Photographer’s Checklist for Wedding Day Success

Make your list and check it twice

Heading into a wedding can be stressful.  You are responsible for documenting each incredible moment with no do-overs.

How can you prepare yourself to tackle a wedding day? It’s simple.  Make a check list of all the tasks you need to complete PRIOR to heading out the door.  The key is preparation.  Doing as much as you can in advance will eliminate some of the stress and the possibility of you forgetting something important!

List out your tasks

Do you have a pre-wedding routine?  If not, now is the time to start.  We all know the importance of being organized and if this is one of your weak spots,  creating a check list of your must do tasks will help you reach Martha Stewart level organization.

In all seriousness, with our busy lives and distractions, it is so easy to forget something important.

So let’s take a look at my Pre-wedding check list.

The Day before

  1. Charge all camera batteries–even your back up battery and camera
  2. Purchase batteries for flash–or charge them as well.   **I use the eneloop pro batteries for all my off camera flashes and transmitters.  I highly recommend them!
  3. Memory cards/SD cards–First make sure your images have been backed up, in multiple locations, then format them in camera to delete the files and be ready to roll.  I use smaller 16 or 32gb cards instead of the larger file size.  The reason for this is I shoot each segment or portion of the wedding on a different card.  If one happens to fail, I do not lose the entire wedding.  I have had this happen to me once, and it was a lesson I will never repeat.  I label each card with a fine black sharpie marker with numbers 1-6 for both my primary and back up cards.  I can then tell which segment of the day I am downloading by the label on the card.
  4. Clean my equipment and lenses
  5. Check my camera settings.  I make sure my ISO is set to 100 and my auto ISO is turned off.  Create a “Custom” reset setting just for you.  Mine is ISO 100 at 2.8 with a Shutter Speed of 1/250.  I will adjust my settings as needed on location.
  6. Sync all my cameras–You do this by going into your camera menu under time.  Set your primary camera to a few seconds faster than your secondary/back up camera.  When you begin downloading the files, your images will fall into the correct time frame of the day.
  7. Print off  2 hard copies of the wedding timeline. (One is for backup)
  8. Print off your couple’s wedding questionnaire.
  9. Print off your shot list of individuals for family portraits.
  10. Know the names of your couple and their key wedding party members.  No, hey yous!
  11. Charge your cell phone and laptop.
  12. Enter wedding contact # into your cell phone.
  13. Confirm venue address and enter into GPS.
  14. Send a short “See you tomorrow” text or email to bride.
  15. Plan your wedding outfit and back up outfit. (Yes, us photographer’s get dirty, lay in mud puddles, climb up ladders, and get stuck in the rain.  Always pack back up clothing)
  16. Make sure your styling kit is stocked and ready.
  17. Load your step ladder, reflectors, etc into your vehicle-anything the weather/heat will not affect overnight.
  18. Go to bed at a decent time. Check.

The Day of

  1. Pack plenty of water and energy snacks.
  2. Load your vehicle with your equipment.
  3. Enter venue location into your GPS.
  4. Plan on leaving early.  I was taught this saying years ago, and it always runs through my head:

 

To be on time, is to be late; to be early, is to be on time.

 

I hope you enjoyed a peek at my wedding day check list and routine.  Feel free to adjust any of the above to fit your needs.

Let me know if this article was helpful, or if you have any questions or comments.

I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time–

XO Sue

 

 

 

 

“I do” How To: 5 Tips to keeping Your Timeline on Track

Wedding planning.  Either you love it, or you hate it.

It’s the mix of adrenaline filled emotions running on high, with the need to check off all those pesky little items on your to do list.

Often, the bride is overwhelmed with all of the decisions she is facing.  And figuring out exactly how each moment will happen in an efficient, yet non-stressful manner is left until the last moment.

But, sitting down and creating your wedding timeline, or order of events for your big day should be one of the first things you accomplish.

Gather your ideas

Get out your notebook and pen, pour yourself a glass of wine, and begin to list all of those incredible moments you will experience on your wedding day.  Write them down.  Your must haves, your expectations, and even the trivial tasks.  They all take up time, and to make sure your day flows smoothly from start to finish, do not leave anything out.

Book your photographer early and defer to their expertise

Your photographer will be directly responsible for documenting each step of your day.  A professional will be experienced in the flow of events, and will be able to provide you with a realistic time for each.  Take their advice.  Most professional photographers prefer to assist with creating your wedding timeline, as they can offer you true time frames, and not feel rushed.

If you hired a wedding coordinator, or your venue provides one, make sure you notify your photographer with the coordinator’s contact information.  The wedding coordinator will be there to assist with your venue, but they are not responsible for the entire day, as the photographer is.

I create the wedding timeline for all my couples as a courtesy and part of my booking process.  We discuss wants, what is happening when, and I transfer all the notes and information into one document.  If you are attempting to complete this yourself without assistance, that’s okay.  I am here to help.

 

Creating your wedding timeline

I prefer to use a spreadsheet to capture all the pertinent information for my couples.  Excel or Google Docs are excellent programs for this purpose.  First, create a spreadsheet and label it “Wedding Timeline”.  Make 5 columns as follows:  Time., Location, Who, What, and Notes.  Save the document and begin to plan out your Big Day!

Start with the Ceremony and work backwards

Most likely you will know the ceremony time in the early planning stages.  You may want to recite your vows at sunset, or your church only offers service at a set time.  This is your starting point.  Write this time down three quarters of the way down your spreadsheet.

An example would be:      5:00 pm.       All.          Ceremony.

Directly above that line will be the Bridal Procession line up.  Above that the groom to alter.  Begin listing each and every moment.  Do not forget to plan some cushion time for bathroom breaks, and just time to relax.

List of Common Wedding Day Events

Details Images:  They say its all in the details, and with a Wedding it is never more true!  You will want pictures of all those special items which make your day uniquely you!  This goes for the Bride, Groom, the Ceremony site, and the Reception site.

