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adventures in photography and other stuff


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Punta Gorda Florida Country Wedding

Since moving to Florida, I have been shooting as a contractor for George Street Photography. I still occasionally shoot under my own studio as well, but working for George Street has been perfect for me. All I have to do is the fun part – the photography – and they take care of the rest! This has allowed me to indulge my passion for wedding photography while devoting most of my time to my PhD studies. Seriously, weddings are an addiction: I go through withdrawals if I can’t shoot a few every season (which makes me a pretty odd duck in the world of geology academia). The hardest part about shooting for GS is that I have to wait several months before I post photos on my own blog, and the wait is so hard! They have connected me to the best couples in some amazing venues. Anyway, Enjoy the photos from this beautiful outdoor spring wedding in Punta Gorda.

Punta Gorda Florida wedding, country, spring, sunset, bride and groom, oaks

Spring is a great time to have an outdoor wedding in Florida – the temps are nice and everything is so green. Mallory and Jeremy planned a country wedding at a unique venue in west-central Florida called Hall Ranch. This wedding was uniquely Floridian, with preparation and pre-ceremony portraits right on the Gulf at PG Waterfront Hotel, and a rustic ceremony and reception beneath the live oaks and palmettos in the country. It was a beautiful day with handmade details in a beautiful setting.

Punta Gorda, PG waterfront, wedding dress, bridal prep   PG waterfront, bridal prep, wedding

Punta Gorda Florida wedding, PG waterfront hotel, bridal portraitsPunta Gorda Florida wedding, PG waterfront hotel, groom, groomsmen, portraits, beach, sunny   Punta Gorda Florida wedding, PG waterfront hotel, first look

The bride and groom had prep rooms right next door to each other, which allowed us to get some cute pictures of the two of them before the ceremony without doing a “first look”.

Punta Gorda florida, wedding, PG waterfront hotel, bridal party, portraits, pre-ceremony, balcony

Punta Gorda Florida, wedding, bride, water, balcony, bridal portraits, ocean

When all the preparations were complete, the bridal party loaded up in a limo for the drive to Hall Ranch for a beautiful ceremony under a gigantic Live Oak tree.

Punta Gorda florida, wedding, father of the bride, processional, outdoor ceremony Punta Gorda florida, wedding, father of the bride, processional, outdoor ceremony

Punta Gorda, florida, wedding, outdoor ceremony, live oak, spanish moss, bride, groom, spring

Punta Gorda florida, wedding, flower girl, groomsmen, outdoor ceremony, green  Punta Gorda, florida, wedding, outdoor ceremony, bride, groom, spring

Punta Gorda, florida, wedding, dancing down the aisle, outdoor ceremony, live oak, spanish moss, bride, groom, spring

The Bride and Groom warmed up for the reception by dancing down the aisle after they tied the knot!

Punta Gorda, florida, wedding, bridal party, chalkboard, outdoor ceremony, live oak, spanish moss, spring, green bridesmaid dresses

Punta Gorda, florida, wedding, outdoor ceremony, live oak, spanish moss, bride, groom, portraits, spring, ranch, country

Punta Gorda, florida, wedding, jeep, truck banner, burlap, country, d.i.y., bride, groom, portraits, spring

The reception was in an open-sided pavilion on the ranch. The D.I.Y details were the perfect addition to the rustic setting. The bbq was amazing, the guests were tons of fun, and the party went well into the night!

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Punta Gorda, florida, wedding, outdoor, reception, ranch, country, d.i.y., night, lights, toast, bride and groom

Punta Gorda, florida, wedding, outdoor, reception, ranch, country, d.i.y., night, lights Punta Gorda, florida, wedding, outdoor, reception, ranch, country, d.i.y., night, lights, toast, sparkler, send off, going away, bride and groom exit

After the sparkler send-off, a bus was waiting to take guests back to the hotel; a very thoughtful detail that allowed guests to fully enjoy the party! It was a celebration focused on friends and family, perfect for this sweet, laid back couple. Congratulations, Mallory and Jeremy!


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Tampa Bay Destination Wedding Photographers | Adriana and Bradley’s Garvan Woodland Gardens Celebration in Hot Springs, Arkansas

Garvan Woodland Gardens in the spring - you couldn't ask for a more beautiful wedding venue!

Garvan Woodland Gardens in the spring – you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful wedding venue!

