Picking the right venue for you!

February 10, 2018  •  Leave a Comment


Hello everyone!!

This blog post is going to be one of my first posts aimed at making the wedding planning experience as easy as possible for you and your fiancee! It is a pretty crazy time in your life for sure, but don't worry, I'm here for you! Today I will be going over a few things that you should take into consideration when selecting your wedding venue!

1. Customer service
Sadly, I have witnessed a lot of beautiful venues that have horrible customer service. I have seen brides forced to clear out of the bridal suite before the ceremony, due to double booking, and many other unexpected problems. These are all things that you don't want to be dealing with on your special day. I highly recommend that you talk to the coordinators, the managers, and even the owner to make sure that you are happy with their customer service and you have a good rapport with them.

2. What are people saying?
One benefit of planning a wedding in this era of technology, is having access to countlesss reviews! Get ready to read a bunch! Some people can be a little crazy when it comes to nitpicking, so, some of the reviews may need to be taken less seriously. So, if you see anything that seems like a legitimate red flag, then definitely take note!



3. What’s included?
Some venues include cake, flowers, DJ's, beer and wine etc. Find out what all they offer, and consider the options of doing everything a la carte.

4. Bridal suite
Is there a bridal suite at the venue? If so, how is the lighting? Prep photos can be incredible, but great photos require light. Bridal suites with lots of windows, nice furniture and a mirror are definitely a plus!

5. Parking
What is the parking situation for you and your guests? Definitely consider your older guests that may not be able to walk far distances. Also, is there a good place to park when you unload all of your decor?

6. BYOV (Bring Your Own Vendors)
Does the venue allow you to bring in your own vendors. Some charge a fee to do so. Be sure to ask so you don't have to deal with any unexpected expenses!



7. Your theme
Does the venue mesh well with your theme? Obviously, if you are looking to do a tropical theme, a venue with a big red barn probably wouldn't be the best choice for you.

8. Photo ops
Are there lots of photogenic locations at and around the venue? I move my couples around a lot during the portrait section of wedding days. Cool walls, beautiful gardens, waterfalls, fountains... etc. are all on the list of things that I love to shoot for beautiful backgrounds.

9.Too much celebrating?
How many ceremonies can the venue have taking place at the same time? If the venue has several ceremony sites, do they at least stagger the start times? The last thing you want is a beautiful moment being ruined by music or cheering coming from another nearby ceremony.  

10. Your guest list
Is the venue able to comfortably fit your guest list? You want your guests to be able to move around freely to mingle and dance at the reception.

11. Can you hear me now?
Does the venue supply music and audio for the ceremony? If not, you might need to plan on having your dj show up a lot earlier which can be pricey. If the venue does supply audio for the ceremony, what kind of mics are they using? Lapel mics are preferred because they get rid of ugly mic stands.



12. Rain or shine
We all know that Southern California has crazy weather! Warm winters and unpredictable rain showers in the summer. Does the venue have a plan in place in case it rains? If so, what does it cost? I have heard of venues having a tent for rain, but it added at least another $1500. These are things that are way better to know in advance than to find out later!

13. Coordinator included?
Is a day of coordinator included with the venue? A great coordinator can be really helpful. They will keep things on schedule and sometimes they have inside knowledge of photogenic areas at the venue. Make sure you get along really well with them, because the coordinator and your photographer will be with you pretty much all day!

14. Is it photographer friendly?
Obviously, if you are on my website, getting great photos of your big day is important to you. Make sure that the venue doesn't have any crazy restrictions on photography. I have heard of some churches that limit the photographer to the back two rows of the church! Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot that we can do from back there. 

15. Restrooms
Are there restrooms at the venue in a permanent structure or are they portable? We have all been in a stinky port-o-potty and it is NEVER fun. Just imagine trying to do that in a wedding dress!

16. Go with the flow
(This is only if the reception is on site) How is the flow from the ceremony area to the reception area? Are there hills or stairs? Is there transportation for elderly guests? Is it well decorated for the walk between the two locations?



17. Night vibes
What does the reception area look like at night? Great lighting can make a venue look amazing at night. Some venues will even match the color of your lighting to fit with your theme!

