Photographer: Events, Weddings, Portraits – Austin, Texas

Archive for November, 2010

Round Rock Couples Photo Portrait

There’s a nice little park in Round Rock, just off of IH-35 and 620 called Memorial Park that makes a great location for photos. It has lots of great elements: lots of trees, a small lake, a waterfall, ducks, a wooden/iron pedestrian bridge, big rocks (“the” round rock in the cities name) and more. And it makes a great alternative to driving into Central Austin.

Last week I met a couple at Memorial Park to capture some “newlywed” photos. I call the photos “newlywed” because the couple I photographed have been married for a short time. Normally I photograph lots of couples who are newly engaged and soon to be married, so this was something new. The neat part of this story is Memorial Park, our photo location, is significant to the couple because this is where they originally got engaged!

I met them just before sunset and we were able to capture some beautiful, orange light that can only be experienced before a sunset. The weather this November has been unseasonably warm and I’ve had lots of fantastic weather for outdoor shoots. This was a great one…

Couple Photographed in Round Rock, Texas


Air Brushing And Special Photo Editing Techniques For Portraits

I frequently get requests by my photography clients to “Photoshop” – in or out something related to a photograph. This could be a bad tan, skin blemishes, teethe whitening or any number of other issues that can make people self conscious about their photograph. There are definitely some amazing things that you can do with Adobe’s famous Photoshop software, but my studio doesn’t use it. We use Adobe Lightroom – a powerful photo editor and manager for photographers who take lots of photos, especially for wedding photographers like myself. Although Lightroom doesn’t have the breadth of options provided in Photoshop, it still allows photographers to make amazing edits to photographs. Recently I photographed individuals for portrait sessions where the photograph would be featured in highly circulated publications (read: magazine). That means that my clients not only wanted to look their best, but they wanted to look even better – and that’s where the magic of photo editing comes in.

Originally, when I visualized writing this blog I wanted to talk about the specifics of what I did during the editing process and show the before and after photos of my clients. But there is such a marked, visual improvement when comparing the original photo and the processed photo that I decided against showing the original, mostly to avoid being flogged by my clients – which is a good thing! :) Why? Well, first of all I don’t enjoy getting flogged and not getting flogged is always a good thing. Second, I’ve noticed that such impressive improvements in a persons portrait always brings about smiles and a sense of well being in the client. Everyone wants to look and feel 10 years younger, so when I can provide a little help in that department I’m always glad to do so.

Like I said, these are the “after” photos, subsequent to the editing process. I was very pleased with the outcome and I hope that my clients were too.


Baby Photography

This past week I had the pleasure of photographing a brand new life: a baby girl! It’s not often that I get the opportunity to photograph babies, especially now that my son is getting into the toddler years, so I savor the joy and the challenge of photographing a little one.

Baby photography is challenging and fun for a lot of reasons. It can be challenging because babies are unpredictable and volatile. On my drive over to my shoot I wondered if my 3 week old subject would even be awake for our infant photo session, since babies of her age typically sleep all the time. But to my excitement she was awake and wide-eyed for almost our entire 1 hour photo session. Another concern was crying. We all know that babies cry and it’s something that parents can’t necessarily control, sometimes even with consolation and TLC. But again, baby came through with flying colors, as did mom and dad for being there to care for her every time she felt like crying.

Baby Feet!

Our photo session went off great. Baby was awake and alert for most of the session and how hard can it be to photograph the love and affection between parents and their newborn? For me it seemed easy and it was a rewarding experience. I hope that mom and dad enjoy these baby photos as much as I do.


Fun Friday Fotos – Cars

My son is a huge fan of the Disney movie “Cars”, and he frequently loves to play in the family cars at home. I shot some photos of him inside my car, pushing buttons, honking the horn and more. He just can’t get enough of cars!

My son playing in the car around sunset



So many buttons to little time!


Engagement Photos at Zilker Botanical

Austin Americana completed another successful engagement photo session at Zilker Botanical Gardens here in Austin this week. Thanks go out to my gracious subjects, Jen & David, who I met through DealOn and who’ll be getting married in May. Congratulations guys!