The details images are the first images your photographer will take once they arrive.  I ask all my couples to have what I call a “Details” Box for both the Bride and Groom.  You can use a plain box, plastic tote, or some brides go to  a big box or craft stores such as Michaels, or JoAnn and purchase one of those pretty color coordinated boxes with those wonderful 50% off coupons. (I love when my Brides do this)

Having all your details in one place is one of the easiest, yet best things you can do to eliminate stress and that last minute scramble from forgetting something important.  Begin packing your details two weeks prior to your wedding.  Keep a list of everything you will need, and check it off.

Abby Tampa Wedding

Bride things to include are:  Complete Invitation Suite, Save the Date cards, ALL the rings, Ring box, Wedding shoes, Garter, Any jewelry–earrings, necklace, broach, family heirloom, something blue, hair piece, perfume bottle, veil, Bouquet, and anything else you may wish documented.  **Your photographer will also request your Wedding Dress for images.  Bridal details takes 45 minutes to an hour to document, as the photographer will stage the items for the best imagery.

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Groom things to include are:  Shoes, socks, tie, tie pin, ,boutonnière, Suit, Watch, Cuff links, Suspenders/belt, cigar, Pocket watch, Hankie, Cologne, and anything else of importance to him.  Groom details takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

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Brides Hair and Make-up:  After looking through magazines, and scrolling through Pinterest, you will decide on your “look” for your wedding day.  I recommend a trial run with whomever will be doing your hair and makeup on your wedding day.  This will help you gauge how much time to allot for this part of your day.  Also, will your bridal party be having their hair and makeup done as well?  This takes up a large chunk of time on your wedding day, and is an easy way to fall behind, and start running late.  It is better to start earlier than later, as you will need to add in travel time for all to the venue or church as well.  Most brides take 1.5 to 2 hours for hair and makeup.  Now, do you want this part of your day photographed as well?  If so, your photographer will need to be on site with you while you prepare.

Bride Dressing:  With my couples, this is a private time between the Mother and Daughter, or Bride and her Maid of Honor or Aunt.  When the Bride slips into her gown, she is transformed.  Gone is the little girl, and in her place is standing a woman about to marry.  Bridal dressing images are a must for every wedding.  Your photographer will be in the room with you, but please be assured they will not take images of you until you are decently clothed.

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After the Bride is dressed, bridal portraits are taken of the bride and her Mother or Maid of Honor.  The bride will also have images taken affixing her earrings, adding the veil, slipping into her shoes.  This getting dressed section lasts approximately 20 minutes to half an hour, depending on the details.  **HINT:  Practice getting into your wedding dress with whomever will be assisting you on your wedding day.  Trial runs cut down on last minute frustrations.

The Mother or Maid of Honor may also present the Bride with a personal gift at this time, or the something borrowed something blue.

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Bride Reveal:. After the Bride is dressed, she will then reveal herself to her squad.  This is always an emotional time, and your photographer will capture the candid reactions, as well as some posed images with the bridesmaids.  The Bride reveal usually takes 15 to 20 minutes.

First Look between Father and Daughter:  This is where the Bride reveals herself to her father prior to walking down the aisle.  Every Father tears up at seeing his baby girl dressed in her wedding gown.  Your photographer will find a private place for this event to take place.  Often, the bride is presented with a gift at this time.  Father/Daughter First Looks last approximately 10 to 15 minutes depending on gift exchange and imagery.

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Groom Dressing:  The Groom deserves some images with him dressing as well.  But, face it.  Guys dress way faster than the gals.  The photographer will usually capture images of the guys hanging out during this time as well as group shots.  Time frame 20 -25 minutes

First Look.  Will you and your soon to be spouse sharing a First Look?  This is where the couple selects a private location for an intimate first meeting prior to exchanging their vows and ceremony.  Photographers love this as it permits them to obtain couples portraits earlier in the day, instead of rushing to accomplish all images within the 30 to 60 minutes of cocktail hour.

A First Look does not detract from seeing the bride walking down the aisle.  The emotional reaction will still be as strong.  Most couples appreciate a first look as they get to experience this moment up close and personal, without hundreds of eyes on them.  A first look is private, intimate and a photographers dream.  This will be the only time you two will be alone together all day.

Most First Looks between couples last approximately 30 to 40 minutes depending on photography options.

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Venue Set up Times:  Be aware of when your venue will permit your wedding party to arrive, also when they will begin and complete your wedding set up.  These times should be listed on your timeline so vendors know when they may arrive.  No one wants the cake to arrive AFTER the ceremony has begun.  Know your times.

Ceremony Site Details:  When planning your timeline, do not forget your photographer will need at least 10 to 15 minutes PRIOR to any guests arrival to photograph your venue, and capture all those details you have worked so hard on.  **Include sufficient travel time for your photographer to get between locations***

Lakeland Wedding

Reception Site Details:  Same as above.

QUICK TIPS: When photographing venues, the more natural light the better.  Consider placement of chairs, tables, etc to accommodate ease of access.

Lunch:  Do not skip a meal on your wedding day!  Plan to have food delivered or a relative provide a brunch for your bridal party.  Eat PRIOR to dressing in your gowns.  If a big meal seems to heavy for you, prepare light snacks and have options for your bridal party.  30 minutes of down time

2018-09-21_0058Exchange of letters or Gifts: You may want to write the love of your life a touching letter, telling them you will meet them soon at the alter.  Or you may want to share a private moment where you present them with a personal gift or family heirloom.

Formal Portraits:  Formal family portraits consist of the Brides immediate family, and the Groom’s immediate family.  These normally take place directly after the ceremony, and during the cocktail hour.  Time will vary depending on the size of family involved.  They will be photographed in two sections.  Group A:  Bride’s side.  Then Group B:  The Groom’s side.  Normally time runs from 10 to 20 minutes. Tip:  Assign an Aunt or Cousin who knows each person you wish to have in your family formal photographs.  This person will then assist the photographer by informing these guests of where to meet and when for the portraits.

