Damion Hamilton: Napa Valley Wedding Photographer bio picture
  • Thanks so much for coming to our page! We hope you have a few laughs, lots of smiles, and maybe even have to do the fast blink to avoid some tears. We feel like the most blessed people on earth to get to do a job we love and work with some of the most awesome people out there. We are so lucky! We are very selective about our clients and take a limited number of events per year so that we can give them the very best service possible. It's important to us that you get the kind of personalized service you deserve. We consider it an honor that someone would choose us to capture their once in a lifetime moments!

Tribute-CHP Officer Kenyon Youngstrom funeral Motorcade-Napa, Ca

It is not very common for me to carry my photo gear with me everywhere I go.  For some reason this morning before I set out for a variety of errands and appointments, I ran back and grabbed my camera case.  I just felt like I was going to need it.  I wasn’t prepared for why.

I am going to keep this simple…because quite frankly this story is tough for me to talk or write about.  I have number of dear friends who serve in the California Highway Patrol, Napa Police and Sheriffs, as well as Fire departments.  They risk their lives daily, so I can live mine peacefully.  Ya know…I  work 10-16 hour days for my family…sometime 10-12 days straight with barely a day off in-between.  Its the cost of owning your own business and doing what you love.  I work very hard….yet it just doesn’t bear comparison to the men and women who leave their homes each day to serve and protect the public, placing their very lives on the line to do so (This includes those serving in our armed forces).  I just cannot fathom this.

Today, as I was returning to Napa from Rutherford, I was preparing to exit Trancas/Redwood road when I saw an American Flag straddled 40 feet up between two Ladder Fire Engines.  I knew immediately what this was for and I knew why I brought my gear.  I pulled into a gas station, jumped out of my car, grabbed 1 camera, three lenses and ran to the bridge.  I arrived at 12:50, while Kenyon’s funeral motorcade came just 5 minutes later.  Timing like that isn’t just luck.  I believe everything happens for a reason and is directly related to our purpose.    Watching our local departments pay their respects was one of the  most moving moments behind the camera I have ever experienced.

The story behind this is too difficult for me to write so I will quote today’s Napa Register on the Story:

“The body of California Highway Patrol Officer Kenyon Youngstrom, who was killed during a traffic stop in Contra Costa County last week, was transported through Napa by motorcade around 1 p.m. Monday.As a tribute, two city of Napa fire trucks parked atop the Trancas Street overpass and draped a flag from their raised ladders as a CHP motorcade passed beneath on Highway 29.

About a dozen motorcycles, a dozen patrol cars, two limos and some three helicopters were part of the procession that was taking Youngstrom’s body to Morrison Funeral Chapel in St. Helena.

Youngstrom, 37, who lived in Cordelia, died Wednesday after he was shot the day before during a traffic stop on Interstate 680 near Alamo. The man suspected of killing Youngstrom, Christopher Boone Lacy, 36, was shot and killed at the scene by Youngstrom’s partner, the Associated Press reported.

Youngstrom, who had worked for the CHP for seven years, was a married father of four children.

Youngstrom’s body is expected to stay at Morrison’s until Thursday when it will be taken by motorcade to Vacaville. A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. at The Mission Church, 6391 Leisure Town Road and a reception will follow in The Mission gymnasium, according to the Vacaville Reporter.

A contingent of CHP officers will be with Youngstrom’s body around the clock until the funeral service, said CHP Sgt. Paul Hurt of the CHP’s Contra Costa Area,.

“We never leave a fallen officer alone. We will stand watch for him until the funeral is over. He will always be in our hearts,” Hurt said. “

 

To my friends who place their lives on the line for my family and our cities daily, we extend our deepest appreciation and thanks for your hard work and sacrifice:

California Highway Patrol:

Officer Mark Rensburger, Officer Joe Courtney, Officer Carl Abernethy

Napa Police:

Officer Ryan Cole

Napa County Sheriff:

Officer John Hallman, Officer Erik Olson

Fire Department:

Fire/EMT John Lane

We love you all and dearly appreciate your service.

