Archive for March, 2009

Sarah & Dane – Part 1

March 27, 2009

We met Sarah and Dane during Ultimate Frisbee last August. Little did we know just how much fun they were to hang out with. They helped us with our photography at the Senior Christmas Party at church. Then we took them to Koreshan State Park for a fun and eventful portrait session. We had SO much fun we went to the fair with them two days later (Part 2 coming next week!). They have since moved back to New York, and we miss them dearly.



























Restaurant Review: Roy's

March 26, 2009

I’m not one for reviewing well-known chain restaurants (you won’t find me reviewing Ruby Tuesday’s even if Matt and I go there every once in a while), but after a trip to Roy’s on Monday, I had to write a review.


Roy’s is an upscale Hawaiian fusion cuisine restaurant owned by the same company that owns the Outback Steakhouse. I had the pleasure of spending an evening at Roy’s with Shari Bare, a local photographer who I periodically work with. It was a wonderful evening of catching up on recent work, Shari’s wedding plans, and some new techniques we are both working on.


Roy’s was an excellent choice for a dinner meeting because the servers give you plenty of time between courses. We had time to decide on our meal, and even more time to talk.  We couldn’t have chosen better.


Roy’s cuisine is described as Hawaiian fusion – it’s a mix of pacific surf and exotic turf. I’ve been there three times before with Matt, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to try a few dishes. Every appetizer, entree, and dessert I have tried has been nothing short of phenomenal.


Shari ordered the Butter Fish with bok choy and sweet rice. I had the blackened shrimp with sauteed veggies (a special request) and polenta. We split our entrees and both were wonderful. I ordered from the prix fixe menu and had a panko crusted chicken salad to start and the molten chocolate lava cake as dessert (which we split). The salad was a wonderful starter and the dessert – well, the dessert was simply to die for.  I would go back just for the dessert.  On alternate trips Matt and I have ordered scallops, ahi tuna, pork chops, specialty appetizers, and multiple desserts. Roy’s is a wonderful place to try new dishes every time you go. I always have a hard time making up my mind.


If you ever get a gift card for Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, or Bonefish Grill, consider using it at Roy’s. Sign up for the email and mailing list – they send information on cooking classes, special dinner nights, and gift cards. Matt and I have two $20 gift cards from Roy’s that we plan to use soon. The food is on the higher end (over $25 an entree, $35 for prix fixe menu), but it is worth the price – Roy’s is one of the best restaurants in the area. There are two in Southwest Florida – at the Promenade in Bonita Springs and at Bayfront in Naples.


Take a special night out and enjoy some of the best food in the area.  Don’t forget to make reservations. You won’t regret it.

As a photographer, I find there’s a balance between being satisfied with my images and desiring to produce greater images. One friend described it as having a mild dissatisfaction with your work – just enough to push yourself to grow. Since I live on the west coast of Florida, I’ve experienced some pretty harsh lighting. Instead of shying away from that light, I made it a goal to learn how to use it. When I saw that Susan Stripling was offering a workshop that would focus on using the harsh Florida light, I jumped on the opportunity.


I was so pleased with my decision. Susan is a gifted teacher and an absolute joy to be with. The first part of the workshop focused on how she began her business and grew as a photographer. She explained how she approaches a wedding – lighting, lens choice, locations, everything was discussed. Then we got the opportunity to shoot.


Susan’s workshop was different from many workshops in that she explained how she thinks through her shots – everything from lighting to metering – and later in the day we were able to work with the models ourselves. We had 6 model “groups” – 4 couples and 2 girls in their wedding gowns. With only 15 workshop attendees, we were able to work with the models in groups of 2 or 3 and put what we learned into practice! I also loved that the models were normal people – not “models” at all. It’s more challenging, but also more realistic to work with people who have not modeled before.


The workshop was a huge success – I developed new skills and ways of using harsh noon or 2 PM light to my advantage! I am looking forward to putting our new skills into practice!


Here are some images I created that day:













I’ve known Jenny since high school and I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out she was engaged! I remember the first time I told her I met Matt. And then she met Carlos. So of course I wanted to shoot her wedding!  So we took her and Carlos around town for a fun and eventful engagement session. We can’t wait for their June 20 wedding!

Julia & Noel are Married!

March 16, 2009

We had a blast at Julia and Noel’s wedding.  Julia & Noel met in Boston. Julia’s family lives in Naples, and Noel is from Ireland.  What a wonderful combination!  We hit the beach in the middle of the day, and had a trolley ride around town to top it off.  What a blast!  We especially loved all the Irish accents.

The venue, the weather:

I got KISSed!