Bridal Party Portraits:  These usually happen directly after the formal family portraits.  This will involve the entire bridal party; Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, and any Flower girls or Ring Bearers.  20 minutes. 

Couples Portraits:. These are what matter the most, so make sure you allow enough time for this intimate session with the Bride and Groom.  This tales place either after the First Look as mentioned above, or after the bridal party images, during cocktail hour.  20 to 30 minutes

 

Bradenton Florida Wedding

Grand Entrance:  Where the entire bridal party is announced and enters the reception after the cocktail hour is ended and the guests are all seated.  Normally, the DJ will coordinate asking guests to be seated, and have the order in which the bridal party will enter and be announced–ending with the Bride and Groom.  10 minutes to 15 minutes depending on crowd

First Dances:  These are the traditional dances performed at most weddings.

Bride and Groom, Bride/Father; Groom/Mother, and sometimes the Anniversary dance.  The transition or time allowance is 5 minutes per song or dance.  15 to 20 minutes

Blessing and Welcome:  Most often the Father of the bride will make a short welcome and thank you for coming speech, ending with a toast to the Bride and Groom.  5 minutes

A formal blessing before the meal by the officiant or church official follows the welcome speech.

Meal:  This will depend on if you are having a plated, family style or buffet type service.  The plated dinners usually run shorter than those which the tables are called one at a time to enter the buffet line.  30 to 45 minutes or longer depending on guest count and service style

Toasts:  After the meal is served to the Bride and Groom, and while the guests are eating, the toasts usually happen.  The Best Man and Maid of Honor offer toasts to the newly wed couple. 10 minutes

 

Starlite Majesty Cruise Wedding

Cake Cutting:  The Bride and Groom will take the posed traditional images with the cake. 10 minutes   Tip:  It is best to place your cake table away from a wall, so you are able to walk all the way around the table.  If you can only access the cake from in front, you will block your guests view and limit the angle your photographer will have to capture the images.

 

Lakeland Wedding

Bouquet Toss/Garter Toss:  These two events happen back to back, with the option of having whomever catches the bouquet and garter also participate.  10 to 15 minutes depending on guest count

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Grand Exit:  The staged Grand Exit is becoming more and more popular.  Guests line up and form a tunnel for the Bride and Groom to pass through.  Sparkler, bubbles, even light wand exits are among the current favorites.  Plan on having the DJ notify guests PRIOR to the last dance, where they are to meet and the protocol.  This process usually takes 15 to 20 minutes to get all guest moved into position, light the sparklers, and have the wedding couple exit.  The couple may be asked to do two runs through, as an encore and to ensure the photographer has caught the images sufficiently.

Bathroom breaks:  Yes, I am listing this for a reason.  Some wedding gowns will require the assistance of one or two other individuals for the Bride to visit the restroom.  Also take into account the time period in which the dress is bustled.  Pad your timeline with an extra 5 to 10 minutes of this downtime.

Dancing:  Each venue will have a different “end time”.  The music usually plays right up until the venue end time.

Sunset images:  If the ceremony ended earlier in the day, your photographer will pull the couple away from the festivities for a few moments to take images during sunset.  10 minutes

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Sample Timeline

All of the above listed events may or may not take place during your wedding.  It is entirely up to you and what you want.  Go over the list again, and see what speaks to you, what you want differently or want to eliminate all together.

This list is only meant as a standard guideline of events. You may chose to add other things, such as a couple game, a new version of the newlywed game where the guests interact with you.

 

Finalizing your Wedding Timeline

Once you have made all your decisions and have the timeline complete, this document is then given to ALL vendors participating in your wedding day.  This way, each vendor will coordinate with the others, to ensure the process goes smoothly and they are prepared for each event.

One last word of advice.  Schedule yourself some down time.  Your wedding day will fly by in a flurry of activity and well wishes.  It is easy to become over whelmed and need a breather.  Make sure you have a room or somewhere quiet available where you may escape for a private minute or two.

Planning now will save lots of headache later.

Now, go and rock that timeline.

 

XO

Sue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audrey + Juris Winter Park, FL Roaring 20’s Great Gatsby Wedding After Party

Audrey and Juris were married earlier this year out in Las Vegas, and decided to have their reception at their beautiful home in historic Winter Park, Florida.  Wanting to do something a bit different, they chose a 1920’s Great Gatsby themed After-Party.

Lisa Adams of The Event Chicks did an awesome job coordinating all of the amazing entertainment and details of the event.

The bride dazzled in a vintage black gown, paired with these amazing Louis Vuitton heels, while the groom channeled his inner boot-legger and sported a black suit with wing tips.

Attendee’s received the royal treatment with valet services provided by Elite Parking  and entering into the festivities on a red carpet.

The couple rode in on a 1930 Packard 734 Speedster Runabout to the cheers of guests adorned in all the Flapper Era best featuring feathered headpieces, fringed gowns and vintage details.  The gentlemen looked devilishly handsome sporting era based suits and wing tips.

AFX Music took us back in time with their smooth jazz styling and crooning vocals to the 1920’s classics of the Big Band Era.  Their talented lead singer belted tune after tune, even transitioning into current pop chart favorites.

Juris (pronounced Your-ee) appeared on the dance floor through the magical talents of Illusionist Brandon Smith, who also performed specialized magic tricks through out the evening  for the wedding couple and their guests.

Gloved servers bearing silver plated trays mingled throughout the yard, enticing guests with their mouth watering appetizers.  The talented Chef Sam of Royalty Catering delivered an incredible buffet meal, featuring an ice sculpture, elegantly carved food art, a mashed potato bar, along with several carving stations.

A caged White Tiger and a White Arctic Fox  lounged Great Gatsby style poolside, while a graceful Mermaid lured guests to the pool with her siren song and stunning aquatic maneuvers.  A juggler tossed LED lit pins high into the air, while a hula hoop artist sashayed her way between tables and guests.  As the sun dipped below the horizon, an aerialist spun high above the ground, mesmerizing on-lookers with her graceful moves.