To Help and provide financial assistance to Officer Kenyon Youngstrom’s wife and children:

  • Two Bay Area banks have set up accounts to benefit the family of Officer Kenyon Youngstrom: At any Wells Fargo Bank branch, tellers will accept donations for the Kenyon Marc Youngstrom Children’s Benefit Memorial fund. At any Mechanics Bank branch, mention the officer’s name to the teller and direct that funds be contributed to the trust account in his name. Checks payable to “For Benefit of Officer Kenyon Youngstrom” can also be mailed to Mechanics Bank, 1350 North Main Street, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. Wire transfers can be sent to routing number 121102036 and addressed “For Officer Kenyon Youngstrom.”
  • The California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation provides financial assistance to families of fallen officers, http://www.chp11-99.org, 714-529-1199 or email info@chp11-99.org
  • The One Hundred Club of Contra Costa County provides financial assistance to families of firefighters and law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty, http://www.100clubcontracostacounty.org, 707-372-9440.
  • Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc., or COPS, a national nonprofit organization, provides support for surviving families of officers killed in the line of duty plus training for agencies in how to handle tragedies, http://www.nationalcops.org, 573-346-4911

 

 

Damion - September 24, 2012 - 10:36 am

THank you to each and every one who have posted on the comments and shared this link. The comments and thoughts we’ve heard from ordinary citizens and the CHP family and officers from all over are truly humbling. If anything, our sincere hope is that if maybe one picture or one thought will help bring healing to one person, we have done our job. It’s been a privilege and blessing to serve the CHP family during this very difficult time and I truly appreciate all that you have shared from your hearts. We will be posting pictures from the memorial service for Officer Youngstrom very soon and hope that we can help in some small way to give him the honor that is due. In the meantime, God speed to all of the first responders and officers out there in the field every day. THank you!

k* - September 12, 2012 - 11:09 pm

Damion, I’m in tears looking at these images. So powerful and your story about how you just felt you needed your camera that day. Reminds us to always listen to that quiet inner voice…. God is in the details of life and never is that more evident than here. Thank you for capturing this and for sharing.

Leslie - September 12, 2012 - 6:10 pm

Beautiful. Tragic.

Grateful - September 11, 2012 - 6:03 pm

Thank you for giving the family this beautiful tribute to Kenyon. Your words are as moving as your photos.

Jeff Smith - September 11, 2012 - 5:39 pm

Damion,

Thank you for being there to capture these photos. You’re gut feeling to grab your gear happens because of your passion for your work.
I like you have many friends and family who serve our communities, god bless them for what they do.

Jeff Smith

Caroline Potter - September 11, 2012 - 3:19 pm

Thank you for your kind words and lovely pictures.

Lesa Danner - September 11, 2012 - 12:40 pm

Damion,

Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful pictures and honoring yet another fallen officer. I know all to well as as wife of an officer here @ Napa State Hospital what these guys go through day after day to protect each of us all over this Country. Your kind words and appreciation for the hard job these Men and Women are doing is what helps us family members.

JAMES PRICE / CHP CHICO - September 11, 2012 - 9:57 am

I am glad that for whatever reason, you felt that you needed your camera. I worked with Officer Youngstrom for a short time in the Contra Costa Office. Also having worked in the Napa Area, I know the area of the tribute from the local LEO / Fire. Those photos are very moving and they capture the gravity of this terrible tragedy. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day in order to help document this tragedy.

James Price
CHP Officer

Jillian - September 11, 2012 - 7:56 am

Thank you, Damion, for this post. I am a wife of a CHP Sergeant, daughter of an elected Sheriff and a Parole Board Commissioner, niece and granddaughter of SBPD officers, cousin of a CPD officer, sister of a DA. (Yeah, I know, what happened, right? I’m Black Sheep is all I can say.)

I wanted to reach out to you after finding your blog link on FB and say THANK YOU for being there, capturing these moments and sharing them with the public. It helps us all heal.

