photographer

Day of the Dead In Tijuana – Learn How to Party with Your Now Departed –

Dia de los Muertos is a fall celebration in Latin America dedicated to welcoming the return of the dead. Ooooh don’t be scared, its really quite beautiful. In fact, I am so in love with the traditions of Day of the Dead as opposed to the gore of Halloween that I vow to never “Trick or Treat” again (yes I am 45).   Even though they are both harvest celebrations and share many similarities in theory,  I totally love that Mexico’s Day of the Dead isn’t scary or fear based. It’s all about family, humor, love, festivity and honor.  Rather than wearing spooky costumes & carving pumpkins to scare away spirits and all of the other frightening traditions that Halloween has morphed into;  families in Mexico invite the dead to stay for a feast and have a party! Woop Woop! No tricks just treats! For it is the only time of  year when the gates of heaven open up and allow the dead to return to earth for a quick visit!!! The dead are greeted with flowers, candles, photographs, fruits, toys for the children, dinners, and maybe some of their other favorite things. It might be a pack of Marlboros, a deck of poker cards, her favorite lipstick and even Mezcal, if thats what they like!

fashion editorial tijuana mexico by  fashion blogger heather van gaale

To see, if only a small portion of traditional Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, we headed to Tijuana for the day with “Pancho & The Boss” (pictured above with Beva the Zebra). Shhh she doesn’t know she is really a painted donkey.

dia de los muertos celebration tijuana mexico november 2Pancho (aka Andrew Hussey) is wearing green velvet vintage Prada trousers with a silky 70s button up featuring a saguaro cactus print with a Tequila sunrise on the back…so Baja!

The Boss (aka Amber Flowers) is wearing a traditional Mexican gauze dress that we purchased locally. We chose orange because orange represents the marigolds (cempazuchil) that attracts the dead to the altars. We also chose it because orange is fall!  Come fall everyone flocks to orange. Suddenly it is everywhere; pumpkins, autumn leaves & the glow of campfires have us embracing orange. Orange is enthusiastic, inviting and it stimulates the appetite! Face it, there is nothing bad you can say about orange. Well, fashionably speaking it had its hey day in the 70’s and although you may opt out of getting an orange carpet with an orange sofa and matching orange curtains, as soon as October approaches the orange/fall wardrobe desire strikes. Finally, one can wear a long orange dress and perfectly rustic brown leather wooden platforms (Hecho en Mexico of course) and embrace the change of seasons without looking like an inmate in the state penitentiary.
tijuana mexico fashion editorial by fashion travel bigger heather van gaale and model amber flowers

OK I’m ranting I know… its just that Im feeling really passionate right now with a severe case of the warm and fuzzies. Maybe I’ve had too much orange…or perhaps its the Mescal (that was served with an orange). Either way I love this holiday!

Pictured above Amber drops flower petals on the ground in honor of the Mexican tradition of creating carpets with a mosaic of dried flower petals, colored sawdust and other natural materials during religious holidays.
flower petal dia de los muertos celebration tijuanaMexican religious holidays always include traditional dishes & festive foods. Market places are energized as families and businesses prep for the holiday with seasonal displays of exotic spices and rainbows of colorful produce, thus we headed to my favorite place in Tijuana, El Mercado Hidalgo. Mercado Hidalgo is Tijuana’s historic open-air market that appeals to all your senses. Approximately 80 vendors are centered around a chapel and a parking lot which hosts elaborate holiday displays.

heather-van-gaale-photoPlan on spending a couple of hours here roaming through the maze of produce and homemade sweets while interacting with the welcoming vendors who are happy to practice their English on you. The people are genuine and the prices are plenty affordable that even the toughest haggler will surrender his sparring match and gladly pay the low prices.

