Isabella dancing at her first communion celebration at the Don Cesar St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 with diffuser cap @ 1/4 power to frame rightPhotographing Isabella at her First Communion Celebration at the Don Cesar in St. Petersburg, Florida was a lot of fun and allowed me to make what I am sure will be one of my ten best images of the year (above). Last week it was my pleasure to have two returning clients within a few days of each other. I really appreciate clients who continue to choose me as their photographer, and from a shooting standpoint, it is great to have that already existing familiarity with the client. This time, however, instead of just shooting Vanessa during one of her professional flamenco dancing performances (dance 1, dance 2), as mentioned above I was able to photograph her daughter Isabella and the rest of her family as well.
Isabella (center) and friends with the Don Cesar in the background - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 250 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 with diffuser cap @ 1/4 power to frame leftThe Don Cesar is a great location to shoot at, although at the time of the event (12:30pm to 1:30pm) the midday Florida sunshine was as it always is, harsh and unforgiving to photography. Further, to keep things simple and quick for the girls in the photo I used only a single speedlight (SB-800) with a diffuser cap on a light stand to make these shots. Can you spot the ones that were made in direct sunlight and the ones that were made in the shade?
Isabella showing off the back of her pretty first communion dress, Don Cesar in the background - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/13 ISO 250 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 with diffuser cap @ 1/4 power to frame leftVanessa wanted a photo of the back of Isabella's pretty dress so I tried to make it a kind of model shot by having Isabelle look back at me over her shoulder. I composed the shot to use the curb as a leading line along with the railing choosing to have more foreground than blue sky background.
Isabelle twirling her first communion dress at the Don Cesar - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 250 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 with diffuser cap @ 1/4 power to frame leftThe above shot was a rather tricky one to execute, that took quite a few takes, but I am glad we stuck with it and made the photo exactly as I previsualized. First, Isabelle was standing in complete shade while most of the background was in strong sunlight. I again used just my single speedlight to put light onto the subject and adjusted my shutter speed to expose the blue sky in the background. A little Photoshop dodging helped balance out the foreground. Then it was just a matter of capturing Isabelle spinning exactly centered between the two columns with her dress flowing in a good look. As I mentioned, a tricky shot, but it turned out better than I thought as Isabelle appears to be still herself while her dress has the appearance of motion creating an unusually dynamic visual.
First communion dress & veil at the Don Cesar St. Petersburg, Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/8 ISO 250 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 with diffuser cap @ 1/4 power to frame leftThis photograph is one of my favorite kind to make incorporating a veil in the wind (actually held up by her mom out of frame, shh!) and the subject looking into the distance with a contemplative look. I asked Isabelle to look to her right and think of her future. The result is the above image. This photograph paired with the top image in this post cover a wide range of emotion that I hope Isabelle and Vanessa and the rest of her family will find valuable when they look back at these photos in 10, 20 years from now. I want Isabelle to wonder what she was thinking at that moment. I wonder if she will be able to remember . . .