Dip back for a kiss on the golf course - River Ridge Golf Club

Spring wedding at River Ridge Golf Club in Raleigh, NC

This was my first time traveling to Raleigh, NC for a wedding. Even though the golf club was a 3 hour drive for me, it’s always nice to visit a new location for a wedding and to get to know new wedding vendors. I met the bride and groom, Ornelie and Matt, doing engagement pictures for them here in Myrtle Beach. They loved the engagement pictures so they wanted me to travel to Raleigh for their wedding photography as well! When I arrived the bride was just finishing up her makeup in the upstairs room, and the groom was getting …

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Beach house wedding at Holden Beach, one of my favorite beach locations.

This is the second time I’ve been to this particular beach house in Holden Beach, NC for a wedding.  Because of my earlier wedding there, I was told that I came highly recommended, so that is always nice. I’ve been to many different beach locations for weddings and this one is pretty unique. Almost anywhere you go around this area, the houses are built right up next to the ocean, in some spots at high tide there is hardly any beach even left. In this area the beach houses were built far back from the ocean. There is a long walk down to the beach through natural sand dunes and beach grass that feels a lot different from any locations in the Myrtle Beach area. There is even a large lake between the ocean and some of the beach houses, it is a really pretty area. Even though it’s a bit of a drive for me I enjoyed getting to go up to this area again.

On a different subject, you might have noticed a lot of changes to my website. Every once in a while, you really have to rebuild a website from scratch, to keep it modern and up to date. This new design is mobile first. This means that it looks great on a tablet or phone, but will scale to a full desktop as well. It’s the opposite of the way things used to be designed. The most important thing is how it looks on a mobile device. Instead of building everything from scratch, it’s build on the popular Bootstrap framework. It makes a responsive website design that scales from desktop to mobile a lot easier to do. I’m also using a Flat UI design that is a lot more modern looking now. The site will get better looking over time as I work on it, but everything is functioning well now.  If you see any bugs or mistakes please let me know.

I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below, please let me know in the comments if you do.

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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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Fun sunset pictures with the bride and groom at Holden Beach, NC

This is the first time I’ve been up to Holden Beach in NC for a wedding. This wedding was for a couple that was bringing together their two families with adult children. Everyone just seemed really happy and got along great. That always makes things easier for me. The wedding was held at a really pretty private home on the ocean. It was quite a long walk from the beach house down to the actual ocean. The area behind the house was huge and just full of dunes and sea oats, as well as a small lake surrounded by tall grass. This was actually one of the prettiest beach spots I think I’ve seen. It makes you realize how much they have ruined the Myrtle Beach area. All the houses and hotels are stuck almost on the ocean, it has just ruined the beach and dunes. I guess there is nothing that can be done about it now except occasional beach re-nourishment when they pump sand out of the ocean. I decided for this post to highlight just one part of the wedding, pictures of the couple that we did at sunset. The whole afternoon I had been looking at spots and thinking about what it would look like at sunset. After spending some time at the reception the couple walked back down to the beach with me right around sunset time, like usual we only had a few minutes. The angle of the sun to the ocean is different here than it is in Myrtle Beach. That is why there are a lot of cool shots with the sun going down over the ocean. There is only a brief time during the winter when the sun’s angle will be like that here. I just love in the pictures below the way the sunset reflects off the edge of the water, as well as the ones of it going down behind the lake. If you like these pictures please comment and ‘like’ the post, it encourages me to post more often. A couple of these shots have been touched up, but most have not. I hope you enjoy them.

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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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Wedding and reception on Bald Head Island, NC

This was an exciting wedding for me, this was my first time to Bald Head Island, NC and it is a very beautiful area. If you are not familiar, the island is an almost 2 hour trip north of Myrtle Beach. To actually get onto the island you have to park and leave your car and take about a half hour ferry ride out. There are no cars at all on the island, just a lot of golf carts, bikes, and shuttles.

The actual area of the wedding ceremony I believe was called the old baldy lighthouse.  That is where you see that shot of the bride in the doorway. I really wanted to go up the staircase in the lighthouse, but the bride wasn’t up for that. I think it would be really fun to take my wife here and rent some bikes and just stay for the day. I’ll see if I can get her to go up the Lighthouse stairs and get some pictures.

We did have a few problems especially with the insects. If you ever go here in the summer make sure to bring lots of bug spray. Like happens with many weddings, the family scattered after the ceremony was over and I know the bride was worried the next day that we missed some family shots. I think she will be real happy when she realizes how many pictures I was taking of the family when she wasn’t aware of it. It is a good idea to make sure the family knows to stay around for pictures right after the ceremony, because once the reception starts, it’s hard to get everyone back together.

