Sylvia and Lauren

At age twenty four, Sylvia gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She named her Lauren. She had a picture taken of her and her new daughter that she treasures to this day. Now that Lauren is twenty four years old, Sylvia wanted have another set of pictures taken. She hoped to incorporate that original baby photo somehow. This was a great opportunity for me to capture some images of a mother and daughter who obviously care for each other very much. I was confident these feelings would be apparent in the images; I just had to allow them to be themselves.

We started out with some simple shots just to get them used to me and the camera.

These are kind of out of order, but I wanted to jump to these ones first since they were Sylvia's main motivation for the session. The original photo is hung on the wall behind them. I lit Sylvia and Lauren so that the background (including the photo) would be in shadow. I then used a second snooted light to concentrate a beam of light on the photo to help it pop but still not overpower the main subjects.

After getting the above image, I wanted to take a slightly different approach. Sylvia and Lauren are closer to the photograph enabling me to light both the subject and background evenly. I kept the snooted light on the photo and warmed it with an orange gel.

We played around for a little bit with dramatic lighting and some more serious expressions.

A nice closeup of mother and daughter.

The boys watched the World Series while they were "on deck." Sorry, I couldn't resist. Sylvia poses with her two children (Lauren and Reese) and her son-in-law David.

While I was there and the lights were set up we went ahead and shot several individuals and groups. Here Lauren and David share a silly moment. I get the feeling there are plenty of those with these two!

Lauren volunteered for a few individual shots. Thanks to Reese and David for assiting with this. David was holding the hair light up high and Reese was manning the reflector.

I had a great time with Sylvia and her family. I hope we accomplished what she had envisioned an then some! And I bet she never thought her back room could double as a photo studio!

Karen Maternity

Karen and I went for a quick walk on the beach last night. It was nice to get some fresh air and enjoy the sunset, but it was also just an excuse to go to our favorite pizza/Italian place Jo-Jo's. Karen and I keep trying to find the time to do her formal maternity shots with studio lighting, etc. but haven't yet. We agreed to shoot a few quick shots while at the beach just to take advantage of the nice scenery.

The original plan was to just shoot silhouettes like this one, but once we were out there we tried a variety of styles.

This was actually right as we were leaving the beach walking back to the car. The sea oats, the pink sky, and the moon all combined to form a very interesting scene. The image is slightly underexposed because I think it adds to the feel/mood of the scene. Also, if the scene was exposed for Karen, the sky would have been washed out and lost most of its color.

And you know I couldn't resist incorporating a flash into a few! I told her I wouldn't bring any lighting but I slipped a flash into my pocket just in case. I'm glad I did! All the proportions are kind of exaggerated here because I am so close and using a very wide angle lens. I would usually prefer to step back and zoom in, but I had to hand-hold my flash (didn't bring a stand). In order to get nice directional light coming from the side I had to hold out the flash as far as I could while being very close. If I was far away, the flash would be head-on and not as nice.

The due date is in two weeks! Hopefully there will be another maternity set posted before the little guy/girl arrives.

Women Build

I made it up to the Habitat for Humanity Women Build for one of their recent work days. I mainly wanted to check on the progress of the house, while also getting a few more shots of Pam in action.

To see what this "Women Build" thing is all about, you can go to the official site, or you can see all of my related blog posts.

Pam occasionally visits the site with her two sons so they can see the progress on the house (they are too young to be allowed to help during construction). On their most recent visit they went around and chose their rooms. Apparently one of the boys thought he should get the master suite. Seen here is "Mom's Bedroom" although I don't think this will actually be her room.

Lots of the volunteers have been writing messages on the walls as well.

One of the HFH project managers walks by a message from Pam and her boys to all the volunteers: "TO ALL WHO WORK HERE, OUR HEARTFELT THANKS! PAM, MICHAEL + RYAN."

Pam supports one end of a roofing frame while the volunteers attempt to lower it so it can be moved to a different section of the roof.

Pam at the work site.

Pam takes a minute to step back and survey the progress.

The ladies move a wall before it is set in place. A beam reads "A House Filled with Love."

The house is coming along and expected to be finished around February. I will be sure to keep you posted!

