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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…. :)
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.
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.
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
Photos from Halloween 2010. Happy Friday!
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.
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.
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…
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.
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: AustinAmericana@Gmail.com.
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 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: http://www.bellanotteonmain.com/video-tour.htm