Back when we lived in Arkansas, we had the opportunity to photograph a destination wedding in Florida. So it’s kind of funny that our first destination wedding after moving to Florida was in Arkansas! We had the honor of photographing Adriana and Brad’s beautiful spring wedding at the amazing Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas on May 25, 2013. The Gardens are one of the premier wedding locations in central Arkansas and truly unique venue.

The bride and her lovely bridesmaids. The fuscha and green color scheme worked perfectly for a garden wedding.

The bride and her lovely bridesmaids. The fuschia and green color scheme worked perfectly for a garden wedding.

The DIY bride is a huge trend right now. It allows the bride (and usually some helpful friends and family) to put a very personal touch on the day’s festivities. In this case, all the flowers were designed and executed by Adriana and friends. They did a great job!

The bride and groom mentally prepare before the ceremony. Although they didn't see each other before hand, they did do a quick prayer around the corner from each other. This can go a long way towards easing pre-wedding anxiety!

The bride and groom mentally prepare before the ceremony. Although they didn’t see each other before hand, they did do a quick prayer around the corner from each other. This can go a long way towards easing pre-wedding anxiety!

While it is now very common for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony, there are still those who choose to hold to the old tradition of keeping the bride and groom separated. In these cases, I highly recommend devising a creative way to make contact with your sweetie. You can use a corner, door, or even a blindfold to make sure the groom doesn’t peek. It is amazing how much this relaxes both parties before the ceremony.

The processional at Anthony Chapel. The tiny flower girl and ring bearer were quite the scene stealers!

The processional at Anthony Chapel. The tiny flower girl and ring bearer were quite the scene stealers!

The wedding ceremony at Anthony Chapel. This is a venue that needs no decoration!

The wedding ceremony at Anthony Chapel. This is a venue that needs no decoration!

For the folks who think this venue looks familiar, Anthony Chapel is another stunning work by E. Fay Jones, the mind behind Mildred B. Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista and Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs. Each is unique, but have a similar feel.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Holst

The new Mr. and Mrs. Holst

Anthony Chapel is located in the Celebration Garden, which provides many great portrait locations.

Anthony Chapel is located in the Celebration Garden, which provides many great portrait locations.

The first dance and reception details.

The first dance and reception details.

The wedding reception was held at the Quapaw Community Center in Hot Springs, a vintage building near the historic downtown area. The pink and green theme continued with a custom cake and a candy bar for guests to make their own favors. The groom’s cake celebrated the bride and groom’s favorite college teams – half Razorback and half Red Wolves. When it comes to feeding wedding cake to each other, the choice of naughty or nice always presents itself. You can see from the pictures which one this couple chose 😉

Time to cut the cake then time to party! DJ Xavier did a great job of getting everyone out on the dance floor.

Time to cut the cake then party! DJ Xavier from central Arkansas Entertainment did a great job of getting everyone out on the dance floor.

I love this image from the last dance of the bride and groom.

I love this image from the last dance of the bride and groom.

The bubble send off was the perfect way to end the day.

The bubble send off was the perfect way to end the day.

The lovely bride is my cousin, and I am very honored that I had the privledge to travel all the way from Florida to photograph this special day. It also gave me and Ed a chance to spend some time with relatives that we just don’t get to see often enough. In fact, they convinced us to go play mini golf after we finished shooting an all day wedding, which shows how much we like to spend time with them, because we would usually go back to the hotel and collapse!

A stroll through the Celebration Garden.

A stroll through the Celebration Garden.

Congratulations to Adriana and Brad! May you continue to be an example of God’s Love to everyone you meet.

Vendors

Photography: Steely Joe Studio Photography

Videography: Nick Burt

Music/DJ: Xavier Riley, Central Arkansas Entertainment

Wedding Venue: Garvan Woodland Gardens

Reception Venue: Quapaw Community Center


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Tampa Bay Wedding Photographers – Seminole Heights Garden Center Wedding: Jessica and James

seminole_heights_wedding_001Jessica and James were married in March at Seminole Heights Garden Center in Tampa, Florida. It was a very overcast spring day, but the rain held off just long enough for a beautiful outdoor ceremony. The Garden Center is a pretty little property in the historic Seminole Heights neighborhood. The style of this wedding was vintage with a “rockhounding” touch – not something you see at every wedding!

One of my favorite ring pictures ever! The absolutely beautiful vintage ring set was chosen by the groom. He did good!

One of my favorite ring pictures ever! The absolutely beautiful vintage ring set was chosen by the groom. He did good!

The brides vintage style was created with a combination of antique pieces and handmade accessories. The birdcage veil and matching belt were both made by the bride!