Rett's First Birthday

OK, so some of you are going to say "What, pay a photographer to cover my kid's birthday party? I'll just take a few photos myself or give that job to Aunt Clara." But then you have to check on the grill, replenish the plates and napkins, greet and mingle with your guests and most importantly enjoy yourself. Inevitably, the camera stays in your pocket or in your purse and you are lucky if you remember to snap one shot of the birthday boy with the cake.

Kids grow up fast and photos from this period become priceless keepsakes to enjoy for years to come. I like to imagine an adult Rett going back through an album looking at these pictures with a big smile on his face.

Now I will hand it over to Rett so he can personally guide you through his first birthday party.

Hello? Is anyone out there? Oh, hi there! My name is Rett and I just celebrated my first birthday with the help of lots of friends and family. We had this AWESOME photographer there that took tons of pictures so my mommy and daddy could concentrate on having fun. Thanks to everyone who was there. And if you weren't there, hopefully these pictures will make you feel like you were.

I love my mommy (adults call her Karen). Even though I was real busy playing with everyone I still managed to find a few minutes for mom.

Here is one of my friends. So far I've learned that boys like to get dirty and I must say, I am getting pretty good at it myself.

Mom and dad set up this great inflatable bouncy thing. I am not sure everyone realized you were supposed to just stand inside and bounce up and down.

Grandpa's arms are so comfy! And Aunt Emily gives the best high-fives!

Aw, mom, you shouldn't have! It's my own personal cake to destroy!

Eeeewwww...I guess I am just not in cake mood right now! Don't worry everybody, I am not sunburned. Eric was using available light for this shot and that red is from a "focus-assist" light on another camera. I like it! I think it goes well with my sinister look of disgust!

Oh man, I love bubbles. They are so fun! And ladies, thanks for the support. I can walk on cobblestones and I can play with bubbles but I haven't quite mastered both at the same time yet.

My dad is great. After the pinata was busted, he made sure to get every last bit of candy out for all my friends.

Thanks for stopping by everyone! I hoped you enjoyed this glimpse into my first birthday party! Has it been a year already?! Wow, time flies when you're having fun! Bye!

Lt. Col. Ferrucci Retirement Ceremony

I met Lt. Col. Lou Ferrucci last week at MSgt. Chvatal's retirement ceremony. He asked me to cover his ceremony the following week. Things were pretty similar, but this ceremony was held at the Officer's Club, which was a beautiful room but posed a few problems for photography purposes. Nothing I couldn't deal with though! (If any banquet room designers are reading: don't put mirrors right behind where all the action will be, and I prefer flat, all-white ceilings approx. 10' high - Thanks!)

Lou addresses his family, friends and fellow members of the military. Lou was an excellent speaker. As I've mentioned before it can be hard to concentrate on ISO, shutter speeds, apertures, lighting, composition, etc. AND listen to what is being said. I don't remember specifics about the speech, but I do remember laughing and darn near crying at one point!

Lou bows his head in prayer as the ceremony begins. His wife and son are seen in the foreground. The family was a major part of this ceremony, as military families are asked to sacrifice much to accommodate the long hours, extensive travel, and frequent moving associated with life in the military. I tried to make several photographs that helped illustrate the important role played by the family.

This is a close-up of the Meritorious Service Medal of Honor that Lou received. He was actually given the Third Oak Cluster for this award, meaning it is his fourth time to receive the honor. But they use a stand-in medal for the ceremony.

This is the pin that Lou cared most about! "RETIRED"

We did a few final shots of Lou in his uniform for the last time and he just wanted to show off that "RETIRED" pin. That's OK Lou, you earned it!

Congratulations Lou! I wish you the best of luck in whatever mission you choose to embark on next.

Kammie and Ryan, Little Harbor Wedding

Kammie and Ryan tied the knot this past Saturday at Little Harbor located on the east side of Tampa Bay. This is a great location because you get your own private beach and sunsets over the water, not to mention plenty of other cool places to shoot! It was a great event and the weather was beautiful.

Kammie and Ryan enjoy their surroundings after tying the knot. This was also the view from the ceremony location. Not too shabby!

Kammie heads over to the ceremony after getting ready.

The hotel part of the resort has a great lobby for photographs. This cool sculpture/chandelier reminded me of stars floating above Kammie.

