Lukas & Suzy International Wedding Photographers » Blog

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  • WELCOME!

    Welcome to the blog! If the banner doesn't make it obvious enough I'll just spill the beans and let you know that we are a full time husband and wife wedding photography team. We love life, God, weddings, and if you slide over our names to the left you'll note a few other things we love.

    We are based out of Los Angeles, and when I say that, I mean our studio is right in the smack dab center of downtown. However, if you start browsing through the blog history you will soon note that we shoot weddings all over the country and world. We put a lot into making our images so I hope you enjoy checking some of them out!

    If you're up for having a great time at your wedding, and our photos have the look you are going for, then feel free to shoot us a note and we would love to chat some more!

    - Lukas and Suzy VanDyke

My first wedding, and how it all started!

Sunday afternoon as I was leaving church I ran into my friends, Damien and Michelle. They live out of state and I haven’t seen them in a few years so it was a little bit of a surprise. However, the point of this post and the significance of our relationship is that they were the first couple to ask me to shoot their wedding. That little question changed my whole life and the world as I see it.

All throughout high school and the first two years of college, I had a little Olympus point and shoot digital camera (This was back in the first generation of digital cameras). When I got to college I started posting a photo on my blog everyday and called it “Picture of the Day”. The funny thing is that this was all before the word “Blog” had been coined, in fact it was back before Facebook, mySpace, Twitter, Xanga or anything else of that kind existed. I was hand writing all the code and figuring things out as I went.

Somehow through a photo I posted of Damien on my blog, he got set up on a blind date with Michelle. Things went well and before I knew it they were engaged. Then came the big question. They asked me if I wanted to shoot their wedding! I loved taking photos and had toyed with the idea of pursuing it professionally. But I knew I didn’t want something I liked doing so much to become just a tedious job, so I thought it would probably be better to stay an amateur. However, I suddenly found myself tingling with excitement at the possibility of shooting this wedding in only 9 months. I told them I would see what kind of equipment and experience I could round up and I would give then an answer in a few months.

I started asking everyone I could think of that took professional photos how I could get some experience and good equipment. One person told me to take a class. So I signed up for a summer class at my college. Someone else told me while I was on a mission’s trip to take a lot of photos. So I borrowed a 35mm SLR and shot a few dozen rolls of film while I was in India the next month. Someone else told me to find someone to apprentice under. So I started asking around till I met my now good friend Louis. He has been shooting professionally full time for 20 some years and let me tag along and take some photos at some weddings with him. Then as God would have it, the college group at my church called me up and asked if I wanted to take over the website and do all the photos for the ministry of over 1000 students. I said I would do it, but I would need a nicer camera. Our pastor decided it was worth the investment and purchased a semi-professional camera and lens for me to use. It was a whirlwind of two months, but God let everything fall into place and I ended up with some school experience, wedding experience, international experience, and a semi-professional SLR camera all in two months. I told Damien and Michelle I would do their wedding!

Five days before the wedding the nightmares started. Everything that could go wrong in my dreams did. I don’t think I have ever been more nervous about doing something. But I borrowed a second camera so I would have a back-up and brought a friend with me to help shoot. I’m getting close to having photographed 150 weddings since then, and my photos have changed a lot. But the old fear of photography becoming tedious hasn’t come true! The more I shoot the more I love it, and I thank God for the chance he gave me to capture His world through my lens and love what I do!

Here’s a few photos from Damien and Michelle’s wedding, as well as a quick one I snapped on Sunday with my iPhone. Crazy they have a couple kids now! Sorry the one from my iPhone is so bad, I should have waited for a smile at least. =). Thanks again for trusting me with your big day and changing my life forever!

iPhone photo: Apple needs to work on their white balance in florescent lights.

October 26, 2009 - 6:20 pm

Heidi Ower - I had no idea that was your first wedding. I was there. I love those two. How fun to learn that was your first wedding! You did a great job. Obviously you were destined to be a photographer.