The brides vintage style was created with a combination of antique pieces and handmade accessories. The birdcage veil and matching belt were both made by the bride!

The couple describes their wedding theme as “Sunday dinner at grandma’s house”. This required many vintage and handmade touches pulled together by creative family and friends. BBQ was served on tableware pieces collected from flea markets and antique malls. Dessert was served out of dishes borrowed from family members, some of which were heirlooms giving the feel of family tradition to the event.

The vintage theme included a variety of antique dishes and tableware, a wedding pie dessert bar, and homemade cookies as favors.

The vintage theme included a variety of antique dishes and tableware, a wedding pie dessert bar, and homemade cookies as favors.

Its not often you see a geology theme added to a wedding, but this event did it very well.

Its not often you see a geology theme added to a wedding, but this event did it very well.

When the bride and groom are both geologists, why not incorporate it into your theme? Each table had live plants in wooden boxes along with a rock and the story behind it. Many geologists have rock samples they feel very sentimental about, and this was a great way to incorporate it into the wedding. Some of the guests even got into the theme by wrapping gifts in old geologic maps and posters. There was even a fake rock in the playground in the garden that of course we had to use for some pictures.

Colorful paper flags marked out the aisle for the outdoor ceremony.

Colorful paper flags marked out the aisle for the outdoor ceremony.

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The outdoor ceremony was held on the steps of the Garden center building with simple decorations of a paper flag garland and potted flowers. The nice thing about a venue like this is that elaborate decorations are really not needed. This was a sweet, happy wedding for a couple that could be described the same way 🙂

Congratulations Jessica and James!

Congratulations Jessica and James!

Vendors:

Photography: Steely Joe Studio Photography

Venue: Seminole Heights Garden Center, Tampa Florida


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Tampa Bay Wedding and Portrait Photographers: Visit to the Florida Aquarium Tampa Bay

seahorse at the tampa bay aquarium

I loved the seahorse exhibit, even though the sea-dragon display was closed when we came through. Seahorses have always fascinated me – they are so weird!

Being new to the area, Ed and I are really enjoying “playing tourist” around Tampa. Recently, we saw an ad for half-price admission to the Tampa Bay Aquarium and couldn’t resist! It may not be the largest aquarium, but its got some nice exhibits and some fun things you usually don’t see at these types of facilities like an outdoor bar with live music and a view of the bay, and a cool splash park for kids. The atrium-style upper floor gives people a chance to get really close to a variety of birds (which are free to fly around without enclosures), turtles, and fish.

octopus and seahorse at tampa  bay aquarium

owl and alligator at the aquarium

On the upper floor, you can see lots of animals without glass between you and them. I was just a few feet from this owl. Thankfully, there is glass around the gator pond. This is as close to a gator encounter as I want to get!

Apparently, the Aquarium is also a popular Tampa Bay wedding venue as well, and I can see why! I would love  to photograph a wedding at the aquarium, as photo ops abound both inside and out. I have been working on establishing some network connections within the wedding vendor community in the area, so maybe I can make it happen! The hardest thing about the move from Arkansas to Florida was not booking any weddings this summer – I am totally going through withdrawals!

shark at Tampa Bay Aquarium

jellyfish

Is it just me, or does this jellyfish look like some kind of Star Wars vehicle?

By far what caught my attention the most were the mermaids – yes I said mermaids. In what I consider a pretty smart marketing move, the aquarium has performances at set times by their in-house mermaids. Using small air hoses, and cleverly designed fins, they are able to do swim routines, and interact with the kids on the other side of the glass by waiving and blowing kisses. One of the girls has even figured out how to shape a heart out of the bubbles from her air hose (mermaids are very clever creatures, you know). They perform in a tank full of fish, rays, and sea turtles. I for one would have absolutely loved to have this job when I was younger. Hey, I’d love to have the job now except that I’d have to wear a bikini top in public!

mermaids at Tampa Bay Aquarium

Some of the mermaids at Tampa Bay Aquarium.

We have also enjoyed going on photo-walks with the Florida Center for Creative Photography group, and I will posting some images from some of our outings with them shortly. We will also be doing a modeling photography session this weekend on the beach and I am really looking forward to that!


