A Night at Studio 54

It’s not every day that your husband turns 40.  Combine that, with the fact that we don’t throw many parties now that we have two kids, and BOOM…the Studio 54 40th birthday disco party was born!

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I found an awesome little event space in downtown Tampa, booked it, and called our wedding planner, Tammy Waterman of Special Moments Event Planning to put the event together.  If you don’t know her….you should!  She is incredible and over the past 8 years since my wedding, has become a great friend.  Invitations went out, friends and family were invited, vintage clothing stores were rummaged through, and there was nothing left for us to do but show up and dance our butts off.  And we did.

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Every photo from that night was amazing.  If you notice that curly-haired gal in the gold jumpsuit dancing with her camera…that’s me.  I actually got to not only photograph my own event, but also drink, dance and party with everyone else.  How you ask?  Because of an amazing friend, Jeremy Scott with Jeremy Scott Photography, who was invited to party as a guest, but brought his camera to be my 2nd shooter for the evening.  You da man J.

Thanks again to everyone involved in putting this epic night together for my husband.  We love and appreciate every one of you!

Venue: Araliya

Event Planner: Special Moments Event Planning

2nd Shooter and Master of the Photographic Arts: Jeremy Scott Photography

Catering: Delectables Fine Catering

DJ: Nature Coast Entertainment

Photo Booth: Tampa Event Photo Booth

Rentals/Decor: A Chair Affair

Hair: Sheila Cruz

Makeup: Laura Smith-Cruz

{Sahara} | LIFTS Living From the Source | Sarasota Portrait Session

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I met this beautiful spirit through a mutual friend about 7 years ago while I was pregnant with my first child.  It was not long after, that I recieved a very vague, yet somewhat complicated, medical diagnosis, and I was looking for a more natural way of healing during pregnancy.  I first attended one of her guided meditation classes with my husband (which was probably not the best idea since he is THE WORST at siting still or focusing…I digress), and I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect since it was the first time either of us had done something like that.

 

I walked out of that class that day and felt the most overwhelming sense of calm.  She filled that room with such glowing, positive energy, and there was NO WAY I wasn’t going to make this holistic approach to life part of my daily routine.  I started taking full advantage of all of her services and now, despite the insane schedule I have with my two kids, make it a point to see her regularly for reiki and massage.  Somehow, and I don’t know how, she is able to keep me together.  As most moms know, it is super easy to allow  yourself to be overworked, overstressed, sleep deprived…even your nutrition suffers.  I leave my sessions with  Sahara re-centered, re-focused, present and at peace.

 

I was so thrilled when she asked me to take her portraits.  We had so much fun hanging at the beach and witnessing one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen in a while.  She truly is such a beautiful light.

 

If you are interested in learning more about her services, check her out on facebook LIFTS Living From The Source with Sahara.  Trust me, she’s amazing!

{Matt & Brian} | Powel Crosley Estate Wedding Production | Sarasota Wedding Photography

In my entire career as a wedding photographer, I have never photographed a wedding quite like Matt and Brian’s.  From the performers to the wardrobe changes, this beautiful wedding was nothing less than a production.

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I mean, what wedding party looks this good?!  My jaw hit the floor when I saw these ladies getting into these stunning nude illusion gowns after hair and makeup.  Every single one of these gorgeous girls was shining from head to to…from the crystal crowns to the gold sequence.  It was amazing.  As was every other little detail.

As if the venue, the hair, the make up and the wardrobe wasn’t stunning enough, Matt and Brian’s boutonnieres really made a statement.  As Brian works with the Manatee Center for Performing Arts, the sheet music flowers were the perfect personalized touch.

I’m not an emotional person AT ALL.  In fact, my husband and I often joke that I was born without tear ducts…but I would be lying if I said I didn’t shed happy tears during this ceremony.  I have never been surrounded by such a sincere, deep, overwhelming love like I was that day.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Matt and Brian are two of the most beautiful, caring people I have ever met, and the vows they wrote and read during their ceremony were the most heartfelt words I have ever heard spoken. I’m sure everyone in attendance that day would agree.

As if the attire for the ceremony wasn’t beautiful enough, the newlyweds and wedding party ran upstairs for a wardrobe change after a few photos.  Friends and family enjoyed cocktails before making their way to the great room for dinner and introductions.  With Beneva Fruitville as the emcee, their entrances to the reception were definitely epic.