During Dia de los Muertos a symphony of decorative paper flags rise from the center of the parking lot which features a massive altar covered with marigolds & offerings in anticipation of the souls returning. Framed photographs of the departed, candy skulls and seasonal fruits are placed on the altar with generosity and good humor.

catrinas katrina fashion dress cultural for dis de los metros tijuana blogger at hidalgo mercadoSkeletons dressed in clothing that feature the hobbies, occupations or characteristics of deceased loved ones poke fun at the inevitable and clearly show the Mexican cultures acceptance and relationship with death.

Mui fashionable are the lady skeletons with the large fancy hats called Katrinas. Katrina’s are inspired after upper-class Spanish women and I must say the dresses these slender skeletal ladies wear is all I want for Christmas (size 4 please). Talk about fashion inspo! Minus the fact that the ones pictured above are made out of paper mache and not velvet or dupioni silk, I can see myself in any one of them..strutting the catwalk for my favorite label…(ok maybe next life). But I do think the black & white outfit would be perfect for my upcoming art show.dia de los muertos children skeleton

I love watching the children at Mercado Hidalgo with painted faces and starry eyes selecting sugar skulls and candied trinkets to place on the altars to welcome back their ancestors. Sugar skulls are intricate little folk-art forms decorated with dyed sugar and colored foil. Pinatas in all shapes and sizes greet you at the entrances to the candy stores that sell Mexican sweets by the pound. Lets just say, if Willy Wonka (bless his soul) were a Mexican, I would expect to see Oompa Loompas helping customers with their selections of which chile & salt covered lollipop to purchase (tamarindo is my favorite). Hey, maybe Willy will make a guest appearance.

scull candy sugar for dia de los muertos celebration in tijuana

Store owners set up altars in their shops such as the one below during the week leading up to Dia de los Muertos. I too will be making an altar with marigolds, incense and chocolates in hopes that my grandpa will pay me a visit. I might need to add some Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch to the list of gifts in order to lure him out of heaven for the day.
dia de los muerots november 2 tijuana by blogger heather van gaale

There are so many cool things to see and taste at the Mercado Hidalgo that my camera and my mouth were at war fighting for my attention. I’m a foodie, but in this case… my camera wins.

mercado hidalgo market in tijuana vendors flowers and produce

fashion editorial photographer tijuana mexico couple shopping int he marketproduce fruit mexico food blogger tijuana hidalgo mercado mexican-food-blogger-tijuana

vintage clothes models mexico couplevintage fashion editorial in tijuana retro couple long hair model

It was a wonderful day at the market where preparations for the honored ‘out-of-town’ guests begin, but we also wanted to see where the actual celebration Dia de los Muertos takes place…the cemetery.

street vendors tijuana selling marigold for dis de los metros

couple fashion editorial with sunflowers and retro fall fashion in mexico baja california

marigolds dia de los muertos fall halloween mexico travell blogger

Flower vendors and trucks selling marigolds galore are on every corner in Tijuana. We purchased a bouquet of 15 large sunflowers and some marigolds (for only $3.00 USD) to place on some lonely gravestones as we wondered around.

dia de los muertos at the cemetary in tijuanadia de los muertos tijuana cemetary travel blogger mexicoAttention Gringos: There is nothing scary about this cemetery, not even at night. It is like a Sunday in the park. There are musicians, children running around, families picnicking with Mexican blankets spread out on the lawn while they adorn the grave sites with their gifts.  Upon entry we were asked not to take pictures without permission so out of respect we kept our shots to a minimum and just took it all in.
altar-tijuan

cemetery tijuana dia de los muertos

 

 

orange dress fashion mexico bloggerCredits & Info

We divide our time between California and our beach house located just outside of Rosarito Beach in Baja California Mexico. We have a great appreciation for the culture and love to share information about Mexican food, travel & fashion with our fellow gringos from the states.

We are available for all  your photo needs throughout the country or the US.  Message us, (our Spanish isn’t too bad).

