September 24th, 2016 I had the privilege of traveling to Nicaragua with a couple of like minded human beings.  Estero Padre Ramos, Nicaragua was our exact destination. I had never met any of my colleagues prior to the flight down there, and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t have much of an idea as to what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that it involved the conservation of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles, that it was part of the SWIM program through the Loggerhead Marinelife center in Juno, Florida and that I would be turning 35 during this trip abroad.

Perhaps I should start with a more thorough briefing of each of the organizations represented. The Loggerhead Marine Center is a non-profit education and ocean conservation facility located on the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach County, Florida. The facility houses a variety of exhibits, live sea turtles and other coastal creatures. Their mission is to promote conservation of ocean ecosystems with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles, as well as be recognized locally and internationally as the leading authority in sea turtle education, research, and rehabilitation. With over tens of thousands of nesting sea turtles on their 9 mile stretch of coastline I’d say they have some great opportunities to learn and teach about sea turtles. I’ve enjoyed following them on Facebook for sometime and I found out about this trip through their monthly newsletter.

Now the SWIM program was created by the programs coordinator at Loggerhead Marine Center. SWIM stands for Serving the World’s Imperiled Marinelife. Basically think of it as a combination of eco-tourism with local humanitarian outreach. For the Nicaragua trip, our main objective was to work with the local non profit group, ICAPO with in water sea turtle monitoring, mangrove restoration, nesting surveys, and marine debris removal.

One of my favorite memories from the trip involved the release of over 200 baby hawksbill turtles around dusk, two nights in a row. I have seen turtles hatch in Florida, but never had the opportunity to watch them so close once they make it to the water. Did you know that once they hit the water the babies swing their flippers against their body and remain motionless for a few moments, thus imitating a floating leaf in the water to avoid being dinner for a larger predator? Brilliant!

Another amazing experience was when we worked with local fisherman and marine biologists to capture, tag, weigh, measure and release juvenile hawksbills that swim in the mangrove estuaries.

We also spent some time in the local communities doing a beach clean up and mangrove restoration where we planted over 100 new mangroves.

And then there was the last day of the trip, my 35th birthday. I had completed an 11 mile hike through the Nicaraguan jungle the day before so I decided to opt out of anything physically demanding. Instead I spent the afternoon on the beach, looking for shells and swimming in the Pacific Ocean. I remember walking miles on a beach without seeing a soul. It was heaven, and then  about 200 yards ahead of me I saw a massive seashell pile. Specimens that I had only seen in books, never in person. Happy birthday to me!!! {P.S. ONLY keep the empty ones- NO live shelling no matter how rare the find }

It was the experience of a lifetime, one that I will always treasure and carry with me. Everyday brought a new adventure. I hope to be traveling to Nicaragua again for more hawksbill projects. The beauty was within the nature surrounding us, but it was also within the people who are fighting so hard to keep it that way. I’d like to say thank you Loggerhead Marine Center and ICAPO for giving individuals like me a chance to observe the local area and participate in bettering our earth and oceans. And to my fellow travelers, thank you for restoring my faith in humanity. It was nice meeting similar souls that actually give a damn about our environment.

With that, I would like to leave you with a quote from herpetologist, ecologist, and well known Florida conservationist,  Dr. Archie Carr , “For most of the wild things on earth, the future must depend on the conscience of man”.

