Welcome to the Sasha Photography Podcast. What can you expect from this show? I’ll be telling stories, sharing experiences, and bringing you the wisdom of some of the best professionals in the wedding industry: planners, musicians, officiants, photographers, videographers, caterers and more. I’ll have informative conversations with couples that are still in the stages of planning their wedding, as well as couples that are former clients, to reflect on their wedding experiences and catch up on how married life is going. I’ll be venturing beyond the wedding world as well, connecting with teachers from diverse disciplines.
You can expect a new episode every couple of weeks.
The show starts off with a foundational conversation I had with my father. We explore my grandfather’s life, legacy, and our family’s history. I hope you enjoy listening, and I look forward to your feedback!
List of Episodes
#1 | ‘Roots’ (Part 1) – My Grandfather escapes the Nazis and tries to survive the war.
#2 | ‘Roots’ (Part 2) – My Grandfather rebuilds his life and launches his career as a portrait photographer.
#3 | ‘Roots’ (Part 3) – My Father brings our family to America and becomes a professional videographer.
#4 | Maria Elena & Jose – The couple open up about their meeting, engagement, and wedding plans.
#5 | Cynthia Gregory – Cynthia is a Bay Area wedding officiant, SF City Hall deputy marriage commissioner & overall renaissance woman.
#6 | Alina & Alex – Alina and Alex share recollections of their September 2016 wedding. We get personal.
#7 | Dmitry Greenberg – Dmitry Greenberg is a professional musician & one of the best-known wedding entertainers in SF Bay Area.
#8 | Alexis Garrod – Alexis Garrod is a CrossFit coach & owner, personal trainer, fitness expert. We talk #sweatingforthewedding.
Episode 1 – “Roots” (Part 1)
It’s fitting to start the show in the place where it all began. In today’s Silicon Valley, one of the greatest things you can accomplish is to be a “Founder”. Well, I consider my Grandfather Isak to be the Founder of our family. This first of several “Roots” episodes draws on extensive interviews with my father, Igor. He is Isak’s son, and my primary source for this story. We trace Isak’s journey from a small shtetl – Slutsk – to his desperate escape from the ghetto, his experience in the war, and the first steps he takes towards rebuilding his life after the war. Pictured below are my grandfather as a youth, and his immediate family – his older brother Zalman (top right) and his parents. He looks to be about 10 years old in this photo, which means it was taken in the early-to-mid 1930’s. Take a look at this photo of my grandfather. He’s with my father and me in my studio in 2012, so he’s 89 years old there. It’s fascinating to compare the pictures, and also to examine the family resemblance.
Episode 2 – “Roots” (Part 2)
My Grandfather Isaac continues to build the foundation for his life, and begins his career as a photographer. After surviving the war, he now has to learn to navigate and survive the Soviet system itself.
This is the middle of the story that is framed by two crucial journeys. The first was on a bicycle, over the dirt roads of Belarus. The second, nearly 50 years later, brought our family to America. Together with my father, Igor, we dig deep into our family history.
Note: There are no photographs in our archives from my grandfather’s photography project, where he photographed a quadruple-amputee nurse Hero of the Soviet Union, Zinaida Tusnolobova. However, there’s quite a bit of information online about her. There’s also a small museum in Polotsk that appears to contain photos and artifacts from her life. Could my grandfather’s photographs be hanging on those walls?
Here is a photograph of my Grandfather’s extended family in 1961. He is in the top left corner, with his wife – my grandmother – Ida. My father, Igor, is the 8-year old boy in the center of the photo. His sister, Laura, is above him on the left, in the back row.
Episode 3 – “Roots” (Part 3)
This is the final episode of my family history trilogy. The baton passes to my father, Igor, who is coming to terms with his decision to immigrate to the United States. After being fired from his job as a consequence of his US visa application, he has to find a way to make money. He asks my grandfather to come on as an assistant in the photo studio, and proceeds to find his own path to becoming a professional photographer. After we immigrate to San Jose, California in 1990, my father earns his first dollars as a wedding videographer. This story has everything – a gypsy, a risky bet, and a trial. It’s truly an incredible journey – one that clearly became the inspiration for my own career. Below, a photograph of my father from the mid-90’s, with his Panasonic video camera.