It’s interesting shooting on a different beach, I’ve been to lots of spots along our coast, but being out on the island the beach is at a different angle to the sun then it would be around here. It just makes for some different lighting. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below. I’m doing something new recently where I post a lot of pictures you won’t see in my galleries or on Facebook.

Bridesmaids walking together -Bald Head Island
Groomsmen having a drink before the ceremony -Bald Head Island

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After reception trash the dress with the bride and groom – Ocean Isle Beach

I had a lot of fun after the wedding reception with this couple.  They planned it so that they could go to the reception for a couple of hours, then do a trash the dress session at sunset before leaving for the evening.  I’ve never had a bride and groom get completely in the ocean like they did.  The only problem we had, we were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, but I don’t let anything stop me when I shooting.  The poor bride in the first picture below had scratches that I had to Photoshop out on her arms because of getting bitten.  I think the results were worth the bit of suffering, I really love all of these, it was hard to pick just a few for the blog.

I’ve thought recently about selling my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens because I never use it anymore.  It’s really heavy and bulky to keep in my bag all the time.  However, I’m glad I had it.  You might notice if you look closely, about half way through the pictures I switch lenses from my 85mm f1.4 to the 70-200 f2.8.  Using the 70-200 is how I get those really close up shots when the couple are deep in the ocean.  It looks like I’m on top of them even though I’m back on the beach.  Even if it’s heavy, I realize it’s good to carry around everything because you never know what you will need.  I hope you enjoy the pictures below, let me know in the comments if you like them!

Bride standing in front of the sunset - Ocean Isle
Couple standing in front of the sunset - Ocean Isle

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Wedding and sunset pictures at Ocean Isle Beach, NC

Sorry I haven’t posted to the blog in over a month.  The idea was I wanted to put up a blog post after weddings to show pictures from different location and events.  What I realized is in the summer I just don’t have time.  What I’m thinking I will do is during my slower months, I’m going to go back through all my spring and summer weddings, and put up some post about them.  So it should get more regular soon.  Also, sorry about the delays in getting proofs up and orders done, I’ll be getting caught up here in the next few weeks.

I always like doing weddings up at Ocean Isle, it’s such a pretty location.  It’s a lot like the Garden City area where you have the ocean on one side and the marsh area on the other.  The sun was still pretty bright and harsh during the wedding itself, but it turned out fine.  Later I was able to get some pictures of the couple a little while before sunset that I just loved.  I actually tried to get them to go out right when the sun was actually setting, but they were too tired by that point to do it.  I ran out and took just a sunset picture without them because it was so pretty.  I’ll post a few of the pictures below, actually there are lots of pictures from this wedding I loved in addition to these few, but I just don’t have time to post them. Remember you can always see a lot more if you stop by my home office to talk about a wedding.

Almost ready for the ceremony - Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Dad saying goodbye - Ocean Isle Beach, NC

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Small wedding at Ocean Isle Beach, NC

I had a very nice small wedding up in Ocean Isle Beach, NC this past weekend.  There was only about 40 guests and a small wedding party. Small weddings can be nice because everyone is generally more relaxed.  You can’t tell how large a wedding is anyway in my favorite type of pictures, the expressions on people’s faces are the important thing.  Ocean Isle is a bit of a drive from my usual area around Myrtle Beach, I don’t make it up there very often, but it is a really pretty area and it’s a lot less crowded then down here at the beach.

This wedding was held at a pretty difficult time of day for pictures, right around early afternoon.  Thankfully the sun wasn’t directly overhead, but it was still pretty high in the sky.  I’m getting quite good at being able to look at the light even in difficult conditions and get nicely exposed shots without any more harsh shadows than can be helped.  I was actually really happy with the way the family pictures turned out even though the sun was so bright, final adjustments in Lightroom always help as well.  I did some shots of the couple right after the ceremony, then we went out right before sunset to do some more pictures of just the two of them.  By then it had become very cloudy but at least the rain held off until the evening.  You can’t control what the natural light is going to do outdoors, you just have to learn to work with it.  But if you do have the choice when planning for pictures, evenings right before sunset are best.  The next best is earlier in the day but cloudy or in some shade, then finally the worst is full sun at noontime.  Think about this when doing your own photography.  I hope you enjoy some of the shots below.

Happy smiles - Ocean Isle Beach - NC
Lacing up the dress - Sunset Beach - NC

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Wedding at Ocean Isle Beach

I had another really nice wedding this past weekend. It was the most beautiful spot up past Ocean Isle in NC. I’ll put a few of my favorite pictures below, but I really liked almost all of them. This is the first time I’ve seen a groom really shove the cake in a brides face, I just barely got a picture of it I was having to move fast. Enjoy the pictures.

Bridal Party Jumping in the air, ocean isle beach
Bridesmaid smiling at the camera, short depth of field, ocean isle beach

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