There will be lots more photos coming soon as a result of our successful promotional event that was through our friends at DealOn, including at least one wedding, multiple engagement sessions and even a newborn session – all coming soon! How exciting! Stay tuned…. :)

Zilker Engagement Session


Texas Designer Boots



Zilker Botanical Engagement Couple



Engagement Photo Zilker Park


A Chinese-Jewish Wedding at Spicewood Vineyard

In the Texas Hill Country about 35 miles due west of Austin (just west of Lake Travis) is a quiet, rural area that is home to Spicewood Vineyard. If you’re looking for a weekend trip (who can beat wine tasting?) or a place to host a great event like a wedding, then this is the place. Spicewood Vineyard stands out as an award-winning creator of wines with a Texas taste.

When I first visited the place (after a little winding, hill country driving) I was greeted by the friendly owners who welcomed me into the main tasting room. They were eager to share their home grown wines and talk about Texas wine. Honestly, I’m not very knowledgeable about Texas wines, or any wines for that matter, but I still enjoyed the conversation and the opportunity to try several different vinos.

Chinese Jewish Wedding at Spicewood Vineyard

Eventually, after some lively conversation and fun, we got around to talking about the real reason I was visiting: I would be photographing an international wedding ceremony there in a few weeks. I was whisked away for a tour of the barrel room and the grounds, including the lovely ballroom and vineyards. The whole place is beautiful and was a fantastic choice for such an important day.

If you imagine rows of green, viney grapes on a sprawling Texas farm in the Hill Country, then you’ve imagined Spicewood Vineyard. The grounds are beautifully manicured and well kept. The tasting room and barrel room where wine is kept is next to a beautiful ballroom. The ballroom is spacious and roomy with ample light and a bar, featuring beautiful stained concrete floors, a concert piano and lots of other details you can only appreciate in person.

My bride and groom married there a few weeks later. Their ceremony was a marriage of world culture and varied beliefs. She was Chinese and he was Jewish. They both loved to travel and to learn. The couple, together with their families, brought both cultures together in a way that you could hardly imagine. There was amazing cuisine, photographs, art, decorations, dress and more from all over the world. All told the event was a great success and was another memorable and special wedding that I was privileged enough to photograph.

Grapes at Spicewood Vineyard

If you would like to visit Spicewood Vineyards for a tasting or to see the facilities you can check out their website here, or make a short trip just outside of Austin. Information is below.

From the website: Wines from Spicewood Vineyards are available not only at the vineyard but also in Texas stores and restaurants. The winery features a large indoor tasting room and outdoor pavilion. The large underground barrel room can accommodate 400 barrels.

The winery is open for tours and tasting Wednesday through Sunday. In addition the winery also offers facilities for special events such as weddings, receptions and meetings.

Tasting Room Hours are:

Wednesday through Saturday 10 to 6

Sunday 12 to 5

Monday and Tuesday by appointment only.

Spicewood Vineyard, 1419 Burnet County Road 409, Spcewood, Texas

Phone: (830) 693-5328 ‎

Wine Barrel at Spicewood Vineyard

International Cuisine

Vineyards at Spicewood

Chinese Wedding Symbol
Outdoor Jewish-Chinese Wedding Ceremony
Piano in Spicewood Vineyard Ballroom

Which Digital SLR Should I Buy?

I’ve had several friends recently ask me the following question:

Can you recommend a good digital SLR camera to start out with (as a newbie to photography)?

So I thought it might be fun to blog about the subject. I’m certainly not the expert on the subject but I do feel that I have some good information that I can share from the experiences I’ve had as a photographer.

About 10 years ago I started planning my first trip abroad (to the United Kingdom: England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales) and started asking myself what kind of camera I should take. I knew very little about photography at the time and didn’t know where to start. I mentioned my problem to a friend who quickly begin diagramming how a single lens reflex camera (SLR) works and explaining the possibilities of cameras to me. And before my eyes a whole new world had opened up.

