“It’s almost as if this photo redo was divinely planned.”
Set in the Sierra Palona Mountains this stunning anniversary photoshoot featuring Oliver and Phoenix attired in chic all-white formal wear, truly captured the spirit of their wedding day five years ago.
After initially enlisting a photographer to capture the first magical moments after their wedding, the Ballentine’s were disappointed and heartbroken with the final results. But… Better was waiting.
Photographed by Porter House La, the Ballentine’s mountainside photo shoot, gave the couple a chance to celebrate their anniversary, reminisce about their family, and to share their unique story that even disappointing circumstances can eventually work out for the better.
To see more of the beautiful Ballentine’s and the gorgeous, mountain landscape scroll through the gallery below!
- Couple: Oliver and Phoenix Ballentine
Tell us about the inspiration for your family shoot
We are avid travelers and have taken many trips together as a couple since we started dating. When we were planning our destination wedding, we selected Palm Springs, CA. We chose the location because it had some of the items on our checklist: picturesque landscapes and warm weather for our early November wedding date. When we were married, we negotiated with our wedding photographer to do a second-day shoot after the wedding day in a remote location with the mountains in the background. Think tumbleweeds and vast areas of natural desert land juxtaposed against our formal wedding attire. Our goal was to have an editorial spread of photos instead of the traditional wedding day pics at the venue.
When our pictures returned, we were thoroughly disappointed by the photographer’s end product. He completely missed our overall “vision” and didn’t produce the images we wanted. We were heartbroken.
Fast forward five years later, we made plans to visit and celebrate our fifth anniversary back in Palm Springs–this time with our daughters. Our thought was to recreate our memories and incorporate our girls into the shoot. For this second chance, we wanted to dedicate more time to finding a photographer who better understood our vision and was knowledgeable about shooting people of color. The original photographer had the most challenging time balancing my husband’s darker skin against my lighter tone.
For our anniversary shoot, we went all out. We enlisted designer 828 Collection, who created my dream dress in three weeks. This was important to me because I wanted to work with her on my wedding dress. A personal tailor from Suit Supply suited my groom to perfect proportions. We found dresses for our girls on Etsy. And to top it all, some dear friends recommended the photographer, Porter House LA.
From our initial consultation with Porter House, we hit it off. He understood our vision and articulated the mood and the vibe we wanted from the start. Although we were five years and two kids away from our wedding in 2015, we could still pull off that sexy editorial look we always wanted. It was essential for us to capture on film that we are sexy and dope parents. Porter House made it happen! It’s almost as if this photo re-do was divinely planned. We often think that our wedding shoot could have been a major disappointment so that we could do it this way five years later. Now we have the pictures we’ve always wanted and in the exact location. I wore my dream dress, yet this time we shared the experience with our girls.
How do you balance your family and work?
Just like the African proverb warns, it takes a village. We are blessed to have both sets of grandparents living in Chicago, so it helps, especially during Covid-19, that we could form a little pod of care for our children. Our youngest daughter was born in mid-March, at the top of the Covid craziness. Having family support has been imperative as my husband’s work is essential, requiring him to work outside of the home daily. Staying organized and creating routines for the girls also helps add as much normalcy to their day as possible.
Favorite things to do as a family?
Our absolute favorite thing to do as a family is travel. Our eldest daughter Maxxwell had gone on 50 flights before she turned two. In fact, we travel so often that we created an Instagram page, @12trips12months, to document the year we took a trip each month to celebrate my 40th birthday. Some of the places we’ve visited include Mexico, Jamaica, New Orleans, and Miami. With the onset of Covid, we have had to curb our travels, which is another reason this trip to California was so special. To celebrate our fifth anniversary, our friends and family came together for a weekend of fun and festivities. There were safe activities all weekend. All our original wedding food vendors provided meals as we caught up as a family and had a much-needed respite from the crazy year we had up to that point. Even though it was only a weekend-long, it was just what we needed to help us make it through to the end of the year.