Jillian

Teresa - September 11, 2012 - 7:30 am

I thank you for taking these wonderful pictures. I have to tell you they immediately brought tears to my eyes. My husband is a retired California Highway Patrol Sergeant and our friend, one of his officers was murdered in the line of duty 6 years ago. I lived through scenes like your pictures show. Through all of the sadness I remember being in the funeral procession and seeing hundreds of bystanders standing along the road ways and saluting as we drove by. The fire department hung a huge American Flag much like the one shown in your pictures. The story is one of tragedy. This act shows how important it is for all to honor the fallen CHP Officer. Every single day I am grateful for the service providing to us by all branches of law enforcement, fire, ambulance as well as military. It is because of great heros like them that we live the lives we live every single day. God Bless Officer Youngstrom and his family as well as his CHP family. They will all need extra prayers and support now. I thank you for this post.

Susan Curtin - September 11, 2012 - 5:45 am

Thank you Sir, for such a beautiful tribute. As as CHP wife, this horrible event hits so close to home. In this day and age where there is so much hatred for law enforcement, so little respect and no gratitude, where not only the public but our state government fights to strip all our state workers, police and firefighters of their pensions and push their retirement age up – your beautiful article and photos brought a ray of light and hope.
I cried as i viewed your beautiful works of art. You caught the moment perfectly and i commend you Sir, and your ability to capture a true, moving story with your camera.
God placed you in the right place at the right time.
With sincere gratitude, I thank you!

joanna thompson - September 11, 2012 - 12:29 am

Beautiful pictures and very heart touching…..

Adam Smith - September 10, 2012 - 11:40 pm

Thank you for sharing the pictures. It means a lot to the many officers that could not be there. Just wanted to say thank you!

Amber Lehman - September 10, 2012 - 10:24 pm

Damion, Thank You for sharing these pictures. My husband was in that motorcade today to escort his friend. Kenyon was an amazing man and even more a wonderful Father to his 4 children. Kenyon holds a special place in my heart.I will miss him dearly.

Jeremy Maurer - September 10, 2012 - 9:07 pm

Amazing images man. Thank you for capturing them for the rest of us to see.

season johnson - September 10, 2012 - 9:01 pm

thank you so much. you have no idea what this means, and how much your thoughtful post means to all of us. your pictures brought tears to my eyes. god bless you :)

Kristen - September 10, 2012 - 8:17 pm

Beautiful story, thank you for the wonderful pics.

Jody Owen - September 10, 2012 - 7:07 pm

Nicely done Damion, thank you

Jenny - September 10, 2012 - 6:33 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this. This hits close to home as my hubby is an 8 year CHP veteran. My heart goes out to this officer’s wife and 4 children.

40 Squared Party! | Damion Hamilton | Bay Area Special Event Photographer

The invitees received their invitations to this special 40th birthday bash via a custom labeled 40 oz bottle of beer, just a tantalizing hint of the fun event to come! Since they were both celebrating their 40th birthday parties, they decided to throw a “40 Squared” soiree at their home, complete with the band that played at their wedding, Super Diamond. Sasha Souza Events designed this party to be a mix of bold, hot colors and patterns and even incorporated an old rickshaw that they found in the couple’s garage.  Rolando Mafnas with Betty Zlatchin Catering did an incredible job of inventing food stations intended to mimic upscale cuisine from multiple food trucks.   Their friends rocked the night away with Super Diamond and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  They even got an extra special treat…his childhood friend gave him back his Hulk Hogan doll from when they were boys, which you’ll see in the pictures! Happy birthday to them both!!

 


Thanks to these incredible vendors for a great event!
Design Company: Sasha Souza Events
Floral Designer: Leah Lowry for Sasha Souza Events
Event Site: Private Estate
Lighting: Got Light?
Entertainment: AEC Marin & Super Diamond

Katie & Dirk’s Vintage Estate Destination Wedding Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Katie and Dirk’s big day! Beginning with their first peek at each other, here are some of the special moments that they shared with their guests, from being joined together at the Vintage Estate to enjoying dining al fresco on a beautiful summer night in the Napa Valley.  Afterwards, the band, Notorious, kept everyone rocking long into the night in the Barrel Room.

Congratulations Katie & Dirk on your beautiful day!! May your marriage be long and full of love and laughter!

