wedding dress

Albuquerque New Mexico Wedding Photography Alex & Chantal

Albuquerque New Mexico Wedding Photography Alex & Chantal

Jason photographs weddings??

I do not often photographs weddings anymore, though I photographed dozens in the beginning of my photography career. In fact, this was only the second wedding I have photographed since 2013! This was a special occasion, however, as networking friend Alex called me up and asked if I could photograph his wedding with just a little bit of short notice (a day!). I was not traveling for rural land photography that Saturday so I said I could do it and would be glad to!

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The Westin Tampa Bay Hotel Wedding with Mattie & Kenny

Bride & Groom on the rooftop deck of The Westin Tampa Bay - wedding photography - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/60th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightIt had been over a year and a half since I last photographed a wedding, but since I did so many in the past it was as they say, like riding a bike getting back into the flow of shooting a four hour event.  Mattie & Kenny's wedding was at The Westin Tampa Bay on a narrow piece of land between Tampa and Clearwater floating in the middle of Tampa Bay.  From the rooftop deck with its clear glass walls, the feeling you are floating on water, as seen in the above photograph, was pretty cool even with overcast skies.

Bride getting ready at The Westin Tampa Bay Hotel - wedding photography - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/100th - Strobist: SB-800 in 43" shoot through umbrella to frame leftIt turned out that Mattie and I had a few mutual friends, including my eldest friend Terry and his wife Beth, both of whom attended the wedding giving it a rather familiar feeling.  The atmosphere in her room as she was getting ready was very loose and full of laughing.  I began my shooting for the day by making a photo of Mattie putting on the finishing touches.

Bride & bridemaids at The Westin Tampa Bay Hotel - wedding photography - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/7.1 ISO 200 1/60th - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame right both in shoot through umbrellasMattie had seen images from another wedding I photographed in the Westin a few years back and also wanted some photos featuring the lobby's unique waterfall.  I used two shoot through umbrellas to provide enough light on the bride and bridesmaids for the portrait above.

Bride & Groom dancing at The Westin Tampa Bay Hotel - wedding photography - Nikon D80 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 800 1/100th with SB-600 hotshoe mountedThe reception was in a room with floor to ceiling windows facing southwest which flooded it with light during the late afternoon allowing me to use that light as a hyper backlight in the above portrait of the bride & groom having their traditional first dance.  

Groom & Bride listening at The Westin Tampa Bay Hotel - wedding photography - Nikon D80 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 400 1/100th with SB-600 hotshoe mountedCupcakes continue to be popular at weddings, with dozens under the wedding cake itself.  I got to have one of the cupcakes as a closing treat when I was finished shooting.  I often say I shoot weddings just for the cake!

Bride & Groom cake smash at The Westin Tampa Bay Hotel - wedding photography - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 640 1/60th with SB-800 hotshoe mountedFrom start to finish it was a joyful and surprisingly emotional wedding for Mattie & Kenny.  Not often have I seen the groom get so emotional during the vows and also during the speeches at the reception.  They also were not afraid to smash a little cake, which I also found refreshing since some newlyweds nowadays opt for a clean cake eating which is no fun at all!

Thank you Mattie & Kenny! 

Commercial Wedding Shoot with Models at Courtyard Marriott St. Petersburg Florida

Commercial Wedding Photography on historic tile floor at Courtyard Marriott -- SETUP: f/5.6 1/80th ISO 400 STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/2 power with shoot-through umbrella on light stand 9' high behind model & SB-600 @ 1/4 power with diffuser cap to frame right held by assistantThis was my most complex indoor shoot to date involving two models, two makeup artists, a dress designer, a florist, a caterer, a hotel sales manger and one photographer's assistant.  I am very happy to say it turned out to be perhaps my best indoor photography work to date.  It is very satisfying when a big team effort results in such final images.  

I had worked with the bride model, Nancy, before on a commercial fashion shoot in Safety Harbor.  The sales manager, Ryan, of the Courtyard Marriott, who hired me to makes these images, I had met in weeks past at a networking event then in subsequent meetings discussing various photography projects.  My photographer's assistant was Natasha, a former DSLR Photography Lesson student.  When you can have that many people you already know on a photo job, it makes it much more comfortable.

