Melissa and Ben

Whew, things have been busy. After settling in with our new daughter it was time to jump right back into things. This weekend I got to second-shoot for Kevin at a very cool wedding in Dunedin. Sometimes it's very fun to be the second shooter because there is no pressure and you get the chance to be creative and experiment a little more than normal.

We started things out in downtown Dunedin which has a small-town, artsy kind of vibe. We had the whole bridal party cruising Main St. setting up shots outside all the cool storefronts. This got plenty of honks from the passing motorists!

This is certainly a shot that would have been missed had there only been one shooter. While Kevin was fine-tuning this group pose I was able to pick out details to accent the final album. This is one of the main benefits of having Tampa Photo cover your event with two shooters.
Kevin was shooting Ben out on the street and the Melissa was chatting with her girls. I took the opportunity to bring her inside Kelly's Chic-a-boom and take advantage of the colorful decor. A snooted flash on a stand illuminates her and her flowers without spilling on to the wall. A second flash is placed on the table behind her to light the wall. This allowed me to adjust the background and foreground independently until I had the balance I was looking for.

Melissa and her flower girl share a moment before the ceremony begins. This is a pretty typical mirror shot but it has a couple things going for it that I like. Since they are interacting with each other you get to see a glimpse of the bride's face on the right instead of just the back of their heads. Also, their backs are lit by incandescent bulbs and their front is lit by window light resulting in the two different color temperatures.

Melissa peeks out from her hiding room right before the ceremony begins.

Ben and Melissa have a little two year old son. He started exploring during the ceremony. This little flower girl didn't hesitate to rat him out to the other groomsmen.

The groomsmen mill about as they arrive at Ruth Eckerd Hall for the reception.

The room was very lovely but posed a few lighting problems. The unique shape of the ceiling made it difficult to bounce flash. I aimed a snooted flash at the center of the dance floor and hoped they would stay in the beam of light. They were a little too far away from the stage but it worked out.

Congratulations Ben and Melissa. Thanks for being so outgoing during your photo shoot! You guys were great! It will pay off in the pictures.

Introducing Baby Vanessa!

It's a girl!! At 5:22 PM on Wednesday, November 14th, Karen gave birth to our lovely daughter Vanessa Anne Vichich. She just missed sharing a birthday with her mother by 3 days. As for the stats: 8 lbs, 3 oz; 21 inches and unbelievably adorable!

It's been a whirlwind of activity and things have been very busy yet peaceful. Mother and baby are both healthy and happy. Karen was simply amazing and I am still in awe at how well she handled the birth. I am very proud to be her husband and the father of her child.

Karen and Vanessa start bonding immediately. In what's known as "Kangaroo Care," Karen chose to have Vanessa placed on her chest right after delivery before anything else. Mother and daughter bond for approx. 30 minutes skin-to-skin before Vanessa was taken to be cleaned, weighed, etc.

This is Dacia, our nurse for the majority of the labor. She was really great and helped make things as enjoyable as possible. In fact, all the staff and nurses at Bayfront were terrific. Off camera flash placed on top of furniture very high; aimed at opposite wall.

Dr. Karen Raimer delivered Vanessa and was a great help during labor and delivery. All three doctors at St. Pete Maternal and Fetal Medicine were wonderful throughout Karen's pregnancy.

And as you know, the photographer doesn't usually make it into the pictures. Luckily, dad grabbed the camera to snap this shot of me posing by Vanessa while she was getting weighed. Mom also got some shots of me with her camera.

Here are the flowers that folks sent. Special thanks to those who helped make our hospital room that much more cozy and homey. The smell of fresh flowers is so much better than that mix of antiseptic cleaner and hospital food! We'll also let this photo represent our appreciation to all of you who sent support in the way of calls, emails, thoughts, prayers, gifts and visits. They meant a lot to us and were very comforting during this special time. Things have been very hectic and busy so we may not have had the chance to contact you all directly, but please know that we are very grateful to have the love and support of so many friends and family.

Mimi (my mother) holds her granddaughter for the first time. After having two sons, I get the feeling that she is thrilled to add a female to the Vichich clan.

It's Pap Pap's turn to hold Vanessa. I think he's trying to think of different ways to spoil her.

A couple of proud grandparents.

Our good friend (and honorary Aunt) Christine stopped by a couple times to visit. Thanks for everything Christine!

Back home, Momma plays with "Little Nessa."

Karen has the special mommy touch when it comes to holding, changing, feeding, diapering, comforting and pretty much all things baby. What a pair!

Give Mommy a kiss!

Staring up at mommy.

Chilling on the couch at home.

Vanessa's favorite spot to catch a few Zs.

That's all for now. I should get back to pitching in. There's dishes to clean, laundry to fold and a baby (and wife) to love. Thanks to everyone who has been keeping us in their thoughts and prayers during this amazing time.

Andrea and Greg, Florida Aquarium Wedding

Andrea and Greg were married at the Florida Aquarium. They decided to have Tampa Photo document their special day with both photo and video. For more info on combining photo and video check out our website. You can also learn more about video and see some sample clips here. The Aquarium is a lovely place to have a wedding! As a nature and animal lover myself, I really enjoy shooting there. Congratulations you two!