October 26, 2009 - 8:30 pm

Dan Swiger - Lukas,
Love your story of how God led & provided. How each step was ordered.
My genesis was of course different, but almost a bookend to yours.
After putting the film camera away after Vietnam, almost 35 years later got inspired to make photographs again.
Similarly, found an event I wanted to cover, contacted the guy, and ended up becoming the official photog.
Got published (once!) but as I told you, mainly stick to landscapes.
But I keep my day job!
Your own wedding story was a sweet story & a reminder of how it was for me as a father.

Father of the bride. Laura & Charles Bailey
Dan Swiger

October 26, 2009 - 9:46 pm

Monique - I remember this time in your life! Glad we hooked you and Louis up! We love all of your work and are always amazed at your awesomeness!

November 18, 2009 - 1:57 pm

Damien - Thanks for posting! Ive been back from CA for three weeks and this is the first chance I’ve had to read the post, Great Post. Thanks for sharing the full story, I remember I was so greatful that you took our pictures for us they were such a blessing, I have one of them hanging framed in the living room, you did an awesome job, no one looking at them would know it wasnt the 151st wedding you did instead of the first! Ha, well thanks agian bro, and congrats on the marriage! Now there is only one left in the 040404 club…. take care and make sure you let us know when your out in DC next,

Damien

March 29, 2010 - 6:37 am

Brian Powell - I never came anywhere close to getting lighting that good on my first wedding! …but I didn’t have a mentor or photo classes; that would’ve been helpful. Thanks for sharing the story!
Brian

April 14, 2010 - 7:15 am

Lukas VanDyke Fine Art Photography» Blog Archive » The Sanchez Family – Glen Echo Park, Maryland - [...] article has a little bit of a history about how I became a photographer which you can check it out here. At the time I wrote the post I had just seen Damien in passing and was only able to snap a quick [...]

June 17, 2010 - 10:40 pm

Ashley - That’s a beautiful beginning, I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. Your work inspired Michael and I to invest in a digital SLR so we can take nice pictures on our honeymoon. Our pictures are still not VanDyke quality but they are much better than those from our point and shoot. :)

Lukas and Susannah: Wedding (my wedding)

First of all I just need to say that my wedding is by far my favorite wedding of all the ones I have been to. Aside from getting to marry my best friend, it had all the aspects which I like and none of the ones which have no meaning to me.

Second I need to answer the questions which I think I got asked more then anything else. “Who’s doing your photos?” Well a year or so ago through mutual friend’s recommendations I started reading Bill Blakey’s blog and have really liked his work. So Suzy and I were both super excited when we found he had our date available. Be sure to check his site for his story of the day! (all images on this post are his, so please don’t remove any without permission from Bill)

When Suzy and I first started planning our wedding, we decided that there are so many traditions prevalently used that they often become meaningless, trite additions creating needless formality. I won’t say that I am against candle lighting, and foot washings, and the seating of the parents, and bouquet/garter tosses, and everyone wearing matching clothes, and cake cutting, and sand pouring, and the first dance, and the father-daughter dance, and the money dance, and the best man toast, and the guestbook etc… All the traditions can be a great part of your wedding as long as they are something YOU want to do and something that has meaning to YOU.

For our wedding we only wanted a few things: we wanted to keep it short and simple, we wanted it outside, and we wanted our immediate family there. All of our family from around the country came out early for some family events together the days leading up to the wedding, all of which were very fun and special. The night before the wedding we took some family photos, ate some cake, watched a slideshow of us when we were little, danced, and even had a stand up comedian. This left the wedding day with no stress, ready to highlight the most important thing: the “wedding” (the part where we exchange vows and get wed). So here is a brief synopsis of our day…

Suzy’s family had rented a beach house on the Silverstrand beach in Oxnard for the week they were here in LA. So early Thursday morning we all drove out to meet there. Suzy had spent the night at the beach house, so I got there a little early and went out on the sand with some gifts I had gotten her. Shortly after I arrived she came out and we saw each other for the first time. For me it was really important that we got a few minutes alone to see each other and be able to talk before the wedding. So when I turned around and saw her coming out on the sand it was one of the best moments of the day! After we had a few minutes Suzy brought me inside and performed a song she had written for me on the piano. (The song was a surprise and I think this was the only time all day I teared up).