The above shot of Nancy sitting on the historic tile floor of the hotel was my idea, which I came up with on a survey of the hotel a few weeks before the shoot itself.  I am standing on a marble staircase (pictured below) offering the perfect logistics to make this kind of shot.  I wanted to go with a muted light setup producing a bit of a natural vignette to the image as I chose to most prominently light the model in the center.

 St. Petersburg Commercial Wedding Photography - Models Brad & Nancy framed by arching historic doorways - SETUP: f/4 ISO 200 1/60th STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/4 power with reflective umbrella on light stand to frame left & SB-600 @ 1/4 power with diffuser cap to frame right held by assistantThis archway shot was another I had previsioned during a location scout of the hotel.  I really like repeating patterns and these archways caught my eye right away.  There were actually three arches, but the first one could not be worked into the shot.  This photograph turned out just as I had imagined.  

St. Petersburg Commercial Wedding Photography - Nancy reflected in the swimming pool - SETUP: f/5.6 ISO 200 1/100th STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/2 power with shoot-through umbrella on light stand to frame left & SB-600 @ 1/2 power with diffuser cap to frame right held by assistantThe bride reflected in the pool was another pre-planned shot.  As you might be able to tell, being able to scout a location some time before the scheduled shoot is advantageous as one then can move from location to location and concentrate more on executing the shot at best as possible rather than where will the next shot even be.  Again, I am pleased with how the shot turned out because due to the width of the pool I could not get my speedlights that close to Nancy, but as it turned out there was no lack of light for the shot.

St. Petersburg Commercial Wedding Photography - Models Brad & Nancy on the historic marble staircase - SETUP: f/4 ISO 400 1/100th STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/2 power with shoot-through umbrella on light stand 9' high behind me & SB-600 @ 1/4 power with diffuser cap to frame right held by assistantThe original marble staircase was something the hotel sales manager definitely wanted to showcase in one of the shots.  I previsioned perhaps the bride walking down the staircase or maybe the bride on the bottom of the staircase being helped down by the groom, but thanks to the models' creativity with their posing, I liked this shot the best of the staircase series.  I cannot say how much it helps a photographer to work with great models!  It makes my job so much easier.

St. Petersburg Commercial Wedding Photography - Models Brad & Nancy facing the original hotel elevator - SETUP: f/5.6 ISO 400 1/80th STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/2 power with shoot-through umbrella on light stand 9' high behind models & SB-600 @ 1/4 power with diffuser cap to frame right held by assistant

To feature the hotel's original elevator I chose to once again use the nearby marble staircase as a vantage point.  Shooting straight on to the elevator produced a flat shot.  I felt shooting from above like this created a dynamic image showing the bride & groom's anticipation, while at the same time including the elevator in the shot, as well as the original tile floor.  I chose also to again keep the lighting soft & muted, to help create that classic look.

St. Petersburg Commercial Wedding Photography - carrying the bride over the threshold - SETUP: f/5.6 ISO 400 1/80th STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/4 power with shoot-through umbrella on light stand to frame left & SB-600 @ 1/8th power with diffuser cap pointed at back hallway wall handheld by assistant

There was no trouble to light up the models from the front (within the room), but this meant the hallway looked very dark.  The solution was to place one speedlight on the left of the door frame pointing toward the opposite wall.  Not only did this fill the hallway with light, it provided a strong backlight to the shot.  

St. Petersburg Commercial Wedding Photography - models using their own creativity - SETUP: f/4 ISO 400 1/100th STROBIST: SB-800 @ 1/2 power with shoot-through umbrella on light stand @ 1/4 power in bedroom to the right & SB-600 @ 1/16th power with diffuser cap to frame left directly on the floor pointing straight up Both Nancy and I had the same idea for a through the doorway bedroom scene shot.  However, her and Brad came up with the pose and prop setup (shoe placement, jacket coming half off) on their own, which I would say made the shot nearly entirely if not for the tremendous challenge I had trying to light everything.  It was by far the hardest shot to light for me ever.  Getting rid of shadows behind Brad was the main challenge.  Putting the second speedlight on the floor behind him solved it, after lots of trial and error.  Ultimately I did have to clone out one shadow along the right side of the bed from umbrella edge spill.  This was also the last shot of the day (3.5 hours of straight shooting!) so it was great to end on one so challenging.

