Jaricca + Mike Family Sunrise Session Pass-A-Grille Beach Florida

Ah, the salt life!

Florida is best known for its spectacular sunsets.  All those jaw dropping reds, oranges and yellow hues sparkling off the water in brilliant deep tones making Golden Hour truly Golden.  But there is something equally special about our sunrises with their Easter Egg pastel colors sweeping across the sky light a watercolor painting.

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It was one of those glorious mornings when we met on Pass-A-Grille Beach for a family session at sunrise.  To watch the sky go from twilight to a blue so pale it almost seems translucent is an amazing experience.

You see we were supposed to meet the night before for Sunset pictures at Fort DeSoto Beach where I had taken their engagement pictures a few years back.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and brought us heavy thunderstorms and lightning, which is a big avoid the beach entirely kinda thing.  (Side note:  It amazes me every year the number of tourists who suffer lightning strikes because they stay on the beach and near the water during a thunderstorm) Well, the morning of I drove over to Fort DeSoto only to find the road closed due to a Triathlon being under way.  So, we had to switch over to Plan B, or C as it would seem and find yet another location.

Thankfully, Pass-A-Grille Beach was only minutes away and not yet packed with the vacationing masses.  We were able to stroll the powdery white sand beach without distractions.  The Gulf reflected like a mirror against the sky, while the rising sun played peek-a-boo behind some fluffy white clouds.  Yay, as you know direct sunlight on the beach without anything to diffuse it can be harsh.

Jaricca and Mike live in Ohio and vacation here in Florida on the beautiful Gulf Coast.  They are two of the sweetest people I know, and I finally got to meet their newest family member and adorable little girl Amaya.  Oh my gosh, does she have the hair!  It was the funniest thing, she loved being outdoors and would smile, laugh and interact.  When they tried to put her little toes into the sand or water, she was NOT having any of it.  You can tell she has her Daddy wrapped around her little bitty finger already.

At one point Mike lifted Amaya up over his head in the classic Lion King pose.  There I am geeking out taking pictures and singing “The Circle of Life” aloud not caring who hears.  We all laughed, and yeah, I even laughed at myself.  I mean, why not right?

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I hope you enjoy the images from our quick morning sunrise session on the beautiful Pass-A-Grille Beach.

Next time you are vacationing or just visiting our Gulf beaches, consider making a sunrise run.  You truly will not be disappointed.

XO,

Sue

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5 Things You Should Know Before Booking Your Wedding Photographer

You are engaged!  Woo hoo and congratulations.  After the initial excitement dies down, the overwhelming experience of wedding planning kicks in.

Either you love it or you hate it, but either way it will involve countless hours or research, budget crunching and plenty of wine.  Am I right?

Along with finding the perfect venue, selecting your wedding photographer is high on the list of must do’s.  For me, the right wedding photographer is far more important than any other vendor, but that may be because I am biased.  Truth be told, your photographer and their imagery will be the only thing from your wedding day that will live on long after the night ends and your dress is packed away.

Your photographer will document your love story, and if they are good, make any location or venue look like a million bucks.

Know yourself and your expectations

This may seem like a basic tip, but knowing how you interact with people in highly stressful situations is a must.  Do you like to be left alone?  Do you prefer minimal contact?  Or do you appreciate help and assistance?  Are you a contact person and a hugger? If someone goes to hug you, do you want to shove them back and scream back off??  Your personality dictates who you need for you.

Knowing yourself and what is comfortable to you is important in finding a like minded professional to work with.

Do you want minimal contact?  To just sign the contract and not bother with them again until your wedding day?  Or do you want someone who will guide you through the process and be in constant communication?  Someone willing to walk the venue with you and offer their opinion and suggestions?

There is not right or wrong answer here.  It all depends on what you personally want and prefer.  The next step is finding the photographer who fits all your needs.

What style of imagery do you gravitate to

There are a million and one photographers out there, but finding the “one” can seem daunting.  Look through vendor listings and bridal magazines.  Is there a particular style you find yourself referring to time and time again?  Do you want a timeless and classic look, or are you into the new fad and current trend of the dark and moody images?  Knowing what your preference is will help you narrow down the list of photographers out there.  Please realize, they will not change their editing style to accommodate you.  They are the artist and their style is their own.  Do not hire a Light and Airy photographer if you want Dark and Moody or vice versa.  Once you know what you like, you can begin making inquiries.  Stalk them on Instagram and check out their websites.  Make sure you see not only the perfectly staged and posed images, but images throughout the entire day from getting ready to first dances.  Some photographers excel in one area, but their images are lacking in another.  Finding someone whose work speaks to you in every way.

Budget and Pricing

With photographers covering a wide spectrum of pricing, it should be easy to find a professional who you click with (no pun intended) within your budget.  Newer photographers will have a lower price package than seasoned pros, because face it experience matters a ton in wedding photography.  This is the one genre in photography where there are no “do overs”.  We cannot reschedule or makeup images if we miss the shot.  That is not to say some new photographers will not do an exceptional job for you.  Everyone has to start somewhere, right?  But having the best photographer you can afford is very important.

Photography is the one aspect of your wedding day you should never skimp on.

Your photographer will be responsible for documenting each step of your journey on your wedding day, AND follow up with quality images in a specific time frame.  I hear horror stories all the time of the photographer who shot the wedding, then ghosted the couple.  Where 4 months later there are still zero images received and communication with them leads no where.  Whomever you decide to book, make sure they have upfront guidelines of what their service will be, including after the wedding.  Communication is key.