Eco tourism in Nicaragua helping save Hawksbill turtlesImage of boat in estuary in Estero Padre Ramos nicaraguaFlame Auger lays on the shores of Padre Ramos NicaraguaBunk Bed Accommodations in Eco tourism camp in nicaraguaStreet dog in NicaraguaSunset View of the Pacific Ocean in Padre Ramos NicaraguaThe half mile walk to the beach in NicaraguaLow Tide in the estuaries of Padre Ramos NicaraguaOne of the beaches where Hawksbill and Kemps Olive Ridley Turtles will lay their eggs in NicaraguaThe Reserve Estero Padre Ramos Turtle Camp Over 200 baby hawksbill sea turtles await release into the bay of Padre Ramos Baby Hawksbill Turtle Crawling to the waterBaby Hawksbill Sea Turtle Pop its head out of the water Baby Sea Turtle Mimicking a leaf when entering the waterThis is what a baby hawksbill shell looks likeBaby Hawksbill Sea Turtle Racing to the water after hatchingFresh Fried Snapper Caught for LunchLive Shell Off Of NicaraguaThere is plenty of seashells to find when traveling to Nicaragua Juvenile Hawksbill Turtle With Barnacles on Shell Eco Tourism Trip to Nicaragua for in water turtle monitoring Stephanie A Smith Photography recently traveled to Nicaragua to help hawksbill sea turtlesWhen traveling to Nicaragua stop by Padre Ramos to see the sea turtle projectStephanie A Smith participated in the catch and release of juvenile hawksbill turtles while staying in Estero Padre Ramos NicaraguaWhen Traveling to Nicaragua one will see many stray chickensBaby Mangroves Getting Ready to be planted in the estuaries of Padre Ramos National Reserve ParkMeasuring Baby Hawksbill Sea Turtles During Eco Tourism SWIM program trip to NicaraguaOne of the tasks before releasing hawksbill turtles is to weigh themBeginning of a lightning storm off the coast of NicaraguaICAPO and SWIM released baby hawksbill turtles this summer into the estuaries of Padre Ramos Big Summer Thunder Storm Coming in off the Mountains off NicaraguaTypes of Seashells you can find in NicaraguaStephanie A Smith celebrates her 35th birthday in Nicaragua

As the northeast prepares for possibly the largest winter storm of 2017, Niko, I’m reminiscing about my last trip up to Boston. My favorite new england city is Boston….Wait, let me preface. There is no greater city, then the city of Boston, in summer and Fall. Winter and spring, forget about it, you can find me in Florida. I was beyond excited when Shea and Pete asked me if I would travel up to do their Boston engagement session. While Shea and Pete were planning their destination wedding down in Boca Grande, Florida at the Gasparilla Inn, they also wanted a chance to incorporate their city, where their life together began.  Without hesitation I was online booking my flight. “Have camera, will travel” is my motto.

 As I boarded the plane to Boston I could feel the crisp air on my face, smell the changing of the season, taste the apple cider, and I could visualize the different color leaves swaying in the light cool breeze. But as fate would have it, I brought the Florida weather with me and we experienced a high of about 80 degrees on the day of their shoot. I was really happy that Shea and Pete still rocked their “fall” attire. We traveled all over the city, from the fells park to the Boston waterfront and seaport area. From there we headed over to the Public Gardens and finished the session at the Esplanade.

I really enjoyed as Shea and Pete tour guided me through their city and gave me a little history on how their journey together began. Honestly, I could go on and on about this shoot and how amazing Shea and Pete are but I can’t wait to share some of these photos 🙂 Without further ado, I give you Shea and Pete’s boston engagement session.

Fall engagement session in Boston at the Seaport waterfront areaCouple taking fall engagement photos in Fells Reserve ParkCouple gets dressed up for Boston engagement session in the Public GardensWearing white dress with nude pumps at engagement session always looks niceFall leaves changing color in Fells Park BostonBoston Engagement Session right outside of city in Fells PreserveOne of the best locations for a boston engagement session is the public gardensFall leaves falling on clients as they laid in the red maple leaves during their boston engagement session in the public gardensThe seaport area in Boston is a beautiful backdrop with brick walkways and expansive skyline views of Bostoncouple poses together on an adirondack chair on the charles river waterfront in Bostoncouple snuggles close under the willow trees at the public gardens area in Bostonthe esplanade in boston is a beautiful trail along the Charles River

One of my favorite places to photograph a wedding in Tampa, is the Tampa Yacht and Country Club. To me, a Tampa Yacht and Country Club Wedding usually means the couple and their families have roots local to the area and that it will be a wonderful evening filled with friends, family and an awesome band 🙂 This beautiful spring wedding was exactly that. Annie and Rhys grew up in the same neighborhood. They were friends first, and then it grew into something much more. On wedding day, Annie got ready in the house she grew up in. Her uncle officiated their wedding at the church that they attended from an early age. I think the thing that I treasured most about this wedding was the time they allowed prior to the ceremony for family photos and bridal party. Their friends and family mean so much to Annie and Rhys, and by allowing time early in the day they were able to capture special moments with all their loved ones.  And even with Rhys in a boot on his wedding day {he seriously sprained it playing basketball a week before the big day} there was nothing but smiles and laughter. Annie and Rhys, thank you so much for allowing me to capture your wedding. Here are some of my favorite moments from their day along with the vendors who made it possible.

