Springtime wedding on the lawn at the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort

The Hilton Resort in Myrtle Beach is always a great place to photograph a wedding. It’s been a little over a year since my last wedding at the Hilton. That previous wedding was on the beach sand instead of the lawn so if you are interested in fun beach pictures at the Hilton check out …

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Winter wedding at the Doubletree Resort in Myrtle Beach

This was my first time photographing a wedding at the Doubletree Resort by Hilton since it changed owners. They have recently done some remodeling that makes it a much nicer location for weddings then when it was the Springmaid Resort.  The large room where receptions are held still has the look of a conference center …

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Fun wedding on the lawn at the Hilton in Myrtle Beach

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve photographed a wedding at the Hilton in Myrtle Beach. Using the cool new search box on my website menu to the left, I put in Hilton and realized I hadn’t made a blog post for that location since 2010. By the way, my entire site is now …

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Small destination wedding at North Beach Plantation

This is my first time photographing a wedding at North Beach Plantation in North Myrtle Beach. Build in 2009, this is one of the newest large hotels in this area and I think it’s one of the nicest looking. North Beach Plantation has two large towers that are joined together by a couple of archways, …

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Fun engagement pictures in Garden City on a cold afternoon and Storyboard 3

I haven’t had a chance to blog about engagement portraits in a while. Things are getting slow so I thought I would post some pictures from this recent cold weather engagement session down at the southern tip of Garden City Beach. I’ve done many photo sessions down in Garden City, but this one was unusual because they …

View post Fun engagement pictures in Garden City on a cold afternoon and Storyboard 3

Fun senior couple at their surprise 60th anniversary party – Doubletree Resort

This was a really great senior couple that had a surprise 60th anniversary party at the Springmaid Beach hotel. I really wasn’t expecting such an elaborate event when I arrived. It really was like a small wedding reception. They had a small band, a wedding style cake, a dance floor and they even played that …

View post Fun senior couple at their surprise 60th anniversary party – Doubletree Resort

Documenting a wedding reception with candid photography

What is the most important part of a wedding for a photographer? What might come to mind is the ceremony, or first kiss, or pictures of the couple after the wedding, even the special dances.  So when I put up a blog post, photography of these things is what I’m usually concentrating on.  But really, what I spend probably half or more of my time at a wedding doing, is just keeping a close eye on the couple and really trying to document the event.  I want to catch the emotions of and the natural expressions of everyone there.  But at the same time, I still want these quick candid pictures to look professional, without making myself become an annoyance.

Documenting a wedding with photography is not as easy as it may seem. I pretty much have to be on alert at all times, ready with my camera for a quick shot.  To take even quick snapshots that look professional, you need a lens with a really shallow depth of field.  This lets in more natural light requiring less flash, as well as isolating the subject and making everything else have a nice blur to it.  However, even with high end cameras, quickly focusing on a moving subject with a really shallow depth of field takes a lot of practice.  I’ve been doing this for hundreds of thousands of shots now and I still miss focus sometimes.  If you have any questions about some of the techniques I use to keep subjects in focus with my Nikon D800 feel free to ask.

So I’m doing something different with the pictures for this post.  These are only from the time the couple was visiting the tables and hugging and talking to the guests and family.  I also stuck a couple of dancing shots in at the end as well.  Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed these.

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First ever wedding on the grassy lawn at the Caravelle Resort and a rant about Myrtle Beach

I was told this is the first wedding they have held on the lawn behind the Caravelle Resort in Myrtle Beach. The reception later in the evening was at the St. John’s Inn across the street. I have done a wedding there before. I thought the lawn was quite a nice area, there was some shade from the large hotel building and there was plenty of trees around blocking things you might not want to see.  This was definitely one of the nicer behind the resort type wedding areas I’ve seen. They said if it worked out they were going to try more weddings at this location in the future.  I imagine they will be very happy with how it turned out.

Of course, I have my usual problem of it being in the city limits. I have a Myrtle Beach business license so I can work at locations such as this, but it’s still against the MB City laws to do any commercial work on the beach.  What I’ve been doing is just cautioning everyone not to do too much on the beach, doing some shots of the wedding party and couple, while keeping an eye out for the beach cops.  The resorts really need to work with the city to get something done about this law.  It seems like all the resorts encourage the breaking of it by not informing clients about the rules.  Who would imagine, unless someone tells them, that you could have a beach resort wedding and technically not be allowed on the beach sand.  It’s just a bad situation all around that I can’t comprehend.  I was at the Grande Dunes Ocean Club a while back.  They set up a wedding on the beach like I’ve been at many times before, and the cops came along and told them they had to clear everything off the beach.  How many people do you think would have weddings in the Myrtle Beach City limits if the first thing the resorts told them was that they can’t go down on the beach sand at all.  Of course they aren’t going to tell them that. So I always end up just risking a fine and doing some pictures on the beach anyway. Anyway, you can tell the whole thing is just ridiculous.

