Nira Featured On “Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris”

Happy October, everyone! It’s fall (even though the weather doesn’t say so in California…) and time to turn over a new leaf, don’t ya think?

This week, our own Nira Luna was featured on NBC’s new variety show called “Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris.” Episode 3 features Cobie Smulders (HIMYM) and Taran Killam (SNL), and a very keep-it-cool Nira. We hope you get a kick out of watching!

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 7.53.16 AM



We’ve heard the uproar and it is our duty to set the record straight. Amber Events LOVES photography. Be it film or digital is besides the point. We respect and love all our vendors!

Our initial goal was to educate readers, specifically brides, about the topic. Our process includes inviting “guest” writers to tell us more about what they know! It’s understandable that content can get awry and fact vs opinion in a specialized field can put us in the hot seat, especially when we don’t filter content from our writers. You can imagine how much we’ve learned about “Bokeh” in the last 48 hours! It’s great to be educated on topics that aren’t your own.

We also wanted to take the time to extend deep appreciation for the photographers who addressed the previous post in a professional manner with us personally. Unfortunately some have resorted to cyber bullying which forced us to deactivate social media comments.

To wrap up this 2 part feature, please enjoy acclaimed photographer and Amber Events friend, JUSTINE UNGARO.



The previous article on the Amber Events Blog caused something of a stir amongst professional wedding photographers across the internet and left both digital and film shooters scratching our collective photographer head, hard…followed by a significant amount of rather violent face-palming. Once I cleaned the blood off, I thought it might be a good idea to write a follow up piece. As a photographer who works with the Amber Events team, I have been tasked with the responsibility of responding to an article that was at best extremely biased but also terribly misinformed in the fact department. So here goes.

First off, there is certainly nothing wrong with choosing film as one’s photographic medium, and it isn’t news that film photography has experienced something of a revival over the past couple of years. New photographers who have had all of the benefits of learning photography using digital cameras have been dusting off the medium format film bodies that we veterans mostly discarded about a decade or so ago. Seasoned photographers who cut our photography teeth on film know exactly what it looks like, its characteristics and its dreaminess/ creaminess/ whatever. And yet the majority of us have made the conscious decision to leave film behind for something apparently (according to the previous author) much worse, so much worse that we are (according to him) no longer considered pros because digital photography has ruined our ability to think, to compose, to create. All we have to do now is hold the button down to spray, and then pray for a few keepers. I hope that anyone with half a brain can weed through this logic to realize that it is simply not true. A film vs. digital debate is entirely unnecessary because they are simply two different mediums in the same genre, end of story. So here is where I get confused. If I am perfectly capable of shooting film but I choose not to, then there must be some benefits to digital photography that the previous post has overlooked?

At first I considered doing a similar experiment and putting digital and film head-to-head to show the superiority of digital in various situations. But then I realized I would have to wait too long for the film to come back from the lab and that ended that idea. So it follows that film is most definitely not faster. Film also does not mutate inside the camera, it goes through a chemical process and it is ultimately the lab that corrects and adjusts the skin tones and colors to make them look the way they do, during the scanning process when the lab turns the film image into what? A digital image…made entirely of pixels, just like one out of a digital camera. Other suggested “unique” properties of film were “bokeh” which I’m sorry to say has nothing to do with film and everything to do with lens optics. The small differences in the images that the previous author posted were in fact due to a difference in negative/ sensor size since he opted to compare medium format film with DSLR images(apples and oranges).

Caption: Digital can go just as large as film, in fact it can go bigger. Case in point, this digital image of Amber Events bride, Erin Robinson.

So why do the majority of wedding photographers choose digital these days? Ultimately for me the principle and most important reason is because digital allows me to be a better photographer. That’s right, for the way I like to work, I can shoot better and faster with today’s digital cameras. I can go from the darkest places to the brightest ones and almost instantly change my settings to transition painlessly between one to the other and back. The fast-paced nature of today’s weddings demand this sort of flexibility. Back when I shot with film only, the use of tripods and/ or artificial flash was essential in darker situations we can now glide through effortlessly with digital while keeping the ambiance of a scene intact. The fact that digital cameras can pretty much see in the dark has increased the quality and artistic nuances of wedding photography by leaps and bounds over the past decade.

