My iPhone alarm went off at 5:15am for this engagement session that was set to take place here in Miami, FL at the beach, and then we had planned to do some Biltmore Hotel Engagement Photos.  Now, I am not much of a “morning” person… but, when the goal is to go out and capture some nice “sunrise” images on the beach for my clients… then… I am all for it!  However, this session had a very wet and depressing start.  I had just finished loading up my SUV with all the gear, drove down from my parking garage, and was waiting for my assistant to park his car when I get the horrifying text message from Carla, that her hair and makeup person is no where to be found… and is not responding to the phone, or the door (she went to their studio).  They completely dropped the ball!  I look over at my assistant (now sitting in my car, waiting for me to start driving) and say “Oh, man.. there goes the sunrise.”  Let me take a second now.. and say that, if your shooting with me and you really want the best experience I would highly recommend contacting one of the trusted professionals in my “Vendors I Trust” page.  So, I called Carla and told her that, the best plan is just for her to do her own hair & makeup and lets meet at the beach when she was ready.  I reminded her that for the beach, we could get away with it and that we could play “catch up” on the way to the Biltmore.  Which is what we ended up doing, and everything came out great.

So, let me back up and explain… Carla & Kory actually drove all the way from Atlanta, GA —just— to shoot with me.  I was honored when I received the phone call from her the week prior and could not wait to meet, and work together!  I learned a lot about them before, during, and after the shoot.  Carla, a former fine arts high school teacher is now a full-time, professional artist (painter) and it was her “searching” around looking for Miami Wedding Photographers that led her to my work, and an excuse to come to Miami.  Kory, an “I.T.” goo roo was so easy going and kind.  We all had fun joking around that he could be a male model, and maybe one day will end up in the Macy’s catalog LOL.  Hey, you never know!  They met years ago through mutual friends out one night, and now are planning their wedding for later this coming 2016 in Cancun, Mexico!  I sure hope that I will be packing my bags, and buying airfare sometime soon 😉

Carla, Kory… Let me just say.. that to spite any rough start to this session the both of you are truly solid, understanding, and a ton of fun to be around!  Taking a look at that beach image below… shows

that even though a plan may not work out perfect, it does not mean excellent results can’t happen.

This shot, will look incredible as “wall art” in your home and you will always remember this day as a result.  We had such an adventure, skirting the rain at times, sneaking around the hotel, and then hanging out like old friends after the session over some beers, and burgers.  Your both the best!


Here I am working in realtime, and this will give you a better idea on what the dynamics are like on the actual shoot.  Enjoy!



Biltmore-Wedding-Photographers-001In this beach image (above), as mentioned in my recap we were 2 hours late for the actual “sunrise”, however with the 16mm lens, and a rough sky that was about to dump rain.. it made for a stunning capture.  The “sun” camera right, was actually one of my studio lights and I intentionally captured this in the frame, knowing I would “remove” the stand in post processing and be left with this.Here, now at the Biltmore Hotel (above) in the main lobby.  One of the biggest challenges was in fact to get a “clean” shot without all the people wondering around in the background.  Carla, told me countless times that she enjoyed the “architecture”, and wanted a few shots that really showed that off.  So, here I decided to take advantage of the stunning ceiling in the lobby.  I found the composition that I wanted very quickly, and laid on my back shooting upwards.  The trick, (see the video I made below) is to have my subjects lean forward a bit to compensate for the distortion that happens with a “wide” lens.  I love the lines in this shot, the pattern of the chandeliers, and the sculpture that is camera right mimics their very pose.  I have taken care of Carla here, by posing her camera side leg away from the camera to create a flattering shape to her body and dress, and have ensured that I can still see her far arm by having her bend the elbow outward just a bit.  This shot was lit with about a 50/50 ratio of light.  (ambient, and flash).The lobby started to get very busy.. and I literally wanted to find a place where we could go and hide LOL.  Nothing worse then a ton of “on lookers” while your trying to work, and get great shots.  It seems like everyone wants to stop, and talk to me.  Also, it was not looking very good outside at this point, and the rain was a factor.   I poked my head into one of the ball rooms and saw some possible shots I wanted to explore.  This shot (above), was all natural lighting (as seen on the video below), and I wanted to break up the bare wall with that lamp (which I pulled from the other side of the ball room).  Kory, was SO tall that I wanted to use this lamp to help “frame him”, and I love how the height flows in this image from Carla, to Kory, to Lamp.  In terms of the posing here, I wanted to show a bit of the back of Carla’s dress and had her in fact pull on the little bit of fabric that was overhanging to give her camera far hand a task to do, and to also help further “shape” her body.  Notice that little bit of “space” between her arm, and her hips.  That is what helps define her “figure”.  For the stance / legs it was important to leave just the slightest bit of “gap” in her legs so that they did not blend together (this is never flattering for any women), and I brought out the tone in her legs by having her put all of her weight on the ball of her foot and this led me to the “excuse” to kiss her man 🙂  It all really flows.Biltmore-Wedding-Photographers-003When we entered the ball room, Carla instantly said how much she loved the chandelier and wanted to somehow get some images with it.  She had asked about getting a shot “from behind” (above, left) and then I did one of my own (above, right) looking at each other.  In the video I made below, you can see how I got this shot.  It was by using some compression (200mm) that I was able to make that distant chandelier larger then life (as well as the archway for that matter) and make it all work.  If I had of used the “wide” lens again here.. it would have shown “too much”, meaning too much of the surrounding walls in the ball room, and that chandelier would have been about 1/4 the size.Biltmore-Wedding-Photographers-004Here (above, left) we have my main man Kory, on his own.  I simply “saw the light” coming in from two windows and posed him in the middle of it.  I did not give any care about the background in this case as it was all about the lighting.  All too often people, photographers, etc.. will shoot with the “location” as the #1 deciding factor on where to take the “best” image.  This is a common mistake.  It’s much better to focus on “seeing the light” and making something great with it, then having to try and move the world to get better lighting into a place where it may not work very well.  Trust me on that.  I say this, AND I have all the lighting tools to make images wherever I want.  The image (above, right) shows some really nice ambient light coming in through the windows.. and I wanted to take advantage of it!Biltmore-Wedding-Photographers-005Speaking of “seeing the light”, after a bit we did venture outside when the weather cleared up.. and I saw this (above).  A perfect “backlit’ lighting condition, and it even had a natural reflector (white concrete) everywhere!  Now, we are talking!  This was a great way for me to get some more fluid movements in the imagery.  I had them dance in place, and I shot off a ton of frames.  This one I loved!  Now, it is worth noting that… even though I am shooting very fast, I am still paying attention to their body positions when I am pressing the shutter.  Notice here (above) that her camera side leg is bent towards Kory, and that Kory’s camera side leg is bent towards her?  Notice the arm positions, and holding of the hands.  So, even though it seems like I am “winging it”, it is still all very controlled and by design and timing.Biltmore-Wedding-Photographers-006Finally, this shot after all the dancing fun.  I saw the sun behind the clouds, and we literally waited for it to peak out just for this image (above).  This required some power, about 400 watts in pretty close camera right, and I balanced it out with the ambient (sun).  The sun, is real here LOL, and I was able to create that “star” by shooting at f/16 and keeping the sun at the edge of my viewfinder while I was shooting.


Leave a Comment