Kristine and Jim | Melia Caribe | Punta Cana | Destination Wedding Photos

My job includes working vacations, shooting destination weddings. It’s a tough life for a wedding photographer! Five days that turned into seven at a super luxe resort.
So I’m flying to the Caribbean to this fab resort, the Melia Caribe in the Dominican Republic (Google maps link). I’m imagining the fabulous beach shots, especially at sunset. As we’re coming in for our landing, I’m noticing that we seem to be heading for the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola (where Columbus first landed btw) and my heart is sinking as I realize that we’re on the north side of the island facing the north Atlantic Ocean. So what’s the dig deal with being on the north side of the island? They put the beach on the wrong side of the island! I won’t get any strolling-toward-the-ocean at sunset shots. Errggghhh! Instead, I’ll have the sun disappearing behind the hotel property and some trees. This is a fact of life for a photographer. You simply have to adjust and compensate. No matter what the setting or time of day, you still have to find the great moments, the great shots.

The Melia Caribe is huge. Getting to the beach means riding a “train mobile,” and I have to say that these guys must have been trained at Grumpy University. Somebody please tip these guys so they’ll be happier. It’s paradise guys! Cheer up, ok?

I find an area near the lobby that is an obvious setting for photographers, that is if they’re traditional photographers. There were charmingly arranged ponds and pink flamingos (with clipped wings, poor birds!). But I’m looking for something not so “Disneyland.” I’m walking the property in a search for a combination of architecture with its angles, shapes, curves, plus sky and trees, color and light, but unfortunately there was not much of the architecture part. I suppose I’d have to call the architecture “soft.”

Most of the resort is actually a delightful combination of a blue sky and palm trees and that is what I had to work with. Mostly. Don’t get me wrong; the resort is amazing and has a lot going on, plenty of adventures to explore. I’m just giving you a through-the-lens take on the place. I’m looking at it in terms of, “Where are my best opportunities for good shots?” Background, light, the whole ball of wax.

My bride and groom, Kristine and Jim, live in Michigan, so as with some of my clients, I didn’t get to meet them before heading off to their destination. All I had was a photo to find them. Kristine did things by the book and already had her veil on when I came through the door. When you’ve got a whole group of women in one room, all dressed up, the wedding veil helps a lot in finding the bride. Thanks, Kristine!

I had a blast working with Kristine, Jim, and their family. And the whole wedding party. Everyone was simply the best. I’m so lucky; somehow I get the best clients!

And thanks to bad weather in New York (everyone say, Ahhhhhh too bad!) we couldn’t get a flight off the island, so I got to stay two extra days at the resort. I used the time to work on their photos in the pool. Were the photos in the pool, or the bride and groom, or me? You’ll have to check out the photos to find out. The engagement photos are first, followed by the wedding photos, and some real Trash the Dress shots. Enjoy!

Lidia and Keith | City Hall | Wedding Photos

Lidia and Keith had very informal ceremony at San Francisco City Hall. And I think I accidentally influenced their decision as originally they were planning to get married at the Baker’s beach. Nevertheless I think they liked it. Can’t go wrong with City Hall. It was a pleasant surprise to see my own officiant from six years ago officiating their ceremony as well. I meet him from time to time. I think he is a nicest officiant there. He never remembers me though so when I remind him that he indeed was my officiant, he always responds with the same question: “Are you still married?”. Then after receiving a positive response, he usually puts a mask of a satisfaction on his face which can be described only as: “Sure, I know what I am doing! I am a pro!”. I really should ask his name though…

Anyways, City Hall was literally packed with tourists, staff, other couples and their families and families of their families on that day, and on top of that, the City Hall staff were preparing the venue for a corporate event by literally blocking everything with tables and equipment.

My experience came handy as I familiar with City Hall to (I’d say) extreme extent. It helped me a lot to separate the noisy and crowded reality from emotional atmosphere Lidia and Keith wedding had. Check it out.

P.S. I am leaving next Wednesday to shoot in Dominican Republic, Punta Cana (like anyone knows where this city is) and if there will be access to internet, I will post some wedding photos in here! Otherwise it will all come at once, once I am back. Stay tuned!