Might we also consider the nature and constraints of most weddings? On the website of an all film wedding photographer, what kind of images are you likely to see? Ethereal portraits and delicious details in glowing natural light, right? But where is the wedding? Where are the images in the dark church? During the reception after dark? Of people hugging and crying and laughing and experiencing the full range of emotions that people experience on a wedding  day? Things that often don’t take place in only in the presence of beautiful, natural light. They tend to be more or less missing, right? And why is this? Throughout the majority of a wedding, there is movement…and medium format film cameras with one focus point (vs up to 61 focus points on DSLRs) are not able to focus with the ease and speed of a digital SLR. They are also heavy and are simply not built for photojournalism. I’ve been photographing weddings for 13 years and all of my best work so far has been on digital cameras. Ultimately though I would chalk that up to experience and not my chosen medium. But digital has allowed me more room for experimentation and for learning that film ever did.

As if the ability to shoot better and faster wasn’t enough, I wanted to add that another huge benefit of digital photography is the availability of instant backup. We are incredibly fortunate that most current pro-level digital cameras include dual memory card slots. That means that a photographer can record to 2 sources at one time. So in the rare instance that one card fails, there is already a backup copy.  Within a day or so of a wedding, most digital photographers will have up to 4 full redundant copies of a wedding. With film, all of your eggs are in one basket. And even the most careful of film photographers can’t guarantee the safety of those images. What if their camera bag is stolen along with all of the exposed film? There go all of your dreamy wedding images, poof, gone forever. Assuming that all of the film makes it home with the photographer, it now has to be transported to a lab somehow. Some film photographers might have the benefit of living close enough to a great lab to be able to drive them over, but more will need to ship them. Now your precious memories are in the hands of UPS, FedEx or USPS. Maybe that doesn’t sound so awful until you’ve experienced the unimaginable. Back in 2005, I had a very close call with a wedding client’s 30 rolls of film which was lost in FedEx limbo for a period of a couple of weeks. When I realized it was missing, I was absolutely devastated and in between fits of crying, I contemplated exactly how I might end my own life if that package never turned up. Slightly dramatic perhaps but I couldn’t fathom living in a world where I might have to deliver such devastating news to a bride and groom. Fortunately though it was found and I was allowed to live on, but it was soon after this fiasco that I decided to transition to 100% digital photography. Some things are just not worth the risk.

Ultimately I could go on and on but the moral of the story is that shooting film in itself does NOT make one a better or more desirable photographer, just as shooting digital does not make one automatically better either. It all comes down to the experience and vision of the photographer. And if I were to make any kind of sweeping generalization myself, it would be to avoid taking a chance on an inexperienced photographer for your wedding day. A true knowledgable pro is going to use whatever tools are necessary to get the job done to the best of their ability, to deliver every single time, under pressure, with bad weather, in the dark, you name it. Don’t be swayed by propaganda, make your decisions based on the types of images that speak to you in a real and profound way. Sometimes you have to wade through the glossy prettiness of the wedding industry to get to the real stuff…but it’s there if you look, memorialized gloriously by wedding photographers everywhere who quietly watch and create your memories for you.

and Justine, THAT, is why you are a rockstar.


Film vs. Digital

Hey, readers! It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? This summer has been filled with a lot of new experiences for the A. E. team, and today we’re bringing you a special feature on film and digital photography. We got together with photographer (and today’s guest blogger) Travis Kaenel in Old Town Pasadena to give you an insight on the two. As you scroll down, you’ll see film images (processed by Richard Photo Lab) on the left and their digital  counterparts on the right. Can you see the difference…?



by Travis Kaenel

If you’re an engaged couple trying to figure out the best photographer to capture your wedding, you can eliminate 90% of the field by focusing on the best of the best: film shooters. People who opt for their wedding to be captured on film choose to do so for two reasons: 1) They’re a couple that wants someone who REALLY knows what the heck they’re doing, and/or 2) they’re a couple that’s artistic, and values the artistic elements that film has to offer versus. digital. First, let’s talk about the look of film. Film is very distinctive. One of the most common ways people distinguish between film and digital is that they say film looks almost 3D, because of the crazy depth of field it offers (‘Depth of field’ is when the background is out of focus, and the subject is in focus). Digital, on the other hand, looks flat compared to film. This is why there’s a multi-million dollar industry dedicated to making digital images look like film images. The perfect example is all those filters Instagram and VSCO (visit their website, and you’ll see that their whole mission statement is to make digital images look like film) have for those pics you snap on your phone. Film is simply more desirable than digital images. This is partially due to the fact that film is organic. The way film works is that there are little crystals on that strip of plastic, held together by gelatin, that react to light in a special way. Digital cameras have a sensor that records the way light comes through the camera. Film actually mutates inside the camera in response to the world outside of it. It’s super cool.


