Ocean Vista – Jacksonville Fishing Pier

While visiting my sister in Maui, I looked at the pictures on her walls and loved the beautiful vistas she had shot and edited personally. Her family could be seen in the distance. It seemed more like a visceral memory than portrait or a landscape. I strove to mimic that the next time I went to the beach. It happened to be with my other sister –who was visiting from Utah with her son and my mom. It was the end of the day, but the kids were loving the water, especially my nephew. It was his first time to see the ocean, and his laughter could be heard wafting over the white surf. I hope these pictures have a certain feeling – different from my other pictures. Perhaps it’s just a quiet moment in time in a place that is important to me.

Phillip and Shantelle, Amelia Island Wedding

I was lucky to photograph and video this intimate ceremony for Phillip and Shantelle. Our day started in a seaside hotel room, with those nervous but happy moments of getting ready. We got delayed when the zipper on Shantelle’s dress broke off! Shantelle was totally calm, and her easy going attitude set the mood for the whole day.

We walked out of the room to see clear blue skies and a sparkling beach. I can see why people love to get married by the ocean. Then every time they go to the beach, they can associate it with the most beautiful day of their life.

From the moment that Phillip first sees Shantelle in her dress to the moment their family cheers for them when they are officially married, this day is full of stunning moments. Watch the video (below) for the full experience!

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Green Pier on Atlantic Beach – Family Photo Session

Heather, having lived in Florida for awhile, said to me she wanted the obligatory Florida beach photos – because everybody has them. I laughed, but then set out to make her photos different from everyone else’s.

First, I wanted a cool pier or structure to break up the horizon. Atlantic Beach has a perfect green pier that doesn’t quite reach the water. It is old and faded, but I when I first laid eyes on it, I loved it!

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This picture is my favorite. The way their little girl is twisting out of their arms, Heather’s hair is whipping in front of her face, and Greg is looking up for just a split-second – it’s just a moment full of motion and spontaneity. You wouldn’t have even guessed their daughter was squirming and screaming because I was threatening to tickle her. I think she’s looking at my tickling left hand while my right hand is struggling to balance the camera.

As the sun went down, we witnessed amazing colors in the sky.

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I love their daughter’s one eye poking out.
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Heather looks like a model. It’s like a fan is blowing her hair.

Second, we took a step back from taking pictures and did some free-form candids – which is risky because it’s just me dashing around trying to get a good angle of while them play. I’m gave them little direction, and didn’t know how it would turn out. But the ocean is too great a temptation to ask anyone, let alone a toddler, to sit still for long. So I relaxed a little and followed them as they played. We ended up collecting a lot of seashells, but it made the moments feel fresh and alive!

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3. I like to bring props to mix things up. At the end of the photo session, I pulled out a surprise! I feel with little kids, you can’t ask them to act or pretend – their feelings of joy or surprise must be real. So I bought some yellow balloons and because I’m a dork, I hid them in a large black garbage bag and hauled that on the beach.

When their little girl saw the balloons, it was like she had a sugar spike.

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She’s not letting anyone touch the balloons.

At the end of day, when the light was almost gone, I told them to let go of the balloons and watch them fly away. Their daughter was very concerned. The balloons flew higher and higher…gone. Afterward, she kept on saying, “Balloons, go home.” It was so cute.

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This was the last shot of the day. I asked Heather and Greg to kiss their daughter on the cheek, but she was still so concerned about the balloons that she didn’t want to be bothered with a kiss. This is why compositing photos is such an important part of what I do. If any moment is missed, I can merge the best part of two photos.

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Final edited image. It has the best of expression from both pictures.

In the end, I’m glad we took the obligatory beach pictures. But by finding a great structure, taking part in free-form candids, and having a surprise prop, these pictures become so much more!