictures in mismatched frames lining the narrow, creaky-floored hallway. It smells like an Arizona sunrise and waking up early to watch the quails eat the bird seed Papa scattered every morning. And it smells like the birthday cards she wrote me every year, intentionally spritzed with her perfume so I would know, without even looking, that it was from her.

I like to think that this tradition of spritzing birthday cards with perfume started with the love letters she wrote to my grandfather during World War II, but I can't be sure. I am certain, however, that Grandma got it. She understood that her precious perfume carried with it a lifetime of memories. That, just the slightest hint of her signature fragrance, felt like eating cookies and telling jokes and holding hands.

Fragrance is powerful. Our sense of smell is so strongly connected to our memories that it has the ability to transport us through time and space. That's why my favorite bridal detail to photograph is the perfume. On occasion, a bride will tell me that her perfume bottle is nothing special and doesn't need to be photographed. And in those cases, I politely disagree and say, "Your perfume is the fragrance of your wedding day. It's the scent of the anticipation you feel building inside your belly right now. It's the smell of laughing with your bridesmaids as you reminisce about college and try to keep from smudging your makeup with happy tears. It's the memory of walking down the aisle, holding his hand, saying I do, and being pulled in close for your first dance. Trust me. It's special."

I no longer receive birthday cards from my grandmother, and when I visit her in the Alzheimer's facility she lives in, she's not wearing Paris by Yves St. Laurent. We don't sit in her overstuffed armchair. She doesn't remember the Arizona sunrise or the creaky floor in the hallway, but I do. And when I hold her soft hands and hear her still-mischievous giggle, I think back to sneaking cookies at midnight, and it smells like Paris.

Jené & Nick | The Avalon Hollywood

I'm a huge fan of black and white photography. For me, black and white images immortalize the intimacy of a moment in a way that colored images cannot. It's as if all of the distractions are removed, and all that remains is raw emotion. Perhaps it's because, as my imagination fills in the colors, it also fills in the story. Questions like "What color lipstick was she wearing?" turn into "How must she have felt as she prepared to see her husband for the first time?". And as I study each image, I become captivated by the story that created it.

I've always wanted to photograph a wedding entirely in black and white. When Jené and Nick told me that their wedding would have a 1920s theme, I knew this was the one! In keeping with the theme of the wedding, I'm sharing the story of their day in classic, timeless black and white! For all of my lovers of color (and those of you who really want to know what color lipstick she was wearing), I'll be blogging the colored images soon, I promise!

Jené and Nick planned the most elegantly-themed wedding I have ever seen. The Old Hollywood style was present in every detail of the day. From Jené's vintage makeup by Besame Cosmetics and Daniela Beckstrom, to her juliet cap veil, she was a black and white movie star come to life. Nick and his dapper groomsmen wore classic black tuxes and bowties. And the venue?!?! A historic nightclub right on the Hollywood walk of fame. So much yes!

I'll be back to share more from Jené and Nick's wedding, including more of their love story. For now, take a trip to the 1920s and enjoy some of my favorite black and white images of their special day.