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Erin and Dan’s Country Manor Chapel wedding in Rogers AR

Erin and Dan were married December 28th at Country Manor Chapel in Rogers, Arkansas. It was an intimate celebration with just a few close family and friends. I had never heard of this pretty little wedding venue before (which is actually part of a private residence) and the owners say they intentionally book just a handful of weddings each year. Although it was December, I could tell that the gardens must be really nice in the spring and summer! Erin’s colors were red, white and pink using roses and lilies as the primary flowers. The chapel’s tall windows were left uncovered to let in the late afternoon light, and made the ceremony really beautiful. The reception was held at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Springdale, Arkansas.

Some of the details from Erin and Dan's winter wedding at Country Manor.

The smiling bride moves upstairs before the ceremony. Erin's mom helps a flower girl with finishing touches.

Some beautiful moments from the ceremony.

Detail shot during the ring exchange.

Heading outside for portraits after the ceremony. I love the candid shot of the bride looking over her shoulder through the door. The little girl peering over her chair was just too cute 🙂

The reception was held at the Holiday Inn of Springdale Arkansas. Left image: the happy couple call the groom's grandma. Right image: the first dance.

Best wishes to Erin and Dan!

Wedding Venue: Country Manor Chapel, Rogers AR

Reception Venue: Holiday Inn and Suites, Springdale, AR

Photography main website: Steely Joe Studio


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Favorite images you didn’t see from 2011

Can you believe 2011 is gone? I was thinking about what I wanted to do for my last blog post of the year, and it brought to mind  the “last shot” page at the end of National Geographic magazine where they showcase an image that wasn’t published but was still a cool picture. So I decided to share some of my favorite images that didn’t make the blog. It’s always hard for me to pick which pictures best sum up a wedding or photo shoot best, without making the post too long. Some of these did end up in Facebook galleries, some of them I never got the chance to share at all. (BTW – one of my resolutions for 2012 is to get back to timely blogging since I was not so good at that this year). So enjoy  this 2011 Steely Joe version of the “Last Shot” gallery, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Alizabeth won a free bridal session at one of the spring Bridal shows. She had already made arrangements for wedding day photography, but it was still lots of fun doing some studio bridals with her.

I never did a blog post with her Bridal portraits, but you can see more images from her session in the Facebook gallery Alizabeth’s Bridal Session.

Continuing with the bridal portrait theme, Kathryn’s bridal portraits in Bentonville were fun to shoot even if it was literally 110 degrees out! (Ok, I exaggerate – it had dropped to a cool 106 by the time we started the session) You can see more images from this shoot in the Facebook gallery Kathryn’s Bridal Portraits.

Kathryn was such an easy bride to work with, and this great little series of images was taken as test shots while she talked to her mom off-camera.

Ok, so this takes a little explaining. The bride and groom each had a teenage daughter as a bridesmaid in the wedding. The bride's daughter was in charge of the groom's wedding ring, which she pretended to lose. So she starts looking for it in her dress and pulls out a variety of items (including lip gloss which she pauses the search to apply) until producing a snuff can. With the help of her partner in crime, they get the stubborn can open, and hand over the ring! Good thing their parent have a good sense of humor 🙂

Th images below come from (in order from left) Curtis and Marcia’s Huntsville wedding, Thomas and Kathryn’s Cooper Chapel wedding, and Sanchez and Bobby’s Little Rock wedding:

From left: The groomsmen in this wedding were real characters, and when I told them to act casual, four of them all looked off in the exact same direction, but one guy in the back did the complete opposite, which of course cracked everyone up. Center: one of Ed's fun kiddie pictures. These kids spotted Ed near the entrance to the chapel and decided to mug for the camera. Right: This picture makes me smile every time I see it. While we were setting up for portraits, the bride is trying to wrangle all the kids, the bridesmaids are totally hamming it up behind her, and in the middle of the chaos the groom has his "please let this be over so we can go to the reception" face on 😉

The next two images comes from two fun weddings this summer, Abby and Adam’s wedding in Lowell, and one more from Sanchez and Bobby’s wedding in Little Rock.

Right: Abby and Adam cheese it up. Left: Sanchez gives herself one last check in the mirror before the ceremony.

In the first image below, Lensa and Lee dance alone surrounded by family and friends. Although I was just a guest at this wedding, I couldn’t help taking a few pictures from the balcony. The second image is from Nancy and Tony’s wedding at Lake Wedington.

Left: A beautiful moment on the dance floor at Lensa and Lee's reception. Right: The bride reaches up to wipe a tear from the groom's face during Nancy and Tony's ceremony.

This year I decided I would love to do senior portraits as well as wedding photography. I couldn’t have asked for more fun ambassadors. They all had great ideas and a unique style that was so great to work with. In the collage below, Katie rocks her class ring, Jordan proves you can never have too many flowers in your portraits, Aaron takes aim with his bow, Jessie shows off her lime-green laces.

