Thursday, June 5, 2014

How do I plan a destination wedding?

So, you want to get married on the beach. Step number one is to decide where to have your destination wedding. Of course, I would recommend our beach here on Florida's Emerald Coast; anywhere between Panama City Beach and Pensacola Beach is great for a beach wedding. However, you may want to go to Hawaii or Jamaica. Their beaches are almost as pretty as ours. Ok, you've decided on a general location; now you need to get specific and choose an actual locale, such as Destin, Rosemary Beach, or Navarre Beach. If you have never been to the area where you plan to hold the wedding, then you need to do some homework. Ask friends if they've been there and if they have recommendations. Go online and look at websites for various locations.

Wedding officiant Cindy Warriner
Wedding at Four Points Sheraton
Now, do you want to stay in a hotel, a condo, or a beach house? That decision may depend on how many people you think will attend your wedding.

A hotel might be good if you expect a lot of people to come, because you can ask for a block of rooms. Also many hotels have onsite wedding assistants, who will help you plan your beach wedding, it will have to be held on the beach behind the hotel. That may be OK, depending on the time of year, but during tourist season, their beach will be very crowded. You can have your reception at the hotel or some other location. If you use a banquet room, most hotels require that you purchase all or most of the food from them. Be sure to ask.

Condos are nice because you'll have more room, and several people can stay in one condo. Some condo complexes also have a staff person who can help with the wedding, especially in resorts like Sandestin. Some condo complexes have a party room that can be used for the reception. Most resorts like Sandestin, Watercolor, and Tops'l, have nice rooms and outdoor areas that can be used for receptions. Charges for those spaces vary. Again, ask about the costs of reception spaces and food purchase requirements.

For complete freedom of choice and more privacy, rent a beach house. This is often the most economical, too. Many beach houses will sleep 15-20 people, so several families can go in together on the cost. You can either cook your own food for the reception or hire a caterer. You'll have your own beach space, but since the actual shoreline is considered public, there may still be a few people walking by, but not as many as at a hotel or resort.

Now, that you have decided where to stay. Find out how far in advance you need to make your reservations. If you're planning a summer or spring break wedding, you need to book your accommodations at least 6 months to a year in advance, depending on how popular your chosen destination is and how many rooms, condos, or beach houses you need to rent and how long you need to rent them.

Bride and groom on destin beach
What's next? Wedding vendors. The hotel's or resort's concierge or wedding assistant can help you with this. In lieu of that, you can hire a wedding planner or wedding service to take care of everything. With a wedding service, you may be limited in your choices. They will provide the flowers, the photographer, the officiant, etc, based on what package you purchase. If you choose to hire your own vendors, you'll have more freedom of selection, but you'll need to do a little more leg work. A good method of finding vendors is to use sites like "The Knot" or "Wedding Wire." Those sites have lists of approved vendors in your selected location. Another way is to choose one vendor (photographer, officiant, florist, DJ, etc), then get vendor recommendations from that person. An experienced vendor will know the other experienced vendors. When you get a list of names, go to their websites and Facebook pages to see examples of their work. Look for their ratings. What have other couples said about them?

Hire your vendors as soon as you know when and where you're getting married. Keep a list of all your vendors and include phone numbers, email addresses, contact names, and web site addresses. Be sure they have your contact information, too. If you make any changes, such as the date, time, or location, give that information to all your vendors as soon as possible. A couple of weeks before the wedding, be sure to touch base with all of them.

Now, you have a place to stay and have hired all your vendors. What's next? You need a marriage license. In Florida, you will need to contact the Clerk of Court in the county where you plan to marry. It doesn't have to be in the same county, but it's much more convenient. You can apply online a week or two before the wedding, then pick up the license when you arrive in town. Read the requirements on the Clerk of Courts' site now, though, so you don't miss some requirement or deadline. Remember that the courthouse is only open on weekdays. Don't wait until Saturday to pick up the license.

