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Sabrina and George’s Engagement Session at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah, FL

2014 November 20
by rickyste

I love new locations, as readers of this blog know, and apparently Sabrina is a reader of this blog, because she mentioned this fact that would be known to that select class alone. So, w set about the difficult task of finding a beautiful, free (or near free) location in South Florida that I’d never shot. Enter: Amelia Earhart Park.

I had my doubts because it’s in Hialeah (not known for breathtaking romance) and also because all the other sessions I saw online were disgusting, but I figure if anyone can make it look like the bomb, it’s me. I’m up for a challenge!

I got there a little early, did a walkaround and was totally surprised at how photo-ready the place is. It’s really a wonderful engagement session spot – how did the other local photographers manage to make it look so crappy? It’s a mystery sometimes. As my couple arrived, however, so did the rain and my heart sank. I was ready to go! Sabrina and George looked great! Rain!???!! Ugh.

But Sabrina is a trooper. We waited it out under a little shelter and after it blew over, we set out to photo explore the place. I love what we found. Take me back to Hialeah!

Dani and Mike’s Wedding at the Harriet Himmel Theater in West Palm Beach, FL

2014 November 19
by rickyste

What can I say about Dani and Mike? They are super sweet, friendly, nice and very, very funny. When I have a couple that I know can laugh at themselves and the lunacy that goes into a wedding day, I prepare for awesomeness. I know I will get my normal, utterly gorgeous photos, but on top of that I have an opportunity to push the boundaries a little and see what else we can achieve. Even better, the bride and groom were extremely flexible in terms of their time and were totally enthusiastic about any idea I had, so we tried it all.

I also had a strange situation at their wedding which was that, apparently, their date was ultra popular and all my normal second photographers were booked on weddings of their own. That forced me to go outside the box a little and work with someone new: the revelation that is Stephanie Meyer-Senior. Stephanie brought a whole new perspective to the Ricky Stern experience and I was thrilled both with her photos and how cool she is to have around on a wedding day. So, good for me! Assisting and third shooting was the always plucky and excited Sarah Pinder, so with the team in place we produced the loving, silly, no holds barred gorgeousness on display below. Please enjoy – I definitely did!

The Remainder of Nilu and Jon’s Wedding Cruise Aboard the Allure of the Seas

2014 November 19
by rickyste

The photos below represent my ability to light anything, anywhere, under any conditions. From the very dark nightclub onboard (Blaze) to a random lounge to a little street photography at port, I can do it all, and I did. I can’t go into long descriptions because, well, I want to do other things over the next few hours, but if you check out the post on my Facebook page (be a fan!) you’ll find me waxing poetic. Heavily. Anyway, I’m a genius.

Nilu & Jon’s Destination Wedding Aboard the Allure of the Seas

2014 November 10
by rickyste

So I’m driving home with my family from a trip to Disney and the phone rings. I’m talking to a girl (and her sister) who is looking for a photographer to join her – and her entire extended family – and her crew of hard partying friends – on a weeklong cruise to get married at the Ritz in St. Thomas. After awakening from my fainting spell, I proceeded to tell her in no uncertain terms that there was only one person on the planet that she should even consider hiring for this mission, and it was me. I was dying to get on this ship for the photo glory alone.

After an inexorable wait, Nilu hired me. I got booked, it was all legit, and then the fear started setting in. I had never been apart from my wife for more than 4 nights in the eleven years we’d been living together. This was 7! And I was willingly throwing myself into a large group of people with an existing dynamic and hope that my limitlessed charisma and charm would keep them from straight up ditching me or getting weirded out by the dude with the camera. Plus I really hate the formal dinners.

I’m standing outside the dining room on the first night, sweating in a my semi-formal outfit in a pack of people when I hear the Captain’s announcement that a hurricane is going to hit St. Thomas (our first stop and wedding venue) and St. Maarten (our second stop with an all day beach party at a rented restaurant) but not to worry, he had already made arrangements for us to go to Cozumel and then Jamaica.

I, in a rush of sudden anguish, felt the pain for Nilu. All I could think was “This poor girl!” All that planning, all the effort, but . . . uh . . . not to worry, we’re going to Jamaica!

But you know what? I got to know Nilu and Jon. I got to know a lot of people. It’s 7 nights, for crying out loud. It’s an eternity. Aboard a cruise ship. I made some serious, honest to goodness friends. It was an adult summer camp, a week out of time. After getting to know them, it makes perfect sense that, in hindsight, everything worked out exactly the way it did. These two ARE the hurricane, a force of nature. The show must go on, and on it went. With a Herculean effort by all involved, they got married with the sand beneath their feet and rocked the ship with the party.

But perhaps no one’s effort (outside of Nilu’s) was more Herculean than my own. I take care of my brides; for the time I’m with them, their happiness is paramount in my mind, along with an overwhelming desire to extract every ounce of photographic awesomeness out of what is already an awesome day. So Nilu, this bride who could have hired ANYONE IN THE WORLD to shoot her wedding and STILL chose me, was going to get the photos of a lifetime BY GOD or I would never sleep peacefully again. For seven days, that was my driving force in life. And on her wedding day I was operating at my absolute maximum ability, motivation and genius, and we produced the glory we share with you here. Enjoy.

Aileen & Michael’s Engagement Session at Tree Tops Park

2014 October 30
by rickyste

I pay attention, and I also become friends with the great majority of my couples (in the real life sense and the facebook sense) and I noticed no matter how artsy, cool or different my engagement session photos were, the couples always just posted beautiful photos where they looked their best and / or which reflected their true love for each other.