Know what is included

There is no one size fits all package in wedding photography as every wedding and couple are unique.  Most photographers craft a package and pricing around what is the “standard” or a traditional wedding time frame.  Packages are determined by the amount of hours you will be requiring photography services, from the first moments or getting ready images to the last big event of the wedding.  But your wedding photography is not only what happens on the big day.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Is an initial consultation included?
  • Do they assist you with your timeline and answer questions?
  • What is their policy for payment?
  • How many images do they include in your package?
  • How will you receive these images?
  • What is the turn around time on receiving the final product?
  • Is there a cap on how many images they provide with the package?  Will there be an upcharge  for additional images?
  • How will they communicate with you?
  • Are they insured?
  • Do they use professional equipment?
  • Do they have a back up plan in the event of emergencies?
  • If you need to add more hours, can you do so?
  • Do they offer a complimentary engagement session?
  • If so, how many images will be delivered?

Knowing all of these questions will help you chose the perfect photographer for you.

For more on what questions to ask when interviewing a photographer, check out this link here.

Remember, you have to love the person you are working with.  You must feel comfortable with them, and trust in their ability to document your day your way.

Best of luck finding who speaks to you!

 

XO Sue

Wilka & Jerry Intimate Elopement Celebration Gardens Winter Park, Florida

I had the pleasure of capturing an intimate elopement ceremony for Wilka & Jerry at Celebration Gardens in Winter Park, Florida last Saturday on a glorious, Florida summer day.  The venue is a hidden gem in downtown Winter Park, featuring a beautiful gazebo, trellised gardens, and cobblestone pathways.  Tropical flowers line the walkways or cascade down over the white pergola providing a stunning backdrop for the celebration.

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Wilka and Jerry met years ago while employed at Target.  The story goes in the first on-boarding meeting for new employees, Jerry was drawn to Wilka and sparks flew.  Even the presenter noticed the attraction and made a comment as to how relationships blossomed at their company.  While working at the same location they talked but never dated.

Eventually Wilka moved on to another position but Jerry did not forget her.  He found her on-line and asked her out.  Within a few days, they both knew they had found the person they were waiting for.

The couple chose an intimate elopement at the beautiful Celebration Gardens in Winter Park, Florida with deeply meaningful vows.  Wilka has a seven year old son whom they included in ceremony.  He escorted his Mom up the aisle, was the keeper of the rings, and participated in the vows with a promise of his own.  The heartfelt ceremony was officiated by Reverend Donnakay Johnson with words of hope, love and beginnings.  She included Wilka’s son in the commitment which made him beam with pride.

After the “I do’s” they shared the traditional kiss, then all three joined hands to walk down the aisle as a unit symbolizing their new commitment and dedication to one another.  The three of them make the perfect family!

Wilka wore a beautiful A-Line organza gown with layered skirt and carried a cascading bouquet of deep red roses and greens.  Jerry looked striking in his dark suit with burgundy accents.

The weather cooperated and the standard Floridian summer rains held off.  Despite being overcast, we were graced with a beautiful afternoon glow.

I loved spending time with this adorable family and have a new love for intimate elopements!  It truly was a magical experience.

Congratulations to the new Mr. & Mrs. Baez!

XO  Sue

 

Venue:  Celebration Gardens Winter Park, Florida

Officiant:  Affordable Orlando Weddings  Rev. Donnakay Johnson

Flowers:  Atmospheres Floral

 

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I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into Wilka & Jerry’s moving elopement ceremony at Celebration Gardens.

Feel free to leave me comments or questions.

 

 

 

 

15 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Wedding Photographer

 

2019-07-03_0020Wedding planning takes time and research.  Finding the right photographer to document your big day is not much different than finding the perfect person to marry.  It is not a simple swipe left or right if their profile looks good.  And face it.  We all know people can look awesome on-line, but it is their personality, work ethic and practices that define them and their business.

Your photographer is the one vendor you will be spending the most time with at your wedding.  They will be with you from the early morning getting ready moments, till your last kiss goodbye as man and wife.  The last thing you want is to be followed around all day by some strange stalker wedding paparazzi.  Finding a photographer who will make you feel comfortable, understand you and your vision, and well just be a friend through the process can seem like a daunting task.

Knowing where to start and what questions to ask before booking will help you find your perfect match.

Do your research on-line

Start by researching wedding photographers in your area.  You may use Google, Wedding Wire, The Knot or other wedding vendor listings.  Scroll through their portfolios.  Do they show more than just the “posed” images?  Read their About Me sections, find out who they are and what motivates them.  Do their images speak to you, is their style something you love?  Lastly, check out their pricing.  I am a big believer in you get what you pay for, and the biggest deals are not always the best work.

Once you have narrowed down your candidates, select three or four to contact for an inquiry. (If you just fell in love with one photographer, good for you.  Hopefully, your search is over)  On the inquiry form you will be asked basic questions like your wedding date, venue, style and more depending on the photographer.  If they have your date available, that photographer can stay on your list to interview in person, or through a quick phone call or Skype.

 

Prepare yourself for the interview

Make sure you are away from distractions and have a quiet place to speak with the potential photographer.  Grab a notebook and pen to jot down notes.  And most importantly, be prepared with a list of questions.

How many weddings have you shot?