After she finished the song, everyone except Suzy, her dad and the bridesmaids walked out on the sand and stood in a group. My friend Patrick started playing “Love Story” by Taylor Swift on his acoustic guitar and all the bridesmaids came walking out on the sand. Suzy had 7 bridesmaids, and I had 3 groomsmen. We didn’t pick out bridesmaids dresses or tuxes, we just had everyone in the bridal party wear something to their liking (and our approval) in brown tones. All the guys wore vests, and the girls whatever they liked. It was so nice that everyone could feel and look great in clothes that they picked out. I love the eclectic semi synchronized look. As Patrick finished his first song and the bridesmaids arrived, the whole group formed an aisle out in the middle of the beach. Patrick began “I don’t want to be just friends” and Suzy and her dad came walking out and joined me. Her dad took Suzy’s purity ring off her left ring finger and moved it to her right hand, and gave her hands to me. The significance of this was that we had both saved ourselves for the purity of marriage.

Then our pastor Rick Holland spoke on marriage for a few minutes and we exchanged vows. The vows were followed by some silent prayer closed by my brother, Sam (best man) and Jessica (one of Suzy’s best friends). Finally Rick pronounced us man and wife and we kissed (a couple times).

After the kiss, we took a group photo of everyone there and then Bill did some photos of us while everyone went to a private, beach-view room at the fabulous Pierpont Inn for brunch. I couldn’t wait to change our status on Facebook, so to parallel our engagement party, we had “the changing of the facebook status” at brunch. We then opened it up for anyone who wanted to toast. Most of the bridal party and a number of others toasted and then we ran out to the car as everyone waved goodbye.

Sweet, simple, perfect, and we are married! =)

More thoughts and photos to come in future posts.

October 21, 2009 - 4:53 pm

Lizzie Morales - Awww i love these pictures!

October 21, 2009 - 5:27 pm

Adrienne - Absolutely perfect you two. It’s soooo YOU! Congrats and God Bless!

October 21, 2009 - 8:20 pm

Jenn Hildebrand - Congratulations!!! Suzy you look so pretty!

October 21, 2009 - 9:11 pm

Victoria Swanson - Your pictures are amazing. They look like something out of a magazine. I love how you two made the occasion completely your own. You will look back on the day and remember it as fun (not burdensome as some weddings seem to become–I’m not speaking from experience. I loved my wedding!). Congratulations! And as much fun as the wedding was, being newlyweds is so much more fun :).

October 21, 2009 - 9:12 pm

sarah isaac - beautiful! thanks for sharing the story of your wedding along with the pictures. i LOVE the simplicity!!! God bless your marriage!

October 22, 2009 - 10:13 am

bethany - CONNNNNNNGRATULATIONS!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) :) it’s really really cool to hear about your wedding & how you two chose to make it about YOU… and it’s funny because another wellknown wedding photographer (jessica claire) has been posting about her wedding and how they did or didnt do some of the same things. (like the bridesmaids all chose their dresses, etc). congrats!!!! :)

Jeff & Brooke: Wedding

A few days before I got married I had the pleasure of shooting Jeff and Brooke’s wedding. For me it was kind of that last little kick of excitement I needed to get me super excited for me own wedding only 5 days later. I have a lot more thoughts on my wedding, but since I shot this one before mine I will post it first!

A few things about the day that make me smile when I think about them:

- The the look on Jeff’s face when Brooke first came out to see him.
- The wedding party during some of the photos we took.
- The song by two of the bridesmaids during the ceremony. (it had everyone laughing)
- In-n-out catering the wedding
- The cake cutting (Everyone had their own cake! Way to be original!)
- People dressing up for the photo booth.
- Jeff and Brooke just leaving with out telling anyone. Love it! =).

Make sure to check out the Storybook Slideshow

October 21, 2009 - 6:22 pm

Carolyn Turpin - Love you Brooke & Jeffrey, what fabulous photo’s & slide show of a fabulous day! Aunt Carolyn

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