Located inside the couple’s backyard movie theater,  the talented Vince Santilli treated guests to LED time lapse images which he printed off as a keepsake of the event for each participant.

A stunning Gold and Black cake adorned with white feathers and fondant pearls was cut to the well wishes of friends and family, and served as the pièce de ré·sis·tance of the evening.

Audrey and Juris’ Roaring 20’s Great Gatsby theme reception was a non-stop, whirlwind of activity until the final notes from the band faded off into the night.

Best wishes to Audrey & Juris !  Wishing you both a lifetime of happiness and love.

I hope you enjoy some images from their amazing night.

XO  Sue

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Event Coordinator:  Lisa Adams of The Event Chicks

Caterer:  Chef Sam of Royal Catering

Band:  AFX Music Inc.

Entertainers:  Cirque Bishop

Antique Vehicle:  Car for a Cure

Illusionist:  Magic for Any Occasion with Brandon Smith

Valet Services:  Elite Parking Management

Light Painting Artist:  Vince Santilli

Umbrella:  Amazon 

Bridal details: How to make sure your photographer documents each precious item

It’s All in the Details

 

You have spent months preparing for this day.

Making sure each little detail perfectly reflects who you are as a couple, and fits into your overall theme.  From your dress, to the flowers.  The invitations, to your earrings.

Each detail is significant and has meaning.  But, will you remember them?

You will, if your photographer has the opportunity to capture them for you!

Allow time for your photographer to capture your details

They say it’s all in the details.  And nothing is more true than on your wedding day.  Once you book your wedding photographer, you will most likely have a discussion to plan your wedding timeline.  This is a detailed account of each little aspect of your big day, listing the time it happens, where, with whom and when.  Your wedding timeline is how you will determine the amount of coverage you will need for your photography services, and what your will refer to over and over again to keep things on track.  When planning your wedding with your photographer, discuss all of the little details you want documented. From your wedding dress and veil, to your invitation suite and bouquet.  Each item is important and needs to be captured.  Decide when your photographer will obtain these images, and make sure you provide ample time for them to do so.  This is when your wedding photographer will be able to showcase all of your items through their artistry and creativity.

Box them up so they are not forgotten

One of the hardest things for a photographer to do is chase down missing items on your wedding day.  They will be working within a strict time frame, and having to waste valuable moments searching for your desired details causes added stress and quite possibly not getting those images.

I recommend all SLP Brides to purchase what I affectionately call the “details box.”  This can be as simple as a plastic tote, to those gorgeous theme hinged boxes you find at Michaels , or Amazon.  (See links for ideas)  Having this box serves multiple purposes, and eliminates the forgotten item.  Begin placing items you want remembered into this box as you collect them.

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Things to include are:

  • Your complete invitation suite
  • All of your rings, including your engagement ring
  • Your wedding shoes
  • Your veil or headpiece
  • All wedding day jewelry, such as earrings, necklace, etc.
  • Garter
  • Any family “heirlooms”

Add your rings and the wedding bouquet the day of, and you will be all set!

Most photographer’s will check in with you when they first arrive on location, then go right into photographing your details.  By having everything in one easy to manage container, they just have to grab your wedding dress and be off.  Styling and documenting all the pretty little baubles is one of my favorite parts of the day!

The second perk to having a details box is after your wedding day is over, you will have one organized place to keep all of your little keepsakes and memory items.

Bradenton Florida

Abby Tampa Wedding.jpgPresentation matters

Along with photographing all of those pretty little detail items, your photographer will also take several images of your dress and veil.  No one, and I mean no one, likes to see their gorgeous dress beautifully captured hanging from a cheap plastic or metal hanger.  You can purchase a plain wood hanger for around $7.99 or what about ordering one of those adorable custom hangers from Etsy?  This little detail may seem insignificant but, trust me.  You will love how your gorgeous wedding dress looks artfully displayed from one of these beauties!

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This gorgeous hanger can be found at the above Etsy link, and is crafted by Johnson Craft Studio.

Capturing the “Ring Shot”

One of the most important details your photographer will capture is of your engagement and wedding rings.  To prepare for this, make sure your have your rings professionally cleaned the week of your wedding. Or if you do it yourself, the night before.  You want your bling to sparkle and shine!  Do not forget to include the groom’s wedding band.

Lakeland Wedding

 

 

A girl can do anything in the right pair of shoes

Just like the right pair of shoes can change a girls attitude, the same can be said for your wedding photos.  Your photographer will capture images of the Bride and Groom’s shoes along with other detail shots.   They can be a gorgeous pump to Converse hi-tops.  Whatever style fits your personality and wedding theme.

Make sure your shoes are clean, and fully laced or buckled.

 

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Your bridal bouquet

Whether you decide upon fresh flower’s or artificial, your bouquet is another important detail your photographer will document for you.  Having your flowers on location as soon as your photographer arrives, allows them to utilize your bouquet in your details images.

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Family Heirlooms and Jewelry

Are you including something borrowed or something blue?  Maybe a family heirloom handed down through generations?  Whatever special item that is close to your heart deserves to be remembered in your imagery.

An antique headpiece.  A charm of your grandparents.  Get creative.  Make sure you tell your photographer about these items.

 

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An antique headpiece which belonged to the Bride’s Grandmother

List them out

After you have picked out all of the perfect little details and complied them for your photographer, take a moment to list them out on a piece of paper.  Double check your details box and make sure nothing is missing, then add your list on top before closing it.

Your wedding day will be one of the happiest days of your life, and capturing each and every little bridal detail will help preserve your memories forever.

The bridal details are one of my favorite parts of documenting a wedding.  This is the time your photographer will get to use their creativity to obtain a cohesive look fitting with your wedding style and overall theme.

What special items will you be including into your wedding?  Let me know if you have any suggestions or if this article was helpful.

XO  Sue

5 Steps to Stress Free Wedding Day Portraits

Everyone feels self-conscious in front of the camera.  Unless you happen to be a super model with a million dollar smile.

