With hundreds of wedding venues around Hampton Roads, it had been a couple years since I had a Water Table wedding and I was SUPER excited to return and photograph my first ceremony on their back lawn. The clear blue skies made it a little bright by the water but it was the perfect time of day to keep the guests cool in the shade for the vows.

My day started at JEB Navy Getaway Cottages where Sam & Mike were getting ready just a couple doors away from each other. I was lucky to have Jay, an extremely talented newspaper photographer as my second shooter, so I was able to spend most of the prep time with the ladies while he was with the guys. After the ceremony outside The Water Table we got some nice photos by the water with the family and then after the first dance and parent dances we snuck back outside for sunset photos (even though we missed the actual sunset we still had some beautiful color in the sky). The night ended with glow sticks, which with help from their coordinator Emma we were able to get on the dance floor before their grand exit outside, and they made for great photos too!

The Water Table is a beautiful beach wedding venue and over the last few years (in my opinion) has evolved into one of the best intimate beach wedding venues in Virginia Beach! (if you don’t count the random strangers that can watch the ceremony from the boat docks 😉 Although as a preferred vendor, I might be a little biased, I truly love Water Table weddings and wedding receptions and Sam & Mike’s was no exception.

What makes a good photographer a GREAT wedding photographer?

As with anything you can buy, there’s a good, better and best. Take cars for example – everyone knows a Kia is no where near as great as a Mercedes-Benz. So here is a little help to find the Benz of wedding photographers.

There are 4 categories that set apart the good, better, and best photographers –

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Great photographers can capture outstanding photos even under pressure like I did with this group shot (in a matter of minutes) at Chippokes State Park.

The Photographs
Your Experience
Professional Albums
Customer Service
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Nervous Bride? Act Natural in Front of the Camera With These Tips!

One of the funny things about wedding or bridal photography is that no matter how much you spend on the wedding day, the photography is the only thing that’s left to show for it. Most brides and grooms don’t realize how important their wedding photography is until after the wedding. Unfortunately, that’s too late. When you pick your photographer, what you need to look for is a photographer that can do a little bit of every type of photography. Everyone wants the candid shots and most want the secret moments (as if the photographer isn’t there). But how does one achieve the flawless, magazine-style look without feeling as though you haven’t a clue what’s going on?

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Newport News bridal portrait by the Noland trail at the Mariner’s Museum.

1. Photography is all about relaxation and confidence. You’ll get this confidence by focusing less on trying to get great photos and more on having a fun time with your loved one and the friends in your bridal party. This will create candid shots. Have a chat with your photographer and emphasize you want to ENJOY the wedding photography shoot. A professional wedding photographer will know how to help you laugh and stay comfortable. After all, that’s what creates epic imagery.

2. Forget about the photographer without really forgetting about them. This sounds a bit crazy, but be conscious that they’re there and listen to their instructions, while concentrating on enjoying your photo shoot with your new spouse and best friends. The photo shoot time can be the most enjoyable part of the wedding with your favorite people. Or it can be a ball of nerves and tension trying to get ‘the perfect pose’ for the photographer. Act natural, try to remember that these photos are going to be around for decades to come, SMILE, and you won’t look like a stick in the mud.

3.Do an engagement session before the big day. It is especially good to do an engagement photo shoot if you are a shy or nervous bride. It helps you get to know your photographer and quickly teaches you how to take professional instruction while still having fun during the shoot. Most of the time, photographers will have package deals or discounts for engagement sessions with a wedding package. And if you choose not to do an engagement shoot, be sure that you at least meet or Skype with your photographer so you can get to know each other a little before the wedding day.

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Yorktown beach is one of my favorite beach locations for portraits. Smaller crowds and close walking distance to fields, a fishing pier, and gorgeous colonial backdrops give me endless options to work with as a photographer.

4.Don’t be too serious. Every bride really wants stunning photos to remember their perfect day. That’s completely expected and doable when working with a professional photographer. What can sabotage this is when a bride or member of the bridal party is too serious about getting ‘the perfect image’, causing a trail of grumpiness or stress around them. No one wants a fake (or forced) smile to come out.