Spring Wedding Invitations in Tampa FloridaTulips are beautiful flowers for weddings2017-01-29_0006Beautiful wedding dress and long veil with flowers from FH Weddings2017-01-29_00082017-01-29_0009father and daughter first look in Tampa Florida2017-01-29_00112017-01-29_0012Groomsmen Getting into JOS A Banks Tuxedo at Tampa Yacht and Country ClubBridal Portrait in her childhood home2017-01-29_0022Bride Portraits with her parents in South Tampa2017-01-29_00232017-01-29_0014Bride and Groom do their first look at Tampa Yacht and Country ClubA First Look Under the Oak Trees at Tampa Yacht and Country ClubBridesmaids wearing lavender dresses with loose formed floral bouquets by FH Weddings2017-01-29_0018Gardenias and white ranunculus in spring wedding bouquets in Tampa Florida2017-01-29_0020Spring Wedding with Bridal Party Portrait at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club2017-01-29_00252017-01-29_00262017-01-29_00272017-01-29_0030Bridal Portrait with Long Veil in Tampa Florida2017-01-29_00342017-01-29_0033Handsome Tampa Couple Smiles for the camera at their wedding at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club2017-01-29_00312017-01-29_0036Outdoor Skyline View of St Johns Episcopal Church in Tampa Florida2017-01-29_0037Beautiful Stained Glass Windows in Tampa Florida2017-01-29_0040Old Architecture in Tampa Florida at St Johns Episcopal Church2017-01-29_0042

FH Weddings Designed the Floral Mantle at Tampa Yacht and Country ClubTulips and hydrangeas make beautiful spring floral arrangements for classic spring wedding in Tampa Florida2017-01-29_00472017-01-29_00552017-01-29_00482017-01-29_00492017-01-29_00522017-01-29_00502017-01-29_0053DeLeon Entertainment performs at Tampa Yacht and Country Club2017-01-29_00562017-01-29_00632017-01-29_00572017-01-29_00612017-01-29_00582017-01-29_00602017-01-29_00652017-01-29_00642017-01-29_00662017-01-29_00692017-01-29_0068Sparkler Exit with extra long sparklers at TYCC

Getting Ready Location :: Bride’s Parents House  Wedding Dress ::  Ti Adora by Alvina Valenta   Dress Store ::  Malindy Elene   Wedding Shoes :: Antonio Melani  Bridesmaids Attire :: Jim Helm Occasions by Bella Bridesmaids   Grooms Attire ::  Jos A Bank  Hair and Makeup :: Style Hair and Makeup     Florist ::  FH Weddings  Event Planner :: Confetti Events  Wedding Ceremony ::  St John’s Episcopal Church   Wedding Reception :: Tampa Yacht and Country Club  Cake :: Publix Greenwise Wedding Band ::  DeLeon Entertainment Second Shooter :: Regina as the photographer

There is just something about springtime in Florida. The temperature has not quite reached its hottest, most humid potential, the sky is crisp, breezes are light and the smell of blooming florals permeate the air. It’s the perfect time to get married here. A Florida Spring Wedding is one of my favorites, and Bre and Alex’s day perfectly exemplified what I mean. Bre and Alex were married in March on Bre’s parents property in Largo, Florida. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the beach, this beautiful home sits on acres of mature oak trees. Bre’s mom has quite the green thumb so the backyard is absolutely breath taking when you see it. It’s an oasis where Bre and Alex retreat to almost every weekend with their pup. Bre’s mom grew all of the succulents which were the party favors for all the guests. A tent was setup, chairs brought in, a deck was built, and while this sounds like quite the production, the feeling of the wedding remained intimate and comfortable. The florals were white peonies with green garland table runners. And with the amazing guidance of  Cindy, from Stonehouse Events, Bre and Alex pulled off the most beautiful wedding of the Spring. I have so many favorite images to share from this day. But first I just want to say thank you to Bre and Alex for allowing me to be a part of your amazing Florida spring wedding.