My friend eventually persuaded me that I needed to take along a SLR camera for my epic, once-in-a-lifetime trip to the U.K.; unfortunately, I didn’t have the money needed for the camera that was needed. But as luck would have it, my parents had hidden away an old camera that I could learn on. The camera I’d be using was an early 1980s Pentax ME-Super – a sturdy, well made 35 mm film camera that was capable of taking very good photos.  So I set out to learn how to use it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, you may be asking yourself, “I don’t even have a camera yet! Which one should I buy?” And that’s going to be the million dollar question for you. Only you can determine which camera is best for you. I can tell you this: you will probably go through more than one camera while learning if you are somewhat serious about learning photography. The good news is that you don’t have to buy an expensive camera to take good photos. If you visit your local book and magazine store you’ll find tons of magazines promoting the latest cameras and equipment. But you don’t need what’s in these magazines. What you need right now is to develop some skills and understanding of photography.


Photographed with Canon EOS 30D Digital SLR



Now, I’m not going to make a recommendation that new photographers should have to start out using film or slide film like I did. Here’s why. Although I have respect for those who use film, to the new photographer it can become a slow guessing game trying to figure out if you exposed the shot correctly or not. It’s no longer necessary to wait until your film is developed to see if you’ve ruined the shot; just simply look at your digital screen after snapping the photo and you can see what went wrong (or what you did so well)! Additionally, you can spend a fortune in developing or film chemical costs, so why do it if it’s not necessary? Now, if you still want to shoot film, go for it; it certainly has it’s rewards.

So what’s the advantage of using an SLR or digital SLR camera over a regular pocket point-and-shoot? Flexibility and precision are the two things that come to mind. SLR cameras allow you to be creative with your subject. Imagine creating a “star trail” photograph with and extended exposure or shooting a sporting event and capturing multiple, successive frames as a football player leaps to catch a ball.

When determining what brand of camera to purchase, I recommend choosing between Canon and Nikon. They are both well regarded cameras that are used by professionals world-wide. Both brands offer a huge selection of lenses and equipment that will likely match the camera that you choose (which will become important later on). Unfortunately, I only know what I read about Nikon, and since I use Canon equipment I will speak to that particular brand. I personally shoot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark ii. Now before you go off to purchase one you need to know that you don’t need a 5D to take great pics. While perusing used equipment on Craig’s List today I found some relatively inexpensive Canon EOS 20Ds, 30Ds and 40Ds (a step down from the 5D) that are a fraction of the cost. These are relatively inexpensive, and from someone who’s owned all of the above mentioned cameras at one time or another, I can tell you they are good cameras that take good pictures.

But, if you have more than $500 to spend and you cannot stomach the idea of used equipment, then you might consider purchasing a new Canon 50D (around $1,000 – November 2010) or one of the Canon Rebel Series cameras (less expensive). Most of the cameras I just mentioned offer lots of great features that you won’t find in a point and shoot, along with superb quality images.


Photographed with Canon EOS 30D Digital SLR



One other tip I can give is to read real people’s reviews of cameras and lenses (yep, you will need a lens too!). I look to Amazon for great, seemingly-genuine reviews on all kinds of stuff, including camera equipment. Many users are eager to share their experience of using a particular camera or gadget. Take advantage of this real feedback.

You really only need one lens to start with and there’s a good likelihood that you’ll end up with a “kit lens”. Professionals hate kit lenses because they are usually mass produced, cheaper lenses included as a combo with a camera (and perhaps other stuff). One example of this with Canon is the 18-55 mm lens, which were frequently coupled with Canon’s 20D & 30D, and later dumped on the open market for almost nothing. But I think these lenses are great to learn with and should not be underestimated.

Another lens that you might pickup inexpensively is one of the 50mm prime lenses. These are relatively inexpensive and yet capable of taking your photos to a whole other level of quality (which is what prime lenses do). These also tend to be “faster” lenses, meaning they operate better in low light, which you’ll appreciate soon enough.

