I had the privilege of second shooting for the ever talented Jordan Weiland Photography this past January. The couple getting married was John and Scott, partners for 10 years, best friends for longer. They met doing community theatre together at Lake Mirror Theatre. I was ecstatic to be able to capture this wedding along side of Jordan. To me, it isn’t about race, culture, gender, sexual preference, or age, it is truly about capturing the love between two people, and their friends and family.  If you are fortunate enough to find someone {girl or guy} who is willing to love you through the good, bad, and indifferent in all of life’s up and down and support you every step of the way, then I’d say you’re lucky enough 🙂 The ceremony took place where the couple first met, Lake Mirror Theatre. There wasn’t a dry eye in attendance and the couple received a standing ovation at the end. It was truly magical! The reception was held afterwards for family and friends at The Magnolia Building. Tears, laughter, hugs, and a feeling of victory that they could legally celebrate this day with the ones they treasured most resonated throughout the evening. It was such an amazing celebration to be a part of. The energy was so positive and happy, it radiated throughout downtown Lakeland. Here are some of my favorite moments from their wedding.

Lakeland LGBT couple gets married in January2016-02-03_00012016-11-03_00012016-11-03_0002Groom helping apply the bowtie for LGBT wedding2016-02-03_0002first look with groom and groom near waterfront in lakelandfirst look reaction of groom seeing groom for the first time2016-11-03_0005first look reaction of gay couple in lakeland wearing gray suitstender embrace between groom and groom in lakeland2016-02-03_0006LGBT friendly bridal party wearing gray in downtown lakelandcandid moments between the LGBT bridal party in FloridaThis bridal party is LGBT friendly 2016-02-03_0011mom helping groom with boutonniere2016-11-03_0011prayer before the ceremony at Lake Mirror Theatre Center2016-11-03_0013interior of lake mirror theater 2016-02-03_00152016-02-03_00182016-02-03_0019LGBT friendly wedding ceremony at Lake Mirror Theatre gay couple marries at Lake Mirror Theatre center in Lakeland Florida2016-02-03_00222016-02-03_0023standing ovation for gay couple at their wedding in Lakeland2016-02-03_0012Gay couple poses for bridal portraits after their wedding ceremony in Florida2016-02-03_0026LGBT couple ties the knot in January in Florida2016-02-03_00282016-02-03_0030Wedding Reception at the Magnolia building in downtown LakelandBaby2016-02-03_00342016-02-03_0035first dance as husband and husband at the Magnolia building in downtown lakeland2016-02-03_00372016-02-03_00362016-02-03_0038sparkler exit for newly married gay couple in Florida

I was recently approached by light.co to write on “capturing the moment”.  In wedding photography there are so many components happening all at once. To an outsider it can seem like a daunting task to be able to capture it all, while making it look natural. And I have to admit, my first year in business, I was a little intimidated by all that happened in those few hours of a wedding. I can remember sitting down after one wedding in particular and looking back on all the photos. I realized that I had captured everything, but not in a genuine setting. They stood and smiled at the camera for most of the images. I kept thinking “this wasn’t how the day went”, “there was much more to it” ” I remember laughter, and tears and hugs” “Why didn’t I capture that?”. From that moment on I decided to fully commit to being in the moment with my clients and genuinely capturing their story as it unfolded rather then staging the day.

Similar to my stance, Light is a new camera technology company that uses folded optics through many small apertures rather then one single aperture that your DSLR camera has. In other words, instead of a big camera with a massive lens, their new camera is about the size of an iPhone.  Usually the perception is, the bigger the camera, the less comfortable clients are around you.  They hope that with a smaller sized camera but similar capabilities as a larger one they will be able to capture the moments as they are happening. While I’ve never shot on the Light camera I am definitely curious about the capabilities. But today, I’m going to share 4 tips that I use daily on how to better capture the moment with your clients.

The first tip is Making the client feel comfortable. This is probably the most important out of all my suggestions. Let’s face it, it’s not normal to have someone follow you and your bae around and photograph you. That’s not a typical day so of course it might feel a little awkward and they might not be completely relaxed. It’s super important to get to know your clients and be able to talk with them, laugh with them, and all around make them feel at east. I usually do this by finding things we have in common. Ask them questions, what do they like to do, do they have a favorite sports team, what kind of pets do they have. I usually hit it off with clients who have dogs or cats as I am a mommy to two shih tzus. They are my world and I could talk for hours about their cuteness, their quirks, and their awesomeness. Find something common and then just go from there.