Now it’s time for a vocabulary lesson, and today’s word is bokeh. No, not like a bunch of flowers. Bokeh is how the stuff that’s out of focus in an image, looks. There’s no comparison for the way bokeh looks on film as opposed to how it looks on digital. You might’ve wondered at some point why the pics you take on your phone look weird, and not like how the scene in front of you looks. For me, the most obvious answer is that EVERYTHING in your phone pics is in focus! That’s not how we naturally see the world. There’s the thing we’re focused on, and then there’s everything else in our peripheral vision. Professional photography, both film and digital, offer a more natural way of capturing a scene, but the thing that sets film apart, again, is the bokeh. It’s super creamy, like cream cheese frosting. Kurt Boomer’s photos look like they were painted by Claude Monet. It’s crazy. You have to check him out. He’s a film shooter. 😉


The bokeh isn’t the only benefit of film. The colors and contrast that film offers straight out of the camera are unreal. I say that it’s unreal because I’ve been a digital photographer for most of my career, and I’m just used to having to edit every single photo I’ve ever taken. With film, I don’t have to. If you take the same picture with the same settings on film and then on digital, with no editing, the difference is crazy. Film doesn’t need any retouching. Digital on the other hand… Well, the colors on film are so rich you swear you could lick them off the page. This benefits couples in two ways: 1) You end up with photos worthy of being displayed Abercrombie & Fitch style, and 2) you get them back way faster than digital images. I know of digital photographers who don’t give their clients back their pics sometimes six months after the wedding. With film, it’s ready in a couple of days or weeks, depending on the lab.


Since there are no pixels involved with film, you can blow up an image huge without distorting it and making it all pixelated. There’s small format film (35mm), medium format (6 x 4.5 centimeters—which is why the camera I use is called a Contax 645, because of the size of the film) and large format film (which is the kind you see in 1920’s period movies where the guy is behind a huge tripod camera with a sheet over his head). Wedding and fashion photographers will use medium format film because it’s bigger, so you can blow up an image the size of a building without distorting it. Large format is even better, but large format film only comes as slides that you have to insert and eject for every exposure, so it’s not ideal for a fast-paced situation like a wedding, unlike medium format cameras that wind the film automatically.


Now that we’ve shifted from talking about the artistic benefits of film to the practical ones, it’s worth mentioning that film shooters are simply better photographers than digital ones. With digital, there’s no harm in just holding down your finger on the shutter button and taking thousands of pictures, because it’s free. With film however, every time you push the button, that’s money spent. What this means is that a film shooter cares about every single frame, whereas digital photographers might take a picture simply to see what the picture will look like so that they can make the necessary adjustments for the next one. A film shooter on the other hand, will already know what the picture is going to look like. That’s because he’s taken the time to study his equipment and how light interacts with it. You can’t delete a film photo. A film shooter will compose a scene, whereas a digital shooter will correct a scene. There’s a phrase: “Spray and Pray.” What this means is that digital shooters will take tons of photos and pick out the best ones from the batch, hoping that they got a couple good ones. A film shooter makes sure that every frame is a good one.


Another practical aspect of film, especially for weddings, is how forgiving film is with different kinds of light. When a bride is getting ready, there’s generally a combination of natural light from a window, and man-made light from the bathroom or something. These are completely different when it comes to photography, and digital has a hard time figuring out what to do with the different wavelengths. What this means is that the photographer will be sitting behind his computer color correcting for days, just so that the bride’s dress doesn’t come out purple, yellow, green, or blue. With film, what you see is what you get. No purple dresses, and pics in a couple weeks.


So film is both more beautiful, and more practical. You get more depth, creamy bokeh, rich colors, and you get them back faster. Not to mention the guy or girl behind the camera is a pro, who’s generally going to care more about each image, and is more artistic. After all, photography is an art. Film photography is a fine art.