As one who is always striving to perfect perfection, I listened to the market research and started gearing my sessions more towards what I know all couples want and less for my blog. At the end of the day, who am I shooting for? Besides, I can get photo glory at essentially any wedding given more than ten minutes and a half-decent location, so engagement sessions can be exercises in pure photographic beauty.

Enjoy Aileen and Michael’s session, I think they’re a great couple and I’m very much looking forward to the big day :) Our session was a bit shorter than usual but Aileen marched through the nature hike in impressive heels and I’m very impressed by her determination – and ability to look fabulous at the drop of a hat!

Nayla + Garrett’s Wedding at Fisher Island

2014 October 28
by rickyste

There are few things better than a wedding featuring a large group of longstanding friends, where they all know everyone, love everyone, have total comfort and just want to have an awesome time. Among the many positives boasted by Nayla and Garrett’s big day, this was probably my favorite. It leads to a lot of hilarity, photo worthy emotion and just general happiness.

Another big positive was the unadulterated love and affection Nayla and Garrett obviously have for each other, as evidenced by the free running tears from the two of them as she approached the altar. As the sky went from blue to VERY blue to just flat out dark, sensual BLUE, we shot portraits with the dwindling light and got some ultra gorgeous late dusk shots on the beach, which I <3 so much.

The party was tremendous, and even a flat out thunderstorm couldn’t dampen the excitement, until finally the wedding moved to a beautiful to after-party the night away.

Ileana and Chris’s Wedding at Crandon Golf

2014 October 20
by rickyste

Ileana started her day getting ready in her parent’s beautiful home with a gaggle of her friends and family, everyone ready and willing to take beautiful photos. I love a cooperative crowd and a well lit, interesting spot, and they did not disappoint me, at all, as you can see. It was the kind of getting ready where I just couldn’t take a bad picture.

The rain started up during the ceremony, and it came down in sheets. We had planned on using the golf course for basically all of our portraits and I found myself in the (for me) very familiar position of having to do all the portraits suddenly either indoors or in a very tightly constrained location, this time the little breezeway / driveway at the entrance of the reception venue. And of course, I turned a 10×10 space into 5 or 6 unique photos. Nice Ricky!

The interior was highlighted by an expansive, woody, woody, woody ceiling. This meant I wasn’t able to bounce (boo) so I lit the entire party with directional, off camera flash. The results are, as usual, perfect. Enjoy!

Susie & Shane’s Wedding at the Sea Ranch Lakes Beach Club

2014 October 6
by rickyste

Susie and Shane are pretty much the sweetest, nicest couple you’ll ever meet. They are the utter definition of “in love,” and the level of pure happiness ran very high at the wedding.

It featured both a Catholic church ceremony and a beach Jewish ceremony, and both were lovely. I was happy to have the chance to show off my ability to properly present two such different ceremonies (in terms of of photographic conditions) as well as being happy with the opportunity to see these two married twice in quick succession. It was a fun wrinkle, and they can be totally certain that yes, they are married :)

The reception had a LOT of balloon action happening, and they were a common thread throughout the night – on top of the gushing emotion, raucous dancing and beautiful bistro lights. I had a great time and am really proud of the results.

2014 October 2
by rickyste

Patty and Flavio came to me at the meeting with a variety of interesting wrinkles; first, they were a really fun, good humored couple, which is always a huge plus. Second, they were getting married at none other than the illustrious Cruz Building and had set the meeting based on the strength of the portrait session I had done for my sister. Third, they had a truly international guest list and had lots of people pulling for this to be a wedding to remember (sounds good to me!) and finally, they had already had a full day portrait session in Taiwan and the photos they showed me were truly beautiful. It’s important to me to be the best photographer any of my clients have ever or will ever work with, so seeing a couple with gorgeous photos taken by someone else is a little intimidating I’m sure for most people, but for me it served as a welcome challenge.

And it’s a good thing I welcome challenges, because the Cruz Building is pretty much the ultimate in high effort / high reward. The light is totally horrible, but if you know how to produce your own clean white light, then you can use the positives it has to offer – and the positives are much more positive than anywhere else I’ve had the pleasure to shoot. So bringing out the wild colors, the stained glass, the ornate extravagance all by willpower and external flash was a real accomplishment and I’m very proud of what we managed to do.

It was easier with the expert presence of Michelle from Minerva Photography and Alex Bartole, and of course the up-for-anything couple. Between the crazy reception and the (thankfully) natural light drenched day after portrait session, this was about a complete a display of my talents as I’ve maybe ever had. Enjoy!

Sarah & Francisco’s Wedding at the Mayfair in Coconut Grove

2014 September 22
by rickyste

Michelle from Minerva Photography and I had some very interesting and challenging challenges at this wedding – although finding the emotion between the couple was not one of them. For starters, it was hot. Like, greenhouse in August hot. So keeping the bride and everyone else cool was order #1 of the day, and to accomplish that we kept everyone indoors as much as humanly possible – with the exception of the first look. How could I pass up that grandiose setting?

But shooting the remainder of the portraits in boardrooms and restaurant booths can prove very hard, and I was very proud of the fact that we were up to the task. The easy part was catching the immense amount of love that was obvious and present the entire day between bride and groom, fortunately. Sarah just lit up every time she and Frank got near each other, to the point where I knew if they hugged, there was a great photo there every single time.

So who needs light during a ceremony when you have the light of love illuminating the entire hotel? Well, me, but I can make my own light. The only thing I can’t manufacture – true love – was luckily provided to me in spades.