Downtown Oakland was the scene for this RAD LGBTQ+ engagement. Renee [she/her] and Jack [they/them] describe themselves as a queer-forward couple hailing from Oakland.

These folx manage to combine absolute hipness with total goofiness in such a cute way. If ever two people were meant to be, it’s these two.

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The couple

They both arrived in Oakland around the same time about 4 years ago after their lives took them there independently.

Renee is originally from NJ but lived in Vegas before making her way to Oakland. Jack is from Florida and lived in DC before migrating west.

They met a little over two years ago through a mutual Roller Derby friend Renee used to bout with.

The couple first saw each other at a queer dance party, Ships in tha Night in Oakland, clicked immediately and have basically been inseparable since!

Queer Oakland engagement couple canoodling on their engagement shoot

The photobooth-themed proposal

On September 30 2018 this pair got engaged in Berlin! Renee proposed to Jack on their trip to Germany for Oktoberfest (though Renee is not much of a beer person). They were mainly there to meet up with Derby friends, who are beer people. .

Photobooths have always been a part of Renee’s life and they’re little places she’d marked milestones since she was a kid. Coincidentally photobooths – Photomatica’s in this instance – are integrated into Berlin’s art and culture.

These machines are scattered around the city, giving Renee a fitting place to pop the question. And of course, it meant instant photos of the moment it happened!

They felt they were happy and both at the same place in their lives, so why not take the next step?

Both of them value and appreciate the open communication they have nurtured in their relationship, their mutual respect, and gratitude they have for one another.

The engagement was something Renee passionately expressed that Jack deserved because of who they are and how the two have grown together.

The in-home engagement shoot

The couple are both so at ease with one another and not shy to show their love, or their silly side. They wanted a mixture of goofy and more posed stuff for their engagement shoot and I was happy to oblige.  

Their vintage-inspired home where we started the shoot is a labor of love and combines many Craigslist finds, street treasures, antiques and objets d’art (thank you both – finally the chance to use that phrase!)

They have an incredibly cute bar cart where every item has been meticulously sourced and lovingly restored. And a beautiful line of queer art & activism posters that make up an entire wall of thoughtfully curated visual inspiration.

They also have a big ol’ 15 lb-Maine Coon named Kombucha roaming free who loves attention. He sat patiently with Jack and Renee on the couch and later, rolled around on the floor elegantly to show off his modeling skills

Sitting on the couch and kissing while holding a big furball – what could be better?

Downtown Oakland engagement photography

After the in-home session, we took a wander around the uptown area, ending up at the Fox Theater with its iconic ‘Oakland’ sign. We spent some time in random parking lots as we kept spotting cool white walls and some murals too.

The Oakland rainbow crosswalk on Franklin and Thomas L. Berkeley Way was another quick stop on the way. I love working with whatever random spots we find during a shoot – it really pushes my creativity and leaves lots of room for serendipity and lovely light.

For couples that don’t have a very specific vision of what they want their engagement shoot to look like, I really recommend a walk around your neighborhood or a neighborhood that’s meaningful to you.

You don’t have to go to a grand, iconic destination to take gorgeous pictures of your love!

It’s also super important to showcase what’s meaningful and unique to you, and your home is a great way to show this. I also adore capturing details like tattoos, your personal styles and of course any engagement jewelry.

downtown oakland engagement location outside a church building

Thanks, Renee & Jack! You are true Oakland gems.

I have so many resources I would be thrilled to share with you, including how to prepare for your engagement session, my guide to my favorite San Francisco locations, and many other blog posts to get your creative juices flowing and share in the beautiful stories of some of my other couples!

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Whether you’re down for a downtown Oakland engagement or want to pick a different spot, let’s chat! 

Vendor love //

Hair Stylist for Renee Barbara Patnode Hair Design / @betsyhair
Hair Stylist for Jack Keiko Takano, Wish Box @cozycut_sogood
Renee’s Ring: Ignite Metals / @ignitemetals
Jack’s Ring: Alexis Russell / @alexisrusselljewelry

LGBTQ couple cuddling with their cats in their stylish vintage oakland apartment for Queer Oakland engagement cute oakland couple at home playing records cats on the floor of Queer Oakland engagement couple's vintage apartment queer forward couple on engagement shoot with rosebush in background hip queer couple engagement with white wall in background close ups of tattoos during LGBTQ+ oakland engagement session 🏳️‍🌈 Totally rad engagement shoot in downtown oakland with this queer-forward Oakland couple. 🌈 Renee, Jack and I frolicked in their home while they spun some records with their large cats, then around their neighborhood. 🦄 After crossing rainbow crosswalks we finished up at the Fox Theater's iconic Oakland sign - a must-take for your Oakland engagement shoot! | #queerforward #oakland #engagementphotos #lgbtq | Zoe Larkin Photography rainbow crosswalk oakland close up walking LGBTQ+ couples photography snuggling and eskimo kisses close up engaged couple posing in front of the fox theater oakland sign Thinking about doing an in-home engagement session? I travel all over San Francisco & beyond for engagement sessions and weddings, and I shoot all love.

If Oakland is your jam, I have a guide to my fave engagement shoot locations to help spark ideas. I’ve photographed all over the Bay on beaches, in forests, ice cream parlors, formal gardens, in the middle of the road (see above!), in homes, windswept mountains, rivers and valleys. Let’s chat about where your story will take us! My short guide is here! Get in touch to receive my up-to-date information guide.

Pin this to your engagement inspiration board!

🏳️‍🌈 Totally rad engagement shoot in downtown oakland with this queer-forward Oakland couple. 🌈 Renee, Jack and I frolicked in their home while they spun some records with their large cats, then around their neighborhood. 🦄 After crossing rainbow crosswalks we finished up at the Fox Theater's iconic Oakland sign - a must-take for your Oakland engagement shoot! | #queerforward #oakland #engagementphotos #lgbtq | Zoe Larkin Photography

Update: These two had their wedding plans altered when covid-19 hit. They decided to stick with their original date of March 31, and decided to get married at home! They had a social-distanced officiant, and streamed the ceremony virtually.

wedding cake with icing reading 'yay love' for queer wedding
socially-distanced officiant, officiating a pandemic wedding from the ground while couple gets married in their apartment upstairs

It was an impromptu decision, as a friend left a ‘Yay Love’ wedding cake at their door just before what would have been their wedding day. Seeing as getting married was what they really wanted to do, they did it!!!

So, impromptu weddings really do happen! I couldn’t be happier for these two gorgeous lovebirds.

Oakland couple just after they got married in their home at a virtual wedding with friends & family joining via Zoom
newlywed couple selfie at their in-home, social-distance officiated wedding with streamed online

And they will be going ahead with a big reception next year (2021) in the Pema Osel Ling retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains. Can’t wait – but in the meantime, enjoy these screenshots & selfies. Images of the virtual ceremony are courtesy of the couple and their friends & family who attended via Zoom.

🏳️‍🌈 Totally rad engagement shoot in downtown oakland with this queer-forward Oakland couple. 🌈 Renee, Jack and I frolicked in their home while they spun some records with their large cats, then around their neighborhood. 🦄 After crossing rainbow crosswalks we finished up at the Fox Theater's iconic Oakland sign - a must-take for your Oakland engagement shoot! | #queerforward #oakland #engagementphotos #lgbtq | Zoe Larkin Photography

Renee + Jack | Queer downtown Oakland engagement shoot

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