If you have some money to throw at lenses and you don’t want to go the cheap route, then don’t. Purchase Canon’s L-series lenses (I’m sure Nikon has something similar), which are considered professional because they typically are faster lenses which provide higher quality images. You might change your mind though after you see how much you are going to pay. Bob Atkins has a ton of information about Canon on his website which is great if you want to know more about a series of lenses and cameras.

Ok, so you’re clueless and even more confused. For around $700 (at the moment) you can purchase a brand new Canon EOS Rebel T1i with a 50 mm f1.8 lens (sold separately on Just assume that you’ll want to upgrade in the future, so think long and hard about the camera that you purchase, because you’ll want to make sure that there are good lenses out there that you can couple with it.

Now what do you do once you have your camera? I recommend joining a photo club or taking a class. Getting involved in photography groups and classes puts you in a position to exchange good ideas with others and puts you on the hook to participate in assignments and actually get out there and shoot – which is how you are going to become a better photographer faster. Check out MeetUp to find a group of photographers in your area or take a look at the local community college’s website to determine if they offer non-credit photography classes. Once you get some knowledge and experience under your belt and you decide you want to take it further, contact a professional in your area and ask to assist him/her on one of their shoots.

Don’t forget, with the right knowledge, you can take great photos with just about any camera. Oh, and have fun! That’s what it’s all about, right?!


Photographed with Canon EOS 20D Digital SLR

























Photographed with Canon EOS 20D Digital SLR



Fun Friday Fotos (Halloween)

Photos from Halloween 2010. Happy Friday!

Casa Blanca on Brushy Creek Wedding

In Round Rock, just east of IH-35 on Hairy Man Road there’s a beautiful little estate called Casa Blanca on Brushy Creek. Casa Blanca is a large plantation-style home situated on Brushy Creek within the Round Rock countryside. It can accommodate large groups or small groups for just about any event. It features a large ballroom with floor to ceiling windows overlooking a green pasture and a river, private rooms for bride and groom, a large pavilion for ceremonies/parties, acres of lush, green space for outdoor ceremonies/events, plenty of parking and more.

When I first photographed an event at Casa Blanca I fell in love with the place and had difficulty finding fault with it. My first impression was visiting Casa Blanca and meeting the owners, George and LeAnne, who were very kind and welcoming. They take great pride in the facility and enjoy being a part of every event held there.

Guests get ready for the big "sparkler" bride/groom exit

casa blanca on brushy creek, round rock, TX

Fall Decorations at Casa Blanca

casa blanca bride and groom

casa blanca brushy creek night

casa blanca wedding decor

casa blanca groomsmen

mariachi at casa blanca

View of Backyard at Casa Blanca Brushy Creek

casa blanca at night

bride & groom at Casa Blanca Round Rock

Casa Blanca offers lots more than just beauty and majesty. They also offer many conveniences, such as in-house florist, DJ and more. Pricing is reasonable and you’re sure to enjoy all the conveniences offered in the city, available in the countryside.

These are photos from the last wedding I photographed at Casa Blanca: Monica & Eric’s Wedding. It was a joy to be a part of their big day and it was easily one of the more memorable weddings that I’ve photographed.



Bridal Painting

This week I started writing a blog about a fun location for engagement portraits in Austin but I got distracted while reading some Aldous Huxley. During my read Huxley made lots of references to paintings and art, areas that I’m not very educated in, and which precipitated some research on my part. During my search it occurred to me that it would be fun to bring some attention to paintings this week in my blog. I did some searching online and found what I think are some fun and interesting works of art, painted on canvas, related to brides.

I often wonder how people did things differently in the past. Even 50 years ago customs and habits and styles were very different than today. Yet we derive much of what we do today from our ancestral past. Chances are something we think of as new (even a thought) was probably considered and conceived before we were born. Our styles and customs are constantly evolving, and some might say devolving (consider the recent obsession with 1980s culture).