Going along with making the client feel comfortable, it’s also pretty clutch to find the right location to shoot. Usually I ask the client where would they go if they had the day off. If they say a park or downtown I will try and find a location that is similar to what they would enjoy. During the first few minutes of the shoot I will also try and pick a location that is more private. Like I said before, having someone follow you around with a camera can be awkward, so add a bunch of strangers walking around staring at you while getting your picture taken is going to make  it worse. Find a place that is quiet, peaceful and ease them into the photoshoot.

In finding the right location it is also super important to have your camera settings correct. Sure, you could shoot in automatic and fix it later in photoshop, but for me, it’s easier to take 3 test shots and have the settings in the camera exactly to where I want them so that I am totally ready for any moment that happens. You  never know when the couple may say something to each other and burst out in laughter but you want to be ready at a moments notice.

This kind of brings me to my last and final point which is anticipating the next move. By having your settings ready to go you can be more focused on what is happening in front of you. If a bride just put on her wedding dress and is turning around, be ready to photograph the bridesmaids reaction when they see her. If a bride is getting ready to see her dad for the first time, anticipate that there might be some tears and hugs, so just stay focused on the two of them. If the minister is saying his closing prayer you know that its time to get ready for their first kiss. Always have one finger on the trigger and one eye on the subjects.

Moments are what I live for, as it tells your day much better then any staged photo could ever do. I’d like to thank Light for asking me to write about this subject. I hope these tips help you in your journey to capture genuine emotion. Below are a few photos of some of my favorite moments from my 2016 wedding season.

 

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  • Mariss Triick - Tons of great memories for the Triick’s!! We love you Stephanie, thanks for capturing such special moments for us!!

There is just something about a Don Cesar wedding. Perhaps it’s its sheer magnitude. A pink palace on the beach will always stand out. Or perhaps its the unparalleled service and attention to detail that the staff and wedding department have for their guests. Or, it could be that my commute is less then 5 minutes 🙂 Regardless, The Don Cesar hotel on St Pete Beach is one of my favorite places to photograph a wedding. I was beyond thrilled when Adrienne and Kerry booked me for their wedding. If you don’t know Adrienne, you are missing out. She is an amazing news anchor who was with WFLA News Channel 8 for years. I’m not going to lie, I never really watched the news as it’s usually sad stories they have to report on {why can’t life just be puppies, ocean animals and giggling kids?} I have to admit though, I started watching Adrienne with her News Channel 8 crew and really enjoyed their broadcasts, especially when they went live on Facebook before the news segment aired. And then she got a puppy named Kensington and I was just hooked. LOL. But back to her wedding. Adrienne and Kerry treasure their friends and family. They wanted to make sure everyone felt welcomed and loved. When creating a timeline for their day, we made sure to allow plenty of time for family photos, bridal party, and their guests. One other special moment they requested was a first hand hold and prayer together before their ceremony. They did not want to do a first look but did want to at least talk and pray with one another. I truly love when couples carve out time in their day for each other. Cheers Events along side of FH weddings did an amazing job decorating the King Charles Ballroom. Pops of gold and light pink shimmered on the tables. Heartfelt speeches and dances were had. Good food and  friendly banter back and forth between the competing News anchors made for an amazing evening. Adrienne and Kerry, thank you so much for trusting me to be a part of your day. I wish you still lived in Tampa {Adrienne, puppy parties every weekend !! :)}  Here are some of my favorites from their day including all the amazing vendors who made the day possible.