This may seem insignificant, but there is a big difference in a photographer who is just starting out to one who has a number of weddings under their belt.  An experienced photographer will have dealt with the stress and high pressure of a wedding day many times and will know how to conquer last minute changes, how to keep the timeline flowing smoothly and have a better system for capturing awesome images in a short amount of time.  Are you having a certain religious ceremony?  Do they have experience with the traditions or restrictions?  A Catholic wedding varies significantly from a Jewish ceremony with the way the mass or service unfolds.  If they have not experienced your type before, what steps will they take to ensure all restrictions and guidelines are followed?  Experience does matter.  That is not to say a newer photographer will not do a great job for you, just be aware.  The photographer should be truthful with you and not misrepresent themselves.

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What is your photography style?

You will most likely hear things like “documentary”, “lifestyle” or “photo journalistic”.  Each of these terms may mean something entirely different to each photographer.  Ask to see their work and have them explain their style to you.  Do they edit dark and moody, or light and airy?  Do they prefer color or black and white?  Ask to see an entire wedding gallery from the getting ready images to the grand exit, not just a select few of the best of their best.  Reception imagery can be tricky so if the first dances and party shots are important to you, make sure you view those too.  Ask if they have a signature image or shot?  Are they open to using props?  Can you include your fur babies?  Knowing how they work and if their imagery is more dramatic or fun and candid will assist you in determining if their style matches your vision.

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Can I see a full wedding gallery?

Most photographers will have a portfolio of their best images for you to scroll through on their website or vendor listing.  But it is the whole day, from start to finish that tells the story.  Ask to see a complete gallery or wedding album.  The photographer may send you a link to a past clients wedding or offer a printed album to view.  Do they capture details shots? How are the family formals or posed images?  Do they all look the same or is their variety?  Make sure each segment of the day is documented how you expect and meshes with your vision.

How many images will be delivered, and will they be edited?

Current industry standard is 75-100 edited images per hour.  Your photographer should include all of your edited Hi Resolution images with your wedding package delivered either by digital on-line private gallery or USB drive.  Be wary of photographers who offer a set number of images with an upcharge for each additional selection.  You may think 500 images for a full wedding day is a ton of pictures, but honestly 500 images could be shot prior to the ceremony.  Confirm what their policy is.  In Florida where I live, if you deliver the images on a tangible product such as a USB drive, then the entire package fee becomes taxable, where as delivering images through an in-line digital gallery eliminates the need to tax the client.  Photographers will never include the RAW files for the images as they hold the copyright to those images.

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Have you shot at my venue before?

If they have, make sure you see those images.  If not, most photographers will offer to do a complimentary (or for a small fee) venue walk with you.  This is where you will go through the venue and take note of all the available spaces and areas you may chose to have images taken in.  When I do a venue walk with my clients, I make a list of possible locations for each segment of the day with a backup plan in event the first option will not work.  I also note things like access to windows and natural light, how the lines or symmetry of the space is,  is there enough room for posing, and how clean or distracting the background is.  With wedding imagery, the cleaner and less cluttered the background is the better and more high end the images will be.

Will you be the one photographing my wedding?

This is probably the most important question you will ask.  Many photography companies employ several “associate” photographers, and when you book them for your wedding you really do not know who you are getting.  The business owner may have all the experience but your photographer may not.  Get in writing who will be documenting your big day.  If the photographer owns their business and works alone, do they employ a second shooter if requested?  Know who will be the face behind the camera.

What is included in your packages?

Each photographer is different and each package or collection will vary accordingly. Ask to see a list of their current pricing and packages.  Most photographers book 12 to 18 months in advance, so verify their pricing will not change and you are locked in at the current price. (I have heard of this happening to clients)  If a package does not fit your needs, see if they offer an a la carte menu where you can create your own custom package to fit your needs and budget.  Some photographers may be flexible in their pricing and offer booking discounts, where others are more firm in their pricing.  Newer photographers may offer booking incentives, while more established and sought after photographers that are in high demand will not.  Ask if they offer the option to add on services after booking within a set time period.  For instance, you may select an 8 hour package and later discover you require 10 hours of coverage.  Are they flexible and what is the additional price?

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Can I see a sample contract?

Every photographer should have and be willing to send you a contract for you to view PRIOR to booking.  Read each line item carefully.  What are their policies?  How do they handle cancellations, are their any additional fees accessed, and what is their wedding day protocol?  Clarify any questions you may have before you sign the contract.

How many photographers will cover my wedding?  Do you have a second shooter or assistant?

The number of photographers required for your wedding  really depends on the size of your wedding AND if the wedding party will be getting ready at the same location or if there will be multiple locations utilized.  One photographer cannot be in two places at once, so if the bride is getting ready at location one and the groom will be getting ready at location 2, a second shooter will be necessary.  If you are having a small wedding a single photographer is sufficient.  The larger the wedding and the number of guests determine how many photographers will be needed.  The lead or main photographer will be with you the entire day, where as a second shooter may come in for only a few hours to capture a certain portion of the day.  Second shooters also offer varying angles from the lead photographers images, offering a different perspective.  If you are interested in having a second shooter, make sure you discuss this option with your photographer and find out what added fees there may be if applicable.

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How do you handle a wedding day and do you offer timeline assistance?