Without further ado, here are canvas paintings of brides from the past…

girl with gold earring by Vermeer

A bride about 1895. Thayer

Bride by Hazel Morgan

Indian Bride by Vibha Sahu

bride of death

Bride with Water Pot . Batik

Duchamp.Marcel.Passage from Virgin to Bride

japanese bride by giora eshkol

kahlo bride

Off The Bride

The Jewish Bride 1665

Victoria Ying Bride Painting

Zilker Botanical Garden Engagement Photos

This past week I had the pleasure of photographing another wonderful couple at Zilker Botanical Garden: Lindsey and Bryan. As I’ve blogged before, Zilker has to be one of the most popular places for photography of any kind in Austin. Not only is it a huge repository for plant life centered in Travis County (which is why people are drawn to it) but it’s also one of Austin’s little jewels that’s been around for many years. I’m pretty sure that the creators of Zilker never intended it to be one of the foremost popular venues for photography around Austin, but that’s what it’s become.

I met Lindsey and Bryan on a Saturday afternoon at Zilker to take advantage of the warm, orange evening sunlight. We walked to all of my favorite spots throughout Zilker and were able to capture some great photos. We even got some shots of Lindsey and Bryan in their Dallas Cowboys jerseys. All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon.


Couple Photographed at Zilker Botanical Garden



Wedding Ring Photos


More on Zilker: ZBG features many different plant species and specific garden areas that are dedicated to a particular theme or cultural plant cultivation, if you will. For example, one of the popular areas of Zilker is the Japanese Garden, which features Koi-filled fish ponds, stone trails leading around bamboo gardens and a structure made of stone and bamboo that only could fit into a Japanese garden . The entire area is shaded by trees and feels like being in another world.

Zilker also features a beautiful rose garden where weddings frequently occur. Colorful roses line the concrete paths that wind down the hill from the main entrance of the park. The Rose Garden area is very open, located at the edge of the tree line bordering the Japanese Garden. It also features a red and white gazebo next to fish ponds and a historic brick structure in the shape of a keyhole that has been apparently transplanted from historic downtown Austin.

Other areas featured at ZBG are the Prehistoric Gardens further down the hill from the main office, which feature “old world” plants, pools and even a beautiful, natural-looking water fall. Toward the front of the park is an area that contains historic Central Texas pioneer homes and work areas made of wood.

Ultimately there are many, many different areas of the Garden that offer photography opportunities for brides or couples. After visiting and photographing friends and family there for years I’ve grown to love and appreciate Zilker for the beautiful part of Austin that it has always been and hopefully will always be!


Martin Whitton is the lead wedding photojournalist for Austin Americana Photography. He lives and works in Austin, Texas. Email:

Wedding at Bella Notte on Main – Round Rock, TX

In downtown Round Rock, Texas there’s a beautiful little wedding venue called Bella Notte on Main. If you’re looking for a wedding venue that is still in the city but has a quiet, small town atmosphere, then this is the place. The building itself where Bella Notte stands was built around 1900 and is beautifully decorated in turn of the century décor and style. It has high ceilings and a candle-lit atmosphere.

Bella Notte can accommodate up to 200 event guests and provides catering service, DJ, set up/take down, security, bartender and more. I can tell you that from personal experience the staff were friendly and professional. In the Spring of 2010 I photographed Maria and Seth’s wedding at Bella Notte (see photos). It was a beautiful, relaxing night full of joyful tears and special moments. And although my favorite thing about Bella was interacting with the friendly staff, I have to say that I was glad that my drive home was a short one, thanks to Bella Notte’s convenient location to IH-35 and Austin.


Bella Notte Ball Room



Bride & Groom share dance at Bella Notte



Bella Notte on Main - Round Rock Street View



Looking outside onto street from inside Bella Notte


Bella Notte gives you the option to choose from 2 large onsite ballrooms for your wedding, reception or event, both of which are elegant and spacious. Bride and Groom quarters are located on separate floors (bride upstairs, groom downstairs). There’s a quiet garden patio behind the historic Bella Notte building where guests can wait and relax or attendees can pose for photos. Parking at the facility is plentiful and free, thanks to the parking garage located next door.

Bella Notte Video Tour:


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