Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival

hot air balloon over lake skinner with reflection by heather van gale


In love with photographing balloons!! They are so magical. I took this photo at the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival. I have many shots of the vibrant balloons that filled the air against the contrasting backdrop of the deep blue summer sky. However, Im more drawn to this subdued atmospheric and dreamy image where the boundaries of earth and sky melt together and my thoughts get  lost somewhere in between.

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).


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.



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

Youth portraits Class of 2012

Photographs of Sophia that doubled as a senior portrait session and a modeling portfolio. Sophia has an FMX track that is insane! on her property. I love girls like Sophia who can get on a dirt bike one minute and then rock her high heels the next. Our next shoot of Sophia she’ll be riding her dirt bike keeping up with boys.


senior portrait photographer temecula modeling portfolioSophia is graduating from Great Oaks High School in Temecula today! Congratulations Sophia, the world is waiting for you!!

My Boys


teenage youth boys with long hair grunge

My boys are so rad. They have long hair but they say they aren’t hippies. They’re not into the peace and love thing but they are anti-establishment, which makes me so proud.

I really like the meditative quality and quietness of these images. Im putting these on my wall large.  No “fire-place” portraits at our house.


Temecula Chef Volker Lutz

The beautiful and sexy wine blog Must featured one of my portraits of Chef Volker Lutz. The blog by friends Michael & Karon Cartwright celebrates art, wine and cuisine in Temecula & Southern California. Check it out to stay updated on who’s who in wine country.

chef portrait by wine photographer Heather Van Gaale
Temecula chef, Volker Lutz, tosses the pasta during a food and wine pairing at the beautiful Weins Winery

Temecula wine country – world of wine event – california

The annual World of Wine event in Temecula wine country, hosted by the Temecula Wine Growers association included the participation of over 30 wineries! The weather was a perfect 80 degrees and we had a blast going on the self-guided tour taking pics and sampling food and wine.  Bummer there isn’t a compartment in my camera bag for a wine glass. Luckily I had my friend Tina there to help with my equipment and hold my glass of wine while I snapped pics.

We started our day in the cool barrel room at Ponte Winery. They had a fabulous pairing with Pinot Grigio and crab cakes with cilantro!

temecula wine country travel food and wine photos by heather van gaale of the wow event by the temecula wine growers association

Longshadow ranch (pictured above bottom row)  has a casual old-west vibe  with Belgian draft horses, a ranch style picnic area and a barn that is awesome for wedding and events. The bbq pork and potato salad paired well with the syrah and their country style atmosphere. I even spotted the first growth of the season on a young vine.

Down a quiet dirt road surrounded by citrus groves and vineyards, Lorimar Winery (pictured below) held open barrel tastings! The excitement & anticipation of their grand opening coming soon was in the air as everyone sported black mustaches in honor of the Tuscan style winery. We had a blast hanging out there and sampling their red wines straight from the barrels.

Pictured below right is co-owner Lawrie, with the stunning new Lorimar Winery in the distance.

temecula winery lorimar at the world of wine event by photographer heather van gaalelorimar winery photo by wine photographer heather van gaale at barrl tasting event wow


chef vulker lutz chef portrait for food and wine temecula photographer vangaale


We also enjoyed visting Wiens Family Cellars. It was fascinating watching  Chef Vulker Lutz  work his magic for the perfect pasta and red wine pairing. If any drops I’m using the five second rule!

Some wineries participated in the wine cork art contest.  Wiens vespa cork sculpture gave a super fun photo op for guests to enjoy! No drinking and driving Tina!!

live coach tina fin at wiens winery by temecula travel photographer heather van gaale

Pictured below is the always happening South Coast Winery Resort and Spa.They served Dutch Gouda from my family’s cheese farm The Winchester Cheese Company, along with a fig salsa and duck pruciotto. The food was presented perfectly and begged for a photo, I took a few but my camera was drawn to the chef! I love photographing chefs! I’m a sucker for a great cook. Especially cute ones with an official hat and tattoos.

chef with white hat and clean white background stock photo arranging food chef portrait

temecula event photographer travel food and wine photos

Wilson Creek Winery (pictured above) served an amazing duck taco with a mandarin salsa paired with peach champagne..oh my! They also had an incredible Lion sculpure meticulously crafted out of cork by Jeff who works at the winery. Rosie Wilson’s friend was chillin’ with his shades on happy to hear that pork wasn’t on today’s menu.

Temecula is like Disneyland for wine lovers, you need the three day pass!! It is impossible to get to all the wineries in one day. We only made it to 10 wineries. Fortunately WOW is a two day event.

By the time we got to De Portola wine trail the event was ending but the lighting was great. We pulled over and did an impromptu shoot in front of the super scenic and vibrant hot pink flowers at Leonesse until dusk.

scenic pic of temecula wine country by wine photographer heather van gaale