I appreciate the work of everyone at the hotel that day helping make the images in this photo story.

Models: 

More information about commercial & wedding photography:

Bradenton Florida Wedding Photography - Kiera & Ricardo

Bradenton Wedding Photography in Calvary Baptist Church - the bride, KieraI photographed my first wedding in Bradenton, Florida, which was held at the Calvary Baptist Church and then on to the nearby Renaissance banquet hall for the reception.  However, I first met Kiera in her family home that she grew up in.  As I walked up the staircase to the second floor the wall was lined with childhood photos of her and her siblings.  It was really nice to get to see some of her family history before taking one photograph that day.  Hopefully I will have produced a photograph worthy of placement on that wall.

The Bradenton bride getting ready - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/100th strobist: SB-800 on light stand to frame left & SB-600 on chair to frame rightOften, just by watching people I find shots I would not have thought of myself.  The mirror was on the far side of the bedroom and was not being used.  As I was getting ready to setup for a staircase shot, I saw Kiera go over and look into it.  I always like to get a reflection shot of some kind and after working a bit on the lighting logistics was able to get my second strobe placed so that I could both back and front light Kiera without producing any glare in the mirror.

Entire wedding party in Calvary Baptist Church Bradenton FloridaThe wedding party was rather large and included four energetic kids and one very long wedding dress train.  This was perhaps the most difficult shot all day to get right as on top of the tech stuff for producing this kind of shot (off camera flash, correct exposure in a large dim room, etc) I had to make sure eighteen people all lined up without significantly blocking anyone and keep them all from trodding on the bride's beautiful, but expansive, wedding dress.

A riverfront location picked by the bride in Bradenton Florida after the wedding ceremonyThe bride had mentioned going to a riverfront location after the ceremony, which I thought sounded good.  The more environments I can photograph the bride and groom in the better.  However, after the ceremony the bride was not so sure of making the effort to go out there and perhaps we would all just head to the reception.  I highly recommended that we make the effort to go out to the riverfront because ten years from now I am sure she will be glad that we had.  This is also part of the professional wedding photographer's job.  

Bride & Groom action shot after their Bradenton Florida wedding by the limoThe above shot was my idea as I always want to try and include some action shots if possible, even during a wedding.  Kiera & Ricardo would good about following my suggestions for shot ideas despite both of them wearing far more restrictive clothing than myself.  This was a spontaneous shot I did not have preplanned, just thought we could do something on our way to the riverfront.

Wedding Bliss under the bride's veil in Bradenton Florida - natural lightThis shot, however, was preplanned as soon as I saw Kiera putting on the veil in her grandmother's bedroom.  It is always great when the bride wears a large veil.  With the wind it took a bit of finagling to get the veil as good as we could and keep it from blowing all over the place.  I think this was the time Kiera & Ricardo enjoyed the most while I was photographing them that day. 

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  • Bride Series - Olivia

    Sand Key Florida -- Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/100th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/2 power with diffuser cap on light stand to frame left

    Being patient and persistent allowed for these images of Olivia for this Bride Series collection, as well as spontaneous.  Soon after her wedding ceremony, a huge storm rumbled across Sand Key Beach forcing us to take cover for over twenty minutes.  It was already getting close to sunset time and I really thought we would have no more portrait opportunities.  Then as suddenly as the storm arrived, the rain ceased leaving behind a dramatic sky background over the Gulf of Mexico.

    Nikon D80 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8 lens @ f/8 ISO 200 1/640th natural lightThis is Olivia as she is getting ready to walk down the sandy beach aisle, before the storm.  The weather was still calm then and the sun was giving off its usual warm glow of late evening.  It is the ideal time for natural light portraits.  

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 400 1/100th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/2 power with diffuser cap on light stand to frame leftI mentioned before being spontaneous helped.  This photograph was very impromptu (as was the lead image).  As we were leaving our respective shelters, they from their cars (too hot for me) and me from the changing room covered open air deck, on our way to the beach I liked the green grass background and thought it would be a unique shot to have amongst all the other on sand shots.  Olivia was willing to leap up onto the railing of the boardwalk.  I quickly setup my light stand and dialed in the settings.  I was very happy we made the effort to get these shots.  