Front View of the Don Cesar Loews HotelBride Putting on her wedding veil at the Don Cesar2016-08-25_0003Back of the dress image while bride looks into the mirrorFirst Look with Dad at a wedding at the Don Cesar hotel2016-08-25_00062016-08-25_00072016-08-25_00102016-08-25_00112016-08-25_00172016-08-25_0013Bridal Portraits with a Sophia Tolli Wedding Dress2016-08-25_0008Spring Floral Bouquets by FH WeddingsBridesmaids Photo in the courtyard at the Loews Don Cesar hotelThe Pink Palace is the perfect place to get married2016-08-25_00202016-08-25_00212016-08-25_00232016-08-25_00242016-08-25_00222016-08-25_0026A bride and groom pray before their wedding ceremony2016-08-25_0030Wedding Ceremony at the Passagrille Community ChurchA GroomThe Sanctuary of Pass-a-grille Community Church2016-08-25_0035Wedding Ceremony at a church on St Pete Beach2016-08-25_0036A bride and groom Just Married2016-08-25_00382016-08-25_00392016-08-25_0040Wedding Reception in the King Charles BallroomGold Sequined Table Runners For wedding ReceptionWedding Reception Uplighting at the Don Cesar hotelTrust Me, you can Dance VodkaGold Chivari Chairs at a wedding at the Don Cesar2016-08-25_0062Cocktail Hour on the South Terrace of the Don Cesar hotel2016-08-25_00452016-08-25_0049Bridal Party Portraits on St Pete BeachGrooms Men Posing Outside of Don Cesar hotelBridesmaids with Kate Spade Clutches2016-08-25_00532016-08-25_0044Bride and Groom Beach Portraits on St Pete Beach FloridaThe bride wearing a Sophia Tolli dress poses at the Don Cesar hotel2016-08-25_0055Sunset portraits of bride and groom at Loews Don Cesar hotel2016-08-25_0054Couple has their first dance in the King Charles Ballroom2016-08-25_00662016-08-25_00672016-08-25_00692016-08-25_00702016-08-25_00722016-08-25_00732016-08-25_00712016-08-25_00752016-08-25_0074The Don Cesar hotel has the best food on St Pete Beach2016-08-25_00782016-08-25_00802016-08-25_0079Wedding Rings photographed on top of a Kate Spade sparkle clutchWedding Ceremony :: Pass-a-grille Community Church Wedding Venue :: Loews Don Cesar Hotel  Hair and Makeup :: Spa Oceana Wedding Dress :: Sophia Tolli Bridal Boutique :: CC’s Boutique  Bridesmaids Dresses :: David’s Bridal Men’s Attire :: Men’s Warehouse Wedding Decor :: Cheers Events Wedding Planning :: Beth Clarke with Cheers Events Floral Designer :: FH Weddings Wedding Cake :: The Cake Zone Band :: DeLeon Entertainment Transportation :: Jolley Trolley Videographer :: Brogen Productions Second Shooter :: Bara Miller

I love nothing more then a beach engagement session. It’s true. Ask anyone. I find creativity, peace, and happiness there. And especially this summer, on St Pete Beach, we have been having insane sunsets. Like, the inland storms blow over some massive cloudscapes that never accumulate to storms but rather just give us a beautiful backdrop and an amazing breeze. Woohoo! Florida summer for the win. I was beyond excited when Meghan reached out to me and asked if they could add an engagement session to their wedding package. Of course!!! Engagement sessions are such a great way to get to know each other before the big day as well as figure out what type of photos you like. I also always tell my brides to try and schedule their trial hair and makeup the same day so they can get a feel for how the hair and makeup will look, feel, and photograph. Meghan had hers done by Michele Renee the studio. Meghan and James are both in the military. In fact that’s how they met. And after their December wedding {at the Post Card Inn} they are both getting deployed. I feel very fortunate that they chose me to not only capture  their wedding but also their cuteness during their beach engagement session on St Pete beach. Meghan and James, great times! I hope these photos make you smile lots. And I can’t wait to see you again in December at the Post Card Inn. Here are some of my favorites from their Florida beach engagement session.

 

Couple standing on st pete beach at low tide during engagement sessionneutral colored outfits for engagement session on st pete beachcouple sitting in the sea oats for an engagement session in floridaThe new Pinellas Bayway bridge with dolphin wall muralsDolphin sculpture underneath the PInellas Bayway in St Pete Beach Florida2016-07-17_0002Engagement session underneath the Pinellas Bayway bridge2016-07-17_0014Newly engaged couple having their picture taken on St Pete Beach in the sea oats2016-07-17_0011Engagement session posing when shooting with a 50 mm lensSunset beach picture of bride and groom on the beach in florida2016-07-17_0015natural moments of bride and groom during beach engagement session couple running into the water barefoot in Florida

