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Kim and Dave’s Wedding at the Ballenisles Country Club

2014 July 21
by rickyste

I put an immense amount of pressure on myself to perform at maximum capacity every time I go out to shoot – even a casual reader of my blog knows that – so when I have a wedding where it would be easy to dial it down to 70% and still come through, I’m extra proud.

Kim and Dave’s wedding was everything you’d want: loving, fun and a true celebration. The problem was that it rained, and once the rain starts coming down, your typical country club wedding loses a lot of the original appeal of the venue (namely, anything outdoors). When you’re limited to “the clubhouse” as it’s invariably called, you’ll usually find a small maze of long, wood paneled hallways that don’t lend any interest whatsoever to photos and the Ballenisles is no different.

The one place where it does stand out from the crowd is in the great space Kim used for her ceremony because it had a ton of volume, it was ultra white and it also had huge windows allowing rain muted light to gush in. All positives for photography for sure. I also had a major positive shooting the wedding with me in the person of Jill Erwich, so together we set out to find ways to make the wedding photograph as awesome as it felt in person.

Did we succeed? Well, with a couple who is interested in having a great time and getting beautiful photos, being stuck inside is no deterrent whatsoever. Besides, Kim and I came up with the concept of a first look on a trolley, and that’s definitely an A+! Enjoy – we did!

Marisa and Matt’s Wedding at the Old Marsh Country Club

2014 July 15
by rickyste

Marisa’s family and I have a special connection. Like, to the point that I came home from our initial meeting and I told my wife I felt like talking to her father Howie was like talking to an older version of myself. Everyone in her family is funny, sarcastic, sharp and up for a great time and lots of laughs – I fit right in.

To the point that I really did feel a lot of pressure pulling in to her house for the Getting Ready period. It was pretty close to shooting for some of my own extended family and I wanted to make sure I left no opportunity unused. It was threatening rain the entire time I was in Marisa’s house so I knew we had to hurry up and get the portraits going because soon there would be no more outside option. We took as many pictures of Marisa as possible, kind of rushing through, but what we ended up turning out was gorgeous. It just goes to show the absolute importance of making sure a bride has twenty to thirty minutes of being totally ready prior to leaving for the ceremony, because you end up with gold, it gets everyone comfortable and the bride ends up with beautiful portraits.

After our indoor, skybridge first look (awesome) we were off to the races and played my favorite game of “make a small indoor visually repetitive space look incredible” as we lost the ability to use the golf course due to rain and humidity. Fortunately, I’m something of an expert at this by now, and the results speak for themselves. I’m so happy for Marisa and Matt, they’re a couple made for each other and this was also that rare instance (well, maybe not that rare) where I was the ideal photographer for the couple. Makes me happy!

Nicole and Joe’s Engagement Session (and Video!)

2014 July 7
by rickyste

I got this nutty idea one day last week to take video throughout an entire engagement session to show what I see when I’m shooting, and I think it translated the experience pretty effectively. I am completely self-obsessed -especially in terms of photography – so this video is pretty much my favorite thing ever. Check it out and then see the results below!

Leslie and Dave’s Beautiful Beach Lighthouse Wedding

2014 June 30
by rickyste

Leslie is a photographer and her best friend and bridesmaid is a photographer, so knowing this I felt the pressure. I can’t walk into a wedding where I know for a fact that the bride has a photography education and blow it, you know? And by blow it I mean “not incredible”.

Fortunately I had the world to work with here. I had a beautiful bride and groom, a very fun and willing bridal party, a beach with good light, big rocks, an honor guard, a tent, sparklers, and of course a terribly interesting lighthouse. Much to my total humiliation the bride even had parasols that I completely neglected to incorporate into the photos. The shame!

Although every singly one of my pictures at this wedding is astounding, the long shutter speed atmospherics are truly exceptional – not to mention my “couple kissing in a lightbox at the base of the lighthouse at dusk” miracle. But above all my favorite may be the “tiny bride” picture I took as a special request from Leslie. I love a great sense of humor in a couple and these guys have it in spades :) I loved the wedding, I had so much fun with everyone and I know that shines through in the photos below.

Tatiana and Dominick’s Wedding at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens

2014 June 23
by rickyste

I expected this wedding to be all good things – lovely, romantic, pretty – but I got even more than I expected with the reception. I was stunned to see the level of detail I had to work with, especially with the food and dessert presentation. A good part of being a wedding photographer is it forces you to look closely and carefully at everything; if the big wide picture has already been taken (or doesn’t look very good) then the tiny can suddenly carry weight of its own. Like shrimp, a humble creature in reality but glorious in the photo.

The couple was visibly amused by my relentless stream of portraits (accomplished in a 12 minute window before it started threatening to rain) and even I was surprised at how beautiful they turned out. All in all, this turned into a gorgeous wedding gallery and I couldn’t be happier for Tatiana and Dom.

Nicole and Nick’s Wedding at the Omphoy Resort

2014 June 16
by rickyste

I walk into the Omphoy for the first time and my eyes just start darting around incredulously. How had I never been there before? It’s usually somewhat of a struggle to find visual interest in hotels because blandness often wins the day in terms of the design; non-offensive and broadly palatable seems to be the goal for most. The Omphoy, on the other hand, just gives you all kinds of weird, dark, awesomeness from the cool blue light wall to a clear lucite foosball table (!) to the fact that just everything has a shadowy, moody lighting feel. I instantly regretted not having 4 hours to do portraits (which I never do but this was the spot to have it).