For us regular folk, the camera brings out all of our insecurities.  Do I have a double chin?  Does my nose look too big?  My left eye is smaller than my right.

Most people have “something” they dislike about their features.   And just the thought of having professional portraits taken can make you break out in hives, or raise your anxiety level to Defcon 2.

And no one wants or needs added stress on their wedding day.  Am I right?

Step One:  Know what bothers you

Take a look at pictures you have of yourself.  Really analyze the image.  Does something bother you?  Do you prefer your left to your right side?  Are you self-conscious about your upper arms?  Whatever that something is, make sure you convey this to your wedding photographer.  Most professional wedding photographer’s will send out a client questionnaire asking several pertinent questions regarding your wedding and images.  Make sure you answer honestly, and tell them if something makes you self conscious.  This will help them to know how to pose you to capture your perfect side, and obtain images you will love.

If you don’t tell us, we don’t know.  So do not be embarrassed to express your dislike of your left ear, or whatever it is.  Trust me.  All photographer’s want their client’s to fall in love with their images, not cringe because of something we could have easily avoided with better communication.  So step one is KNOW before you go.

Step Two:  Schedule that engagement session

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Most professional wedding photographer’s encourage their couple’s to participate in an engagement session prior to their wedding day.  This session serve’s multiple purposes.  First, is to get to know one another, face to face, before your wedding.  To learn one another’s personality and style.  Having an engagement session will help you remain relaxed on your wedding day, as you will already be familiar with your photographer.

The second reason for having an engagement session with your wedding photographer is to get in front of their camera and practice posing!  Each photographer has a different style and way they interact with their couples.  They may give you some prompts and shoot candids (or the unposed moments, as they naturally happen), they may pose you, or a variation of both.  Learning how they will work with you is an important part of the process.

Step Three:  Practice

There are four basic poses used in Wedding portraiture.  Each core pose has many variations, and can be modified simply be changing head or hand positions.

  1. Chest to chest.  Desert wedding-50
  2. Modified Prom Pose ( Bride’s back to Groom)April Easter 2019-19.JPG
  3. Side-link  (Where the Bride stands slightly behind and off to the side)Desert wedding-43
  4. Traditional  (Where the Groom stands straight to the camera, and the Bride stands sideways with her belly button to his hip bone.  She will push her hips away from the camera, and pop-or bend her knee, of the front leg.)Sty-ized Shppt 2=27-87

Step Four:  Take a deep breath and relax

Relax.  This one is pretty self explanatory, but it truly makes a difference!  If you are stressed, it shows in your images.  Your body tightens up and becomes rigid.  Smiles are forced and not genuine.  Your emotions are conveyed through your body language.  You want your images to show the joy and love you are feeling inside.  The raw, authentic connection you share as a couple.

Often when working with couples, one of them is not into getting their pictures taken.  More times than not, it is the groom.  He may joke or complain, but truly it is to hide his insecurity in being in front of the camera.  My way of handling difficult situations such as this, is to praise, praise, PRAISE.  By complimenting each small positive gesture, his confidence will rise.  When you are confident in front of the camera and relaxed, you will start to have fun!  Yes, fun!  Your photography session should be a positive experience, and yes, enjoyable.  Then your photographer will be able to capture real smiles, a great connection, and laughter.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Step Five:  Get plenty of rest and Hydrate

Lack of sleep shows on your face.  Your skin color changes and dark circles shadow your eyes.  I know it is hard to rest and get a good nights sleep when your mind is whirling with anticipation of your big day and everything you have yet to do!  If you are over-whelmed and feel the wedding day stress overtaking you, make a list, plan and delegate!  You are not alone, and you have people willing and able to help you.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol.  Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep, so you wake looking amazing, feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day is stated to reduce toxins and make your skin have a radiant glow.   Your wedding is a non-stop whirlwind of activity, and drinking plenty of water will keep you from feeling light headed and weak.

Most women prepare for their wedding day by getting pampered with facials and a trip to the spa.  If you plan anything such as this, make sure it is something you have tried before.  No Bride wants to come down with a rash on her face, or some weird side affect or reaction from using a new product.

I hope these 5 steps to preparing for your couple’s portraits will help you rock your session and more importantly, have fun capturing lifelong memories.

Let me know if this article helped you, and if you have any comments you would like to share.

XO  Sue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding Photography: Why the heck is it so darn expensive?

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I have to admit, my first contact with wedding photography was in hiring a photographer myself.  When the initial quote came back I was shocked.  They want how much for how long?  Writing that check for the $1000 deposit, years ago mind you, made my heart pound and stomach clench.  Then, I needed to sit down.

Like many people searching for a photographer, I had no clue what was involved and it was hard to understand and rationalize the cost.  Each different photographer offered a variety of packages or services, making it difficult to understand what the average wedding photography prices are or should be.

Now that I have been in the industry for some time, I look at things with a new appreciation and respect.  Truthfully, wedding photographer’s are not as expensive as they seem.

“What?” Insert eye roll here. You don’t believe me?

If anything, most wedding photographer’s are undercharging for their services.  When I send off a quote for an 8 hour wedding at $3000, most people assume that equates to $375 an hour.  If we break it all down, you will realize wedding photographer’s make nowhere near that hourly amount.  Granted, there are some well-known, extremely talented, and highly coveted wedding photographer’s that do command a high dollar amount.  I would love to be considered in that category one day. But, I digress.  For now, let’s get back to what is involved and try to figure out the basic cost.

To understand why wedding photographer’s charge so much, we also have to consider the opposite:

“Why is some wedding photography so inexpensive?”

After jumping for joy, and singing Alleluia at receiving such a low price, most people begin to question:

What experience do they have?  Will they miss a key shot?

Do they have insurance? Are they using quality gear and equipment?

The list goes on and on.   Here are some reasons wedding photographer’s may be charging so little for their services.