March 15, 2009

Kevin Swan and his hot team at KISS shipped my sample album out 2 weeks early! I was floored. I simply cannot say enough good things about KISS Wedding Books. Not only are they a fantastic company to work with (let’s just say they were consistently in touch with me about my album), but they are charitable as well. They are simply a good company all around! And now for the goods:

The front:

The back:

I had the awesome opportunity to attend Susan Stripling’s workshop in St Petersburg today. It was such an amazing workshop – definitely one of the most helpful things I have done since I began shooting. We learned how to create compelling images using the harsh Florida light. I would love to write more, but since I just got home, I thought I would post just one image from the day. And, yes, this is literally straight out of camera:

noon workshop image

I’ve been a terrible blogger lately, I realize. I have a wonderful new album sitting in my car, waiting to be photographed. I promise I will post it very soon!


I’ve been to quite a few weddings and I’ve been thinking about the most important aspect of the wedding: the marriage. I know you were probably thinking I would say, “the photographer” or “the location” or something else. But the point of having a wedding is to celebrate two people becoming one through marriage.


When Matt and I were planning our wedding, our marriage was our number one priority. Sure, I wanted awesome photography, a great dress, a fab location, wonderful food, fun guests, etc. But ultimately, I was having a wedding to celebrate the fact that Matt and I were becoming one.  So we put a high priority on premarital counseling. We worked through many issues that people forget to think through or discuss before marriage. Not only did we discuss our dreams and goals, we went over finances and how we spend money. We discussed what aspects of our personalities drove the other crazy. We talked about how we would work through future problems. Most importantly, we discussed our Christian faith and how we would apply that to our lives as we went on this journey together.


Times haven’t always been easy for us, but I am so thankful that we set goals, made priorities, and dedicated ourselves to putting our marriage before all other things. It’s going to be tough – I’m sure we will have more good days and more bad days. But we made a commitment to each other – to love and honor each other for the rest of our lives. Maybe we don’t always do such a wonderful job, but our dedication brings us through in the end.


So while you are planning your wedding, plan some extra time in to focus on what really matters: your marriage. Make it your number one priority on your to-do list. That may mean outsourcing your planning to a wedding planner or lengthening your engagement. Ultimately it means simply taking the time to focus on each other.  Go on a date, take time to talk at night, schedule it into your planner. If you focus on each other now, you will have a much easier time down the road. Best of luck with your marriage planning!

A blog with restaurant reviews would not be the same without my all time most favorite restaurant ever: Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille. 


Doc Ford’s is THE place to go if you are looking for amazing down-home Floribbean (Caribbean/Floridian) cooking with a unique atmosphere. Doc Ford’s is based on the marine biologist Doc Ford in Randy Wayne White’s bestselling historical fiction and is located on Sanibel Island at the intersection of Sanibel-Captiva Road and Rabbit Road (just before you get to the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge).  The interior has an Old Florida decor with stuffed fish decorating the walls and dark wood panelling along the ceiling. Across from the Restaurant is the Oyster Bar – the PERFECT location for your rehearsal dinner or even a small reception. Trust me, I know – we had our reception there after Matt and I were married.


The best part of Doc Ford’s is the people. Marty, the owner, and his wife are often at the restaurant, relaxing with the locals and watching the game on TV. Chef Greg makes his rounds to see if food is up to par, and Dan helps you plan your event from start to finish.  When Matt and I were married, all I had to do was drop off the table decorations, menus, table names, and a vague drawing of where we wanted everyone to sit.  Doc Ford’s took over.  We showed up the next day post-nuptials and everything had been done for us! 


And of course, I can’t forget the food.  The food at Doc Ford’s is simply amazing.  I’ve tried so many items on their menu that it would take a while to describe just how good each dish was.  Having a buffet at our wedding was the best decision I made.  I’ll give you a few hints on what you simply must order when you go out there (you may need to make several trips):  Bayamo Black Bean Dip, Tomlinson’s Taquitos, Captiva Style Crab Cakes, Conch Chowder, Achoate Grilled Grouper (amazing), Banana Leaf Snapper (best dish on the menu, by far), Campeche Fish Tacos (I think I order this every other time I go – and I substitute veggies for the black beans and rice – amazing!), Panko Fried Shrimp, and Polynesian Chicken.  Their salads and sandwiches aren’t too bad, either!


Once you’ve experienced Doc Ford’s for yourself, I guarantee you’ll want to make another trip out there.  The atmosphere and food make it the best bar and grill in southwest Florida.  And here’s a hint:  I’ve heard they are opening one up on Ft Myers Beach.  Can’t wait! (