To me this is one of the most important questions to ask your potential photographer.  Wedding days go by so fast and they are constantly evolving with many moving parts.  Having a photographer with good time management skills and the ability to remain calm under pressure is paramount.  Your photographer should know exactly how much time is really needed for each portion of the day, and offer to assist you with creating and planning your wedding timeline.    They must have the ability to remain on schedule (even with delays and set backs) and stay in control with a gentle, but firm presence.  No one wants the stereotypical moody photographer who dominates your day.  Ask how they handle a typical wedding.  What is their best practice for getting large group family photos?  How do they transition from wedding party to couples portraits?  Knowing how they work and feeling comfortable with them is more important than the final images.  Truthfully, it is the experience that matters the most.  Having fun and not feeling stressed or rushed will show in your final portraits.  Make sure your personalities mesh and know your photographer will be your best friend on your wedding day.

2019-07-03_0016Are you insured?

A professional photographer should be insured in the event their equipment breaks, is stolen or an accident occurs.  Most venues require photographers to carry liability insurance and will often ask for a copy of their policy or certificate.  Wedding days are a fast paced, carefully choreographed dance and sometimes mishaps occur.  I cannot tell you the number of times a wedding guest has knocked over a light stand, or a just of wind took an umbrella flying.  The photographer you hire should be covered through their own policy, and not have any damages come back on you.

How and when will I receive my images?

Your photographer should have a set time frame listed in their contract for delivery of your final images and in what format.  Four to six weeks is pretty standard for delivery of your final gallery.  Do they offer Sneak Peeks?  Do they blog?  How will you be notified when the images are ready?  Lastly, how will you receive those final images?  Will they be delivered via an on-line private gallery or by USB drive?  If your package includes digital delivery, will you receive a print release so you may print the images yourself?  Or are the images only available to print through their printing services at an extra fee? For me, I do include all the digital images with my packages and deliver a print release.  But to be fair and fully transparent, printing at your local Costco or Walgreen does not compare to having your images professionally printed.  Ask your photographer for their pricing for prints and their print packages as well.

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What do they love most about weddings and why?

If you want to get a sense of the photographers personality, ask them why they chose weddings and what they love most about the day.  You will want someone who is genuinely excited and honored to share your wedding day with you, not someone who thinks of you as a transaction.  Your photographer should care about your love story and who you are as a couple.  Knowing what makes you unique will aid them in capturing the true essence of your day and the moments that matter to you.

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What happens if you have an emergency and cannot photography our wedding?

This is always an uncomfortable question, but one that needs to be asked.  Even photographers who work alone should have a back up plan, or network of creatives they may call upon in the event of an emergency.  A large company with multiple employees may have another associate photographer step in.  As the lead photographer and owner of my own business, I employ two contracted second shooters who are very talented and mirror my style and business ethic.  To this day I have never cancelled or missed a wedding, but I have a solid back up plan in place with trusted and talented photographers to cover me should the need ever arise.

How do they handle meals or breaks on a wedding day?

Most traditional wedding days run around 10 to 12 hours for a wedding photographer.  That is a long time to be standing, crouching, running and going non-stop.  Your wedding photographer should have in their contract how they approach and handle meals at your wedding.  Most require to be fed with the bride and groom or bridal party and within eye sight of the action.  You can place them at a table with your guests or other vendors, or arrange for them to have their meal at a side table.  Once, I was placed in a back room with a small boxed “vendor” meal of a cold sandwich.  Let me just say I was a little put off.  Firstly, I could not see or even hear what was happening in the reception area (and it is my job to know and capture every important moment) and secondly, cold sandwich after 12 hours?  Enough said.  Be considerate of your vendors people.  They are working hard to ensure all of your wedding day memories unfold perfectly and they deserve a hot meal.  When I shoot alone, I require that I sit in the reception area along with the guests.  If I have a second shooter with me or an assistant, we may eat simultaneously or we may switch off depending on the guest count and wedding size.  This way I insure nothing gets overlooked or missed.  This is also the time I download images from earlier in the day, edit a select few, and prepare the same day wedding slideshow if I am able.  As far as breaks, your wedding photographer will not get one until after the main dancing begins.  Up until this point they will be moving from one planned segment of the day to the next, and even finding time to use the restroom is difficult.  As a professional, if they excuse themselves for a short break they should notify someone or the coordinator.  No one wants to be searching for a missing photographer.

Well, this is my list of the top 15 questions you should ask when interviewing a wedding photographer.  Above all else, the photographer should be confident in their work and welcome any questions or concerns.  Finding the right person to document your wedding day is a big task, and takes time and effort.  Do your research and do not be afraid to pick up the phone.  Especially in today’s fast paced world where most communication comes through email or text, there is something about speaking directly with someone and hearing their voice and inflection that will help you determine if they are the one for you!  Personalities have to mesh, and you must feel comfortable and a genuine connection with them.

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I hope you enjoyed my article on 15 top questions to ask when interviewing a wedding photographer.  Let me know if you think of any important questions you feel I have missed.

XO Sue

 

 

 

Katie & Ryan Ocean Maternity Session Fort DeSoto Park Beach St. Petersburg, FL

I met Katie and Ryan over two years ago when I had the honor of photographing their wedding.  From the moment Katie and I spoke on the phone, we chatted away like we were old friends.  You know when you just click with someone?  Well, that is exactly how it felt.

Katie is one of the sweetest and most genuine people I know.  She has this easy peaceful nature about her.  Quick to smile with a contagious laugh, Katie will always ask how you are and honestly care about your answer.  (She even has me text to make sure I get home safe)  She is just honest, open, loving and real.

Most will say she is a bombshell.  A tall, leggy blonde with deep, chocolate brown eyes, and a heart stopping smile.  But, it is her heart and soul that define her.   They say “Outer beauty pleases the Eye, but inner beauty captivates the HEART’.  Well, Katie holds everyone spellbound.

