Engagement pictures by the oak trees and pier and responsive design website updates

January and February are always my really slow time of the year. In some ways it is good because I can do some things I don’t have as much time for the rest of the year. I really make an effort to follow up with previous clients that have’t placed picture orders yet. I also try to get up with wedding clients that haven’t given me their album selections yet so I can get the layouts and orders done.

I also have more time to work on my website. I’m constantly optimizing the code, one big change I made this year was to make the site completely responsive using HTML5. What this means is the site and photo galleries will not only work on any size device such as an iPad or smartphone, but it will scale to fit the screen perfectly. A well designed website today, when you view it on a tablet or phone, you shouldn’t need to zoom in and out of the page. The page should scale itself to fit the screen properly, which my site now does. I was just checking around some other photographer’s websites recently, such as the really big multi-location photographer that has been in this area for a long time. When you visit their website on an iPad it says you need to download Flash Player and it hardly works.  That is just ridiculous in my opinion, today your website is your storefront.

Back to the pictures, it was nice to have some engagement pictures to do, it’s been a few weeks since I had a client. I was a little worried at first, like most guys it was really hard to get him to be romantic and smile. I’m sure I would be the same way myself if I was trying to do pictures with my wife. But once we got warmed up I thought things went really well.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below, I’m going to make an effort to post more regularly when things pick back up.

Early afternoon wedding at the Pine Lakes Country Club

This is the first wedding ceremony I’ve done at the Pine Lakes Country Club. It was a small wedding early on a Friday afternoon and it tuned out very nice. Not having a big bridal party can actually be a lot less stressful. The wedding ceremony was at a bad time of the day for the sun, but thankfully the back of the club has a nice shaded area for the ceremony.  We went down to the beach briefly for some pictures after the ceremony, and then back out for some sunset pictures later in the evening.  I’m really liking …

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Ethiopian wedding at the Dunes Club in Myrtle Beach

I always like when I get to do a wedding with a different cultural style, this was my first Ethiopian style wedding at the Dunes Club up in Myrtle Beach. This wedding was pretty typical but they did have some interesting customs at the reception.  The dancing was quite different than what I’m used to at weddings, it really got all the family involved and made for some good pictures. The only problem we had was the wedding was running almost an hour late so by the time I got to taking the pictures of the couple we had very …

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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
Bridesmaids walking together -Bald Head Island
Groomsmen having a drink before the ceremony -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
Bride standing in front of the sunset - Ocean Isle
Couple standing in front of the sunset - Ocean Isle
Couple standing in front of the sunset - Ocean Isle

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Fun engagement portraits and getting a new lens

I’ve had a lot of really nice engagement portrait sessions this winter.  The weather has been fantastic, I’ve noticed I had more work this winter then last year probably because of the nice weather.  I actually don’t have anything scheduled this weekend, but I have a couple of engagement session for the next.

I’m getting a new portrait lens the Sigma 85mm f1.4.  You might wonder why I’m not buying the Nikon version of this lens.  I almost exclusively use Nikon, my go to lenses the 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 are fantastic.  Ryan Brenizer, a photographer I really trust, reviewed the Sigma lens and really loved it.  With the problems in Japan, Nikon lenses are so expensive and hard to get right now, I just decided to go with the Sigma instead.  The reason I’m mentioning this, is this will probably be my new lens for engagement pictures, at least for many shots.  For example the Bokeh, or out of focus sun coming through the trees in the first image, with the 85mm prime lens at f1.4 would be much creamier and and softer.  It makes for a really amazing look.  It’s harder to use a prime lens of course, because you have to zoom with your feet.  Also accurate focus is critical when shooting at very wide apertures like f1.4.  I’m going to give the lens a good try and I’ll probably write a review myself as well.

The couple featured below was a lot of fun.  They haven’t set a date for the wedding yet, so I was just doing engagement pictures separately from the wedding.  They were very happy and couldn’t stop smiling at each other, it made for a lot of fun candid shots.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below.

Engagement portrait in front of the oak trees - Myrtle Beach State Park
Engagement portrait in front of the oak trees - Myrtle Beach State Park
Couple sitting on the oak tree in black and white. - Myrtle Beach State Park
Couple sitting on the oak tree in black and white. - Myrtle Beach State Park

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Fun wedding at Kingston Plantation in North Myrtle Beach

Kingston Plantation seems to be one of my usual spots, like the Grand Dunes, that I end up going to frequently.  It’s nice when I get to work at the same location multiple times, I can really get to know all the good photo spots after a while.   It’s also nice because it’s out of the Myrtle Beach city limits so you don’t have to worry about getting fined by trying to take pictures on the beach.  This couple was a lot of fun, I got a lot of just casual, fun shots of them as well as really nice …

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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
Almost ready for the ceremony - Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Dad saying goodbye
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
Happy smiles - Ocean Isle Beach - NC
Lacing up the dress - Sunset Beach - NC
Lacing up the dress - Sunset Beach - NC

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Engagement portraits at the Myrtle Beach State Park

It’s getting hard to find some pictures to blog about this time of the year, I did have some brave families do pictures even in the cold over the holidays.  I had one family that wanted to do pictures indoors as well as down on the beach in the cold, which turned out nice.  Of course I could tell the guys were not too happy about it. It’s really not that bad though, I try to work quickly and just snap a lot of different shots and things really move along fast.

Now about the pictures in this post, this was a really nice couple I did engagement pictures for over the holidays at the Myrtle Beach State Park. Their wedding is going to be in another area, so sadly I won’t be doing a wedding for this couple. It was quite cold, but at least the weather was clear and there was a nice sunset.  The guy liked goofing around and I got a lot of funny shots, they seemed to stay smiling most of the time which is what is really important.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below.

Couple in the Sunset silhouette
Couple in the Sunset silhouette
Couple laying by the dunes
Couple laying by the dunes

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