Photographs & story: Heather Van Gaale @photohussy

Male Model: Andrew Hussey @andrewthehussey

Female Model: Amber Flowers @ambersflowers 

Mercado Hidalgo: Corner of Blvd Sanchez Taboada & Independencia Tijuana Mexico

 

Photos with my lover: California desert road trip


biker hippie man from the 60s cool senior citizen


The desert always centers me. There is something really wonderful about cruising on the open road with the windows down listening to classic rock. I love the approaching clouds of a desert storm and  the otherworldly landscapes.

americana remains in the desert of route 66 vintage gas station

Random relics of days gone by are always perfect for impromptu photoshoots. Even though it’s extra super hotttt with the temperatures reaching 115+, the washed out lighting at high noon is my absolute favorite time of day to stop and take pictures.

vintage fashion gym shorts budweiser on model torso in the desert

When I wear my cut up half tops and vintage mens budweiser swim trunks rolled at the waist, then you know i’m ready for a mid-summer-desert-road-trip-photo-adventure.

 

american folk art by photographer heather hussey of installation in the desert

Long down the road we stumbled upon the socially interactive installation of the shoe wall. Smack dab in the middle of nowhere, passers-by stop and contribute to the ever evolving collection of mostly tennis shoes. They’re strung from remaining fences, poles and wires. I found a great pair of vintage 80s Nikes spray painted kelly green that I would have loved to have grabbed but my conscience said “no”.  Instead I contributed a woven pink easter hat with a polka dotted ribbon that my man found earlier on the side of the road.

cool biker hippie man with short shorts in desert

He’s always finds the most awesome shit just laying on the ground. I grabbed this shot of him while he was roaming around searching for treasure. He looks so cool with his red tinted aviators and a grungy old Harley Davidson tee. Also, if you have the balls to sport them, I’m seriously diggin’ on the cut off denim shorts as a sexy ticket for men.

 

 

Photographs with my lover: Summer in the mountains

woman nude on ladder in cozy cabin

In a delightful cabin in the middle of the woods I found a beautiful feather and wrapped it in my hair. It was all I needed to complete my wardrobe for the warm summer day! Finding a feather is a sign of encouragement and means that you are on a higher path spiritually. It also symbolises a lighter outlook on life.

fashion stylist photographer los angeles

It was a little chilly later on so I dug out this fabulous vintage fur coat previously owned by Adolphine Getty. What fun it is to wear a long fur coat with nothing on underneath!

Erotic Landscape Photos – Mother Nature

 

I started shooting suggestive landscapes in response to my work getting censored for being “inappropriate”.  It was nudity in the purest and most beautiful form. Its absurd that it was considered offensive. It wasn’t porn,violent or meant to demean. It was simply art for arts sake.

heather van gaale black and white erotic
Natures mother

Since the 1500’s artists have been commissioned to render nudity in scuplture and painting to illustrate biblical stories. Those masterpieces are on display in many churches and cathedrals. Still people, especially here in Temecula, who claim they are “christian” or “biblical” are afraid to display art that shows body parts even if its entirely innocent or abstract. To me its a small-minded fear based way to view life. It is feared that a child will see it or feared that an adult will be offended, but it is ok to listen to violence on the news and in the theatre for entertainment. Something is wrong with the picture when parents cover their childrens eyes during the sexual scenes yet allow the violence and killing to be viewed.

Amorous palms

I don’t display my nude work in Temecula. I was banned from facebook once for showing artistic pics of a topless man (who someone thought was a woman and reported me). A posse of five cop cars tried to arrest me for shooting a topless two year old with her clothed pregnant mom in a field near my home.  They wanted to confiscate my equipment and evaluate the images  as well (I was shooting film). Luckily, a friend in a high place saved me.

erotic landscape photographer
Adventurous limbs

Most of my nude work is personally commissioned portrait sessions by couples and women.  I also enjoy occasionally photographing shapes in the landscapes where mother nature exposes her parts.  Its fun and its my way of telling the pious conservatives to fuck off. What are they gonna do? Not let me show my work of a tree in public because its suggestive?!  Or maybe they’ll cut the tree down when they notice its trunk resembles a vagina.

