Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Siblings Without Rivalry -- At least for the moment {New Braunfels Photography}

New Braunfels family and children photography at the Japanese Tea Gardens in San AntonioI had the honor of shooting the most adorable pair of siblings yesterday. At first when I learned I'd be shooting the duo -- for a surprise Mother's Day gift, but I don't think their mom is a regular blog follower so I feel safe in mentioning it here -- I was expecting the typical sibling rivalry.

Most siblings I shoot get along for the most part. They tend to like each other mostly, and only slug or pinch each other some of the time. I always hesitate a bit when I get to the part where I ask them to hug each other or hold hands. Sometimes I'm met with a glare. Sometimes an "are you kidding me?" But yesterday was a rarity. They held hands like best friends. I asked them to dance together for a bit and they had a blast. They hugged, they walked hand-in-hand on demand, they were polite to each other and enjoyed each other. A brother and sister who actually liked each other. Wow!

I asked their dad if what I was seeing was for real, "So they really like each other?" He said, "Today."

That renewed my faith in my own kids. Whew. I returned home to the sounds of squabbling children. My boy was swinging his plastic bat that looks like a big carrot -- Easter bunny surprise -- and his older sister was quick to greet me at the door to tell me all about how he swung it in the air and it missed her by just two inches. "Two inches," she said. "I could have been smacked!"

I grew up with a brother and a sister as well. We got along okay, too. Sometimes. When they weren't annoying me. Today my sister wears burnt orange while I wear maroon. But that's okay. She's pretty good company at a concert. My brother is pretty cool too. I remember some nasty quarrels of our own when we were kids. I sometimes think the squabbles I endure from my own children are payback in some kind of cosmic bad joke. Who knows. But I'm enjoying sharing the story of the siblings who were nice to each other with my kids. It gives me something to hope for.

Lisa On Location Photography

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hotel Grace {Jamaica Destination Wedding Photographer}

All the wedding venues I've featured here thus far have been in the Central Texas area, since that's obviously where most of the weddings Lisa shoots take place. But that doesn't have to be the case. New Braunfels, San Antonio and Austin aren't the only places that can host weddings! Destination weddings are growing in popularity (not that they were ever out of style) and for people who live in one of the Gulf states, the Caribbean is a popular destination wedding vacation. If you want a Caribbean wedding with a touch of Old World colonial charm, Hotel Grace in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is a fine venue.

Wedding gazebo that serves destination weddings on the grounds of Hotel Grace - Richmond Hill Inn, Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Hotel Grace (also known as Richmond Hill Inn) is one of the finest wedding venues in all of Jamaica. Founded in the 1700s, the original floors are made of massive stone blocks and the building's whitewashed, 18-inch-thick walls are limestone and molasses! An elegant wedding gazebo right outside provides a breathtaking venue for your wedding ceremony.

Destination weddings, Hotel Grace, Richmond Hill Inn, Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Hotel Grace sits atop one of the highest points in Montego Bay, approximately 500 feel above sea level. Grand, sweeping vistas await in every direction. Ivy-wrapped Greek columns line the walks, leading to the the pool deck or the dining terrace. The grounds are lush and green, with tropical foliage and flowers creating an aura of vibrant energy.

Destination weddings, Hotel Grace, Richmond Hill Inn, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Hotel Grace can accommodate wedding parties of up to 100 people, and their various packages are flexible enough to handle much smaller weddings as well. Packages include fine dining, live music and a bridal suite for the happy couple.

Destination weddings, Hotel Grace, Richmond Hill Inn, Montego Bay, Jamaica

The swimming pool terrace offers spectacular views, and can't be beat for reception celebrations under the starry Caribbean skies.

Destination weddings, Hotel Grace, Richmond Hill Inn, Montego Bay, Jamaica

The fine folk at Hotel Grace have been hosting destination weddings for decades, and they know how to do it right. If jaw-dropping vistas of Montego Bay call out to the romantic in you, why not give Hotel Grace a call to book your dream destination wedding now? And if you're venturing overseas for your dream wedding, don't you want to make sure you have the best photographer possible at your side, capturing every glorious moment to preserve forever? Of course you do! Lisa is waiting to hear from you.

Destination weddings, Hotel Grace, Richmond Hill Inn, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Lisa On Location Photography

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's in the genes {New Braunfels Senior Photography}

New Braunfels, Austin, San Antonio, San Marcos, Seguin senior portrait photographyMy baby cousin is finally graduating from high school. I say "finally" and I say "baby" because she's the youngest of the bunch. The rest of us grandkids graduated in the 80s and early to mid 90s. She was the little one at all our gatherings. The baby with the boogers that needed wiping. The little tag along. The sweet little child who did everything cutely and could do no wrong. She was the flower girl at my wedding. She made the cutest entrance tossing her flower petals and prancing down the aisle.

