Every once in a while, you either find yourself at a beautiful wedding where everyone cares way too much and the bride is a total freak or a wedding where the bride is really chill and cool, and as a result no one cared enough about the wedding to make it unique in any way.
Then, rarely – much, much too rarely – you find yourself at a gorgeous wedding where the bride and groom are really chill and cool and that’s when it all clicks, and when it clicks with me, it clicks really hard. I felt that way at Elise and Leeor’s wedding; from moment one I was on a photo spree for the ages. Everything was visually interesting, I had plenty of time, and most of all, I had a bride in Elise who understood that the road to incredible pictures is paved with a great sense of humor.
Randy Borges shot the wedding with me, and did his usual amazing work, but I brought him specifically because Leeor had let me know at the initial meeting that he loved documentary style photography, and no one’s better than Randy for that. He came through and then some, showing the natural fun and love at the wedding.
Me? I went unconscious. I blacked out for 12 hours and produced glory upon glory, portraits, dancing, just pure photo nirvana. When I came to and sorted through the cards I was amazed by the heights we reached, sustained brilliance by everyone involved. Oh, and the hotel is beautiful.
How beautiful are these two? I showed up in sort of a bad mood – to be honest, I wasn’t totally in the mood for a portrait session that day – and as soon as I met them and saw Melissa’s total enthusiasm, I melted immediately and got to work. There are so many sessions where the bride and groom are pretty blah, don’t really care, or whatever, that when I find someone who is visibly invested in getting the best out of the time with me I kick it into overdrive. Delray gives you a lot to work with as well. It turns out all I need to cure a sour mood is a fun couple, a beautiful location and a camera in my hand. Tough life I live!
As I mentioned briefly in the engagement session post, Jodie was very clear in our initial meeting that pictures were of the ultimate importance to her on her wedding day. Being me, I assured her that she was in the best hands possible. I’m all about the photos and I always deliver.
As we approached the big day, I started to get a teensy bit worried. I always get a little anxious about producing at maximum capacity, but I especially wanted Jodie to be happy. I made promises to the bride and I intended to keep them. I was very lucky to be working with a bride and groom who were totally willing to stop whatever they were doing and trust me, which is the most valuable asset on a wedding day. A couple who has faith in me as a photographer gets the world, and here’s what we got for Jodie and Joel!
This wedding started off sort of differently than I’m used to; we had a tighter window than usual to shoot and as a result lost the normal, easygoing getting ready session. In its stead we started the day at level 10 as we tried to squeeze getting ready, formals, bridal party photos all into the hour pre-ceremony.
So at a certain point, I look at my bride, who is particularly beautiful, and throw the brakes on the whole thing because I wasn’t about to leave without some utterly gorgeous bridal portraits to show for myself. You don’t get someone as lovely as Allison every weekend and I knew if I could carve out 5 minutes here and there I’d come away with the beautiful photos she deserved.
I had no issues at the reception with the awesome colors on the wall, the contrast it gave me was striking. Mixed with a fun loving groom and the capable assistance of Tiffany Faulkner from Whimsical Bliss Photography, it was all in all a great photo day after all
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!
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 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.
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 limitl
essed 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.
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!
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.