Anyway, enough of my rant about Myrtle Beach and the resorts.  I love the way at the St. John’s Inn they have the small lights stringed up along the ceiling. When you are using a really high end lens, like the 85mm f1.4 Nikon lens I was using in the dancing shots, it turns any small background lights into large rounded out of focus orbs.  It’s a great look for dancing.  You can take just about any room and string up some lights, and with the right lens you can make the background beautiful.  I hope you enjoy the pictures below, I uploaded a bunch of them this time.  Please like this post or comment below if you enjoy them. 

View post First ever wedding on the grassy lawn at the Caravelle Resort and a rant about Myrtle Beach

Highlights from the last few weeks and the importance of a good DJ

I haven’t made a wedding specific blog post recently and I’ve been wanting to put up something new. I always get so busy in the summer. So I just decided to quickly pull out of my collection a few shots I liked from the last few weeks of August. These come from some family beach pictures at the Myrtle Beach State Park, the mother of a bride I had last year getting married at the Grande Dunes Member’s Club, a wedding for a military groom at Brunswick Plantation in NC, and a wedding reception in Florence, SC. There is a lot in this one post.

One thing I especially wanted to highlight can be seen in the last about 15 pictures in this post.  They are from a wedding game I’ve heard called the Shoely Wed Game.  It’s really important if you want to have a fun wedding reception that you get a fun DJ. I’ve been to many weddings where the DJ really got everyone having fun, laughing and having a good time. This is always great for me because I like to take lots of reaction shots of the audience like you see in my pictures below. Good DJ’s usually get everyone into the dancing as well, most of the time it takes some effort to get everyone on the dance floor.

Just like with wedding photographers, there are some really bad ones as well.  I’ve seen some that barely do anything but play music, some where their lighting is so bad it causes me a lot of problems, and the worst was probably the one that actually had a CD collection for playing the music and couldn’t get the CD’s to play. In my opinion the DJ is the most important part of a fun wedding reception. It sure does make it better for me if I have lots of candid expressions to take pictures of.  I hope you enjoy some of the shots below.

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Some random things from April and how to shoot backlit subjects.

I always have trouble making blog posts when things start to get busier.  So I just wanted to post a few random pictures from this month. I decided to talk mostly about the first picture I highlighted below.  This was a very difficult situation, as soon as I saw where they were having the ceremony I knew it was going to be a problem.  The sun was very bright outside, almost fully up in the sky.  The ceremony was held under a beach shelter right on the edge of the bright sunlight.  If you have ever tried to photograph something like this before, you might know what would happen.  If you let the camera make the decisions, the couple would be almost completely dark because it’s trying to adjust for the bright background light.

I long ago started shooting on manual, so I would expose for the couple and not the background.  This way the camera’s own adjustments would not cause the subject to come out really dark.  However, there is still a problem.  If you just expose the couple properly, the background would then be completely blown out, it would just be a very bright glow behind the couple.  The couple would have kind of a flat, lifeless light on them with an annoyingly glowing background.

So how do you fix this? Well it really comes down to having the proper equipment.  I have these things called Pocket Wizards, they allow me to have a flash on the camera and also another flash off of the camera that is controlled by radio.  You can control another flash through  the built in infrared in the Nikon flashes, but it never works very well.  The Pocket Wizards work the same way, but they are much more reliable especially in sunlight.  Although you can let the flashes decide how much power they need to put out on their own, under this difficult lighting, I thought manual would be better.  I set my on camera flash (that had a tiny Lumiquest softbox on it) and my external flash both to 1/2 power, that seem to be a pretty good compensation for the outside ambient light without overdoing it.  If you notice in this picture, there is a nice light coming from the side of the couple that makes them look more three dimensional.  You can see some shadows from his hand and her arm, these are not from the sun but are from my external flash.

If this sounds too complicated, to make it more simple.  If you are trying to photograph a backlit subject in the shade, use whatever flash you have available, even just the little one on the camera.  Set your camera to manual and keep taking shots until you see the couple is as bright as they need to be.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below.

First kiss - Myrtle Beach State Park
That's a lot of groomsmen

View post Some random things from April and how to shoot backlit subjects.