Episode 4 – Maria Elena & Jose
I am very excited about this new chapter in the podcast. This awesome couple joined me in the studio on a Sunday morning, literally after our second engagement shoot. I’ll be photographing Maria Elena and Jose’s wedding in June of this year. We spoke about how they met, Jose’s incredible proposal, and how their wedding planning is coming along. It was really a treat to put down the camera (at least for an hour or so) and to get to know them on a more personal level. I was really grateful at how enthusiastic and candid they were about this conversation. Below, you can see a few photographs from our two engagement sessions (the first at sunset, at Baker Beach; the second in Niles, a historic town in Fremont). Maria Elena is a huge A’s fan, and her dream is to work for the team one day. You can see her repping the merch!
Episode 5 – Cynthia Gregory
I’ve run into Cynthia many times at San Francisco City Hall, as well as private wedding ceremonies all over the Bay Area. Most of the time I see her in a black robe, so it was intriguing to invite her to the studio and learn about the woman behind the robe. Cynthia and I had a fascinating conversation. We started talking about weddings, but before long we were discussing (among many other things) her love for hats, costumes and film noir; some of the oddest ceremonies she’s ever performed; and even that time she climbed on a piano and sang “Black Coffee”. I honestly didn’t want to let her leave. After the episode, you may want to check out Cynthia’s wedding ceremony website, her Yelp page with client feedback, and Threshold Choir. Below, you can see a couple of City Hall ceremonies I’ve captured with Cynthia over the years, as well as the obligatory shot of her behind the microphone in the studio.
Episode 6 – Alina & Alex
I photographed Alina & Alex’s wedding day on September 3, 2016. The ceremony and reception were at Temple Emanuel in San Francisco. Before we arrived at the synagogue, we had a long creative shoot around SF. We played around with graffiti and murals, and rented out a bar called Tradition for some unique shots. The couple joined me in the studio to share their recollections of the day, as well as to catch up on how our lives have changed over the last few months since the wedding. Among many other things, we talked about what happened behind the scenes on the wedding day, time traveled back to Alex’s rather unexpected proposal, and talked about what Alina might do with her three wedding dresses. Below – some of my favorite photos from their day, as well as a shot of them in the studio behind the microphones.
Episode 7 – Dmitry Greenberg
Dmitry Greenberg is a professional wedding musician & band leader. He was born in the Ukraine, and came to California by way of Israel. It’s a pretty amazing journey, and today he’s one of the best-known wedding entertainers in the San Francisco Bay Area. He joined me in the studio to talk about his musical education, how he cut his teeth as a wedding musician in Israel, and how he ultimately built his career in California.
Check out his work, and his clients’ feedback: https://www.yelp.com/biz/non-stop-productions-san-francisco
Episode 8 – Alexis Garrod
Many people begin a dedicated fitness journey to get in shape for their wedding and honeymoon. Everyone wants to look their best on their wedding day, fit into the dream dress or tailored suit, and of course feel fit and confident in a swimsuit on the beach in Mexico.
Hashtags like #sweatingforthewedding may be something of a cliché, but as Alexis and I discuss, this time in your life is actually an amazing opportunity to instill positive habits and improve your fitness going forward.
Among other things, we discuss CrossFit; how to customize your fitness plan depending on how much time you have left before the big day; diet; a wedding handstand contest; women’s FAQ’s about weightlifting; the Master Cleanse; motivation; social media etiquette; measuring your progress; how to burn calories just by living; and what Alexis does when she wants to get that “salty, crunchy feeling.”
Mentioned in this episode:
- Video of Alexis doing CrossFit Open Workout 16.3
- The Master Cleanse videos my wife and I made. Here’s the link to the first one.
- CrossFit Potrero Hill website
- The promo video I made for CFPH, starring Alexis
- FitnessWave Norcal Hydrostatic Bodyfat Test
Photos below: Alexis in the studio after out podcast conversation; Alexis showing how it’s done as a bridesmaid at a wedding and during a CrossFit open workout; the handstand contest my wife and I staged at our wedding (which my wife won).