Kammie pauses for a minute while I snap a few photos before she runs off to hide before the ceremony.

I took advantage of the great Florida scenery for this shot of Ryan. We were able to hide in the shade of a sea grape which helped Ryan stay cool, but also let me control the light a little more effectively.

Ribbons hanging from the corner of the ceremony arch blow in the breeze .

Kammie and Ryan enjoy a quiet moment after the ceremony to watch the sunset. This is very similar to the first shot in the post but it makes a nice point. Standing far away and zooming in with a long lens compressed the couple into the small orange part of the sky around the sun. By moving right up to the couple and using a wider angle the image takes on a completely different feel.

The couple shares their first dance. I was using two lighting setups for the reception. One was even and safe and this one was a little more moody and emotional. Even though their faces are kind of hidden in the shadows, I think it represents the moment well. They were dancing in front of all their friends and family in a very public setting, but they had a very private connection going on between them that was subtle yet powerful. The full length/evenly lit shot is what the guests are seeing and I chose this shot to represent what I thought the couple was feeling.

Things usually calm down enough during dinner to allow me to roam the venue looking for nice location shots.

I never thought I would put a picture of the guest book on my blog, but I really like this shot. The candlelight, the birds of paradise, the warm tones; I think it all comes together to reflect the tropical/romantic feel of the wedding.

Father and daughter share a dance.

Gotta love kids! These two took to the dance floor and immediately had the paparazzi all over them. Although you can't see their faces from this angle, I think the addition of the B&G to the photo makes it more powerful.

Congratulations Kammie and Ryan! Thanks for choosing Tampa Photo to provide you with high quality images of your wedding day. It was a lovely wedding and I wish you the best of luck in the years to come.

MSgt. Chvatal Retirement Ceremony

I had the unique opportunity to photograph my first Air Force retirement ceremony on Friday. It's always fun to try something new and there were plenty of chances to make some nice images. MSgt. Susan Chvatal is from the 6th Medical Group here at MacDill AFB. Members of the Group were the participants in the Flag Day ceremony that you may remember from this earlier blog post. A few individuals have decided to have me cover their retirement ceremonies after seeing the Flag Day slideshow.

I did not know MSgt Chvatal before this assignment, but through the course of the ceremony it became apparent that she is an excellent soldier and leader that will be missed by many. Susan held the special duty of a First Sergeant ("first shirt") and was responsible for the morale and welfare of the enlisted members of her squadron. Congratulations on more than 20 years of service!

The Base Honor Guard sets the flags to start the ceremony. I used two lighting setups to cover this event. This camera had an 85mm 1.8 shot wide open at ISO 1600 to capture the ambient light in the room. I wanted to use this setup for at least some of the images to reduce the number of flashes going off during the ceremony.

Susan's brothers pin an award to her lapel.

Fittingly, members of the 6th Medical Group shake X-rays to add a personal touch during bouts of applause. It seems that Susan has found her way to the emergency room as a customer before and at least a few of these may or may not have been of her femur. (It's tough to glean accurate info from inside jokes while juggling two cameras).

Susan receives a very impressive shadow box that details the various accomplishments of her career. The open triangle at the top is for the flag that will be presented later in the ceremony. This shot shows the second lighting scheme being used. An on-camera flash provides light and triggers a second flash in the back of the room. This resulted in nice even lighting that allowed me to to use a low ISO and fast shutter speed for the best quality prints.

Members of the Honor Guard fold a flag that was flown at the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July in honor of Susan's grandmother.
A reader calls out each fold and describes what it stands for during an official flag folding ceremony. It's an impressive display and I wanted to capture it with a meaningful image. I decided to slow my shutter speed down to approx. 1/10 second to blur the motion of the flag while preserving the details of the uniform, etc. I like that both stars and stripes are visible in the folding flag and another flag is seen in the background.

The Honor Guard presents the flag to Susan.

As the Honor Guard steps away, the moment hits MSgt. Chvatal.

Susan addresses all those in attendance.

The final additions to Susan's uniform, including the U.S. Meritorious Service Medal.

That's all for now. Kammie and Ryan's wedding was on Saturday so look for those pics soon!