Who would have guessed that that sweet little red-head would grow up to be such a knock-out. She's Miss Everything at her school. She's first in her class for grades and was voted Prom Queen. I'm so proud of her.

I had the honor of taking her senior portraits the other day. Her mom wanted a few of her in her prom dress and then some more casual shots. When she asked me to choose a location for these portraits and recommended either a nice old house with a pretty front porch, or a falling down old barn that's overgrown and grungy, which do you think I picked? That's right -- you're finally getting to know me!New Braunfels, Austin, San Antonio, San Marcos, Seguin senior portrait photography

So we headed out to this decrepit old barn and found a treasure trove. A broken down old office chair in a pile of rubble -- grabbed it and used it. A quaint old outhouse with wooden potty seats still intact -- yes we so went there -- the prom queen sat on the potty and smiled, her crown sparkling in the light that peeked through the cracks in the roof.

My cousin and I had a blast. She's a natural. It's no wonder she's so popular with her wit and charm and natural tendency to have a good time. This baby is not a baby anymore, but she'll always be my baby cousin. Now excuse me while I dry my eyes.
New Braunfels, Austin, San Antonio, San Marcos, Seguin senior portrait photography
New Braunfels, Austin, San Antonio, San Marcos, Seguin senior portrait photography
New Braunfels, Austin, San Antonio, San Marcos, Seguin senior portrait photography
Lisa On Location Photography

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The year without bluebonnets. :-( {New Braunfels Photography}

It was a dismal year for bluebonnets here in New Braunfels. I had my hopes up. Last year was amazing. I shot session after session in the gorgeous blue flowers. The seeds were overflowing the fields after that gorgeous crop. Then the dry winter came and those poor little seeds were wasted. So few of them sprouted.

I had hoped to offer weekends full of mini session in the flowers. But those plans didn't happen. I did manage to get one successful session in with a small patch we found near Landa Street.

The flowers were virtually gone within a few days, however, and I had to get creative with the next "bluebonnet" session on the calendar. I managed to capture a few of the blue flowers and turn up the blue saturation a bit to make them more impressive in some of the shots. I also cheated a little and duplicated some of them in Photoshop -- shhh. Fortunately, these kids were so cute they didn't need bluebonnets to make a great photo session. I like the images without bluebonnets just as much.

Let's home next year is bluer for us in New Braunfels.

Lisa On Location Photography

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

'Tis the season for seniors {New Braunfels Senior Portrait Photography}

Lisa On Location offers senior portraits for students in New Braunfels, San Antonio, Austin and the surrounding areas.I've noticed that seniors fall into two groups when it comes to senior portraits. The early birds and the procrastinators. The past few days I've been consumed with queries and sessions involving seniors -- both 2011 and 2012 -- from New Braunfels, San Antonio, Austin and elsewhere.

The 2011 seniors are nervous that they've waited too long and feel bad about putting it off with only a few weeks to go until graduation. The 2012 crowd is trying to feel out the waters "when should we book? Is it too early? How does this work? When do most people take them?"

The answer of course is simple -- what do you think? No, it's not too late to shoot 2011 senior portraits. There's still time to shoot them, process them and get prints made before graduation. And no it's not too early for 2012. Most 2012 seniors are scheduling for the summer months. That's great to take advantage of the lazy summer days before the whirlwind of activity starts up again in the fall.

I rarely shoot a senior session between the months of October and March. A few will trickle in at that time, but the majority of my senior business comes either early or late.

Lisa On Location offers senior portraits for students in New Braunfels, San Antonio, Austin and the surrounding areas.

I don't discriminate based on timing. I welcome them all. Early birds and procrastinators unite! Yes there's still time, and no it's not too early!
Lisa On Location Photography

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Northern Lights! {New Braunfels photography}

One of the goals, ambitions, desires Lisa and I share is to someday travel waaaay up north and photograph the famed Northern Lights. Actually, if I had something as cliche as a "bucket list" this would probably be right there at the top. Having lived my entire life in Texas, the idea of ribbons of light in the sky borders on the supernatural--although to be fair, the good folk living up around the arctic circle probably think lightning bugs are mythological as well!

Anyway, my desire to mount a photographic expedition to the frozen north just kicked up to 11 after I watched this spectacular video by Norwegian photographer Ole Christian Salomonsen. He used a Canon 5D mk II and a Canon 7D to take more than 50,000 photos, which he then stitched together in the following time-lapse video. The results are magnificent.