The toasts, dinner, speeches and dancing were amazing.  I feel so privileged that I was asked to be part of this amazing day, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to document their story.  Mr. and Mr. Craft, you two are such a beautiful inspiration and I am so thankful that I met you.  I wish you an eternity of love and laughter, congratulations to you both.

2nd Photographer: Kelly Haymes with Momma Got Soul Photography

Makeup: Lindsey Does Makeup

Hair: Caryn Rose & Katie McCaskill

Draping: Palacios Events

Lighting: Jasmine Deal

Wardrobe: ASOS

Florals: Bella Luna’s Flowers

Planner: Sarah Fulton

DJ: Goodley Entertainment Group

Catering/Cake: Fete Catering

Furniture: So Staged Event Design & Rentals

The Raw Truth Behind 2nd Shooting

When I started my photography career, I specifically told myself, “I will never shoot a wedding.”  I was serious about it.  Not because I didn’t like weddings, but because I was afraid of them.  To a new photographer, wedding photographers are the “elite” group of individuals who make the money, get the killer shots, and can most likely say they have been through everything.  I envied those people.  I looked up to them and strived one day to be able to take a portrait half as good as they could.

Fast forward a few years to the day I took the leap and decided I would attend a wedding workshop.  I was going to conquer this fear one way or another.  For those that know me, it is common knowledge that I refuse to fail…EVER.  I left the workshop that day completely overwhelmed.  I didn’t have the gear, I didn’t understand the lingo, there were so many people there who had wedding experience.  I didn’t even know where to start.  But everyone has to start somewhere.  For me, I started as an assistant…and wow what a rush that was!

2017 was the year I decided to focus my business on wedding photography.  Me, the girl who said she would never shoot a wedding.  Its funny how those things work.  As a gal fairly new to the industry, the best way for me to get out there, shoot, fine tune my craft, and have the time of my life, was to be a 2nd shooter at every opportunity I got.  Lucky for me, I got a lot of opportunities.  This blog is for you, fellow photogs, who may be thinking of taking the plunge into the world of weddings.  Fear not!  After the stress, anxiety, dry heaving, panic, and every other adverse reaction you may have, weddings are incredible…and here is why, step by step, I love being a 2nd shooter. From the beginning of the day, until the end:

Establishment:

As a 2nd shooter, you get the benefit of starting almost mid day.  You got to sleep in, eat a big breakfast, have a few cups of coffee, and if you eat lunch early like I do you’ve also had a nice big lunch.  Even with all that dilly-dallying in the morning, I still make it to the venue early to take some establishment shots.  As I have been taught by a very educated, very patient and extremely tolerant wedding photographer, the gallery you deliver to your clients tells a story.  You have to establish the scene.  Where is the couple?  What are they seeing that day?  Most often the primary photographer has done this first thing in the morning, but many times the bride and groom with get ready at different locations.  Different scenes.  As a 2nd, my focus is on the groom so I take this opportunity to create my own scene and begin my own story of his day.

Groom Prep and Groomsmen Portraits:

So I won’t lie.  This initially stressed me out.  Mostly because I’m an introvert.  Weird for a person who makes a career of photographing people, right?  Well it is something I quickly got over.  I feel like, and this may not be the case, that for grooms there is a stigma behind having a female photograph them while they are getting ready.  There is usually a lot of drinking, cussing, inappropriate jokes, and at times some partial nudity.  So ladies, if you’re considering being a 2nd, stand up for yourself!  Take control of the scene, reassure them that you are not easily offended, no you don’t mind if they take shots and tell dirty jokes in front of you.  Capture it!!  That’s your job!  And I’ll tell you, it makes for the best photos.  Since grooms usually don’t have many “details” for you to photograph, you find them.  Anything from cigars they are smoking, cufflinks, shoes, a watch…it can even be the food they are eating, what they are watching on TV, what they are listening to.  Bust out that macro and make art out of it.  Its all part of setting your scene.