See, that wasn't so hard. Now you can invite your guests and give them the information about where to stay and directions to the wedding and reception sites. You can even add information about interesting things to do while they're in town for the wedding - museums, beaches, shopping, restaurants, etc. This is information you have already learned while doing your wedding planning. You can now relax and enjoy your wedding showers.

On your wedding day, you'll know that everything is in order. All you have to worry about is getting dressed, unless you forgot to pack the wedding gown or tuxedo. You may want to have someone remind you about that before you leave home.
destination wedding in Florida Panhandle

Thursday, August 15, 2013

If I Have a Cell Phone, Why Do I Need a Professional Photographer?

Destin beach portrait photographer Photocraft by Tom Warriner
 Ok, so you have an I-phone or Android device, and it takes sharp images. From your phone or tablet, you can upload your photos to Facebook or send them to a friend’s phone. It’s convenient, and it’s fun to share your life with friends and family. The images are high resolution and enlarge to whatever size you want. You’ll never need to hire a professional photographer for family portraits again, right?

A lot of people feel that a good camera is all that’s necessary in order to shoot good photos. I specialize in beach portraits and weddings, and I have seen more and more people shooting their own children’s beach portraits or a friend’s wedding with cell phones or with what I jokingly call “soccer mom” cameras. A “soccer mom” camera is a nice $200-$600 Nikon or Canon digital camera that looks similar to and has a lot of the same bells and whistles as the cameras used by professionals.  Those of us who depend on tourists for our livelihood have noticed a slight decrease in business because of this.
Destin Florida photographerI say “slight” because the Mom who took little Jimmy’s and Susie’s beach photos last summer, found that the 16x20 enlargement that she had printed at the big discount store didn’t look nearly as good as she expected. Both kids were squinting. Susie was slumping, and another tourist’s beach umbrella was sticking out of the top of Jimmy’s head. Daddy’s shadow was on Susie’s right side, and there was a bright blue garbage can in the background. None of that was very noticeable when Mom looked at the images on the camera’s small screen. To make matters worse, the colors in the print just didn’t look quite right. The kids looked sunburned, even though they weren’t, and Jimmy’s white shirt looked blue. This summer, Mom made an appointment with me to have professional portraits made of the children and of the whole family.
Senior pictures on the beach
Smart phone cameras and “soccer mom” cameras are good and should produce great images. They will, if the person behind the camera takes the time to learn how to use them properly, learns about lighting, posing, and composition, and has the prints processed by a good photo lab, not the corner drug store. Unfortunately, most people don’t take the time to learn the basics of photography. That’s no big deal, if you’re only taking vacation and birthday party snapshots or posting to Facebook. If you plan to shoot your own family portrait and to make a large print to hang over the mantel for the next 5-10 years, you need to know what you’re doing. There are actually a few professionals that have shot entire weddings with a smart phone and had good results. They were limited by not being able to change lenses and by not having a good flash attachment, but by being creative and using their experience, they produced beautiful images. The key word there is “experience.”

Have fun with your camera, but remember your limitations. Owning a big wrench doesn’t make you a plumber, and owning a sharp knife doesn’t make you a surgeon. As with everything else, training and experience make the difference.  When you need portrait photography, call a professional. You won’t regret it.

By the way, in addition to my big cameras and multiple lenses, I also own a wrench and a knife, but please don’t call me if your pipes or appendix burst. That, you would regret!
Seagrove Beach Florida photographer

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tangibility is important in photography

It would be an understatement saying that photography has changed over the past decade or so. With the immense popularity of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, photography has experienced a bit of a renaissance, especially when it comes to amateur photography. Everybody is snapping photos at an incomprehensible rate, documenting their lives on a second by second basis.

The medium has changed, that is for sure, and people want something different out of their pictures. While many lament the “end of photography”, some see this evolution as a positive development.

However, something is missing from the photos you take on your phone and have stored on your computer, and that “something” is tangibility. Whether it is a professional family beach portrait on Florida’s Emerald Coast or a senior portrait, tangibility takes a photo to that next level, artistically and emotionally.

