Kenny and Bri's wedding at the Viceroy in Anguilla was amazing.
Monique Lhuillier and Badgley Mischka... not a bad way to start the day:
Love it when the guy gets a sweet suit too... girls get all of the fun with the dress. :)
Is there a better location for a intimate ceremony?
Last month I shot Stephanie and Ty's wedding in Aruba and it was awesome. It was the second wedding I've shot there and, man, I'd shoot there a hundred more times. What a beautiful place. The wedding was on Renaissance Island, a small private island just off the coast of Aruba.
Here are some of my favorites...
I love that there are flamingos all over the island, so fun!
The sunsets in Aruba are just amazing...
As you might have been able to tell, it was getting pretty dark in those last few portraits of Stephanie and Ty. Luckily we had some time scheduled the next day for more portraits. We headed over to the other side of the island for some different scenery. Such amazing locations.
I just got done working on the images from a wedding I shot up on Vancouver Island last month and wanted to share a couple with you. I think these might me my favorite bridal portraits I've ever taken. I love everything about them. I'm going to work on a full post of the wedding but until then, here you go!
So this afternoon, Jaclyn and Nate Kaiser, of The Image is Found, both jokingly twittered that they are making a new rule that they'll only travel to places that Jet Blue or Virgin America fly to. This spurred a little Twitter debate between Nate and I about airlines and it got me thinking about why I make the choices I do when I travel.
I'm not sure whether it's apropos or ironic that I watched the George Clooney movie, Up In The Air, on a flight to New York but I sure did identify with Clooney's character and his quest for frequent flyer mile domination, haha. As photographers, we get the opportunity to travel more than the average person. Over the past few years I've traveled a ton and since we moved to Manhattan earlier this year, the past 6 months I've traveled even more than usual. I've found that if you do it right you can both enjoy your travel more and make your travel and destination weddings more profitable. I thought I'd blog about the things I've figured out regarding air travel.
#1 Pick an Airline
There are a bunch of airlines out there and I'm not going to try to say that one is "best" because the "best" airline for you might be different than the best airline for me. The first consideration should be your location. Which airlines have hubs in or near your city. If you're in Dallas, American would be you're best bet. Houston, Continental would be a good choice... etc.
The benefit of choosing an airline with your city as a hub is that you'll have the most direct flights available. This is super important as a frequent traveller. Layovers make your travel days way longer, increase the chance for delays and generally suck. The more planes you take, the more chance there is for a flight to be cancelled/delayed...etc. If you fly direct, there is no connecting flight to miss even if your flight is delayed. Also flights in and out of hubs are, for the most part, cheaper and there are way more available to choose from.
Another consideration when choosing an airline is where they fly. One of the reasons I chose Delta is that when I was choosing an airline is that they were in talks with Northwest to merge and become the largest airline in the world. Either them or their partner airlines fly to more destinations than any other airline in the world. An airline like Virgin America or Jet Blue may meet some of the criteria but they are quite limited in the cities they serve. So if you choose them there's a good chance you'll have to fly other airlines at some point. Pick an airline that will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go and allow you to earn miles on all of your flights, not just on flights to cities they fly to.
#2 Stick with that Airline
Frequent flyer programs benefit "frequent flyers" and you'll never be a "frequent flyer" if you're flying a different airline every trip. All airlines have frequent flyer programs but the benefits vary greatly between airlines. If you fly a budget airline such as Jet Blue or Southwest, basically, the only benefits to frequent flyers is award travel (free flights). With full service airlines you'll still get the award travel but you'll also get a ton of other benefits.
#3 Rack up the miles
Once you reach elite status, usually 25,000 miles in a calendar year, you get all kinds of fringe benefits. Here's a list of a few:
Priority Check In. Frequent flyers always have their own check in line. There's no waiting in a line of a hundred people at the airport anymore to check your bags.
Free checked baggage. With Delta, my guests and I get up to 3 bags a piece at no charge and the weight limit is 70lbs not the usual 50lbs. This alone is worth hundreds if not thousands per year.
Priority Security Screening. At most airports there is a lane for first class or elite travelers. Again, no more waiting behind a hundred people. Security screening now only takes a few minutes.
Priority Boarding. As a photographer this is one of the biggest deals. When I travel with my camera gear, the last thing I want to do is gate check it. I want it with me the whole way. As a frequent flyer with elite status I get to board the plane before the general public, meaning there will never be a time when I get into the plane and the overhead compartments are full.