First Look:

As a 2nd, heres where you get lucky.  Its pretty much the only opportunity you have to get photos of the bride and groom together.  The primary photographer will always handle the newlywed and bridal party portraits, so when I see “first look” on the timeline, I get super excited.  My job when shooting a first look is to photograph the scene unfolding from a different perspective.  The primary will be focusing on the bride, so as follows, I focus on the groom.  Again, you have to set your scene.  What is the groom doing while he waits on his bride?  I try to create some anticipation with my images so that when they are added to the collection, the scene flows seamlessly.  Emotional grooms are the best, although I have yet to photograph one.  Its ok to cry guys, seriously.  Once the couple has had their moment, the primary will work with them on a few posed shots, and if you’re lucky you can squeeze in a few shots of your own before heading over to photograph the ceremony details.  Which leads me to our next event…

Ceremony Coverage and Details:

So my job is to get to the ceremony location before the guests and wedding party and photograph all of the details, architecture, florals, archway, aisle, candles, programs, basically everything I see.  I take my safe shots, and then bust out my macro and get in close.  I usually don’t have that much time before the guests arrive, so I hustle.  Then, as the guests arrive, I shoot them finding their seats, talking amongst themselves, greeting other guests…I try to capture the connection between the people.  These shots are great to transition from one scene to the next.  Once the ceremony begins, the primary will take center stage, capturing all of the head-on shots of the procession and the couple.  My job, again, is to capture the scene from a different angle/perspective.  Almost paparazzi-like if you will.  I focus on the reactions of the guests and wedding party, and if I’m lucky I can get an aerial shot of the ceremony…I really love those.

Newlywed and Wedding Party Photos:

Sometimes, SOMETIMES, I get lucky and have time to tag along for these.  Its usually only for a minute or two before I have to run off to photograph reception details and cocktail hour, but sometimes thats all you need.  My focus for the day is not the couple, so these shots are just an added bonus.  Most of the time they are candid shots, but when they are added to the final gallery, they really complete the story.  And finally, my favorite time of the day….

Reception:

The stress is over!  You made it!  The couple is finally married, all of the portraits have been taken, and now the eating, drinking and dancing begins!  Well, the stress is almost over.  Now you have to set up your lighting.  Most receptions take place after dark, so off camera lighting skills is a MUST.  It took me a while to truly understand this, but now I’ll preach it from the tallest mountain….LEARN YOUR LIGHTS PEOPLE.  In my opinion, your lighting will make or break a moment at the reception.  Fellow photogs, if you are considering wedding photography, please for the love of God fine tune your OCF game.  Not that I am an expert… I am NO expert…but I have come so far from where I started that I fell comfortable saying, “know your shit”.  So before the first dances begin, the bouquet is tossed, the garter is retrieved, set your lights, AND TEST THEM.  These things are important, and you don’t want to miss it all messing with your lights.  The primary relies on you to have your crap together, because if something goes wrong for them, your shots are all they have as back up.  No pressure or anything.  Be their back up!  Its your job!  The good news is, once that minor panic is over, you’re good for the night.  As has been told to me no less than 100 times this year, “get in, get close”.  Get those facial expressions, conga lines, grandmas twerking, the whole nine.

The best part of the night for me is getting to my car, doing a quick review of my images, and thinking “damn I got some killer shots.”  Yes, as a 2nd, your gallery for the day is incomplete…only one half of the story.  But when you see your images in that final gallery it really is something to be proud of.  I have learned SO SO much this past year about myself, my business, and the amazing community of photographers I am a part of. No matter how many years you’ve been at it, whether weddings are your thing or not, everyone has something they can learn from someone else.  As photographers, we are all in the same boat, and I have nothing but love and support for each and every professional in my network.  I must give a great big, super huge thank you to Jeremy Scott Photography and Jonathan Fanning Studio & Gallery Inc. for asking me to 2nd shoot  so many awesome weddings in 2017.  Jeremy, you’re an incredible mentor…I appreciate you.

So there you have it!  Still thinking weddings may be for you?  Good!  Go out there and get after it!

{Four Going on Sixteen} | Sarasota Portrait Session

I remember every aspect of my pregnancy with both of my children.  At the risk of bragging about it, both pregnancies were easy.  Both kids were born very quickly, both at 39 weeks to the day, almost exactly the same in size and looking almost identical.  While they were so similar in that regard, they were, and are, both very different children.

I will never forget the feeling of perfect calmness that I had when the doctor first handed me this beautiful baby girl.  Unlike the first time around (as any first time parent will attest), where there was much stress and panic about how to take care of a baby…everything was just as it should be with her.  My husband and I were alone in the hospital, just after New Years Day, and I knew she was the little bitty person that our family was missing.