Bride and Groom First Look in Flower FieldWedding Invitation from Minted2017-01-03_0006Personalized Champagne Flutes For Bridesmaids2017-01-03_00072017-01-03_0039Bride Getting Her Hair and Makeup done by Femme Akoi2017-01-03_0010Bridesmaids Wearing Jim Helm Helping Bride into her Miss Hayley Paige Gown2017-01-03_00402017-01-03_00112017-01-03_0012Dad and Daughter First Look on Front Steps of Childhood Home2017-01-03_00162017-01-03_0015Bride and Groom Do First Look in front of Parents Home in Largo Florida2017-01-03_0017Bridesmaids in BHLDN dresses create an organic natural lookNatural White and Cream Florals by Redman Steele2017-01-03_0021Peonies are my favorite florals for bridal bouquetsGroomsmen wearing Happy Socks for a fun pop of colorCandid Moments of a bridal partyFlorida Spring Wedding is the best time to get married Bridal Portrait out front of her childhood homeBride wears babys Breath Florals in her hair and a Miss Hayley Paige dress2017-01-03_00382017-01-03_0049Live Oak Trees in Largo Florida Save our shrubs2017-01-03_0051Father Giving Daughter away to groom in a backyard wedding in Largo floridaThe Parkers Married in the Spring of 2016 in Florida2017-01-03_0027Wedding Ceremony in Parents Backyard in Largo Florida2017-01-03_00282017-01-03_0029Florida Spring Wedding in Largo Florida2017-01-03_0056Sperry Tent in backyard Largo Florida with Stonehouse Events coordinating 2017-01-03_00592017-01-03_00612017-01-03_0060Fun Bridal Party Poses for your weddingNatural Bride and Groom Portraits in a tropical forrest of Largo Florida Bride and Groom holding hands wearing Jos A Banks and Miss Hayley PaigeTender Moment between bride and groom in Florida 2017-01-03_0033Succulents used for guest favors at wedding in FloridaOrganic Table scape for backyard wedding in FloridaSimple White Wedding Cake designed by Hands on sweetsSweetheart table adorned with candles and white flowers Sperry Tent Wedding Reception in Florida2017-01-03_00052017-01-03_00642017-01-03_00652017-01-03_00672017-01-03_00682017-01-03_00692017-01-03_0070

Wedding Ceremony and Location :: Brides Parents Home Wedding Planning :: Stonehouse Events Dress Designer :: Miss Hayley Paige Wedding Dress Shop :: White Magnolia Bridal  Hair and Makeup :: Femme Akoi Florals:: Redman Steele Men’s Attire :: Jos A Banks Socks :: Happy Socks Linens :: Linens by the Sea Lighting :: Tampa Lights Catering :: Lynn’s Catering Cake :: Hands on Sweets DJ :: Grant Hemond and Associates Videographer :: Brogen Productions

I definitely consider myself a St Petersburg Wedding Photographer. I’ve lived on St Pete Beach for 10 years and I am a 12 minute commute from downtown St Pete. I guess its safe to say I love it here. And being a photographer, I totally appreciate the various settings and backdrops that can be used while on location downtown. With so many parks, museums, and art all within a few blocks of one another its relatively easy to switch up the setting while shooting in downtown St Pete. That’s what I did with Karen and Scott. They really enjoy the vibe of St Pete and came down from Tampa for their engagement session. We started around the Dali Museum and then gravitated towards the Mahaffey Theater. From there we finished up the session along the water and Albert Whittead airport. It was a great evening full of laughs, love and lots of locations. I am SO excited for their wedding at one of my favorite places, the Oxford Exchange. Here are some of my favorites from their downtown St Pete engagement session.

couple poses for an engagement photo in front of the Dali Museuma blue maxi dress and button down blue shirt is a great engagement session outfit idea couple smiles for the camera outside of the Mahaffey TheaterA great engagement session location in downtown St Petersburg is the Mahaffey theater2016-11-10_00012016-11-10_0006Bride wears gold bangle bracelet for her engagement session in downtown St PeteGreat Save The Date Pose for a weddingWaterfront picture near Albert Whittead airport in downtown St Pete