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adventures in photography and other stuff

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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


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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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,