    Nikon D80 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ f/8 ISO 200 1/400th natural lightSo what could have ended up as a very shortened wedding portrait session turned into an opportunity for portraits with a unique and dramatic backdrop.  Over this summer I have come to actually prefer stormy sky backdrops over ordinary calm sunset skies.  Thanks to Olivia for being so open to all my ideas.

    A Twilight Wedding on Sunset Beach Treasure Island Florida

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 400 1/80th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/2 power on light stand to frame leftI wonder if any wedding dress makers offer dresses made particularly for (hot) Florida beach weddings?  Many of the brides I photograph do a great job of getting around on loose sand in long flowing dresses, but I am sure glad to be wearing ultralight wicking materials rather than a highly non-breathable wedding dress.  Callie, as you will see, was still quite nimble despite the longish train of her wedding dress.

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/60th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight hotshoe mountedMost of the time for beach weddings I do not see the bride and groom until they are standing on the beach just before the ceremony.  They often come from out of state and do not hire me for any photography before the ceremony.  However, for Callie and Joey's wedding I got on the scene even before Callie donned her wedding dress so the above photograph shows the moment all the finishes touches to attire, hair and makeup were completed.  This also allowed me to get to know Callie a little before her wedding, which is a big plus for me as a photographer.  

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/60th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/2 power on light stand to frame leftNot only did Callie and Joey reserve photography time for before the beach wedding ceremony, but also for a time after sunset too.  No other beach bride from this summer has a portrait like the one above because no others reserved after sunset time for photography.  After the sun goes down, often the sky turns purple with hues of orange.  Add to that that Callie, shoeless, was willing to scramble up some jetties, all this enabled me to make basically the exact shot I pre-visioned.  

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5 ISO 200 1/30th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/2 power on light stand to frame leftWe even had time for a few well after sunset portraits with Callie and her bridesmaids.  Again, this kind of photograph was a first for me this summer.  It was also a very fun series of shots to end the night on.  After the shot above, Callie and her friends put on their "silly faces" I believe they called them.  I will keep those shots offline though . . . thanks Callie and Joey for a very fun and creative evening of beach wedding photography.

    Bride Series - Bianca

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens @ f/8 ISO 400 1/60th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight off camera held by assistant

    When photographing a wedding, it starts and ends with the bride.  After all, she is the best dressed.  The Bride Series will mostly feature photographs of the bride alone.  As is my style, I like to photograph people, and that goes for brides too, while they are thinking of something other than being photographed.  In the above shot, I did ask Bianca to step close to the mirror for the composition of the shot.  The expression is her own.

    Nikon D300 with Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro f/2.8G lens @ f/8 ISO 400 1/60th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight on hotshoe

    The above photo was made in a similar way to the lead photo.  I told Bianca I would like a photo of her ring up near her face.  I helped position her fingers (spreading them out more) and she and the fabulous Nikkor 105mm VR micro lens did the rest.  The viewer is left to guess what is on her mind.  Even I do not know.  My job as the photographer is merely to pose the question.  

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens @ f/8 ISO 400 1/60th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight off camera held by assistant

    After Bianca was already, I suggested she plop down on the sofa and relax.  She purposefully wanted me to get her red shoes in the shot.  This church had pretty much the nicest bathroom I had ever seen.  Are all women's bathrooms like this??

    Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 400 1/60th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight on hotshoeHer father really stood out in his hipster white jacket.  He also had a great smile, so I was drawn to photographing him.  They were not dancing alone on the dance floor.  The challenge is to find an angle that has no distracting background.  Though I was able to frame the shot with no other people in it, the wall itself was somewhat distracting so I chose the antique plate II filter in Silver Efex Pro to put the emphasis on father and daughter, not corners and panels.

    Nikon D300 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ f/4 ISO 640 1/125th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight on hotshoeThis photograph is a true candid.  Taken with my faithful Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ the full 200mm (300mm equivalent) I was not even in Bianca's sightline.  I noticed her through the crowd taking a moment for herself.  

    What do you think was on her mind?