Katie is the Owner and Designer of Ocean Born Jewelry specializing in one of a kind natural element pieces.  Her work can be seen in shows across the state of Florida from Miami to the Gulf.

Her husband Ryan is just as dreamy.  Devilishly handsome, with a head of dark curly hair and killer eyes.  He is an athlete, and you will find him out in the Gulf flying across the waves and flipping through the air on his custom made kite board.  If you happen to drive from St. Pete toward the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on a windy day, look out along the water.  Bright colors dominate the horizon as kiteboarder’s and windsurfer’s flip and twist among the wind and waves.  Chances are one of those daredevils will be Ryan.

Ryan is an industrial designer and owner of Maximo Design Group.  His work is phenomenal if you are in the need for branding or a custom design.  He also designs and builds custom kite boards.  Talk about talent?

Both Katie and Ryan are very athletic and love the outdoors, and the ocean is their happy place.  They are the couple who ride their one wheel skateboards to the grocery store instead of taking the car.  (Well, that was before the pregnancy)  This will all change very soon when Jocelyn makes her appearance and they will have to trade their old adventures for new.  One of car seats and baby carriers, diaper bags and strollers.  But their new little angel is the sweetest adventure one can dream of, and they are both over the moon with love for their sweet little girl.

With their love of the Saltlife, when it came time to pick a location for their maternity session nothing would do but strolling the sandy, salt kissed shores of the Gulf.  I had a vision in mind for some images, and told Ryan he would be getting wet.  Thankfully, he was okay with taking a dip in the waves to appease my creativity. ( I think the results are ah-mazing.)

We started out with a few snuggle poses on the beach, and the way Ryan was looking down at Katie with such love in his eyes made me tear up.  I overheard Katie say to him, “Don’t cry, or you’ll make me cry” and that was all it took for me.  Cue lip quiver.

This session was taken in two segments, as the first time we went out a wave literally washed over my camera.  It quit.  Dead.  But not before I got some awesome images.  Whew.  So, we tried again the following weekend.  It poured, and I mean poured my entire ride over from Orlando and I was unsure if the session would happen.  Luckily, the closer I got to Fort DeSoto, the sky cleared.  Right before we were supposed to start, lightning struck and the sky opened up creating a mass exodus for the parking lot.  Katie was positive it would clear up so we waited it out.  And she was right!

We walked back down to a beach we had completely to ourselves.  The clouds were so low, it felt like we were engulfed in their mist and glowed with this ethereal white light.  We could not have staged a more dreamy session.  We even were blessed with dolphins jumping and feeding in the surf behind us.  (Look for a tail in one of the images)  This photo session was a challenge as the light went from bright, to dark and gloomy, to this white heavenly glow.  I felt like a set designer was swapping out backdrops every few moments for us.

I am honored to have these two incredible people in my life, and better yet to call them friends.

(And by the way, everyone keeps saying they look like Meredith and Derek from Grey’s Anatomy.  I guess they kinda do!  I will have to start calling Ryan McDreamy.)

I hope you enjoy a sampling of their images from two very different days and sessions!

XO Sue

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The storm clouds darkened the sky right before the rain started.

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(From Session 1 before my camera was taken out by a wave.  At least we got an image with our typical Florida Sunset)

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As you can see we shot till after dark, but the clouds still gave us enough ambient light and provided a very different look.

 

Equipment:  Nikon D750, Nikon D850  Full frame

Lenses:  Sigma Art 50 mm 1.2, Sigma Art 135 1.4, Nikon 85 1.4

Flash:  Nikon SB700 with a Gary Fong Lighsphere

 

 

Jessica + Adam Tampa Wedding

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Jessica & Adam were married this past Saturday at the Congregation Schaarai Zedek Synagogue in Tampa, Florida by Rabbi Farb on a glorious June summer day.

Jessica is a dancer and embodies grace and beauty.  She began at age 3 and continued on throughout her collegiate career, and now dances as a professional cheerleader for the Tampa Sunsations who support the Orlando Apollos, Rowdies and Lakeland Tropics.  She is a former teacher who has turned her passion and love of the arts into her business Show On the Road.  A travelling theater group of approximately 100+ students ranging in ages from 3 (the Broadway Babies) to 18.  Her company trains youth in dance, theater, voice lessons as well as musical instruction in piano and the ukulele.   Talk about a talented and driven woman.

Jessica graduated from USF with dual bachelor’s degrees in Theater and Sociology with a Minor in Women’s Studies, as well as holding her teaching certificate.

Adam is a hockey fanatic.  After playing defense himself for years, he is a die hard Lightning Fan.  Go Bolts!  Besides his love for the Lightning, Adam is a USF Football wizard.  He also attended USF and obtained his bachelors degree in Economics.  He currently works for USAA.  Adam has a quick wit and playful personality which meshes perfectly with Jessica’s enthusiasm.  He always has her laughing, which is perfection in my book.

They met on-line right after Jessica graduated from college, as they were both heavily involved in the Jewish life on campus.

They are the proud parents of two adorable Cocker Spaniel’s named Gino and Tina and you can follow their escapades on Instagram @gino_and_tina.  The day would not have been complete without a guest appearance from their two cute pups.

