Gone to the Birds

It’s been while since I actively pushed myself to get out and shoot something for fun rather than for business.  This week I decided to do just that and pursue a little wildlife photography of the feathered kind.  There are a nesting pair of Ospreys at the Cedar Point Tideland Trail area and I decided to try and get a shot or two.  I caught the mail perched close enough for a decent shot along with a few shots of other local residents:


A Beach Wedding, April 14, 2007 – Atlantic Beach North Carolina

Jennifer Keen and Jessi Kellner were wed on the beach Saturday April 14, 2007.   The ceremony was held in front of the Sandcastles Club House, Sheraton Resort Hotel, Atlantic Beach North Carolina.  The reception was held following the ceremony in the clubhouse.  Music for the ceremony and reception was provided by DJ John Drake (  Buffet and refreshments provided by the Sheraton Resort Hotel.  Jennifer and Jessi are such a wonderful couple and so obviously in love.  Congratulations and thank you for allowing me to share in your day.

Bridal Engagement Wedding

2006 Weddings Slideshow


If you've visited my website,, you're probably thinking: "What! This slideshow again!!"  Honestly I just wanted to see if I could embed a slideshow here and, well, this was a quick way to find out.  Now the potential this creates for the upcoming wedding season.... well.... stop back by and just see!

Portraits Tips, Tricks, Hints

David Nelson – Jacksonville North Carolina Urban Session

David NelsonDavid contacted me via my page looking to do a shoot to help build his modeling portfolio.  I used a single Vivitar 285 strobe fired by a radio trigger to try to get an edgy, high contrast feel to the shots.  We shot at various locations around Jacksonville, North Carolina, keeping an eye out for spots that would give an urban feel to the photos.  Camera was a Canon 20D, with a Sigma 15-30mm zoom lens. 

Joining David were his friends Ramon and Ryan Lewis.  Both stepped in front of the camera for a few shots as well.  This is a quick grab from the shoot.  As I get further into the edit I may add a couple shots of the three of them together and a solo image or two of each.

Thanks David, Ramon, and Ryan!

Tips, Tricks, Hints

Wedding Photography: An Inside Look (Part 3)

In the previous parts I’ve talked about the equipment and financial requirements of professional wedding photography. This time I’m going to attempt to describe the activities involved in shooting a typical wedding. For the puropose of this article, let’s assume the wedding is at a hotel, with all activities taking place there.

While most weddings take place on Saturday the photographer’s work has to start a day or two before. It is important to check that each piece of equipment is working properly, that batteries are charged and lenses cleaned. Then everything needs to be packed in an accessible manner.

The morning of the wedding, or the even before if the location is more distant, the photographer loads the gear and travels to the wedding location. I always, always plan on arrive 1/2 to 1 hour prior to the agreed time in case of car trouble, heavy traffic or other circumstances that might delay my arrival. Of course if I’ve never been to the particular venue I’ll have produced directions via MapQuest of GoogleMaps the evening before. It’s also helpful to use a GPS navigation system in case a detour is needed.

After arriving, hopefull early, I’ll spend a little time “scouting” the location. I need to get a feel for the location and develop some ideas of where I need to be at key moments durint the day’s events to capture the “must have” images. Also, if things are already set-up, this is an excellent time to make so detail photos.

At the agreed time I will meet with the bride and/or groom to shoot some “getting ready” shots. Depending on the couple’s expectations my time may be nearly exclusiverly spent with the bride, or split fairly evenly. Either way there will be some hustling back and forth to insure adequate coverage of all the pre-ceremony activities.

Shortly before the ceremony I move to that location and set-up a tripod for camera 2. Camera 2 will be set-up with a long lens at the back of the room, usually on center aisle. Prior to the ceremony it will be set off to the side, then moved into place after the bride passes to walk down the aisle. I’ll use a hand-held camera for mobility during the ceremony, passing by camera 2 to trip its shutter every few minutes. This provides some vareity in perspective and some insurance that usable photos from the ceremony will be made. I’ll also take this time to check the lighting, make some decisions concerning aperature settings, and ISO. Now it’s back to find the bride and grab some candids of the wedding party just before the ceremony begins.