 

 



Palm Springs Wedding Photography at Korakia Pensione

Ashley & Josh

Ashley & Josh celebrated their wedding with a weekend get away to the charming and rustic Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs. They reserved all 28 villas for guests to enjoy an entire weekend of poolside fun. Their wedding took place on the festive Mexican heritage day, Cinco de Mayo.

wedding decor desert mexico palm springs succulents

Touches of Mexican decor in honor of the holiday were sprinkled throughout the villa. The pink sombrero (pictured above) belonged to Ashley since she was a little girl.

groomsmen party in pool at destination wedding palm springs

Destination weddings really are a great way to spend quality time with family and friends. Josh and his rowdy bunch of boys played horseshoes and hung out at the pool while Ashley and the girls relaxed in their gorgeous suite.

 

The light at the boutique hotel is heavenly. It bounces everywhere, is backlit and dramatic! We did an amazing sexy session of Ashley in the suite. The chiaro scuro light in the restroom of the Orchard House suite is similar to a renaissance painting. We did stunning portraits of Ashley near the copper clawfoot tub. She hadn’t gotten her hair or makeup done yet but her natural beauty shined. We can’t show those here though (sorry i’m a tease).

bride getting ready shot by palm springs wedding photographer heather van gaale
beautiful bride with bridesmaids getting dresses artsy black and white

Ashley wore an elegant ivory dress with spaghetti straps and a small train.  Over it was a classy white lace kimono belted with a beautiful ribbon. Her bridesmaids choose their own cocktail dresses staying within the nude/gold color palette.beautiful bridal portrait black and white beauty headshot close upbrides maids laughing candid photojournalism heather van gaale

hip groomsmen hang out on striped chairs in palm springs

The guys were also very stylish! I loved the simple gray suits paired with black ties; very Palm Springs. Love them hanging out on the striped chaises.

best wedding photographer palm springs heather van gaale

The couple saw each other prior to saying their vows. The “first look” is always one of my favorite moments to capture.
first look bride and groom palmsprings heather van gaalelifestyle wedding photographer palm springs

The party was starting!  Rather than doing a bunch of staged portraits we shot the family formals loosely and did mostly candids before the guests began arriving.creative palm springs photography groomsmen heather van gaalebest wedding photographer heather van gaalefun family photos at korakia wedding by photographer heather van gaale

Prior to the ceremony, Ashley was tucked away from sight in anticipation of her grand entrance. This is always a great moment for candids with dad.
wedding photojournalist palm springwedding photography blog palm springs

I adore the way they look at each other; every time seems like the first.

blog for photography wedding palm springs

Increasing in popularity amongst brides and grooms is having the honor of a close friend marry them.  The guests love it because its personable and sweet.  I love it because it adds a nice touch for the photos. Rather than having a stranger be center stage for all the wedding vow pics, a dear friend enhances the image. It is quite easy to become an ordained minister or wedding officiant. Check with your county clerk for guidelines.
korakia wedding palm springs heather van gaale

The courtyard at the Korakia Pensione features a magnificent moroccan door and is overflowing with hot pink bougainvillea. It really is a photographers dream. There is also a gentle sound of splashing water from the tranquil  fountain, which kept the little ringbearer busy during the ceremony (above right). Notice how the back lit water drops sparkle as they gently fall.

top wedding photographer southern cakorakia wedding photos ceremony locationbride and groom romantic scenic korakia

bride and groom kiss rustic korakiaAfter the ceremony we did a few pics of Ashley & Josh as newlyweds then they were off to enjoy their Cinco de Mayo cocktail hour with mariachis and margaritas. mexico wedding ideas mariachi bride groom palm springs destinationwedding reception palm springs destination photographer

mariachi wedding reception with ring bearer by heather van gaaleEvent planners Celebrations of Joy!  kept things on schedule and did all the beautiful decor, allowing the bride to enjoy her day. Cathy and Dorry are based in Palm Springs and specialize in event design and destination weddings.

