Sheraton Sand Key Clearwater beach wedding - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th STROBIST: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/4 power on light stand with reflective umbrella frame leftI have photographed dozens of beach weddings over the past few years, but this was only my second daytime (i.e. non-sunset time) wedding. The first was just over a year ago and lasted only an hour, but I still remember the heat from that one! This wedding was two hours and a little later in the year, so I prepared myself accordingly.
This wedding was for current DSLR Photography Lesson student Chris & his bride Valentina. I actually first met Chris briefly over a decade ago during my USF days. For the above photo Valentina wanted a shot that featured the back of her wedding dress. I thought black & white made the dress stand out from the background.
Sheraton Sand Key Clearwater beach wedding - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/500th Nikon SB-800 TTL mode hotshoe mountedShooting a ceremony that starts at 10:30am means basically shooting in direct, harsh sunlight, i.e. the least ideal conditions. Still, as a professional photographer one is expected to produce results. This starts with altering expectations as of course I will not be able to produce any of my trademark stunning sunset portraits. However, I can get very vivid blues still.
Sheraton Sand Key Clearwater beach wedding - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/320th SB-800 hotshoe mounted @ 1/4 powerI could also focus on my prefered candid style of shooting, like in the above shot of Valentina and Chris right after their first kiss as husband and wife. Despite the power of the sunlight, I did have the one advantage of the couple facing the sun during the ceremony allowing for the best possible exposure given the conditions.
Sheraton Sand Key Clearwater beach wedding - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/320th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight TTL mode hotshoe mounted This group shot is of everyone in attendance at the wedding. The goal is to make sure everyone's head is visible. I took a new approach this time asking people to please just stand still! I would get the left side of the group all aligned then go to do the right and turn around to see the people on the left mingling amongst themselves again. Finally I had to be firm and say please stand still or we will all melt in the sun! For all future group shots I will start out with this firmness as you may find it hard to believe but adults cannot stand still either, just like kids!
Sheraton Sand Key Clearwater beach wedding - Nikon D80 with Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ f/8 ISO 200 1/640th Nikon SB-600 in TTL mode hotshoe mountedThe width of the Gulf of Mexico makes it tempting to only shoot landscape orientation shots, but I think it is important to produce a variety of shots, including ones like the above portrait orientation shot. I still concentrate the most on getting the horizon level be it landscape or portrait orientation as my photo students know I am a stickler for level horizons.
Sheraton Sand Key Clearwater beach wedding - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight TTL mode hotshoe mountedNo sunset in the background, but the Gulf of Mexico at any time of day still makes for a pretty good backdrop. I asked Chris if he could dip Valentina for me. Surprisingly, he chose this kind of dip rather than putting her into the Gulf!
Sheraton Sand Key Clearwater beach wedding - Nikon D80 with Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/160th Nikon SB-600 Speedlight TTL mode hotshoe mountedThe reception was also out in mostly direct sunlight, but nearby was a shady refreshment stand the guests hung out in until the food was ready to be served. This is where I was able to get this candid shot of Valentina and her son.