As the wedding party enters I’ll grab two or three shots of each, using on-camera flash. As soon as the bride reaches the alter I shut-off the strobe and reset camera 1 to shoot in the ambient. During the ceremony I’ll work both sides and the center aisle, as well as using camerea 2 on the tripod. As the bride and groom start up the aisle I move camera 2 to the side, turn on the on-camera flash, make any necessary adjustments to ISO settings and blast away. (You got to move fast!).

Nearly everny bride will want some formal groupings shot following the ceremony. These may be done at the alter, or at some picturesque spot on site. Depending on the size of the wedding party and number of family members this portrait session will take between 20 minutes to an hour. For these shots I’ll set-up a portable flash, sometimes two, on a light stand and bounced into an umbrella. Hurry getting everything set-up; the bride, groom and wedding party are anxious to get to the reception!

Following the formal shots I try to schedule a little “alone time” with the bride and groom. This is where the nice, soft romantic shots usually come from that has everyone oohing and ahhing. Depending on the couple, this session could be as short as 15 minutes to as long as an hour. The guests and wedding party will usually be enjoying cocktails during this time.

Ok, I’ve finished the formal shots, the “alone time,” now I have to scoot ahead so I can catch the newlyweds as they make their entrance to the reception. I really need to get in ahead of them, determine and make any exposure adjustment that may be needed and be ready to shoot in a minute or two.

Depending on the wedding plans, they may do the first dance immediately upon entering the reception or it may come after meal time. During the meal I’ll get a short period to swap batteries, recharge myself, and set-up off camera lights for the dance floor (if I haven’t been able to sneak that in previously). As a general rule people don’t like to be photographed while eating, so I try to avoid doing so.

Following the meal, and for the rest of the evening I’m running around trying to catch the bride, groom with their family and friends during those special moments. I’m on and around the dance floor capturing images of the celebration. And, of course, shooting the “must haves” such as the father/daughter dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc. Bascially I’m in motion from the moment I arrive on site until it’s time for me to leave.

Following all this there is the drive home, or another night in a hotel. Then there’s the hours of editing, post processing, backing up, up-loading and all the other things that have to be done to finish the job. (Maybe a “Part 4” will be upcoming!)

I hope this has provided some insight into the world of wedding photography. There really is more to it than just grabbing a few shots and cashing the check. There is a substantial investment of both time and money, a big level of responsibility that you don’t blow someone’s special day, and a lot of hard work involved.


Callie & Justin – Impromtu Engagement Session, Havelock, NC

I met with Callie and Justin today to discuss the possibility of doing their wedding photography. What a fun and attractive couple. They still have a photographer or two to interview but I’m crossing my fingers. They just feel like a great couple to work with – fun, playful and spontaneous – just like my photography. Anyway, congratulations guys. It was a pleasure meeting you.


Congratulations Jennifer & Jessi

Jennifer and Jessi, of Youngsville, North Carolina, are planning a beach wedding at the Atlantic Beach Sheraton, April 14, 2007. Their reception will follow afterwards inside the hotel. While meeting with them to discuss the photography for their wedding I snapped a couple shots of the happy couple. It’s obvious that they’ll make a very attractive couple and will be fun to work with. Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding Jennifer & Jessi.

Tips, Tricks, Hints

Wedding Photography: An Inside Look (Part 2)

In my previous post on this subject I focused on the photography gear required to properly do wedding photography. In this segment I’d like to focus on some of the requirements not directly related to photographic equipment but very important to operate legally, ethically and createively in the business.

While every location will have different requirements, to operate a business legally some kind of regisitration or licensing is likely required. In my home state, North Carolina, you need to be properly registered with the state in order to collect sales tax. Without this registration you cannot collect sales tax, nor remitt collected taxes to the state government. Conversely, if you sale tangible goods, such as prints, state law requires you collect sales taxes. Simply put you cannot conduct the business legally without meeting this requirement. Additionally, counites, towns, etc. will have licensing or permit requirements that must be met.