How many people have images stored on floppy disks and can no longer view them? Who knows when technology will make the current storage media obsolete? Will you remember to convert the images to the latest medium? Having a print, an actual hard copy of the image, is forever. Hang it on a wall, put it in your wallet, or archive it in an album. You can view it whenever you want and so can your grandchildren 30 years from now or your great grandchildren 50 years from now. Will your iPhone still work in 50 years?
Arabella Watters of The Daily Northwestern longs for the day of physical photos, the 4-by-6 glossy double prints. Recently, her local CVS announced that it would no longer be developing physical prints, disappointing the many who frequent the chain pharmacy with their disposable cameras and memory cards. Between that and Kodak filing for bankruptcy, print photography advocates like Watters are a bit worried.

She writes, “It doesn’t mean that print photos should completely disappear. I hate the idea of that happening. Maybe I put far too much stock in nostalgia, but there’s something to be said for the beauty of old-fashioned aesthetics disappearing in the face of capitalistic gains.” Is the changing market leaving “old-fashioned aesthetics” in the dust?

Watters admits that she likes holding photos in her hands, putting them on the wall and covering her desk with them. In her eyes, you cannot replace tangibility. She recounts her time in high school, referring to her younger self as a “photography fiend” immortalizing moments and hording them. In some ways, she is an aesthetic hoarder and proud of it, the thousand print photos from her high school years a breathing testament to her dedication. 

Additionally, her love of print photography began at an early age, as her mom was always snapping photos and hanging them up. For Watters, tangible photos provide a deeper connection to memory. Her appreciation for the “poetic” qualities of photography transcends any era.

Prints certainly provide that extra kick to the heart. At Photocraft by Tom Warriner, we believe in tangibility, but also appreciate the digital side of things. There is certainly a disproportion between a photo on your wall and one on your iPhone. As social media sites evolve, so will the visceral emotion we attach to them. 
Regardless of how you feel about print photography, one thing is clear: our pictures capture the visceral essence of a person, be it a family beach shot, a wedding, or a senior portrait. We can never replace something like that; we are far too human! If you are in the Destin, Rosemary Beach, or Navarre, FL area and need a photographer, contact us!

If you are interested in Watters’ editorial, you can find it here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Professional family beach portraits on Florida’s Emerald Coast

Lee Iacocca once said, “The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family.” Such an enduring rock deserves enduring photos of it.

Family portraits help maintain a family’s legacy despite the ravages of time. Many people’s experiences of distant or older family members are through pictures. Without them, there would be a blank slide in one’s mind whenever reminiscing about a relative! Every family is a story. Professional pictures help to tell that story. It cancels out any physical or emotional separation. Because of this, I would argue that every family event, especially a vacation, should be professionally documented!

Are you planning a trip to Florida’s Emerald Coast, that beautiful stretch of beach between Panama City Beach and Pensacola Beach? Whether you are coming to Destin for a relaxing vacation, to Navarre Beach for a wedding or Rosemary Beach for a family reunion, why not memorialize your time spent on our sparkling, sugar white sand by having a professional family portrait taken?

Sure, you can ask the nice woman walking down the beach to snap a shot with your phone or your point and shoot camera, but will it be good enough to blow up and hang over your mantle? While it is always nice to embrace spontaneity and have a Good Samaritan snap your photo with an iPhone or inexpensive camera, the results are usually less than stellar. This, however, is to be expected. Although such on-the-fly photos are necessary, as it is impossible to always have a professional photographer following you around (Boy, wouldn’t that be nice? Your own personal noninvasive paparazzi!), they are never of the greatest quality and are poor reflections of an otherwise planned-out trip. Make sure all your bases are covered. I guarantee you will not regret it!

If everything else is planned-out so well, you might as well plan a photo-shoot. Well, on this trip, make it easy on yourself and know you will have great photos of the family by hiring a professional who has the training, equipment and experience to capture the happy time you spent at the beach in a beautiful photograph. After all, these photos are works of art. There is a world of difference between pictures taken on your phone and pictures taken by a professional with the necessary equipment.