The day began for Jessica and her squad at her parent’s home in Tampa, where they took part in the female bonding experience of prepping for the big day being pampered with hair and make-up by the extraordinary Lexie George of Lexie Lowry Make-up.   When it came time for Jessica to dress in her stunning lace gown, she was assisted by her Mother Pam and her Matron of Honor and sister, Melissa.  She wore a finger tip veil, affixed by a beautiful lace hair piece. To make the day even more special Jessica wore her Grandmother’s Swavorski crystal heart earrings as her something old and borrowed.

She wore a silver necklace adorned with the Jewish Star of David.  The story goes, Adam had been hinting of the awesome gift he was about to present Jessica, and she would be so happy.  Jessica  assumed, as most women would at that point, he was about to propose.  After much excitement and anticipation, Adam presented Jessica with the necklace.

Adam did plan on proposing though.  Being a fan and great supporter of Jessica and her theater work with the children, he is always present at her shows.  After one such show, Adam climbed up on stage and in front of the entire audience dropped to his knee and asked Jessica to be his wife.  How romantic is that?

Adam and his groomsmen prepped for the big day at the Towneplace Suites in Tampa.  They wore gray suits with plum bow ties and pocket squares.  Being lovers of the Avengers, each groomsman wore different cuff links from their favorite superhero.  The funniest part of their time together was when none of them could figure out how to tie their bow ties, thankfully a YouTube video was there to save the day. Despite the rain, the guys were able to gather for some fun and images inside the parking garage for a hip, urban feel.

Jessica and her bridesmaids carried unique bouquets constructed of paper flowers, which highlighted the deep plum color of her bridesmaids gowns.

After arriving at the Synagogue, the couple met with the Rabbi independently with their parents and witnesses to sign the Kebutah. The Kebutah is a cloth or parchment scroll adorned with art work and words of the couple’s choosing.  Their parent’s placed their hands upon the corners of the Kebutah while the Rabbi recited his verse, to signify their support and dedication to the couple and their marriage.  This unique ceremony is actually the official start of the wedding.

A group of Jessica’s students started off the wedding by singing “Sunrise, Sunset” then the processional began.  As they became man and wife and sealed the promise with their first kiss, Adam then completed their wedding with the Breaking of the Glass. The Breaking of the Glass symbolizes the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Couples include this tradition in their wedding ceremony as it symbolizes the absolute finality of the marital covenant.

The couple’s reception was held at the Congregation Schaarai Zedek.  The all purpose room sparkled in plum and crystal.

Music is a huge part of who Jessica is so it was important for her to have live musicians perform at her wedding.  During cocktail hour guests were dazzled by the elegant sounds of The Barnkickers, a Father Daughter duo on the Upright Bass and Ukulele.  The marvelous Bay Kings Band performed for the reception, and had guests up and on their feet the entire night.  Jessica’s talented Father Chuck took the stage and sang “As time goes by”, you could literally see him transform into Frank Sinatra right before your eyes.  As an added surprise  Groomsman Steven( Jessica’s brother)  joined him on stage with his saxophone, and they literally brought everyone to their feet with a roaring rendition of “Jump, Jive an Wail”.   Adam and Jessica boogied on the dance floor (Adam learned to swing dance just for her) along with all their guests.  I mean all 100 plus guests were out busting moves on the dance floor.  It was incredible to witness.

When it came time for The Hora, or chair dance which is an Israeli circle dance, the Bay Kings Band belted out the traditional Jewish song, Hava Nagila.  Jessica and Adam were  hoisted into the air on chairs while their friends and family danced in a circle around them.  I kept watching Jessica’s face as they group tossed her up and down on that small chair.  I am glad neither of them had a fear of heights!

After the traditional cake cutting and much more dancing, the couple ended their celebration with a musical escort by the Bay Kings Band New Orleans style for their Grand Exit while guests showered the couple with purple, bio-degradable confetti.

The newlyweds will be honeymooning in Freeport, Bahamas.

I can honestly say this wedding was one for the books folks.

Here’s wishing Jessica and Adam a lifetime of happiness and many, many more amazing adventures.

XO  Sue

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I hope you enjoy this small glimpse into Jessica and Adam’s Wedding day.

Please leave me a comment below if you love their images as much as I do!

Hugs.

 

Paige + Matt Rainy Bok Tower Engagement Session

When Paige contacted me about her upcoming wedding, we ended up chatting like we were old friends.  I knew we were the perfect fit.

And talk about perfect?  Paige and Matt are so darn cute together.  They have that easy, relaxed way with one another.  You can see it in their smiles, gestures and way they communicate without saying a word.

To say they were naturals in front of the camera is an understatement.

Paige and Matt met while still in high school.  They attended Florida Atlantic University, and both went on to work for Disney after graduation.  Paige is now employed in the Hospitality industry and working for the Rosen Center, and Matt works at Enterprise.

We planned to have their engagement session at Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Florida.  A glorious Historic Landmark consisting of 750 acres of beautiful gardens and a 205 foot singing tower.  The day of our session, rains blew in with severe storms. ( I almost considered rescheduling. ) I am so glad they were okay with getting wet, and decided to go ahead with the shoot.

A docent was kind enough to give us a ride on their golf cart out to the historic singing tower, so we stayed dry for a little while.  For the next 90 minutes or so, we walked the grounds and just had a great time.  There are so many gorgeous locations at Bok. There is a reflection pond, glorious gardens, trails, paths and of course the historic tower.

Matt is a natural at interaction and Paige is so stunning, posing them is a dream.  By the end of our time together, no instruction was needed.  Matt and Paige were flowing through pose after pose all on their own.  (This makes me super stoked for their wedding and to see the images we will get then!)  Despite the rains, they vacillated between a sprinkle and a steady down fall, I think their images turned out phenomenal.