18. Party till the break of dawn!
What is the cut off time at your venue? At least in Southern California pretty much all outdoor venues have a cutoff time of 10 PM. If you want to go later, you might need to look for an indoor reception area.

19. Grand exit
Will the venue allow you to do a grand exit? Some venues don't allow sparklers or confetti, so it is always good to ask if you are planning on doing one!

20. Keeping your guests safe
I love a good party filled reception, but when the night comes to a close, you need to know how to get all of your guests home, or to a hotel, safely. Are there plenty of hotels nearby? is there reliable taxi/Lyft/Uber service in the area?


Hopefully, these suggestions will help you pick the perfect spot for an epic celebration! If you need any more help, feel free to ask me questions. Until next time! Have a great day!



- Dustin


All photos from The Pond in Redlands. Check them out, they are amazing!

The 2017 Recap!

January 27, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Hello everyone!

I wanted to take a second to thank all of my amazing clients (turned friends) from the bottom of my heart! It is because of you that this crazy journey that I am on is so much fun and so incredibly rewarding! I love being there through all of your greatest moments wether it is your wedding day, your maternity photos or your little ones first birthday. It is so epic watching your families grow! I put together a little slideshow highlighting just a few of my most awesome moments lived through the lens in 2017.  Enjoy!



I cant wait to see all of the amazing things that 2018 brings everyone, and I am more than ready to capture it for you!

Welcome to the blog!

January 23, 2018  •  Leave a Comment


Thank you for taking the time to check out my website. My name is Dustin Thompson, I was born and raised in Riverside, California. And I am absolutely passionate about all aspects of photography. It all started when my parents got me my first Canon Powershot for my 16th birthday present. I took it on virtually every trip and occasion. I pushed that camera to its absolute limits... but there was only so much the little camera could do.

Fast forward to 2011. My world was transformed when I got my first DSLT, the a55! The rulebook had been shattered and only limit now was my imagination. Within one week of receiving the a55, I headed to the famous Antelope Canyon. It was then at the bottom of those huge walls that I realized that behind the camera is where I belong.



In 2011 I got my first gig shooting and writing for the K.R.O.P.S Blog at the awesome Adams Motorsports Park at their weekly Thursday Drift Nights.


I made some awesome connections and Dustin Thompson Photography was born!

Since then, it has been an amazing journey of constant learning and honing my skills to be the best photographer that I can possibly be. I do what it takes to excel in every aspect of photography wether I am shooting landscapes, sports, portraits, weddings or any other type of occasion. With the addition of my a99 and a7ll I feel that I will once again be able to dive deeper into the possibilities of what I can capture.


In June of 2017 I married the love of my life. Her name is Vy.


To say that she is supportive of my photography career would be an understatement! If that wasn't good enough, She is also one of the only people that can keep up with my adventurous side! Together we have explored from the deep winding slot canyons of Antelope Canyon all the way to the cliffs of Angels Landing, And so much in between!


Here are some more quick facts about me:


  • I have a major sense of humor that I love to incorporate into my work
  • I love traveling and seeing new places
  • I have 2 amazing little fur babies named Foxy and Kopi.


  • I love Groupon adventures! So far we have done trapeze lessons, hang gliding lessons, mini submarine rides, pottery classes, falconry classes, indoor skydiving and driven real race cars!



My cameras have given me some amazing opportunities! Here are some of the highlights!



Featured drifting coverage on,, and


Published in 5.0 mustang magazine


Event photographer at Emce


Event photographer at The Dirt Series


Event photographer at Formula Drift photo of the day 2 times


Featured on Petapixel


Featured on


Teacher on the Youtube channel Theshutterschool


Featured in Xplorzine April- 2015


Featured in Digitalfoto magazine - November 2015


Featured in International Model and Photographer Magazine – July 2013


Filmed reviews for Imageonetv


Exclusive photographer for the Capistrano Connections academy since 2012


Photographed events for the city of Lake Elsinore as well as the City of Murietta




In future blog posts I hope to give helpful hits and tips for anyone planning a big event or wedding! In the mean time you can follow me on instagram if you want to see daily uploads of some of my favorite shots!

The Dustin Thompson Photography Instagram page

Have a great day!!


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