For this charming Ponce Inlet, Florida, wedding of couple Laura and Chris, having the wedding at the bride's grandfather's house made the day super special, says Joseph Mills of Still55 Photography. "This property meant the world to our bride. She and Chris really wanted to have a laid back, Southern-style sit down under the old oaks of her deceased grandfather's home; he meant so much to her and she shared some of her most cherished memories at his Ponce Inlet residence. They brought the property back to life over the course of several months planning from the West coast."
Equally meaningful was the location where the bride got ready—at her mother's home. "It’s a beautiful home on the Atlantic that was once a old rum runner's stash house. It’s got all kinds of light and charm; pair that with a beautiful bride and it makes for great work," says Joseph. "I also enjoyed creating a great wedding party image for them, too. I knew that home meant so much to Laura."
Joseph and his wife/business partner Christina, designated honorees of Rangefinder's 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography in 2014, have created a style and approach that they say is "tailored to our couples' unique personalities and their stories."
"The only real challenge we faced was the balance between our client, time and location," Joseph explains. "Because the couple was coordinating the wedding themselves, we knew the property would be full of questions for her, activity and people setting up. The other major issue was that we were asked to capture the work at 2:00 p.m. without a cloud in the sky. Laura loved the oaks and wanted her home state to be a part of the work. We knew that although the trees were pretty they were not going to photograph well in the middle of the day. Dodgy light creates a distracting mess for images."
Joseph started by expressing concerns about the pre-ceremony commotion to the couple on the phone during their timeline consult, he says. "When we arrived at the property for our creative work, it was just as I had imagined it would be: full of trucks, people setting up and dodgy light. I knew I needed to find solid, open shade, which was in front of her grandfather's home. After we shot the wedding party, I quickly looked for a solid dark spot of dark vegetation where I could have them back lit. I always look for rich contrast in our portraits. I found a section that was good enough. The results in post were pretty good but the color cast from grass and sky were really tricky at times. In the end I felt that we worked through the issues without anyone noticing the problems we were facing."
Joseph, who works solely with Nikon gear, says he and Christina shot this wedding with their D3 and D3S bodies. "I prefer using prime lenses as much as possible. I covered 70 percent of the day on two lenses, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4. The other lenses I used were all Nikkors and included the ultra wide at 14-24mm, 24-70mm and a 70-200mm. I used the ultra wide at night on a tripod to capture the dinner under the oaks. The 70-200mm came out during the ceremony and cocktail hour to grab candids of the guest. I never used flash for this wedding, the lighting team did a fantastic job and our D3 cameras perform exceptionally well at high ISOs. I kept an eye on my histogram during the night and was really happy with my in-camera frames so I kept the flash off, which is always nice for us and the guests."
On the menu was fried chicken, greens, chopped pork and sweet tea, says Joseph. "They also brought in a Funk band to top of their Southern throw down. All in all, place and people were the champions that drove this celebration. Laura wanted to share Ponce Inlet with her friends and she did just that."
"After the reveal via Skype, Laura and Chris were excited about everything they saw," Joseph reports. "Although they haven’t shared in detail their favorites with us yet, they did mention how much they enjoyed reliving the day through our perspective. We are storytellers and our goal is to create a refined narrative for our couples. All in all we were so happy to have had the chance to be a part of Laura and Chris’s day, it’s always a real blessing to work with such great people!"