FIRST CLASS. This is huge when you fly a lot. I've never paid for a first class ticket but I now fly first class almost exclusively... easily 90% of the time. Delta, and most other airlines give free or very low cost upgrades to their frequent flyers. It makes a big difference having the extra legroom but the biggest difference is the "shoulder room". The fact that there are only 2 seats in first class where three fit in coach makes all the difference in the world. There's never a time when I worry about who is going to be sitting next to me in first class, but every time I have to sit coach I dread the waiting game of watching the people file in. I just know when I see the 6'5" 350lb mountain man, he's going to sit right next to me. Also, meals and drinks (even alcohol) are free in first class which is pretty nice.
Priority baggage handling. I think this is one of the coolest things Delta does. Whenever I check a bag a special tag is placed on it and upon arrival my bag will be among the first delivered to baggage claim. No waiting around for 30 minutes as bags trickle on to the carousel.
Bonus Miles. Once you make it to elite status, you get between a 25% and 125% bonus on your travel. Once you get to a certain point miles start adding up like crazy. At the beginning of the year this year it took me 5 round trip flights from LA to NYC to earn the 25000 miles for a free flight. Now it takes only 2.5 round trip flights because I get a 100% bonus on all travel... fly 5000 miles, get 10000 frequent flyer miles.
#4 Don't sweat it if you have to pay a little more to stick with your chosen airline.
If I were to fly American Airlines I'd have to pay $25 each way to check one bag. Sticking with Delta saves me *at least* that much over another airline. If the difference between tickets is even more than that, the fact that all of my miles are with one airline more than makes up for it. The average cost in miles for a free flight is 25,000 miles. If I have 6000 miles with Delta, 8400 with American, 3700 with United...etc, it doesn't matter that I've got 18100 miles in total because they're with 3 different airlines. I'm still 16400 miles from an award ticket. Don't worry about paying a little more for a ticket with your airline, you'll get it back later.
#5 Pack light.
If its possible carry everything you need on. The time you'll save by not checking bags and not having to wait for them at baggage claim is worth way more than having your choice of 14 pairs of shoes and 23 outfits for that week long trip.
There are lots of other tips I've picked up but this should do for now. Maybe this will help you, I sure wish someone had told me all this a few years ago. :)
If you have any tips I'm missing here leave me a message in the comments. I'd love to hear them!
Since posts without pictures are boring, here is an image from a wedding I shot in Anguilla (in the British West Indies in the Caribbean) last month. I'll be blogging the whole wedding this week!
Several months ago I was hired to shoot what I thought was going to be a pretty typical engagement session in New York. Time passed and as the date came closer I got in touch with the couple to firm up the details. They told me they had some ideas about the shoot and then said they wanted it to have a 1950's theme. They wanted to shoot outside a diner, they were having a '56 T-bird there for the shoot, they were dressing up in 50's attire... in fact, it wasn't going to be typical at all.
One of the things they told me is that they wanted to shoot with the car outside the diner and have the sunset behind them. Well if you know anything about photography you know that in order for that to happen you're going to have to use lighting. I guess I could have done some HDR stuff but its not 2006 anymore. :)
So I rented a Profoto set up and drove out to New Jersey to the diner. The diner was awesome but it was also surrounded by cars, not from the 50's, which to me kind of kills the whole thing. So we positioned the car in the middle of the parking lot and I shot from pretty much the only angle that blocked out the rest of the cars and still showed the diner. I felt pretty good about the images as we were shooting but I never get too excited because you really never know what you're getting until you open them up. I even turned the strobes off at a couple of points and shot natural light just in case things weren't turning out as good as I thought they were.
When I opened the images up to begin working on them I just fell in love. Its so different from what I normally do but man they're so freaking cool.
While I typically work with natural light, when I was first getting started I never wanted to be in a situation where I felt unprepared so I learned as much as I could about off camera lighting. I'm by no means an expert but knowing this stuff has helped me get good images out of bad situations.
So here are a few of my favorites. I put in some of the natural light stuff as well. I think the difference is really interesting. Let me know what you think.
I've got to give Amanda some props. It was about 16 degrees that day and she was such a trooper. Sooooo cold, and she never complained once! My kind of bride! :)
I've been away a while. I know. I know. It's been too long. Instead of groveling and trying to explain my absence I thought I'd make a list about what's gone on since I've last blogged... events, trips, gifts, purchases... whatever. If it's awesome and it's happened in the past couple of months its on the list.
(These are not in order of importance, just the order that they came to me.)
Cyndie and I went to New York... again. I don't think I need to explain to you again my love for New York City and more specifically Manhattan. Now I know I haven't seen the whole world, but, I've seen a lot of it and I can say with some degree of certainty that New York is my favorite place. I know it's not for everyone but for me and Cyndie there's nowhere better. The city, central park, the shopping, the restaurants... I love it all. This was actually the first time that Cyndie and I had gone to New York just for fun. Every other time I've had work there and while we always have a good time when I'm not working it was nice to not have anything but fun on the schedule for our trip.