In The Land Of The Northern Lights from Ole Christian Salomonsen on Vimeo.

So, anyone got a spare bedroom in Tromsø, Norway where Lisa and I can crash for a week or so? Or better yet, a Scandinavian destination wedding under the Northern Lights--now you're talking!

Lisa On Location Photography

Monday, April 11, 2011

Senior Portraits for a Good Cause {New Braunfels Senior Portrait Photographer}

New Braunfels senior portraits in Gruene, TexasFrom time to time people in the community will approach me to donate a session to a worthy cause. I'm usually happy to help any way I can. Recently the Canyon High School FFA program asked me to donate to their silent auction to raise money for scholarships for FFA students. I donated a senior session and Kambrie from Canyon High School was thrilled to win that auction. We met up in Gruene the other day to shoot her senior pictures and got to work. Although it was hardly work shooting such a beautiful girl.

Her parents stood by helping her primp, her dad carried my heavy bag of equipment -- such a gentleman. They were so proud of their only daughter, as they should be. I've blogged about my senior sessions before and I'd like to reiterate that I truly love working with these kids. Although, I hesitate to call them kids. They're often more mature than some of the adults I encounter.

New Braunfels senior portraits in Gruene, Texas

And what makes sessions like these so special is that they help raise money for a worthy cause. Education is one of the most worthy causes I can think of. Thanks for supporting the FFA and I'm so happy I was able to help!
New Braunfels senior portraits in Gruene, Texas

Lisa On Location Photography

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Castle Avalon {New Braunfels Wedding Photographer}

"Fairytale weddings" are the great myth of our time. Oh, sure--what bride hasn't dreamed of being a princess on her wedding day? But to be a princess in a fairy tale, you need a castle. And really, where are you going to find a castle in this day and age?

Okay, that was a trick question. I admit it. When he founded New Braunfels in the 19th century, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels had planned to build a castle to be call Sophienburg, but never got around to it. Enter Ron Bigbee, an inspired man who did what a German Prince couldn't, building Castle Avalon just a few miles west of New Braunfels on 157 acres in the lovely Texas Hill Country.

Castle Avalon destination wedding venue in New Braunfels, Texas. Photography by Lisa On Location

When Ron opened Castle Avalon in 1996, it was primarily a bed and breakfast, but gradually transitioned into a wedding venue. Susan, who manages the bookings, tells me they still get regular calls about the discontinued bed and breakfast, but these days weddings and events are the focus of this unique Hill Country castle. It's certainly hard to miss--the imposing gatehouse, above, sneaks up on you as you drive along Highway 46 among the oak and cedar trees. At that point you know this is no ordinary wedding venue.

Castle Avalon destination wedding venue in New Braunfels, Texas. Photography by Lisa On Location

A paved and lighted drive winds its way to the castle, which is surrounded by grassy lawns and majestic oak trees. There's no doubt this is a castle--the two-story stone building has all the required balconies, turrets and imposing double doors one would expect. Behind the castle there is a spectacular walled garden, landscaped and sculpted with all manner of flowering plants and emerald bushes. A stone walk leads over a man-made stream to a wedding arbor, where the bride and groom exchange vows. The idyllic garden setting can accommodate a hundred guests or more--which is good, since the happy couple will want to share this magical setting with as many friends and family as possible.

Grand stairway at Castle Avalon destination wedding venue in New Braunfels, Texas. Photography by Lisa On Location

Inside the castle is even more impressive. Stone floors, suits of armor and a chainsaw-carved wooden dragon sculpture contribute to a fantastic neo-medieval atmosphere. The walls are paneled in luxurious red oak, which gives photographs a rich, warm glow. The grand staircase is red oak as well, perfectly suited for formal portraits of the wedding party as well as the bride and groom on their own. A lovely stained-glass window depicting a unicorn and fairies serves as an eye-catching backdrop.

Castle Avalon destination wedding venue in New Braunfels, Texas. Photography by Lisa On Location

There are separate, medieval-themed rooms for the bridal party and the groomsmen to get ready before the ceremony. There's a commercial kitchen. And there is, of course, the gorgeous grand ballroom on the second floor. This spacious hall opens up onto a large balcony overlooking the garden, and boasts a painted ceiling with abundant cherubs, ribbons and flowers, befitting such a festive occasion. The ballroom in large enough to accommodate the wedding ceremony itself in case of bad weather.