Delaney has been the biggest challenge I have ever faced as a parent.  She is so strong-willed and independent.  Even when it came time to introduce solid foods into her diet, she would never let me feed them to her.  There she was, at four months old, trying to spoon feed herself.  As an extremely strong willed person myself, I knew how to handle her, and I knew (and still know) how important it is not to break her will, but to mold it.  If you are a parent of multiple children, generally you know which of your kids you’ll have to worry about, and which kids you won’t.  This kid I can say, with 100% certainty that she is not the child I am going to have to worry about.

As mothers, it is so easy to get caught up in parenting and teaching our kids right from wrong, and making sure that they are learning the right life lessons…we forget how much there is to learn from these little humans.  Over the past four years, Delaney has taught me how important it is to be an individual, that confidence is the most important part of my personality, that everyone-no matter how old-has something to learn from someone else, and believe it or not she reminds me regularly to think before I act.  For such a small person, she can be so big.

She is at the age now where she struggles between wanting to be a grown up, and still wanting to be my baby.  While I love nothing more than wrapping her up in her blankets and rocking her to sleep at night, I have begun the internal struggle to let her be when she wants to go to sleep on her own…when she doesn’t want to be held when she gets hurt…when she just wants to go to her room and be left alone.  She knows, however, that the second she wants to be picked up and carried, the instant she needs a cuddle, I am always within arms reach.  I take photos of my kids every year near their birthday, and every year while editing them I step back and say to myself, “I made that little person, and I did a damn good job”.

This little angel, though most of the time is not,in fact, even close to behaving like an angel, is my everything.  I adore every melodramatic tantrum she throws at me, and every time she thinks her life is over, I am right here to remind her that it’s just beginning. Here I am, just two weeks away from her fourth birthday, wondering where the time is going and begging it to slow down.  The truth is, she is going to grow, time is going to pass, and one of these days she will no longer fit in my lap….but no matter how big she gets, “I’ll love her forever, I’ll like her for always, as long as I’m living my baby she’ll be.”

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{Mozingo Family} | Tampa Family Photography

How adorable is this family?!  I mean seriously, everything about them is perfect…them, the kids, the house, their amazing property…I could go on!  I have really grown to love family sessions, especially when extended family is included.  Something about seeing all of the generations together really gets to me.

I come from a large family myself, and I grew up spending countless hours playing with my cousins, so it was so much fun for me to shoot these three boys.

It’s never easy to hold the attention of children throughout an entire session, but these boys were incredible.  Not one complaint, always followed my direction, and smiled for every photo.  They definitely set the bar high!  I had such a wonderful time photographing this group.  Thank you so much Mozingo family for allowing me to capture your incredible family.

{ Stephanie & Josh} | An Elegant Vinoy Renaissance Hotel Wedding | St. Petersburg Wedding Photographer

On Friday, October 6th, I had the privilege and honor of photographing Stephanie and Josh as they became Mr. and Mrs. Hudgins, at the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida.  This hotel boasts some of Florida’s finest architecture and is truly an iconic venue.  Stephanie and Josh are members of the Vinoy, so it was only fitting that they chose it as the location for their wedding.

Both Stephanie and Josh got ready on the Mezzanine floor over looking the lobby.  For purposes of photographing the details and working out the timeline with the amazing 2nd photographer, it could not have worked out better that both rooms were right next door to one another.  Their adorable fur baby, Stinky, appreciated it too I’m sure.  He had easy access to both his mom and dad!  Mr. Stinky was the ring bearer…how cute is that?!

Originally, Stephanie and Josh wanted to have their first look in the tea garden with the beautiful fountain and hotel in the background.  As luck would have it, the sky opened up and poured down rain at the exact moment their first look was supposed to happen.  So, instead, Josh saw Stephanie in her dress for the first time on the most beautiful staircase.  It made for such an elegant, classy, and intimate first look.

The ceremony and reception took place on the newly renovated Esplanade.  When I say “newly renovated”, I mean that they just finished renovating the day before the wedding.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous that it would be done.  The Cheers Event staff did an incredible job setting up the area, and having the skyline as the backdrop made for some epic first dance photos.