Travis–you’re the MAN!

Get to know Lacey!



A few years ago, I had just finished a Wedding Planner online certification program and I wanted to get hands on experience. I researched top rated wedding planning companies in the Los Angeles area and Amber Events had 5 stars across the board. I reached out to Nira and we met at an adorable cafe in Studio City called Aroma. We talked all about the wedding industry and I became an intern for Amber Events. The rest is history.


One of my most memorable weddings has to be my very first wedding I worked. It was a smaller wedding at the Smog Shoppe venue in Culver City. The bride and groom, Kat and Aaron, both worked for a toy company and they incorporated many fun and sentimental elements into their special day. They had old family photos strung by clothespins all around, pom pom balls as confetti and old fashioned coke bottles as treats and favors. They were such a sweet couple and they seemed to have such a good time throughout the whole day. It was a beautiful wedding. 


The most important element of my future wedding will be having all my family and closest friends in attendance. My grandfather is a pastor so it would be so special if he could perform the ceremony. I would also love a live jazz band to play during the dinner hour and a great DJ to get the party started afterward.


My dream honeymoon would be to go on a two week trip starting off in London. We would take a ride on the London Eye ferris wheel, tour Buckingham Palace and of course have some bangers and mash. Then we would hop over to France via train. It’s a must to visit all of the historical landmarks such as The Eiffel Tower, The Notre Dame Cathedral and The Louvre. I would try as many cafes and bakeries as possible along the way. Then we would end our trip in Italy. We would eat as much pasta as we could handle and take gondola rides through the canals after seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Sistine Chapel.


Some of my other hobbies and interests are 5K Color Runs, reading, creating wedding decor for my Etsy site and my adorable 7 month nephew named Jax.


I would describe my style as very versatile and always changing. I don’t have one particular style that I wear all of the time simply because there are just too many cute clothes and shoes that come in so many different varieties. I do have a few staples that I always have in my closet such as a good pair of black high heels, an LBD, at least three good flannel shirts, a great printed mini skirt and dressy coat for date nights. I always accessorize with stud earrings, two or three bracelets, a simple necklace and a cross body bag to store my makeup goodies.


I have two absolute must haves. I cannot leave my house without a shiny lip gloss and my Outrageous Curl mascara from Sephora. It’s the best mascara ever.


If I could be any animal, I would definitely be a cheetah. Hands down. They are extremely fierce, incredibly fast and extraordinarily beautiful creatures. Plus, I absolutely love cheetah print.


Hmm, this is a hard one. Would I chose Superman, a supernaturally strong hero who gets his strength from the sun and saves the world from the bad guy trying to take over the world, or would I chose Captain America, a superhero who is the absolute best soldier in all capacities? He stands for traditional American values and is the courageous leader of the other Avengers. They both have serious pro’s and it’s just too hard to pick.

>>>Love ya, Lace!

DIY Feather Boutonnière

IMG_0207Twenties soirees will never go out of style! If you’re hosting your own Gatsby- or art deco-themed event, why not create your own feather boutonnières to add a special touch to an already special evening? Because no actual flowers are used, you can create them as far in advance as you’d like, without having to store them in a refrigerator. Read on to see how we did it!



  • Feathers (black, white, and a pop of pattern/color!)
  • Embellished buttons
  • Floral tape
  • Glitter
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Spray adhesive
  • Old magazines or newspapers (to protect your work surface)



  1. Trim feathers to size, about three to four inches in length. You may need to peel some of the “leaves,” so that the stems remain exposed.
  2. Layer feathers; what we did was alternate black and white ones, then add the yellow, spotted one on top.
  3. Wrap stems of feathers in floral tape. When wrapping, be sure to pull floral tape taut to activate the glue.
  4. Lay wrapped feathers on top of a magazine (or newspaper), and using your hand to protect the feathers, apply spray adhesive to the stem.
  5. Add glitter to the stem while the adhesive is still wet.
  6. Use a hot glue gun to apply a dot of glue to the back of your buttons before pressing them onto the middle of the stems.
  7. And, REPEAT! Carefully stick a pin into the stem so you won’t forget later. 😉




G e t   s o c i a l