I love the classic shots highlighting the location and scenery, but for me the best images are when these two love birds were thoroughly drenched and snuggling up with one another.  Yep, I am a sucker for real, authentic emotion and connection.

After all, Love is the reason

Enjoy!

XO  Sue

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Let me know if you liked this session.

 

 

 

Dreamy Lavender and Sage Desert Wedding Styled Shoot

Part of being a professional photographer is continuing your education and growth.  Nothing compares to the week long training at WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photography International) which happens every February in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hailing from the Mid-West, it is not often I get to experience the soft, dreamy colors and unique landscape of the desert.  All those glorious textures and muted soft hues of lavender and sage set against the mountains shimmering off in the distance cannot be described in words.  You have to experience them for yourself to believe the grandeur and beauty.

This styled shoot was organized by the talented Ryann Lindsey at Cactus Joe’s, a unique cactus nursery which also serves as a wedding venue.  Talk about different?  The gown by Sophia Rose Bridal was a one of a kind handmade, to die for creation.  So show her some love y’all.  A gorgeous Susie Saltzman ring was truly the piece de resistance of the entire shoot.  The stunning diamond was so unique and crystal clear it took on the color of its surrounds.

Beside getting the opportunity to shoot in a new location, I was able to meet and work with some amazing creatives.  Here’s a big shout out to Justin Robinson from Virginia @justinrobinson, Jacqueline Bawden from Las Vegas @Jacquelinebawdenphoto and Les Atkins from North Carolina @lesatkinsphotography.  These fellow photographer’s were a joy to hang out with and are extremely talented artists.

As you will see in the images below, we shot from full sun till the light faded over the mountains and we were cast into total darkness.  They sky went from an incredible glowing lavender to blue black in mere moments.

I hope you enjoy these images, and make sure you check out the awesome vendors who contributed to this shoot.

Until next time.

XO  Sue

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Photography workshop@ryannlindsey ⁣ Planning & Design: @ashleycreative ⁣ Venue: @cactuscollectiveweddings ⁣ Models: @tngmodels | arianajensen | @itsdavidterry ⁣ Beauty: @rubyfinchsalon ⁣ Wedding Dress: @sophiarosebridal ⁣ Wedding Rings: @susiesaltzman ⁣ Bridal Shoes: @bellabelleshoes ⁣ Tux: @stitchedlife ⁣ Groom Tie: @daziusa ⁣ Linen: @latavolalinen ⁣ Floral: @cityblossomslv ⁣ Stationery: @emilyroseink ⁣ Rentals: @rsvppartyrentals ⁣ Chairs: @thirsty4fwr⁣

 

Historic Bonnet House & Gardens Fort Lauderdale, Florida Sage & Rose Stylized Shoot

I love getting together with other creatives.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in an amazing stylized shoot organized by Styled Shoots Across America and the talented Manda Weaver of Manda Weaver Weddings, at the Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

From the moment I arrived (yes, I got there over 30 minutes early, it’s how I roll) I knew the venue was different.  The staff welcomed me as soon as I exited my vehicle, and even gave me a ride in their sweet golf cart up to the main house.  Once there, the grounds manager was so gracious, he opened his office for me to store my gear and take a respite from the scorching 97 degree heat.  Not being one to sit idle, I decided to brave the make-up melting temps and tour the grounds.

The historic estate of Bonnet House and breathtaking gardens are literally steps away from the Atlantic Ocean.  Rows of palm trees stretch gloriously toward the sky, mirrored in a serene waterway teeming with turtles and fish.  A white swan gracefully bobbed his head under water in search of his next meal.  A wooden Caribbean style tiki hut offered shade and refuge from the hot, midday sun, and serves as a pass through or bridge over the waterway towards the beach.

Crushed white shell paths amble through lush tropical gardens in a riot of colors, leading through incredible arches and iron gates.  Select the path leading away from the estate, to enter a tunnel of trees dense with foliage.  Banyan trees with their distinctive aerial roots and hanging branches, intertwined with the Spanish Moss and swayed in the salt kissed breeze.  Bromeliad’s sprouted from tree trunks with their flame red plumes. I even saw several large iguana’s scramble by and a family of raccoons.   A volunteer informed me they have several 4 foot long orange iguana’s they affectionately call “chicken of the trees”.  I kept a look out for him, but I was unsuccessful in my search.

Vendors traversed the property setting up for the upcoming wedding shoot.  MI Vintage brought in several unique pieces to create simple, yet elegant seating vignettes.  While Nuage Designs was busy preparing the reception area with gorgeous, white ladder back chairs and farm tables.

Sage and Rose dominated the color scheme and coordinated beautifully with the surrounding gardens.  The main garden area is in an open courtyard, surrounded on all four sides by the estate itself with its goldenrod walls, masonry arches, and balconies.  Cobblestone paths lead to a large tiered fountain, set amid a quiet reflecting pool.

The ceremony site lies just beyond the estate walls, in a quiet glade flanked by towering palms.  A white, limestone wall sits atop a raised stone platform and serves as the perfect architectural backdrop for couple to exchange their vows.

A unique cake made by Starfish Cottage Cakes highlighted ocean life in hues of gray and sage.  Handmade chocolates from Karin Brush of My Favorite Sweets served both as decor and wedding favors.