Portfolio Building

To be truthful, every wedding photographer needs to start somewhere.  Maybe they shot a wedding for the friend of a friend for $500.  Or maybe they even did it for free!  Gasp! When a photographer is just starting out and they are in the portfolio building phase, face it, they need images of weddings to book weddings.  And sometimes, this means offering your services at a very low cost just to start gaining some experience.  I have been here myself.  I once shot wedding portraits for a couple for $80.  Yep, you heard me right.  $80.  After moving to a new state, I needed to establish myself in a new area.  I found a couple who needed portraits, so $80 it was.  Did this cover my costs?  No way.  It barely covered my gas money to and from the venue.  But, I did get images in a location I needed, so to me it justified the extremely low value placed on my service, and I helped out a couple who never would have been able to afford my normal pricing.

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Lack of experience

Weddings are not only about capturing great images.  That my friend, is the easy part.  Weddings are fast paced, ever evolving whirlwinds with no second chances or do-overs.  A wedding photographer has to know where and when each portion of the wedding day is happening.  They have to operate with a smile on their face even though bridesmaid #2 is having a meltdown, or the Bride is running 2 hours behind on hair and make-up.  Wedding photography is knowing how to manipulate your equipment on the fly, being confident in your posing flow, and a rock star on people skills.  You serve as part confidant, part wedding coordinator, part peace keeper, with a pinch of life coach thrown in for good measure.  So, experience plays a large part in cost. ( I would never recommend tackling a wedding for the first time without second shooting under a lead photographer a time or two. )  A wedding photographer has to calmly, and confidently know when to move, what area to stand in, how to line up the shot, not to mention have complete control over their camera settings and equipment.  They have to know how to gently direct and maintain control over a crowd of people, who often times, are overly excitable due to the atmosphere or alcoholic beverages.

Final Hi ResKathy & Todd Final Hi_-903

Picture of me carrying the Bride’s train while navigating our way to another location.
Image by my awesome second shooter and friend, Tegan Monfort of H2O Photography.

Low quality work

Some photographer’s charge very little for their services.  Often times, less than newcomers.  This is because the quality of their work and customer service is so low they cannot charge any higher and still maintain an income.  Low quality work may consist of composition problems such as crooked horizon lines and images, pictures that are soft or out of focus, skin hues which are not true to life, gray, blue or orange, or inconsistency-where the images are not harmonious, and each greatly differs from the next.  If the photographer does not desire to increase their worth through bettering their product or experience, they will remain stuck in charging a small amount. (Unfortunately, many of these wedding photographer’s find work through lowest bid Aps such as Bark,
Thumbtack, etc., where the lowest price is the only consideration.)

Photographer for hire:  Exploiting the inexperienced

Some photographer’s quote or bid for work, but do not actually shoot themselves.  They hire less experienced photographers and pay them a low hourly fee to cover the wedding in their companies name.  I know many large companies that do this.  You see the name and think “Wow.  X is covering my wedding” when in all actuality is a hired intern or associate who shows up on your wedding day.  Not a bad gig for the company who charges $3500 for a wedding, pays the actual photographer $30 an hour.  They pay out $240 for 8 hours, and pocket the difference for a few hours of editing and admin work.  Doesn’t seem ethical does it?

Now, let’s discuss WHY wedding photographers charge what they do.

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You get what you pay for

Photography is an art.  A skill.  And a service.  To make a wedding photography business thrive, the photographer cannot just show up, take great pictures and be done.  They have to be good at marketing, a dynamic salesperson, and have a head for business.  They handle the client calls and customer service, the invoicing and accounting, and usually all the post processing and editing.  Talk about multi-tasking.

For a wedding photographer, it is not just showing up for a 30 minute session then handing over your card of images.  There is so much more that goes into the execution and creation of your memories of a wedding day.  Let’s take a look at all the costs photographer’s must consider when determining their prices.

Equipment

The equipment your photographer will bring to your wedding is not your ordinary point and shoot camera or cell phone.  Professional DSLR’s cost thousands of dollars and that is just for the camera body.  Add in the cost of lenses (average cost per lens is $1000 and up), flashes, flash modifiers, light stands, batteries and memory cards.  Professional photographer’s use fast writing memory or SD cards, so they can shoot faster without a buffer or lag time. (That dreaded buffering or waiting to read where you cannot take another picture.  This is because lower quality memory cards cannot process the images fast enough.  Not good for wedding photography) And do not forget, wedding photographer’s are required to bring a “back up” or second camera body with them, in the instance their primary one fails, or to utilize multiple lenses.

Editing Software

After taking the hundreds or thousands of images at a wedding, the photographer must “cull” or go through them all to select and edit the images.  Editing software is expensive, such as Photo Mechanic for culling, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for processing.  Then there is your gallery software such as Shootproof, or Pixieset which is needed to upload the images into a client gallery.

Back-up and Cloud storage

Once the images are edited, wedding photographer’s are still required to keep the images.  To do so safely, without worry of a computer system crash or accidental deletion of files, photographer’s pay monthly subscription fees to cloud based back-up and storage such as Backblaze. They also need to purchase external hard drives and card writers.

Professional business and Insurance

To become a business one must operate as a business and obtain a business license and insurance.  With equipment costs being so high, and living in such a litigious society, insurance coverage for your gear and liability insurance is a must.  Most venues today require proof of liability insurance prior to permitting a wedding photographer to shoot at their location.  A minimum of $1 million limited liability is required in my area of the US.  The monthly premiums of these policies add up through the course of the year, which should be figured into the business operating expenses.

Professional memberships and Education

Professional wedding photographer’s attend workshops, seminars and conferences to stay abreast of the industry trends and continue their education.  They spend countless hours practicing and even years developing their style and skills. There are also memberships to Professional photography organizations such as PPA, Professional Photographer’s of America which offer local meet-ups, networking and training.  In wedding photography, there is a constant need to adapt to the ever evolving changes in technology and equipment.