My awesome senior portrait ambassadors for the class of 2012: Katie, Jordan, Jessie, and Aaron.

I would like to take a moment and thank all the super-cool clients I had the privilege to work with this year. You constantly re-affirm why I love to do what I do, and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store!

Wishing you all the best in the New Year,

Anita


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Thomas and Kathryn’s Cooper Chapel Wedding

Thomas and Kathryn were married on July 23, 2011 at Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel in Bella Vista. Luckily this was a morning wedding, as it landed right in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave here in  Northwest Arkansas. I thought it was kind of ironic that the couple who currently holds my personal record of coldest engagement session is now also the hottest wedding day I have shot on! We did the bridal session at Bogle Park in Bentonville to showcase Kathryn’s amazing Lazaro wedding dress a week before the big day (you can see more of the bridal portraits on my FB page). The wedding itself was really beautiful, with a color scheme of purple, ivory, brown and yellow. The decorations for the chapel (which doesn’t need much since it is so pretty on its own) were kept simple with sprays of white hydrangea and orchids. The reception was held nearby inside Papa Mike’s at the Kingsdale Golf Course. Papa Mike (aka the brides father) closed the cafe for the day to convert it into an intimate reception hall for his daughter. The decor was a cheerful mix of burlap, simple flower arrangements in mason jars, and paper lanterns hung from the ceiling to match the color scheme. Each place setting also got custom paper bibs in order to fully enjoy the delicious barbecue served by Papa Mike’s catering. Rick’s bakery made the beautiful wedding cake that perfectly fit the simple yet elegant style of the event.

Bogle Park Bridal portraits, Bentonville Wedding Photographer, Northwest Arkansas portrait locations, Lazaro wedding dress feathers, outdoor Bridal session.Can I just say that you don’t often see a bride and a dress this beautiful every day?! We did the bridal portraits in Bogle Park near the Bentonville Square.
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Getting ready in the office at Cooper Chapel. I like how many layers of helpers you can see in the pic on the right. This dress wasn't exactly easy to get on 😉 Shirley's Flowers did the purple bridal bouquet.

Ceremony at Cooper Chapel, Bella Vista Wedding photographer, processional, wedding music string quartet northwest arkansas.

Beautiful chapel filled to capacity - check. Adorable flower girls and ring bearer - check. Live string quartet playing - check. And just outside the door you can see the bride arrive on her father's arm. Perfect! BTW - the cool shot on the left is one of Ed's. I can't pass up a chance to brag on him!

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel wedding, unity candle, happy bride and groom recessional, kiss the bride, Bella Vista wedding photographer

A beautiful ceremony for a couple who have been planning this day for a long time. Congrats!

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Thomas and Kathryn had no adult attendants in the wedding - just kids. So the shot on the right is actually the full bridal party! So cute 🙂

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They say most human communication is body language. It was very sweet to watch the bride and groom's hands while they watched the minister sign the marriage licence. Look how tight Thomas is holding her hand! And I love the really romantic vibe of the image on the right.

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I love how this image turned out! Middle of the day portraits can be tough but having a great assistant (Ed) and an easy to work with couple really helps.

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Some of the details from the reception. Kathryn made the banner that hung over the head table herself! Each place setting included a paper bib for keeping the excellent bbq sauce off good clothes and a glass to toast and take as a favor.

 tree branch wedding cake Ricks Bakery, wedding rings on white gerber daisy, sweet wedding bouquet give-away, Bella Vista Wedding receptions, Northwest Arkansas wedding photographers

The beautiful tree branch wedding cake from Ricks Bakery, and a cool picture of the wedding rings on a Gerber daisy in one of the table arrangements. Thomas and Kathryn had a wonderful idea instead of a bouquet and garter toss. They gave them to the couple who had set the best example for them by being married the longest! 65 years later, he still carries a picture from their wedding day.

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There was hardly any breeze at all when it came time for the send off, which is exactly what you need for a good bubble send off! And with lots of kids in attendance, you are sure to get lots of bubbles. In fact, they were having so much fun, we did an impromptu to fashion shoot 🙂

Thomas and Kathryn, you have been a pleasure to work with and I wish you guys all the best!

Vendors Links:

Photography: Steely Joe Studio, Ceremony venue: Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, Reception and catering: Papa Mikes, Kingsdale G.C., Flowers: Shirley’s Flowers, Cake: Ricks Bakery