Samantha and Paul, Marriott Waterside Wedding

Now that the holidays are over, wedding season is here. This past weekend, I was second-shooting with MJ, so most of the setup shots are her poses that I was shooting from a second angle. Samantha and Paul had both the ceremony and reception at the Marriott Waterside in Tampa. Things went smoothly thanks to the coordination of Weddings by Georgia.

We had plenty of time for pictures since everything was at one location and the couple saw each other before the ceremony.

The hotel has lots of great lobbies and hallways that make nice backgrounds. The hotel was fairly empty which allowed us to roam freely. Here, I started by underexposing the image slightly and adding a snooted flash on the couple. The orange painting in the upper right gives a good indication of the ambient level of the hotel lights. I used a snooted flash in several of the following shots. See the difference between their faces and her waist? The snoot concentrates the light, allowing me to draw the viewer's eye exactly where I want it.
This lobby faces giant windows and always has very nice light. But I wanted a different look so I used the same principle as above. Underexposing the image adds some drama and mood while a snooted flash lets her "pop" a little bit. You can see the flash starting around her knee. Sometimes a flash can be used for a very dramatic image, but it's always nice to blend it with existing light for a very natural look.

MJ was shooting Samantha from behind so I swung around and got some profile shots. And yes, when you have two Tampa Photo shooters covering your wedding, you may feel like a celebrity!

Then we moved downstairs where we found these monstrous paintings. I was still using a snooted flash aimed at the couple, but for this image I placed a second flash on a table behind the groom to light the painting.

Samantha and Paul weren't very interested in standard formal shots for their groups, so we mixed things up a little bit.

This window was throwing some really cool light into this upstairs lobby so I just had to play around with it. My snooted flash helps Samantha stand out against the bright backlight.

Knocking the exposure way down darkened the room, but still allowed the veil to be blown out from the window light. The effect of the snooted flash is more obvious here since I have lowered the ambient exposure level so much. I noticed that the window light was not covering the full veil with this new pose, but we had already spent enough time on this theme and I didn't want o bother repositioning her farther back.

There were lots of cute kids at the wedding, and as a new father I am sure I am more drawn to them now than ever before. It was tough to edit the images down to a reasonable number, but I managed to choose two (and it just so happens they are of the same kid!). Awww, look at that face!

I just love the closeness and the interaction of the family in this image.

I usually light the cake with my flashes, but the Marriott did a pretty good job with their house lights. While shooting room shots before the ceremony, I was happy to find that the interior lights were fairly close to the ambient light outside. And the color difference between the cool cloudy light outside and the warm incandescent light inside makes for a pleasing separation of foreground and background.

Samantha and Paul had a really great first dance. They came out to the band jamming "Good lovin" and did a choreographed dance. It was really fun to see something a little different.

Congratulations Samantha and Paul! It was a pleasure to document your special day. Good luck and have fun!

Jim's 60th...Surprise!

Jim was turning 60 and his wife Jo wanted to do something special. The plan was to have Jim's brother take him out and somehow find their way to the St. Petersburg Woman's Club on Snell Isle where a whole bunch of friends and family would be on hand to surprise him and help celebrate the occasion.

Jo wanted to make sure that we got photos of all the guests. The easiest way to do this is to get them as they come in the door. I figured some balloons and the "St. Petersburg Woman's Club" sign would make a suitable backdrop. A flash on a stand was pointed at the wall behind me producing a nice broad light source coming slightly from the left. I tried to get the folks into the party as fast as possible...."Stand'click'....OK, enjoy the party!" I think this was a great idea. The only other way to capture everyone is to do table shots, which never turn out very nice.

A -ahem- recent picture of the birthday boy.

The guest of honor arrives and greets his friends and family.

I dare you to turn down bruschetta delivered by these lovely ladies.

Jim's mother points out some highlights from the last 60 years.

The Woman's Club sits right on the water overlooking Coffee Pot Bayou and the Snell Isle bridge that heads back to the mainland.

Jim gets a kick out of a toast from a good friend.
Jo wanted some family portraits outside. I had brought an umbrella and was able to set up some decent light on the go. Luckily, there was very little wind (umbrellas make good light modifiers and excellent wind catchers).

A nice big group shot. A second flash off to the side illuminates the background to add some depth.

Happy Birthday Jim! The party was full of loving family, fun friends, good food and cold drinks. What more could you ask for? Thanks for choosing me to capture moments from this special day.

Sky on Fire

We had some family in town this past week so I took my brother-in-law Matt (also a photographer) to Fort De Soto to do some exploring. We made our way out to the beach in time for sunset and I am glad we did.

We were running around trying to make images as the sun went over the horizon. Little did we know the best shots would come well after the sun had disappeared.

While walking out the beach we passed a few other photographers and one said something like "20 more minutes and we're out of business" referring to the fact that the sun would be setting in 20 minutes. But I have found that the hour after sunset can be just as good, if not better, for photographs.
I was traveling pretty bare-bones and only had one body with a 17-50mm lens. I wish I had my 12-24mm wide angle because this is where that lens shines.

During the walk back to the car, the sand dunes provided a nice border to the image. Unfortunately, the sea oats had already dropped their "oats" so they just looked like bare stalks.

As we got closer to the car, some mangroves also provided a nice foreground element to the image. It was getting pretty dark here, so I was trying to hold the camera as steady as possible shooting at 1/10 second.

There are several clumps of palm trees along North Beach that I have used in sunset shots before, but I usually walk right up to them so they are the main element of the photo. Here, we just pulled the car off the road and rolled down the window. We kept inching forward until the trees were not blocking any of the clouds. Shooting from a car allows me to brace the camera on the door frame which was very important since this shot required a 1/4 or 1/2 second shutter speed. This shot was taken approx. 1 hour after the sun had officially set!

I've been getting lots of requests for more shots of baby Vanessa. Hopefully I'll have some more posted soon!