Wedding Portraits at the Wright Ranch in Malibu


Writing this entry feels like an excerpt from my journal. Two days after Jackie and Skylar’s DTLA Grass Room wedding in Los Angeles we hopped in our Jeep and drove to Malibu, California for their portrait session. We travelled down the Pacific Coast Highway taking in the authentic California coastline views and then proceeded to climb the winding roads up the mountains of Santa Monica. Being from Alberta, I’m no stranger to death-defying cliffside drives but this one certainly reminded me of all those road trips through the Rockies when I was growing up out West. The nostalgia of it all combined with our reeling emotions of the recent wedding day really had me appreciating the small in-between moments of this once in a lifetime experience.

As you drive into the Wright Ranch you turn the corner and everything unfolds in front of you, like a whole other world suddenly revealing itself right before your very eyes. At first you see the stunning minimalist architecture of the building, then the vintage trailer literally built into the cliffside, and as you getting even closer the California valley fills your field of view. A panoramic view of Malibu, the ocean, and the sky all appear at once, and it rendered me utterly speechless.

As a photographer and curator I have been heavily influenced by architecture and it’s ability to influence how we engage with a space. The Wright Ranch creates an accessibility that allows you to explore wherever and whatever peaks your interest. We were lucky enough to be there with the bride and groom as well as their families and bridal party who really embraced the whole experience. Before we got started, I stood back and observed. It was so fascinating to watch each of them explore different spaces of the ranch and some of them even headed off on their own to take it all in.

The experience of being up on top of the world in California was one in a million. I don’t have many words for it other than an it was an overwhelming outpouring of creative energy. Jackie and Skylar had fallen in love with the ranch when they first saw it and you could see how much it meant to them to be there. They wanted to take it all in, exploring every nook of the minimalist space and the ground that surrounded it. We played a bit of their favourite music as they shared their quiet and intimate moments in the ranch, it was enough to give you the good kind of chills knowing that there was an authentic and engaging experience unfolding before you.

We were able to slow things down and shoot the session on digital and analog film. Shooting both 35mm and medium format, we were really able to capture the feeling of the environment and the emotional energy that transpired from being in such an awe-inspiring landscape. Brian shot medium format 6x7 slide film to create mini cinematic frames to transport us back to that moment in time is something that can never be replicated by digital photography and a big reason why we still shoot so much analog film in our wedding photography and personal work. Being able to look at the slide film by simply holding it up to a light really allows you to connect with the images and it’s a little window into our experience. I’m excited we get to share that with the bride and groom.

Our time at the Wright Ranch felt like a low-key celebration of the entire experience in California. It was the last time that Jackie and Skylar were surrounded by the people that are most important to them and a chance to just take a deep breath and let everything sink in after a whirlwind of emotion on the wedding day.

I feel like maybe I will wake up tomorrow and this will have all been a dream. This experience holds a very dear place in my heart and it will always be a fond memory, not only as a wedding photographer, but as a human being. What we have left are our negatives, some slides, the photographs, and an unforgettable story to tell.


Photo Location: Wright Ranch, Malibu
Collaborating Photographer: Brian Bettencourt, 3B Photography