Destination wedding photography is something I dream of every summer. You see, I absolutely LOVE what I do, and where I live. However every June through September I get the itch. The itch to travel, the itch to see and experience something entirely new all while escaping the heat and humidity that blankets Florida. I was beyond honored when Cecilia reached out to me to see if I would photograph her wedding in Stockholm, Sweden. What?!?! Stockholm? Like Europe? Yup! Have passport, will travel 🙂

Besides the fact that Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it was the people I traveled with who really made it a dream wedding. Cecilia’s family and wedding guests were extremely accommodating to all of us visitors. They were proud to explain their history, the traditions, and their ways. And I’m not going to lie, being blonde, I felt like I was amongst my people!

On the actual wedding day Brian and Cecilia chose to see each other before the ceremony. Family photos followed their first look. And then Cecilia surprised Brian with a vintage car to take them around the city for photographs with the final destination being Stockholm City Hall. Their ceremony was my absolute FAVORITE wedding ceremony I have ever been a part of. You see, only parents, grandparents and siblings are allowed in the room {think old world castle room} while it is taking place. The service is brief but very meaningful. Once they are married the family celebrates with hugs and cheers to all.  The rest of the guests line the stairs outside city hall and greet the newlyweds as the exit the grand building.

From there, the boat called Stromma took all guests along the archipelagos of Sweden. The scenery was stunning, the food was amazing, and the amount of toasts {or should I say skoal} we partook in was ungodly. I loved every second of it.  I felt beyond honored to have been invited to Stockholm to capture this couples amazing wedding. And even more exciting is that Destination I do featured their big day as well!!!

Below is the link to the feature as well as all the international vendors I had the pleasure of working with!

dido

Bride and groom with vintage car2015-12-20_0037Waterfront of Stockholm Sweden2015-12-20_0033Canal Boats in Stockholm Sweden in the summerExterior shot of the hotel Diplomat in Sweden2015-09-23_0149Bridesmaids Jumping on the bed2015-09-23_01562015-09-23_01552015-09-23_01572015-09-23_01442015-09-23_01462015-09-23_01472015-09-23_01532015-09-23_01512015-09-23_0152Brides breathtaking dress by Provinas2015-09-23_01592015-12-20_00042015-12-20_00032015-12-20_00392015-12-20_00052015-12-20_0007Family moments at a wedding with grandmom2015-12-20_00092015-12-20_00062015-12-20_00132015-12-20_00112015-12-20_0048Bride with a long veil2015-12-20_00402015-12-20_0049Vintage Car Parked along the water for bride and groom photosBridal portraits with baby2015-12-20_00472015-12-20_0038City Hall Stockholm with Bride and groom posing out front2015-12-20_00512015-12-20_00192015-12-20_00202015-12-20_00232015-12-20_00212015-12-20_00222015-12-20_0024Destination Wedding Photography in City Hall of Stockholm Sweden2015-12-20_00262015-12-20_0027Bride and groom exiting the city hall of stockholmReceiving Line for Bride and Groom after ceremony2015-12-20_0031Picture of Bride and groom after ceremony with a destination wedding photography in SwedenBridesmaids wearing Flair dresses outside city hall in stockholmSimple dahlias and fern floral bouquets for bridesmaids2015-12-20_0016Bridal Party wearing shades of gray in Stockholm Sweden for summer wedding2015-12-20_0015Midnight Summer Destination Wedding Photography in Stockholm Sweden Wedding reception on a boat in Stockholm Sweden2015-12-20_00572015-12-20_00602015-12-20_00592015-12-20_00582015-12-20_00632015-12-20_00612015-12-20_0062Destination Wedding Photography in Stockholm Sweden2015-12-20_00642015-12-20_00672015-12-20_0066

 Wedding Dress :: Manuel Mota for Pronovias Bridesmaids Dresses :: Flair Groom’s Outfit :: Joseph A Banks Groomsmen Attire :: Brooks Brothers Wedding Shoes :: Zac Posen Floral Designer :: Melanders Blommor Hair and Makeup :: Salong VITA Wedding Ceremony :: Stockholm City Hall Wedding Reception :: Stromma Getting Ready  :: Diplomat Hotel Featured in ::Destination i do