Palm Springs hippest restaurant Lulu, catered a wonderful dinner for the casual but elegant family style seating. They were meticulous on attention to detail. Love them!korakia wedding reception with succulent centerpiecespalm springs wedding ideas succulents flower center pieces korakia

The candle lit dark wood tables  contrasted well with the stark white flowers,plates and glassware. The succulent and cactus center pieces were a diy project by Ashley and her friends. Succulents are a perfect alternative to floral centerpieces. They are totally hip and they don’t falter in the hot desert sun . They looked clean and modern planted in white geometric pots with crushed white rocks on top.
korakia wedding reception cupcakescupcakes reception at korakia

Over the Rainbow Cupcakes and Deserts provided the over-the-top delicious deserts. The chocolate peanut butter salty caramel cupcakes were  equally delicious and photogenic.
palm springs wedding reception

Im all about shooting fashion and portraits and setting the stage,but its the candid moments that I really love. Ashley and Josh’s reception started at dusk beginning with their first dance and heart warming series of toasts.

bride and groom share their first dance at korakia in palm springsKorakia is a quiet boutique hotel in a charming neighborhood. Loud music isn’t allowed. Acoustic guitar was played by Rons Garage Band and a few talented guests during dinner and dances.

first dance at korakia in palm springs photographed by heather van gaalewedding couple candid of toast at reception in palm springs

wedding reception outdoors palm springs family style tableswedding reception in palm springs by photographer heather van gaaleevening dusk photo with flash of cake cutting at reception in palm springs
night photo of outdoor reception during full moon at korakia palm springs

The 10 o’clock curfew quickly approached as guest mingled by the fire pits under the largest full moon of the season. Being a destination wedding and Cinco de Mayo, Josh and Ashley rented  a private room at the local bar Sammy G’s to keep the party going.

Sammy G’s is walking distance from the hotel so we headed over there for some outrageous fun. Before leaving I grabbed this shot of the energetic ring bearer not quite ready to leave his mommy’s side.

non traditional wedding photographer heather van gaale

Partying in the reserved room at Sammy G’s (a dive bar) was super fun. Ashley let her hair down and  still looked beautiful after a long day. Josh is an 80s hair cover band so the photos were getting really crazy. I love Josh and Ashley because they understand photography. They have a great appreciation for art and wanted me to capture the gamut from beautiful to the absurd.

black & white wedding photojournalism fine art southern ca photogra[je

I was digging on the guests getting crazy and grabbed a paparazzi style photo of one of the groomsmen (below).

WEDDING CRASHERS!

Although we had signs that this was a private event, there seemed to be a lot of strangers coming into the room. Not just any strangers, strange strangers. Extremely unusual looking people. Josh and Ashley really love photography so don’t let it be a surprise that the couple pictures below are two of their favorites (lol). We blew one up as art for their wall. There were atleast a dozen crashers and we have photos of all them in weird moments.
non traditional wedding photography by artist photographer heather van gaale

Ashley is so naturally beautiful. Its a hilarious combination to see her paired with the the tacky party crashers.

 

Vendors:

first dance lessons by San Diego based Farrah Valdez 

event planning by Celebrations of Joy!

palm springs restaraunt and catering by Lulu

boutique hotel and wedding venue Korakia Pensione

desert and cupcakes by chef Roman Blas from Over the Rainbow Cupcakes and Desert

 

Temecula childrens photography of future FMX and motorcross superstar! Ryder

Notice how the story transitions from toy motorcycle, to bicycle, to quad, to motorcyle with dad, to finally the bliss of freedom when Ryder sits on his own motorcycle! I loved photographing this little freckle face cutie as he dreams of becoming a freestyle and motorcross racer like his dad and flying through the air. He’s so scrumptious and unpredictable!
temecula portrait photographer children heather van gaalechildrens photographer los angeles editorial bestlos angeles best childrens editorial photographernon traditional artistic black and white father son photoscreative childrens photography