Laura and Robert got married at the Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort on the beautiful island of Curacao, just a skip away from Aruba. The ceremony was on a cute grassy cliff overlooking the ocean right at sunset. The reception was right by the beach where you could hear the ocean waves crashing. The next day we went out to the other end of the island to get some beautiful landscape shots with the newlyweds, ending in the town for some evening city shots.
I was flattered when another wedding photographer Lawrence Ha from the West coast wanted to hire me to shoot his wedding down in Cancun, Mexico. It was a great to meet him and his wife for the first time, especially knowing him through Facebook over the years. It’s natural to feel pressure to shoot for another fellow photographer, but all the photographers who I’ve worked for understand the stresses of wedding photography, which make them more easy going as a client. If I ever hire someone for my unlikely wedding, I would give him or her plenty of slack and try to not make it feel like work. For your information, working at a destination wedding is way more difficult than a local wedding, so you can all stop telling us how lucky we are to work on a non-equipment-friendly environment!
What can I say about this awesome couple? I met Tingting years ago when she was a bridesmaid since she recommended me as the photographer. I soon reached out to her for modeling shoots since she has a lot of experience in it, and we’ve had many amazing sessions since then. We built a great professional relationship and she didn’t want anyone else but me to be her photographer, and I was excited to hear that she wanted photos in Germany! I had the pleasure of meeting Elmar who is simply chill, smart and funny. We booked our trip to Munich during Oktoberfest to celebrate with the entire city, and boy was it an experience. We were also able to get out of town and see some beautiful scenery including the Nymphenburg Palace. When you have a good looking couple, your job doesn’t feel like a job – and when you’re flown to a beautiful location, now you’re just enjoying your hobby on a expense paid trip!
El Bob at Paamul beach.
El Bob on one of the highest points of the island where the lighthouse sits.
This was the third destination within a month, you can imagine how tiring it can be. Traveling to exotic destinations to shoot a wedding is not fun and games as one would expect just by looking at the photos. Imagine lugging a thirty pound bag with you at all times, that is not what I call a vacation. However, when you have a couple like Sunny and Marjorie, work becomes easy, and there’s nothing else you’d rather be doing than taking photographs of a fun group of misfits. I will let the photos do the talking.
Sunny enjoys photography too and he had imagined a specific shot he thought would’ve been cool if I took during the reception. Instead of telling me what his idea was, he just positioned himself to be at the right place at the right moment. The idea was during the father and bride dance to have the groom visible standing in the background. Lo and behold, I saw the opportunity and took the shot. It was after he saw the photo that Sunny told me he thought of the same shot. The point of the story is, even though the bride and groom should “ignore” the photographer and be natural, it also helps to be mindful to help create the opportunities for certain shots to be taken. Beautiful photographs are a two way collaboration between the subject and photographer.
The week after Grand Bahama trip, I flew to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for another destination wedding. I made the trip out with my friend James Jeon who is quickly becoming a great cinematographer for all sorts of events and projects. The trip was an adventure exploring the local town, trying tacos from all over the place, driving into a desert, finding local beaches, and go-karting all with the help of James’ fluent Spanish. The wedding was also followed by a Trash the Dress session the next day. We took a boat out to Lover’s Beach and without a dock, we had to jump into the water by the beach to get ashore. This is quite scary when you have two DSLR bodies to carry with you and the boat is rocking up and down a few feet at a time! It was a great trip, but I have to say, I like Tex-Mex food in the states better!
This year has been fruitful with the amount of destination weddings and paid travels, although it’s not even over yet. Destination weddings are my favorite because they are both scenic and very low key, a perfect combination. My first stop this year was Grand Bahama, Bahamas. When I see a pool next to the reception area, I know there’s going to be some body-throwing-wet-clothing-drinking-pool action at the end of the night – I just pray nobody is drunk enough to push the photographer into the action.
I always provide the destination couple with an optional Trash the Dress session during the trip. Might as well make the most use of the dress and location while you’re there. Mad props to the bride who made the dive for the football at the end.
You know you’re in a good place when all the vehicle license plates are tagged with “One Happy Island.” Aruba is known for the dry weather and not affected by the hurricane season. I had the best Surf n’ Turf dinner in Aruba and I can’t wait for the next one. I promise myself I will have a destination wedding of my own to avoid all the unimportant guests, uninteresting rituals and traditions, and cookie cutter reception halls.
I’ve been to the Rockhouse twice and it is by far one of my favorite destination wedding locations. A beach wedding can be anywhere and look all the same, but the Rockhouse is so unique and secluded, it seems like a world in it’s own.
These photos were taken last year, however I never got a chance to edit them until now. You might have seen the scenery photos from my old Xanga post.
The Maldives is definitely the furthest place I’ve traveled for a photo assignment. A Beijing couple was referred to me by an acquaintance and they wanted a “U.S. photographer” rather than the cheesy studio glamour photos. They found this island through a wedding convention in China. Kani is one of hundreds of tiny islands that form the Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean just south of India. You could consider this a “trash the dress” session, two years after they’ve been married.
All photos were taken with natural lighting, with a Canon 1D Mark IIN, 50mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm.
This was my first wedding in Aruba, and definitely not the last. I am heading over there again in two weeks. The one thing I remember the most was how good their surf and turf was. When it comes to outdoor evening receptions, I actually wish for a videographer’s tungsten lamp. It adds a dynamic light that can be offset from the camera. Sure you could bring your own flash and stand, but that’s kinda hard with a destination wedding.
There have been a good amount of weddings nowadays that don’t follow the tradition of bride and groom separated until the ceremony. There are a few reasons why this happens, and there are also advantages and disadvantages. The first and most practical reason is scheduling. When you have a tight schedule between the ceremony and reception, it leaves little time for formal portraits sometimes, so you are forced to take them while there is still day light, before the ceremony. The second reason is sometimes the couples just don’t care about certain traditions, and they don’t want to go through more trouble trying to hide from each other than not. The practical advantage of having formal sessions before the ceremony is to “get it over with.” I also like that feeling because for me, the formal session may be the most stressful part of the day. It feels great to know after all that posing, I can continue my photo journalistic style. The disadvantage I see that might occur during such early formal sessions is the lack of “fun factor” to the photos. You can’t trash your attire before the ceremony, so you have to be extra careful. It is also too early during the day to take high-energy photos, and you don’t carry over that “woohoo! the ceremony is over!” feeling/energy/vibe-instead you might still have butterflies. Fortunately with this crowd, there was no problem with them getting wild and dangerous during the “formal” session before the late afternoon ceremony. Not to mention, we were in Aruba. It was like shooting monkeys in their natural habitats.
This is my second time back at the Rockhouse hotel in Negril Jamaica for a wedding. It’s a beautiful location, but I personally still prefer dry, cool weather myself. It was easier this time due to previous experience of this location, 2 more years of photography experience since the last trip, and newer equipment. However long ago the first wedding may be, I definitely think Derek and Sherry’s photos will live up to my expectations for many years to come. The following photos are just scenic photos the day before the wedding, captured with Canon 5D & 16-35mm 2.8L II. This may be the only time I’ve taken scenery photos with people.