How many photos have you taken on other vacations or at other events? Where are they? Probably still in your camera or downloaded to your computer and lost among the other thousand images there. Will you ever have time to go through all those images and find the ones that are good and have them printed? The answer is probably no. No one really has time for that. It is a giant hassle.

The hassle is not even the major problem; it is the doctoring of the photos. Do you have the software and the training on that software to correct the colors, open little Susie’s eyes or remove that pile of beer cans from the background? In the photo of everyone standing in front of the sunset, are his or her faces so dark that you cannot tell who anyone is? The answer is probably no. While vacationing with your family in Florida, make sure to contact the professionals at Photocraft by Tom Warriner!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The importance of senior portraits

The world is waiting. You’re ready for the next chapter in your life. You’re a high school senior and will graduate in a few short months. Your parents want to take you to a professional photographer to take your senior portrait. You ask them, “Why are senior portraits so important?” And they tell you…

For many people it’s the first and last time they get a portrait taken. Capitalize on the opportunity, because you may not get another one. After high school, the “adult” world appears like the sun rising over the horizon and it’s tough to squeeze out the time to glam up and get a portrait done. Your senior portrait is a time capsule or, better yet, a fossilized piece of amber.

Amber is a unique preservationist, able to preserve an organism. Scientists have discovered a variety of things trapped in amber, including spiders, flowers and hair. This is helpful in reconstructing not only the organisms themselves, but also the ecosystems. There are worlds at our fingertips!

A senior portrait is similar, as the camera preserves your youthful essence in an amber glam shot. Exchanging senior portraits with classmates is exchanging fossils. You will not see some of your classmates for the rest of your life. Many of you are going separate ways. Senior portraits are high school archaeological records. It may be all you have left of someone, all you have left of an era.

While many associate senior portraits with girls, they appeal to boys too! The boys’ mothers are the ones who contact us for their sons’ portraits. Senior portraits represent the shift from boy to man. It is something to show children and grandchildren – “Papa in the prime of his youth.” Youthfulness is something to cherish, a familial connection between grandfather and grandson.

At Photocraft by Tom Warriner, we want to fossilize you in amber, preserve that moment when you make the leap from childhood’s end to the beginning of adulthood.

If you’re in the Rosemary Beach, FL area or anywhere on the Gulf Coast, between Rosemary Beach and Pensacola Beach, FL, including Destin and Navarre Beach, let us take your senior portrait! Don’t worry – we’ll come to you. We shoot in several counties along the coast. Contact us for pricing and availability!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Busy day

Tom's at Panama City Beach shooting a wedding right now, so I'm posting today's blog entry.

We're still trying to get caught up. We were closed for almost a week following the death of Tom's mother on August 24 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. We appreciate all the kind thoughts and prayers offered by so many of you.

It's beginning to feel a little like fall here. It's been cloudy all day, and raining in little patches around our area. The nights are a little cooler, too, with lows in the upper 60's. It's still hot during the day, but with highs in the upper 80's instead of the upper 90's. This is a really good time of the year for visitors and beach weddings. The crowds have thinned, and after Labor Day, the room rates will go down considerably. Silver Sands Outlet Center will be having some killer sales, which I plan to check out. The Gulf water is still warm, and the beaches are not crowded now.

Hope you didn't find this too boring. We're still learning.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Photocraft by Tom Warriner

This is our first blog entry - literally. We're new at this blogging business. It's been a busy summer, but now that tourist season is winding down, we have a little more time to concentrate on learning to blog. Be patient with us - we're making this up as we go. Being good at photography doesn't necessarily mean we're good with other technology. We'll eventually get the hang of it though. We welcome suggestions on how to improve this.

What would make our blog look better? What would you like to see or read about? Help us make this as interesting as possible. Visit our Facebook page and our website, too.

Cindy & Tom Warriner
Photocraft by Tom Warriner