 

 

Thank you to these great vendors:

Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Brix

Wedding Venue: Vintage Estates

Wedding Coordinator: Suzy Berberian Weddings

Officiant: Peadar Dalton, Your Ceremony Matters

Hair/Makeup: It’s a Date at the Powder Room

Flowers: Tesoro

Cake: Perfect Endings

Ceremony/Dinner Music: Eloquence String Quartet

Cocktail Hour Bluegrass Band: Bluegrass Stomp

Dancing Music: Notorious

Rentals: Classic Party Rentals and Hartmann Studios

Linens: La Tavola Linen

Katie & Dirk’s Vintage Estate Destination Wedding Part 1 | Damion Hamilton | Napa Wedding Photographer

We don’t typically include rehearsal dinners in our blog posts, but this sweet dinner at Brix Restaurant and Gardens was too cute to not share! Texans Katie & Dirk celebrated their last night of single-hood surrounded by their closest friends and family in the vineyards.  There were smiles, laughs, and memories galore as their guests were treated to delicious cuisine and of course plenty of great wine.  This was all in preparation for the next glorious day, the wedding at Vintage Estate. Katie’s Monique Lhuillier ball gown was light and airy in a textured silk organza and was perfect for her. For a special touch and long lasting tribute, through BlackJack Boots, the groom created a cowboy boot design incorporating the date of their wedding and had custom boots created for himself and both dads. Here’s a little peek at Katie & Dirk’s rehearsal dinner and preparation for their wedding….that should hold you over until we get to the REALLY good stuff including their first peek at each other!

Thank you to these great vendors:

Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Brix

Wedding Venue: Vintage Estates

Wedding Coordinator: Suzy Berberian Weddings

Officiant: Peadar Dalton, Your Ceremony Matters

Hair/Makeup: It’s a Date at the Powder Room

Flowers: Tesoro

Cake: Perfect Endings

Ceremony/Dinner Music: Eloquence String Quartet

Cocktail Hour Bluegrass Band: Bluegrass Stomp

Dancing Music: Notorious

Rentals: Classic Party Rentals and Hartmann Studios

Linens: La Tavola Linen

Our Hot Air Balloon Adventure!

I thought we would take a break from all the “work” and share a really cool experience with you.  Damion and I recently celebrated our 14th, yes 14th anniversary! We wanted to do something special, so we decided it was the perfect opportunity to try a new adventure…riding in a hot air balloon! We watch them land around our neighborhood almost every morning and have even helped land them (HARD WORK by the way!), but had never built up the courage to ride in one.  As expected, we were a little nervous, well maybe just me.  The group met at our predetermined location in Healdsburg about 5:30 in the morning (the 4:00 wake up is the contributor to our sleepy, morning, no makeup faces :)) and a limo took us all to the launch site.  There, they had the balloon inflated on it’s side.

From that position, they tip it up and you climb in the basket. This particular balloon is one of the four largest in the United States.  We had 24 people in the basket I believe! It was huge.   The pilot asked if anyone was scared.  I think I was the only person that raised my hand.  He said “You should be.  You’re riding in your grandmother’s laundry basket with a cotton dry cleaning bag with a huge flame underneath holding you up.”  Great. Thanks for that.  Actually, it is quite safe and the pilot was incredible with the level of control he had over the vessel! When you ascend, it feels smooth and surreal, just like you’re rising up in a elevator..you’ll see my reaction below. I’m not really sure how clinging to the basket was supposed to help, but after a while, you just couldn’t help but enjoy the view and the ride!

If you look closely in the distance, you can see two other hot air balloons cruising.  This was around the Santa Rosa area. Because you’re traveling with the wind, the ride is so smooth and wonderful.  You don’t even feel like you’re moving, it’s more like the scenery below you changes.

After learning about what to look for, we all helped scout the perfect place to land.  The pilot showed off his skills by placing us down ever so gently in the middle of a private field.  It was barely a bump.   Then the task began of squeezing all of the air out the envelope (colored part) and compressing the 2,000 lbs of nylon for transport! Here you can see clearly the size of the flame and the balloon compared to the size of the crew.

Overall, this was an incredible, incredible experience.  We highly recommend it and would do it again in a heartbeat!!! Some great companies that can help you cruise the Napa Valley and pass right over our house are Balloons Above the Valley and Napa Valley Balloons. Let us know when you’re coming and we’ll go outside and wave as you pass by:)We hope you try it!

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