The Bride wore an elegant Kelly Faetanini gown highlighting a nude, long sleeve, lace  v-neck bodice and cream colored full, sheer skirt.  A unique 20 foot long sheer cape attached to the bodice back added elegance and a bit of mystery.  Her shoes were from Bella Belle in a beautiful ivory.  A chandelier necklace in rose gold from Champagne & Grit completed her look.

The Groom rocked his navy tux from The Black Tux with an hip blue and white floral shirt and bow tie.  A stunning rose gold solitaire ring designed by the fabulous Susie Saltzman was the piece de resistance!  I mean, just WOW!!

Handwritten calligraphy invitations created by the talented Karissa of Pretty Written Things  welcomed guests with personalized elegance.  Her work is just ah-mazing so check her out.

The Bloom Floral Company created an elegant bouquet of pale gold, white, and petal pink roses, highlighted with deep crimson carnations and various willowy greens, reflected the garden theme and matched the brides lip color perfectly!

The table decor of white, pale lavender, gold and sage mixed antique elements with lush floral’s and tropical fruits.  Any guest would be thrilled to be seated at such loveliness.

Being able to work with so many talented creatives is absolutely a dream, but my favorite part of stylized shoots is the connections and meeting others in the industry.  It offers the opportunity to experience a unique, new venue and capture stunning imagery.  As a photographer you are constantly moving on a wedding day, and rarely have time to stretch your creative muscles as time is very tight.  Participating in a stylized shoot encourages relationships as well as offering the rare opportunity to actually take your time with your imagery, and practice is always a good thing.

So kudos and high fives to Manda Weaver for bringing together such awesome talent, and designing the ultimate Southern Florida Wedding.

XO  Sue

Here’s to all the awesome vendors who contributed to this shoot!

@teavona @yoilbert⠀ ⠀

Designer & Stylist Manda Weaver Weddings @mandaweaver⠀

Venue: The Bonnet House

Planning: AM Event CO @ameventco⠀

Photographer: Suzanne Lytle Photography⠀

Floral Designs: Bloom Floral Co @thebloomfloralco⠀

Hair & Makeup: Janine Wehby Artistry @janinewehbyartistry⠀

Calligrapher: Pretty Written Things @prettywrittenthing⠀

Cake: The Starfish Cottage Cakes @thestarfishcottage⠀

Linens/Table &chairs: Nuage Designs @nuagedesignsinc⠀

Vintage Rentals: MI Vintage @mivintage⠀

Gown: Kelly Faetanini @kellyfaetanini⠀

Shoes: Bella Belle @bellabelle⠀

Rings: Susie Saltzman @susiesaltzman⠀

Veil -Necklace: Champagne & Grit @champagneandgrit⠀

Tux: The Black Tux @theblacktux⠀

Fine Chocolates: Karin Brush @myfavoritesweetsfavors⠀

Glasses & Flatware: Events on the loose @eventsontheloose⠀

Styling mats: Olive and Oak @oliveandoak⠀

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Coral & Sage Blue Diamond, NV Stylized

While I was out in Las Vegas for WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photography International) this February, I had the opportunity to work with the talented Erin Johnson of Enjoy Workshops.  She put together an amazing workshop out in the desert of Blue Diamond, Nevada for about 10 wedding photographers.

Talk about a stunning couple and location!

I love the mountains and the rugged terrain.  From the subtle neutral tones of the desert floor to the pale lavender mountains off in the distance, everything around us was a photographer’s dream.

We arrived on location, which did not seem like much to start, and had to literally wander off the beaten path to get to our destination.  Gravel trails turned to dried sage and brush.  Then we turned the corner and WOW!  It was like we entered Narnia through the coat closet.

The scrub melted away to glorious mountain views and fields of desert flowers.

The couple we worked with were actually celebrating their wedding anniversary and each touch, smile, and connection showed how deeply in love they truly are.

Dilyana wore an elegant coral colored Leanne Marshall dress, accessorized with tan Jessica Simpson shoes and the cutest brown felt hat.  So western.

Tyler was dressed in a gray suit and John Varvatos coral tie.

Ivory and Sage Events created a stunning tablescape featuring copper and natural stone in the hues of coral, sage, and lavender, along with decorating the entire shoot.  I cannot say enough good things about this gal.  She is super creative and talented!

I have to give a huge shout out to Beth Waterman, a fellow photographer from Indiana whom I met and instantly clicked with- pardon the pun.  We both have very similar shooting styles and personalities.  We both strongly believe in praising our couples and not being those stand offish, bark orders type of people.  At the end of the day when the other photographers were off in the distance chatting away, we both grabbed some items and helped the designer pack up all her belongings.  I believe as wedding professionals, our job is not just to take awesome photographs.  We are there to serve others through our gifts, and yes, this means pitching in to help when needed.

So, if I am not available for your wedding and you are looking for an awesome, sweet and talented photographer reach out to Beth!

This was an amazing experience and wonderful opportunity to work with other talented creatives.

Enjoy!

XO  Sue

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Here is the list of all the vendors whom participated in the shoot:

@enjoyworkshop

@ivoryandsageevents

@egletters

@the_mrs_box

@rsvppartyrentals

@lasvegascustomcakes

@layersoflovely

@heyitsohsopretty (silk ribbon)

@emmalinhco (velvet ribbon)

@leannemarshallofficial

@jessicasimpsoncollection

@paperbagbeauty

@johnvarvatos

@dilyana.hubbs (bride)

@tchubbs (groom)

@target

@potterybarn