Also it was our 10 year anniversary.
I can't believe we've been married that long! Here are a few pics I dug out from our proofs from our wedding photos. Don't judge, it was 1999! Sorry the scans are so bad.
And here we are now, this was in December in New York.
Which brings us to food. Our favorite thing to do, aside from going to New York, is go to really great restaurants. In the past two months we have eaten some incredible meals. I could go on and on about them but there's probably only a few of you out there that would care so I'll just list a few of them.
DBGB. Super Chef, Daniel Boulud's less formal restaurant near the site of the famous old CBGB club in the East Village. Incredible burgers, amazing house made sausages, great beer list.
Jean Georges. Wow. One of New York's five Michelin 3 Star Restaurants. Incredible
Gramercy Tavern. I've heard about Gramercy Tavern for years and in December while we were in New York we totally lucked out and scored what is one of Manhattan's toughest reservations. It did not disappoint.
Animal. A sweet restaurant in West Hollywood that is a vegan's worst nightmare. Luckily I'm no vegan. Pork Belly sliders, chicken liver toast, veal breast, rabbit legs... even the desert had bacon in it! Mmmmmmeat!
A16. San Francisco's famous restaurant that specializes in not just Italian food, but food from the Campania region of Italy. You have to respect a restaurant that is that focused on what they do. Its easy to try to be all things to all people and end up doing nothing well. A16 does and few things and is the best at them.
And finally the culinary version of Mecca... the place all foodies aspire to eat... perhaps the most famous restaurant in the world...
THE FRENCH LAUNDRY! This was Cyndie's Christmas gift to me. I had a wedding last weekend up in the Bay Area and Cyndie thought ahead two months ago and scored us a table. It was without a doubt the best dining experience of my life. Trying to come up with enough superlatives to describe this meal is futile. I'll probably devote an entire blog post to the meal so we'll save the details for later.
Christmas! As I said, we've been married for 10 years now and this was Makenzie's 6th Christmas and we've always been with our extended family. And while that's always been great we chose, this year, to spend it alone and create our own traditions. So this year it was just the three of us and it was awesome. We definitely missed our families but it was so much fun making things up as we went, creating traditions that will hopefully last for a long time.
I got a new camera. Not really that exciting but its always fun to get new toys.
I got a Sous Vide Supreme! This is way more exciting than a camera... at least to me. We've been getting into cooking amazing food at home and this machine has allowed us to take dinner to a whole 'nother level. We had some friends over last week for a dinner party and I made shortribs that had been cooked for 72 hours! Oh my gosh, they were amazing.
Weddings in San Diego, Hollywood and Dallas and San Francisco. Those blogs are coming up soon, I promise.
Finally, I got a book that is so incredibly inspiring. Its not a photography book, or a business book, it's about a chef named Ferran Adria who is, by many accounts, the best chef in the world. What's inspiring about this book is that it takes you through a typical day with him. He's someone that has dedicated his life to being creative. Not just making food, but creating something that's never been made before. His restaurant is only open 160 days a year because he needs the rest of the time to create. Every day the restaurant is open the first 9 hours of the day is dedicated to creating new dishes. His diners are served between 28 and 36 courses and every course a diner is served is put into a database so that if they come back to the restaurant in the future they will not be served the same dish. The have hundreds of notebooks filled with thousands of dishes they've created, not one of them something the diner will have ever seen or been served before. The 205 days a year the the restaurant is closed is spent developing new processes to make food. Inventing machines and tools if necessary to facilitate the making of whatever dish the have in their heads. That kind of commitment to creativity is just astounding to me and is really inspiring as well. I want to put that much effort into being creative for my clients.
So now you're caught up! I promise it won't be 2 months before I blog again! :)
Last weekend I traveled to Dallas to shoot Taylor and Amanda's engagement photos. Taylor's a photographer based in Dallas. It's always fun shooting photographers because they're always up for anything, and know that even if you feel funny doing it, you have to work it in front of the camera. Taylor and Amanda were a ton of fun and I love these images and can't wait to go back to shoot their wedding in January at the Old Red Courthouse in Downtown Dallas.
I love New York. I might even go so far as to say that its my favorite place on earth. Luckily, several times a year, work takes me there and Cyndie and I always take a little time for ourselves as well. We've spent a good amount of time there and don't really do the touristy thing anymore. We just spend the days shopping, walking the streets of Manhattan and planning out where our next meal will be.
A couple of the days we went up to Central Park. It was so incredible. All of the leaves were turning, the weather was perfect and crisp and there was even a jazz band playing one day. Could there be a more quintessential fall day?
I don't always bring my big camera along but this morning I did and I took a few shots of the city, park and even a few of Cyndie. Here are some of my favorites.