Marketing and Advertising

The most professional way a photographer can market themselves is with a website.  This may involve a web designer if the photographer is unable to navigate the complexity of developing their website themselves.  Trust me, I really suck at this part of my business.  Me and web design and applications, do not mix.  It took me forever to learn how to embed code, and format my site so it looks clean and professional.  Now, let’s consider the cost of the web host, maintenance and technical support.  Add in the monthly cost associated with maintaining a domain name and email, and those costs keep adding up.   Another web site most wedding photographer’s maintain is a host for their blog, and of course maintaining a constant presence on social media platforms.  Later.com is a great web based service which allows you to schedule multiple posts in advance to your social media accounts, maximizing your time and allowing you to create content all in one sitting-rather than post day after day.

Now, what about advertising and getting your name out there?  There is the cost of  business cards, creating a logo, branding, marketing materials and brochures.  What about Facebook or Instagram Ads?  A wedding photographer cannot depend on word of mouth filling up their  calendar with bookings.  They must constantly advertise to try and reach new clients.

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Labor

Wedding photographer’s cannot just show up at a venue and take pictures.  Countless hours goes into preparation for the wedding day.  From the initial contact with the client, to consultations, email and phone calls.  Then there is actually preparing for the wedding, the cleaning of their gear, charging of batteries, and checking all the equipment to make sure it is operable and good to go.  Then there is loading their vehicles, and travel to the venue.

Now, let us talk about the actual amount of time they are at your wedding, documenting all those priceless, once in a lifetime moments.  Most wedding photographer’s are constantly moving, with little to no breaks for the entire wedding.  They will be running around, crouching, avoiding guests with their cell phones in hand, ducking and even climbing up on ladders to obtain those moments that cannot be missed.  Talk about a workout on steroids!

Then there is the drive home, unloading of the gear, and the process of downloading and editing begins.  Most people assume it is an easy plug your camera in and download the images.  The truth is, when the couple is off on their honeymoon, their photographer is still hard at work on their images.  A normal 8 hour wedding typically delivers around 800 edited images, culled down from the thousand or so taken.  Editing a wedding can take hours to days, depending on the number of images, and the weather conditions of the day.

But, the wedding photographer’s work is still not done.  They still have to upload the edited images into their gallery hosting site and deliver them to their client.  Then there is follow up, possible ordering and delivery of professionally printed products such as albums, or prints.  See where I am going here?  That hourly rate doesn’t look so great after all, does it?

And if your wedding photographer offers a second shooter or assistant to help them document your day, then they are paid out of the lead shooter’s hourly rate.

Let’s start with that $3000 wedding quote for 8 hours, and factor in all of the above:

  • 3 hours for pre-wedding consultation, calls with client and venue walk
  • 4 hours (which is low) prepping for the wedding
  • 8 hours actual shooting time at the wedding
  • 2 hours travel to and from wedding
  • 20 hours processing and post production
  • 5 hours album design
  • 2 hours print design and ordering
  • 4 hours admin work
  • 2 hours blog post and sneak peek

That’s a total of 50 hours for an 8 hour wedding!  Which lowers the hourly rate to $60.  Now, subtract the standard 2nd shooter fee of $50 per hour, and you have $10 an hour! Gulp!  Yes, I just said $10 an hour!

This is BEFORE the standard business costs are factored in like, internet, phone, gas, etc.  And if this is a wedding photographer’s main source of income, there are health insurance premiums to consider.  Still think that $3000 quote is too high?

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Why is wedding photography so darn expensive?

Honestly, the reason is simple.  Wedding photographer’s love what they do, and chose to serve their clients with their vision and art, providing priceless, lasting memories.  They invest a lot of time and money into developing their skills.  Wedding photographer’s devote countless hours to creating a reputable business which is dependable and trustworthy.  They seek to capture the raw, honest emotion in each image in the most artistic, creative and unique way.  Wedding photographer’s take a great amount of pride in their work, ensuring to document each moment in a true photojournalist way.

Taking all this into account, is the wedding photographer actually charging too much?

Booking your wedding photographer

Ultimately, it’s your wedding day.  You should chose the photographer who feels right for you.  To me, the most important aspect of selecting a wedding photographer is their personality, and making sure you feel comfortable with one another.  (Who wants to feel like they are being stalked by some strange, wedding paparazzi all day?) Then, look within your price range.  Industry standard states your wedding photographer should take up approximately 20% of your wedding budget.  If you are on a tight budget, try cutting back in another area, not your photography. ( I know many couples who chose to have the highest paid vendor as their photographer, even over the venue.)  Remember, your cake will be eaten, the flowers will fade, but your memories will live on forever in your beautiful images created by your wedding photographer.

Besides, how can you truly put a price on your memories?

If you truly must work within a low budget, ask yourself these 6 things before booking that too good to be true low price wedding photographer:

  • Will I be upset if they miss the shot due to inexperience, or equipment failure?
  • Are they insured?  (Who will be liable if their equipment gets damaged, lost or stolen?  Are they covered for any mishaps at the venue?)
  • Do they have a website and portfolio of images for you to view?  Do you like their style? (How they compose the shots, to how they edit their images.)
  • Do I feel comfortable dressing, interacting and being in their presence for hours? Do your personalities mesh? (**This is a big one for the Brides, why often a female wedding photographer is chosen over a male.)
  • What is their turn around time to deliver the images, and what is included with your gallery?  No hidden fees, or up-charges per additional image over a certain specified number.
  • Are they reputable?  (I have heard horror stories of clients waiting months or longer trying to get their images delivered from their photographer.)

Ultimately, in wedding photography, you get what you pay for.

I wrote this article to educate couple’s searching for their wedding photographer and the new photographer’s out there hoping to enter into the wedding market.  My hope is it will give you an in depth and realistic view into why wedding photography has such a wide gap in pricing, and the true, seasoned wedding professionals command a higher price.

If you found this article helpful, please let me know!  I would love to hear your thoughts or comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia + David Odessa Florida Wedding

 

 

Julia + David   Wedding Old McMicky’s Farm

Odessa, Florida

 

Julia and David actually married years ago, and always regretted not having a “real” wedding.