5.Remember that you will get amazing photos if you’ve chosen a great photographer. Communicate well and trust them to make the wedding photos look stunning. If you’re shy this is particularly important as you may find the photo shoot a little more tense & rushed than others. Communication is key and you’ll want to be sure to let your photographer know that you are feeling a little nervous. But from one nervous bride to another, once you get up there, the shyness fades away when you look in your new hubby’s eyes.

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Be sure to keep the time of the sunset in mind when planning your day if you will be in a location with a nice view. The golden hour usually starts about 10 min. before the sunset until 15 min. after but that can vary with the weather and other conditions.

6.Think about what you’d love BEFORE the big day. Browse through magazines, Pinterest, or your photographer’s blogs. If you know what to expect, you’ll less likely be so nervous or shy. Everyone is more confident when they know a little more about the game they’re going to play, right?

7.Beautify your party, your venue, and yourself. While a great photographer is needed for amazing photos, he/she can only do so much with the subjects. So plan ahead to make yourself look fabulous, test your hair and makeup, find some accessories that will match with your dress, beautify the venue with lights, ornaments, and center pieces. For a lesser work load, search for a venue that has everything you want in your budget. It doesn’t have to extravagant and über fancy. Make sure that you put as much detail into your big day as you can. It will surely show in the pictures.

8. Don’t over think it. Photos turn out best if you don’t over think things and feel self-conscious throughout the day. Laugh and feel confident in front of the camera. Your photographer should make you feel relaxed and give you direction so that you look your best in your images. They’ve done this hundreds of times before and know what they’re doing.

An extra tip especially to the nervous brides is if you are worried about any blemishes that might show up speak to your professional photographer. They can usually retouch images in post-production. Click HERE for more portrait session tips.

Enjoy the day. This is going to be one of the happiest days of your life so don’t let the little things ruin it. If you are acting and feeling glamorous and gorgeous and don’t let little things get to you, your wedding photos are going to be amazing. Not only because you’re prepared for the day, but because your photographer won’t let you down.

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Smile and the whole world (and your photographer) smiles with you.

Williamsburg wedding, Ford’s Colony Wedding, Fords Colony Country Club, Williamsburg wedding photographer, Williamsburg photographer, Williamsburg photographers

Being relatively camera-shy, I frequently work with couples who share my love for candid moments. But I have to honestly say, working with couples who like having her picture taken is a BIG plus and does make my job a little easier – as it was with this Williamsburg wedding at Ford’s Colony Country Club with Sabrina and Chris.

Sabrina, a stunning bride, loved photos so much that she brought me down to Charleston, South Carolina for their engagement photos and worked closely with me to plan her day to ensure she got all of the gorgeous pictures she envisioned. And I am proud to say all of our hard work and attention to details paid off!!!

We had unexpected wind gusts surprise us during the family portrait session and they continued through her portraits with Chris, but we all had fun with it and that led to some great photos and ended with one of the most breathtaking sunsets I saw in 2016.

Huge thanks to Sabrina, Chris, Sabrina’s maid of honor (who helped catch the veil as it tried to blow away), Ford’s Colony Country Club coordinator Samantha (for catching my light stand before it blew over) and all of the family and friends that helped make it a memorable day for everyone.

Ford’s Colony Country Club is always a beautiful Williamsburg wedding venue, I love being a preferred vendor there and this was no exception. Looking forward to going back soon! Additional thanks to the other vendors who helped make the day a huge success – Behind the Veil for hair & makeup, Black Iris Florals and Lighting, Susan Turner officiating, Steven Campbell violinist, and Incredible Edibles for a gorgeous cake.

Warner Hall weddings, Inn at Warner Hall in Gloucester, VA, gloucester wedding photographer, wedding, photographer, gloucester photographer, Warner Hall wedding pictures

Thanks to a major glitch, I lost all my older blog posts so instead of simply re-posting the weddings I decided to put together highlights from my favorite venues. Here is the first in the series, the Inn at Warner Hall in Gloucester, VA which I have been photographing at for over 8 years. I LOVE weddings at the Inn at Warner Hall in Gloucester, VA and had to get some of these pictures back up for everyone to see!!

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