Here they are in front of one of the many tanks found throughout the aquarium. Although beautiful, the Aquarium poses some challenges to the photographer. Very dark conditions, little or no surfaces to bounce flash off, the need to balance the subject with the background and the reflective properties of glass all worked together to keep me on my toes! I'll explain my techniques for dealing with these problems later in the post.

During the ceremony, I mixed flash shots with some available light shots. Since Kevin was there shooting video, he set up a few lights in addition to the lights that were on both video cameras. This extra light helped balance the couple with the background. Not a bad place to say your vows, huh?

We were working fast to get all the family and group shots done. Before going off on our own, I snagged a few quick shots of Andrea in front of the big tank with on-camera flash. I just love these surroundings!

Once we were alone and the bridal party had gone to the cocktail hour, I set up a light in an umbrella for some nicer portraits. Since the glass is reflective, I had to shoot at a 45 degree angle to the tank (you can't shoot straight on or you will the see the flash in the glass). The other main problem here is how dark the tanks are. To properly expose the tank I needed to shoot at a very slow shutter speed (between .5 and 1.5 seconds). I had to make sure the subjects were in total darkness (I even had to ask for the video lights to be turned off while shooting portraits). The flash is used to properly light the subject, but then the shutter is left open to allow the tank to slowly burn in to the digital film.

Now it's Andrea's turn. These shots were meant to draw your attention to the subject and just let the background be an accent.

The couple shares their first dance. In addition to some standard straight-flash shots, I worked to capture a few creative light shots to accent the mood. Here, a flash is aimed at the far wall behind the DJ (Tony Lange, one of the fantastic Grant Hemond associates) to give the bride and groom a nice rim light. This technique works great when the bride has a veil.

Mother and son share a dance as the bride looks on. I wish a little more light from my on-camera flash had reached the mother but enough light is hitting her for her expression to be visible.

Ummmm, donut cake. Greg had his own creative take on cake. A huge stack of donuts covered in chocolate. Awesome!

Here is a nice shot of the cake with a lovely backdrop thanks to the giant stingray banner hung above the touch tank in the main lobby.

The house lights on the cake worked pretty well (especially since they were balanced with the lights aimed at the stingray banner) but I wanted a few shots where I was able to control the light a little more. While shooting the cake a young boy approached and gave this wonderful expression. I quickly opened my aperture to properly expose the boy. I hope he got a good look at the cake...

Well, this does happen in real life. Luckily, the couple had already cut it and I had plenty of pictures of it. The guests had lots of donut cake and the staff prepared bananas foster for everyone. A minor glitch that didn't prevent Andrea and Greg from enjoying their lovely reception.

A final parting shot of the Florida Aquarium exterior.

Congratulations to the newlyweds! And thanks for letting me be a part of your special day. All of us at Tampa Photo wish you the very best for many years to come.

More Maternity Shots

Since most of you don't get to see Karen very often I am adding a few additional images from our most recent maternity shoot. Her progression has been very amazing to watch and photograph.

Some of you will like this, and others will think it's total cheese. But it's always better to shoot something you kind of like than to not shoot something you could have loved. Get it? I like it. It might be hard to see, but it's one of our ultrasound images showing the baby's upper body (face is pointed up). As always, you can click on the image for a slighltly larger version.

Karen really liked this lighting setup that just reveals that outline edge of her body. I love how this pose allows the light to fall on her face. Just gorgeous!

Now we switch to the white background. I sometimes direct Karen in terms of posing to get the process started, but it never takes long for her to start busting out those "America's Next Top Model" moves.

Karen and I share a moment. And by moment I mean the two seconds waiting for the camera timer to go off! It was tough to decide whether or not to convert these white background images to black and white. The low-key shots with the black background look best black and white, but I kind of like the original color versions for these. So I included one of each and you can decide for yourself.

That's all for now. Maybe in a week you will see some baby photos! Thank you all for your encouragement and support. We'll keep you posted!

Baby Countdown!

We finally found some time to take some nice maternity shots with real lighting, etc. We love the shots by the beach but Karen knew she wanted some great black and white images. Of course, we forgot to get me in a few shots until we had switched backgrounds but it worked out well.

I like mixing low-key (dark background, dark clothes, emphasis on shadows, etc.) and high-key (bright background, white/light clothes, etc.) to get two very different looks.

Some nice shots of Karen alone. These are shot with the main light in an umbrella off to her side. Another flash is aimed at a reflector on her right side to act as fill and a final flash is up high and behind her to act as a hair light. The "fill" and "hair" lights help separate her from the background.

Now we switch to some high-key shots. This lighting scheme produces a much brighter and lighter feeling image. I might do a "behind-the-scenes" post about this setup later but the background is a white sheet hanging from a frame I built. A flash is fired into the sheet from behind so as to make it look pure white. Some light from the background spills on to Karen, but a light in an umbrella adds the main light on her.

And we remembered to stick me in a few. I still hadn't changed from work (I just took off my shirt) but the white undershirt and light pants worked out great.

We hope you enjoyed some of the latest pics of Karen! I've had a few requests to show some more images from this session so I will be posting them soon.