Bilmar Hotel

Bilmar Beach Resort Sunset Portraits Treasure Island Florida with couple from Utah

Visiting all the way from Utah, Matt & Shanna have fun at Bilmar Beach Resort during our sunset portrait session - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame right front & SB-600 to frame right rearIt would seem the Bilmar Beach Resort is a popular hotel with out of state visitors as the last time I did a sunset beach portraits session there it was with someone visiting from Chicago.  This time, a couple all the way from Utah was staying on Treasure Island and met me for a candid couples beach sunset portait shoot.  There are few things I am lucky with in life, but having good weather at sunset time is one of them.  Just the night before it was raining all evening.  As you can see, no rain in sight thankfully!

Twilight beach portrait at Bilmar Beach Resort Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/60th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left front & SB-600 to frame right rearBeing a Tuesday evening in September as well, there were few people on the beach allowing for wide shots like the one above to not require any tricky people removing editing in the background.  The twilight sky was also very beautiful.  We stayed a little extra longer to get the above shot.

Leaning in for a kiss at Bilmar Beach Resort Treasure Island Florida during sunset portraits - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame right front & SB-600 to frame left rearIt was a fun session with Shanna and Matt and I am always glad to be able to help people remember their time in Florida through photographs.

Bilmar Resort Hotel Treasure Island Beach Sunset Portraits with Lisa

Lisa on the beach at sunset at Bilmar Hotel Resort on Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightVisiting from Chicago, Lisa wanted to have some professional portraits made of herself on vacation.  I met her at the Bilmar Hotel, a place I have shot at before.  The weather the three days prior to our shoot were nearly constant rain, and Lisa was concerned, but my lucky weather streak for beach portraits continued as you can see we had a near ideal sunset.

Twilight beach portrait at Bilmar Hotel on Treasure Island - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th - Strobist: SB-800 behind subject & SB-600 in front rearLike many people, Lisa told me she was not that comfortable having her photograph taken, but as is often my experience, they turn out to be much better models than they ever thought they could.  I may see Lisa again for a photography lesson in the spring when she returns with a Nikon DSLR of her own.

Bilmar Hotel Treasure Island Florida Sunset Beach Wedding

"The Dip" on Treasure Island - St. Petersburg Beach Wedding Photography - SETUP: f/5.6 ISO 200 1/80th STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/4 power frame right & SB-600 @ 1/4 power frame left

There are always challenges photographing a wedding, but for me personally this was the most difficult due to the news I got about the oldest member of my family when I first woke up that morning.  I have a strong ability to compartmentalize so I rallied and once I first put the camera up to my eye, no one all the six and a half hours I was on site at the Bilmar Hotel on Treasure Island had any idea what I was really feeling inside.  

Wedding rings hung from a necklace with a cross - SETUP: Nikkor AF-S 104mm VR micro f/2.8G lens @ f/11 ISO 200 1/100th SB-800 @ 1/4 power hotshoe mountedThe wedding rings were with the bride, Jessica,  in her hotel room, which is unusual as the groom tends to keep them on hand.  Looking for a good place to photograph the rings, I recalled what I did for a Christmas wedding last year, which was to hang the rings from a string type object.  The bride took off a necklace she was wearing an assisted me in getting this shot.  The cross was already on the necklace.  

The view from the 7th floor of the Bilmar Hotel - SETUP: f/8 ISO 200 1/60th STROBIST: SB-800 @1/4 power to frame right & SB-600 @ 1/4 power to frame left both handheld by volunteers!The bride had a very loyal wedding dress assistant her continued her job the entire afternoon and evening.  For the above shot I had two volunteer assistants hold my speedlights as there was not much space at all to setup a pair of light stands.  The weather looks great outside right?  Well, to the east clouds were rolling in fast and within 20-minutes it was raining right at what was to be the start of the ceremony.  There was only a 30-minute delay which was actually welcome, allowing the bride more time to get ready and the guests to cool off in the reception area.

The groom is pointing at you - SETUP: f/5.6 ISO 400 1/60th SB-800 @ 1/4 power hotshoe mounted & a room lamp providing backlightI learned a new trick for shooting in hotel rooms:  use one of the room lamps as a backlight in tight quarters.  I had the groom, Justin, and the other groomsmen squeeze between two beds causing them to get into a fan-like pose and also allowing the table lamp to backlight them.  This is definitely a type of shot I will be doing again in the future!

Treasure Island Beach calm after the storm - SETUP: f/11 ISO 200 1/200th SB-800 @ 1/4 power hotshoe mounted - B&W processing using Silver Efex ProOnce the rainstorm passed it was kind enough to leave behind all sorts of clouds decorating the sky.  I much prefer clouds to a cloudless beach sky.  Not only are day time photos much better, I think sunset shots with clouds are much more dramatic as well.  

The groom cries upon seeing his bride - SETUP: Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/800th using natural lightIt was an emotional moment for the bride and especially the groom once the ceremony began.  For me, it is nice to see as I like to see people express genuine emotion.  It also of course helps the photographs.  

Tall grass sand dunes of Treasure Island - SETUP: f/11 ISO 200 1/160th STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/4 power to frame left & SB-600 @ 1/4 power to frame rightThe bride in a quiet moment faces the Sun and the Sea.  This type of shot, where the subject is not looking into the lens but rather off into the distance is my favorite type of portrait.  For me, I wonder what the subject is thinking about.  I hope that some years down the line when the bride looks at this image, she, herself, will also wonder what she was thinking of at that moment.

A vivid sunset falls on Treasure Island St. Petersburg - SETUP: NIKKOR AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ f/8 ISO 200 1/100th STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/4 power to frame right & SB-600 @ 1/4 power to frame leftAfter I took the final photograph of Jessica & Justin at sunset time, I had a few moments alone as I packed up my strobist gear and they started to walk back to the hotel for the reception.  This gave me a few seconds to send my own thoughts out to the horizon, as I do every day, but even more so that time.

Bilmar Hotel Florida Sunset Beach Wedding

Christina & her bridesmaids - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 400 1/160th strobist: SB-600 off camera to leftFor years when I first crossed the inter-coastal waterway bridge and arrived on Treasure Island on my way to Sunset Beach, the Bilmar Hotel would be the first thing I saw.  Next to it the Thunderbird Hotel.  Over the years I built up in my imagination what they must be like inside and created a history for them.  I always thought one day I would go inside one of those hotels, but never did, not until I photographed Christina and Sean's wedding last month.  

Walking down the aisle, Florida beach wedding style.

What I was immediately reminded of upon entering the Bilmar Hotel were my own childhood memories of my family's first visits to Florida and the hotels we stayed at in the 80s.  I have not taken a true vacation in the U.S. in over 11 years so I do not often see the insides of hotels of any kind.  I really like checking out travel related places like hotels and airports.  They are good places to imagine where the people you see came from, why did they take vacation on non-descript week in May, etc.  

A sunset wedding kiss - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 200 1/100th strobist: SB-600 off camera above to the rightThe sunset light was nice and soft as usual, so there were no particular technical challenges in photographing this wedding.  The beach for a change was largely free of looky-loos giving me clean backgrounds when shooting just the bride and groom.  It was a cloudless sunset allowing the sun to be seen all the way until it slips behind the horizon beyond the sea.