Brian and Emily | Conservatory of Flowers | San Francisco | Wedding Photos

Some say: “shooting a small wedding is easy”. I would’t put it that way. I’d rather say, it’s easy mentally and physically as photographer finds himself in a relaxing atmosphere and in very intimate setting (indeed it was). But when expectations are high and there not too many photo opportunities especially if the whole wedding takes less then an hour, there are around 10 guests and finally venue is tiny and dark (nevertheless less beautiful), I’d say, it isn’t simple.

It’s freakin’ HARD!!!

Brian and Emily never met with me. They just booked me over the phone. I occasionally thing it happens because my website is a part of me and knowing it well enough gives people almost personal experience. Or, more realistically, my clients are busy people…

I never shot at Conservatory of Flowers before and never actually visited it so I was very excited to shoot Emily and Brian wedding there. Check out the slideshow. Please comment. This blog is new and needs it.

Got awards…

I am totally lazy when it comes to submitting photos for a competition.
My good friend and very talented photographer Marcel Siegle convinced me I should submit and I did. This resulted in unexpected winning of two first places, two second, a third, eight and ninth places. While it’s certainly not an eight gold medals, but still, I never got so many awards at once. Considering ISPWP is an international association with thousands photographers on board, placing in competition is quite a challenging.

Check the winning photos out:

1st place ONE – Movement and Motion
1st place TWO – Bride and Groom Portrait
2nd pace ONE – Framing the Subject
2nd place TWO – Venue and Location
3rd and 9th places – Engagement Portrait
8th place – Pure Art

Comments are extremely welcome!

Vannie and Ken | Palm Event Center | Wedding Photos

There is something special for me when I open the door and see the bride for the first time. It’s never the same. Sometimes I see a big mess and half naked girls running around. Sometimes it’s just a bride and her mother quietly sit on a balcony. And sometimes, I am the first one to enter a room. But this time, I entered a room full of quiet excitement. Full of anticipation that something big is going to happen in just few hours. Vannie and Ken decided to see each other before the Ceremony which was quite an exciting experience. From my angle I was able to see Vannie standing and Ken approaching her from upstairs. This is always special moment and I was able to capture it from a perfect angle.

We continued to a place called Mera Vino in Pleasanton for a wine tasting and some appetizers right after. I never been at Mera Vino before. Its a boutique store with tasting room and a green green elevator which we was able to use for photos thanks to very friendly staff. Special thanks to Raj for allowing us to move everything around. We got couple of nice shots up there including one with girls backs and with flowers. Speaking of which, Wendy from Wedding Flower Design did an excellent job on flowers.

We arrived at Palm Event Center about two hours before ceremony and started to work on family and bridal party photos right away hoping to finish everything within an hour. Vannie, Ken and bridal party needed to rehearse their super special first dance which turned to be a great performance.

It’s fourth time I work at Palm Event Center and second at Barrel Room. I think getting married inside is a perfect choice for this venue. It gives a feeling of a big grotto filled with wine barrels. This combined with dozens of candles (proved to be handy when gas lighter refused to work) is a rare opportunity for a photographer for some creative shots.

It was challenging to put together a slideshow for this wedding as originally I had 105 photos selected. There is no song is long enough for this. I am so happy Steve Siu from Piano Reimagined provided me with this beautiful song (Cure – Just like Heaven). Steve is amazing piano player. I have his entire piano collection in my car and iPod.

Main “problem” appeared to be my brother Alex who taped the entire wedding and wanted to make a highlights movie link for his upcoming bridal fair. Of course he worked couple of days and probably nights to get it done. He did. After I saw it (holding my breath), I had to redo my slideshow as I originally wanted a faster song. This became a longest time I worked on a single slideshow. I tried to fit it into “Lovers in Japan” song but it didn’t work as I picked too many photos… Anyways, enjoy the slideshow and feel free to comment!

Here are some detail shots I took throughout the day. There were plenty…

[slideshow id=5]