Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ryan and Georgia's Elopement Wedding

Over the 30-plus years that I have been photographing weddings, I've seen all sizes of weddings.  From a small group crammed into an car on the Duquesne Incline, to St. Paul's Cathedral, and everything in between.

A growing trend in weddings are  "Elopement Weddings".  Now, these aren't the "sneaking out the bedroom window in the middle of the night" elopements I used to think of.  These days, "Elopement Weddings" refer to much smaller weddings, usually held in beautiful locations.  Elopement weddings are less costly and less stressful than a standard big-budget wedding, but at the same time they are often more meaningful to the couple.  Social media also plays a role in this, because you get some great photos taken and you can share them with all your friends who weren't there.

Georgia and Ryan contacted me to shoot their elopement ceremony.  There were only going to be 5 people in attendance:  the couple, their five-year-old son, their mothers, and the officiant, Reverend Dina McGee.  I don't offer a separate "Elopement Package" (since I don't have packages), so I gave them a custom quote that met their needs.  The location that Georgia and Ryan chose is the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, in Oakdale, Pennsylvania. It only opened this year, and it is AMAZING.  I arrived early to scout out the best angles and settings.  The Lotus Pond includes a footbridge, a wooden dock, and a set of stepping stones across one end of the pond.  The photographic possibilities are endless.

Shooting an elopement ceremony is different than a regular wedding.  Other than the 20 minute ceremony, the rest of our time was spent taking photos, and I had complete freedom.  In some ways, it is much more like photographing an engagement session than a wedding.  The couple (and their incredibly cute son) were a joy to work with, and we got some great shots.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Samantha's Bat Mitzvah

Last weekend I photographed Samantha's Bat Mitzvah at the Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill.  Samantha's a tiny thing, and even the Rabbi joked that the Torah was as tall as she was.

The party was at Green Oaks Country Club.  A great place with a first-rate staff.  Music and entertainment was provided by The Party Crew from Soundtastic Enterprises, who have proven very popular with many of the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs that I have photographed this year.  Much of the decorating was done by one of Samantha's grandmothers, who did an incredible job with the centerpieces.

One of the things that was new for me was the use of the EverSnap app to share photos.  Samantha's parents set up an online album for Samantha's photos, and guests were given the name and password for the album.  They could then download the app (available for both iOS and Android) to upload photos from their phones.  There was a projector behind the DJ running a slideshow of the photos from the online album, updated in real time as new photos were uploaded.  In essence, this is the digital version of the film-era disposable cameras people would put on guest tables.  A cool idea, and I uploaded a few images from the Friday night and Saturday morning services, which got a lot of compliments.  There were a few issues with it.  Some folks apparently had a little trouble with the app, and accidentally uploaded other photos from their phones.  So there were some vacation photos and non-party selfies in the slide show.  These had all been deleted by the next day.  In addition, the plan was to set up a special wifi network at the party, to make it easier for people to upload photos, and there were problems getting that running.  Even when it was running, the signal was so weak that I couldn't upload from where my laptop was located.  Finally, the app allows people to order prints of any photo in the gallery.  I have an issue with this, because I own the copyright on all my images.  The solution was to upload low-res versions of the photos (800 pixels on the long edge), which is great for online viewing, but won't give you a good print.  This is what I do for any social media use of my images, and it worked out great in this case.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Carolina's Sweet 16 Party

Sweet 16 parties are not something we have often in the Pittsburgh area.  This was only the second Sweet 16 that I've shot, the first being Carolina's older sister's party a couple of years ago.  The party was at the Treesdale Country Club in Gibsonia, which is a wonderful venue with an awesome staff.

Cara was stunning in a white dress.  The weather was great, and before the party started I had a chance to take her out on the balcony for some quick portraits.

One think that was different for this event was that I set up my backdrop and flash umbrellas as a sort of photo booth.  As I shot the images, they were automatically transferred to my laptop via my Eye-Fi card and displayed as a slide show.  We had a table of props for the kids, and they had a lot of fun hamming it up in front of my camera.

Photos from the event can be found HERE.