They decided to have a vow renewal to celebrate their love story at the beautiful Old McMicky’s Farm in Odessa, Florida on a beautiful Spring day.

Surrounded by loved ones, they affirmed their love with personal vows officiated by I Chose You Officiants.  Their young daughter stood along side her parents as they declared their love, and participated in the sand ceremony signifying the blending of two families.

There is a quaint little cabin on the property were the bride and her squad got ready, and they looked amazing in their gowns of various purple hues.  The groom and groomsmen dressed casually in tan pants with long sleeved button downs.

The bride changed into a stunning lace purple dress for the reception, and the entire gang partied the night away.

I hope you enjoy these images from the wedding.

 

XO

Sue

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

 

Suzanne Lytle Photography

 

Suzanne Lytle Photography

 

Suzanne Lytle Photography

 

Suzanne Lytle PhotographySuzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

 

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Venue:  Old McMicky’s Farm  Odessa, Florida

Wedding gown:  David’s Bridal

Wedding Cake:   Publix Bakery

Wedding Photographer:  Suzanne Lytle Photography

Officiant:  I Chose You Ceremony

 

Kathy + Todd Lakeland Farm Wedding

Lakeland Wedding

Kathy and Todd make you believe in “Happily Ever After”.

I first met them a few months ago for their engagement session, and I knew right away how special they both were.  You can just see how much in love they are through each interaction and how Todd just dotes on Kathy.  Let me tell you, he is such a prankster and has such an incredible sense of humor, he had us laughing the entire time.

This is a second marriage for them both, and proof good things come to those who wait.  They have known one another for most of their lives, but did not connect again until later on.  Once they did, fate stepped in and their love blossomed.

Todd is in the Army and Kathy is creative as can be.  She actually created all of the decorations for her wedding with her best friend and Maid of Honor, Dee.  She had a vision of what her dream wedding would be, and together they teamed up to make it a reality.

The wedding took place at the beautiful Oak K Farms in Lakeland, Florida, on a picture perfect 84 degree March day.

All of the details were just perfect, and to top it off, Kathy arrived in a horse drawn carriage.   Talk about feeling like a princess on your wedding day!

I had a lot of fun spending the day with this adorable couple, and their family and friends.  They truly are wonderful people.

Cheers to you both!

 

Please enjoy these images from Kathy & Todd’s wedding day.

XOXO

Sue

Lakeland Wedding

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Lakeland Wedding

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Lakeland Wedding

Lakeland Wedding

Lakeland Wedding

Lakeland Wedding

Lakeland Wedding

Venue:  Oak K Farms  Lakeland, Florida

Wedding Cake: Publix Bakery  Lake Miriam, Florida

Photographer:  Suzanne Lytle Photography

 

 

Kathy + Todd Lake Parker Park Engagement

Kathy and Todd believe in love, and second chances.

They have known one another most of their lives, but it wasn’t until a reconnection years later that sparks flew.

Todd is in the military and a true gentleman.   Let me tell you, he has quite the personality and had us laughing throughout our session.

Kathy is beautiful and genuine, with a light hearted nature that immediately puts you at ease.  Their love is apparent in every interaction, and I could not help but smile watching them together.

A brief thunderstorm whipped through just before our session, but once it finally cleared we were blessed with a glorious afternoon glow.

Congratulations Kathy & Todd on your engagement.  Here’s to a lifetime of happiness together.

XXOO

Sue

 

 

Marissa + Eric Lover’s Key Engagement Session

Marissa & Eric have a love for the Key’s.

Those warm, salt kissed breezes.  White, powdery sand beaches beckoning you to kick off your shoes, and stroll barefoot hand and hand under the moonlight.  Or to watch the last sliver of sun dip below the horizon in a blazing sunset.  That laid back atmosphere where you can draw in a deep breath, and feel the stress of the outside world fade away.

Where happiness and LOVE sizzle like electricity through the air.

Aaahhhh.  The Key’s are pretty ah-mazing.

But, this couple here?  Pure perfection!

Marissa and Eric will be exchanging their vows at sunset down in the Key’s this November (And I am lucky to be their photographer).

Let me tell you, the relaxed beach atmosphere fits them perfectly.  They are so laid back, and just fun to be around.

When Marissa and Eric first contacted me and shared their love story, I knew their engagement session would be incredible.  With this Key theme going, it seemed appropriate to have their pictures taken on Lover’s Key in Fort Myers.

Marissa and Eric met while studying at Florida Atlantic University, and enjoying the Greek Life.   Since then, they have become inseparable.

They live on the Atlantic Coast with their two Mini Australian Shepherds.  The story goes, they had one dog who attached itself to Marissa, so Eric had to go and get another dog for himself!  Their love for their fur babies is apparent, and they even came to the engagement session with them!

We started out our time together at Truly Scrumptious, a quaint little Ice Cream shop on Fort Myers beach, to talk and grab some lifestyle images.  Their sweet treat looked oh, so heavenly, and I heard tasted just as good.

 

Suzanne Lytle Photography Suzanne Lytle Photography

 

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

From there we moved down to a little dog beach we passed on the way in, to grab some photos with the pups and let them burn off some energy.

The sky was overcast and cloudy when we arrived at Lover’s Key.  After a quick change, (Marissa’s long red gown is gorgeous!!) we headed down to the beach.  We must have had some intervention, because the clouds parted and the sun appeared.  Talk about thing’s heating up quickly?  These two were smokin!

Marissa and Eric were so much fun to work with, and made their photo session a dream!  They are posing PROS!

I am looking forward to their wedding this November.  Until then, please enjoy some images from Marissa & Eric’s Engagement Session in Fort Myers.

 

Hugs,

Sue

XXOO

 

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

Suzanne Lytle Photography

 

Ice Cream Shop:  Truly Scrumptious Fort Myers Beach

Lover’s Key State Park Fort Myers Beach

http://www.Slytlephotography

info@Slytlephotography.com