Another cost of doing business relates to basic liability insurance. Without professional liability insurance the photographer is taking a fairly big risk should something s/he does, or if an accident involving his/her equipment results in an injury while shooting an event. Additionally, some venues will not allow a photographer to work in their facility without proof of insurance.

Obviously in today’s digital age a photographer needs a computer or computers to process the images they capture. The photographer will also need to be able to track business expenses, answer emails, create marketing materials and all the other little details involved in running a small business. Of course a computer is of little use without the correct software. A full featured photo editing software package will typically cost in the neighborhood of $1000.

The costs of doing wedding photoghraphy doesn’t stop with office equipment, business licensing, insurance and software. You have to develop some kind of marketing plan, advertising materials and such. You’ll almost have to have a website, probably could benefit from a blog, sample prints, brochures, business cars…………… the list goes on and on. All of this takes time and money.

As you can see there are a lot of costs and requirments besides having the necessary photographic equipment to properly produce wedding photography. And I can assure you, I’ve only glossed over a few of the more obvious costs associated with the job. In “Part 3” I’ll summarize what’s involved in a typical wedding shoot from pre-even preparations to delivering the final product (Ok.. I may have to stretch this to 4 parts).


Bill and Anne Edwards, Novemeber 11, 2006 – New Bern Wedding

Anne Kelly and Bill Edwards were joined in marraige November 11, 2006 at the lovely Aerie Bed & Breakfast, New Bern North Carolina. Anne and Bill are both such lovely people and were a pleasure to work with. The Aerie’s owners and staff also were a joy to work with. I know that the couple was extremely pleased with the Inn and the hospitality of its staff. Located at 509 Pollock Street in New Bern’s historic downtown area (and near its waterfront), for a nice weekend away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, or if planning an intimate wedding, you couldn’t go wrong with a stay at the Aerie.

The wedding took place in “The Carolina” room with Reverand Bonnie Compton preforming the ceremony. In attendance were members of both Bill’s and Anne’s families. For the reception the Aerie’s staff provided a buffet that included cold-cuts on croissants, a variety of cheeses and cold vegtables, and cold boiled shrimp.


Cherity and Kennth, October 28, 2006 – Indian Beach, North Carolina

Ever since she was a little girl Cherity had dreamed of riding off from her wedding in a horse drawn carriage. Her fiance, Kenneth Gurganous was just the man to make her dreams come true. A few days after her bridal portrait session (see Nurse Cherity and the Half-Naked Native) I received a call from Kenneth. He wondered if a) I could keep a secret and, b) would we be able to work a carriage ride into the wedding schedule. I was happy to give him a resounding yes to both questions. Making dreams come true, what a wonderful way to start a life together. Congratulations Kenneth & Cherity.

The wedding was held at the Saint Francis by the Sea Church, Indian Beach North Carolina. It is a beautiful location for a wedding. The interior of the church is simply gorgeous and the natural areas outside of it would be an excellent location for group portraits and shots of the newlyweds. Cherity, however, had other plans.

She really, really wanted wedding day photos taken at the beach. But the weather report for the weedend had been anything but promising for those plans. Luckily the sunshined for Kenneth and Cherity. Her chariot carried her to the near-by beach access where we took some lovely photos. I must apologize to the couple though. While intently working to set-up a shot I failed to notice a larger than average wave. Cherity laughed through the drowning and, with the help of her cheer, Kenneth was able to find the humor in it as well. Nothing like a loud “oh crap!” from your photographer as he runs backwards, camear clicking all the way.

The reception was also held at St. Francis by the Sea. Music was provided by T & L Karaoke Express. Catering by Macs. The wedding cake, one of the best I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve tasted a few) was made by Krissys’ Dessert Creations of Cedar Point, NC. The couple’s love for each other was apparent throughout the day. I know they’ll enjoy many happy years together.