So it was a pretty excited Ricky that arrived to the bride’s getting ready room. Nicole is a gorgeous bride who fit her dress perfectly, styled herself beautifully, and knows how to roll with the punches. The plan was to go out to the beach to shoot bridal party pictures and bride + groom photos but when we walked out to the deck it was WINDY, like, all caps windy. I immediately turned to her and said “you don’t want to do this.”

Impressively, she and everyone else trekked down to the water and we gave it a go, but it was obvious no hairstyle would survive even ten minutes out there, so we retreated. That’s when I went into portrait overdrive, getting as much as I could with difficult lighting and short time, but the couple kept agreeing to do more, either out of pity for me or confidence (I think it’s the latter), and we eventually found our way to the pool deck which had wind protection and built in backdrops. Yes.

The reception was similarly difficult to light – dark, oddly shaped room and varying ceiling heights – but the truth is, at this point, I see the challenges and my responses always bring out interesting, beautiful light solutions. I shot this wedding alone and it’s an achievement. The pictures are wonderful, but if you had seen the difficulty of the conditions presented by the Omphoy sans beach, you’d understand just how glorious these are. Love it.

Morgan & Jeremy’s Engagement Session on and around Lincoln Road

2014 June 13
by rickyste

These two have an ENERGY. I don’t mean like they just wanted to go for an impromptu jog during the session; I mean, they have chemistry out the wazoo and not just with each other. It’s rare to find a couple who brings as much pizzazz as I do but Morgan and Jeremy did just that.

They are genuinely, legitimately funny – something that in this world, outside of me, is incredibly hard to come across (considering you’re dealing with an endless stream of people deep in the horrors of wedding planning). They did whatever stupidity I came up with (and there were plenty) and came with ideas of their own.

Plus, Jeremy brings a straight up Jimmy Fallon-esque manic ENERGY that was the engine for the session. Morgan balances his antics with well timed biting comments and eye rolls for dramatic, comedic effect. They’re just awesome to hang out with – plus, they photograph really well. This wedding is circled on my calendar with a big, fat red magic marker.

Anastasia and Ben’s Beautifully Quirky Wedding at the Jacaranda Country Club

2014 June 9
by rickyste

When I met these two, I sort of fell in love with them. It was the kind of meeting where, looking at the couple, listening to them talk about what their wedding was going to be, I just repeat silently to myself “don’t screw this up Ricky.”

I mean, weddings, typically, are very similar. People are pretty fearful when planning a wedding and tend to play it safe, and the (unintended) result is blandness. It then becomes my job to take a standard, wedding-by-the-numbers and elevate it into something interesting. So when I start hearing about all the little handmade, ultra-cute details awaiting me at this one, I was pretty much smitten.

The veils! The polka dots! The bow ties! The yo-yo’s! It was all so cute! But on top of it all, I had a remarkably beautiful bride and an exceedingly dapper groom, and that’s where the real magic of this wedding was. That and the fact that I managed to shoot everything while dealing with 12:00 noon light conditions :) I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of me killing it. I’m excellent at taking a whatever wedding and making it special and I wanted to prove that I can take a special wedding and turn it extraordinary, and so I did.

Tatiana and Mike’s Engagement at the Biltmore Hotel

2014 June 6
by rickyste

I love the Biltmore. It’s a landmark, it’s beautiful, and they don’t give you a hard time at all when you show up unannounced and use the property for photos. I am always super respectful of the property and the guests, and in return my couple gets a beautiful location for their session. Plus, the surrounding area is totally useful as well. Everything about it is great!

But all the greatness and grandeur of the location pales in comparison to the greatness of my couple. Tatiana and Mike changed the date of their wedding based on my availability. I get compliments all the time, and I appreciate every single one, deeply. I get the messages from photographers far and wide telling me I’m the best – obviously – and I soak up the praise like a sponge out of shrink wrap.

But when a couple changes the very date of their wedding – the date that they will celebrate as their anniversary for the rest of their lives – because I’m booked, that’s the ultimate compliment, the most sincere praise, and I take it about as seriously as I take anything. Plus they’re really good looking.

Diana + Arun at the M Building

2014 June 2
by rickyste

I always do my best. I’ve mentioned this multiple times on the blog, and it’s still true. Every wedding gives my best.

Now, a normal person averages, say, 80% effort. This is somewhat good for that photographer because when a wedding comes along that demands full effort, they have plenty left to give above and beyond their average. That leaves me with a little problem – when I get a wedding like Diana and Arun’s that I know for a fact will be impeccable, incredible and amazing, how do I try even harder than my average effort of 100%?

It comes down to staying awake at night envisioning photos for weeks before the wedding. It involves total concentration on the day of. It entails maximum effort, even when everyone’s sitting at their tables eating dinner.

At a wedding like this, where I have a gorgeous couple, a totally unique venue and really carefully chosen and arranged details – and then prominent string lights – and then sparklers (done right! during the first dance!) not to mention a first look with red balloons in front of a graffiti wall . . . it’s an embarrassment of photo riches. Plus guests who want to party! And a couple down for portraits! An a super cool bride! Charismatic groom! And to boot on top of all that the world’s most overqualified assistant in the form of Michelle from Minerva Photography (who worked the black and white camera expertly for the majority of the wedding) – I was feeling the pressure for sure.

All in all, it’s a good thing my tank has a maximum capacity of 115% :) This wedding to be featured soon on Say Yes to the Dress!