Infrared image of Castle Avalon destination wedding venue in New Braunfels, Texas. Photography by Lisa On Location

With such a distinctive subject, I couldn't resist taking a few infrared images. I like to say infrared gives scenes an otherworldly look, but in this case the fantasy aspect is quite dramatic. It looks like a castle straight out of a fairy realm to me! And what better place to schedule your fairy tale wedding? Be sure to Friend them on Facebook and if you're ready to set a wedding date, Give Susan a call to secure your booking. Give Lisa a call next, to make sure you will have exceptional wedding photography to record every wondrous detail of your genuine fairy tale wedding!

Lisa On Location Photography

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Does spray paint come out of white taffeta? No, it does not. {New Braunfels Trash the Dress Photography}

San Antonio, Austin and New Braunfels trash the dress wedding photographyToday we gather around the computer to mourn the loss of a special friend. This friend has been with me through mud and high water, through grime and slime, it's touched sand, grit and paint and even grazed a dead opossum -- eww! It's traveled with me across Texas and into the Caribbean, but now it hangs on the shower curtain rod in my bathtub, a victim of it's own gosh darn usefullness. We mourn the passing of a once beautiful wedding gown.

San Antonio, Austin and New Braunfels trash the dress wedding photographyMy history with this gown spans back a couple of years. A lovely lady used it for her own wedding but did not want it any more. She was clearing out her closet and saw no need to hang onto it so she posted it on Freecycle -- a yahoo group Jayme and I belong to where people can post items they're trying to get rid of or claim items someone else hopes to get rid of, for free. She said she didn't want to give it to just anyone, only those with worthy causes need respond and she would decide to whom she would pass on her beloved wedding gown. We responded with photos of some of our other trash the dress sessions and assured her that this dress would be loved and enjoyed. She loved the idea and gave us her gown.

San Antonio, Austin and New Braunfels trash the dress wedding photographyThe lovely gown you see in the photos here is that gown. The trash the dress concept is not new. It's been around a few years and many of the brides I meet love the idea. They'd love to express themselves by posing in their gown in favorite places and doing favorite pastimes, but many of them are a bit squeamish about using their real gowns. Never fear, that's where I step in with my handy supply of wedding gowns. I'm a thrift store fiend. I can sniff out gorgeous gowns like a bloodhound on bologna. I have a closet full. Most of them can be used over and over. Trash the dress doesn't usually mean totally destroy it. Not usually that is. But nothing gets out spray paint. Every now and then an idea like this is simply too good to pass up. I agree to sacrifice some of these gowns and take them down paths from which they can not return. It's not the first gown to be lost to the cause and it won't be the last.

There are others. There will be more trash the dress shoots in our future. Jayme thinks we can tie dye this one and still have fun with it. I agree, but it will no longer be the pristine white wedding gown it once was. It will be reincarnated as another dress that's special in it's own way. And maybe we'll take it with us to the Grand Canyon this summer.

San Antonio, Austin and New Braunfels trash the dress wedding photography

Lisa On Location Photography

Sunday, April 3, 2011

If only real life were like life on a cruise ship {New Braunfels Photographer}

Carnival Conquest cruise ship, photo by Lisa On Location PhotographyWell the pile of laundry that threatened to overtake my house has finally been tamed. A week away from home and it's amazing to me how many clothes we go through -- without the luxury of clean laundry whenever we need it. We were slowed down briefly by a dryer that refused to dry because a bird had flown into the air intake and decided to die and clog it up. The darling thing has been laid to rest and our dryer is on the mend. Oh joy, laundry at my beck and call.

Carnival Conquest cruise ship corridor, photo by Lisa On Location PhotographyIf only I could move into the Carnival Conquest permanently. No dishes to do, no cooking, no toilet scrubbing, no bed making, I need only think "gee it would be nice to have a glass of wine" and a friendly man with a tray would appear and magically bring me a glass -- for a small fee, of course.

My son enjoyed our little cruise so much he told me he wants to live on the boat as well. This was our second cruise with Carnival and it's not hard to see why they call themselves the "Fun Ships." Every waking minute was filled with some sort of activity. There was mini golf, a spa, a movie theater, games for the kids, pools, contests and stage shows. And if none of that piques your interest there's always the opportunity to hang out in the bar and watch drunk people make fools of themselves. I found my fellow guests more amusing than the stage shows.

My first day on board I dropped each child off with their respective age-centered activity and hit the hot tub. I had a hard time sitting still at first. Jayme asked me why I was fidgeting. "I don't know what to do," I said.

Carnival Conquest cruise ship deck sunset, photo by Lisa On Location Photography"It's a hot tub," he told me. "You don't do anything but sit here." This was foreign territory to me. I have three children and a home business and I know you remember my blog about my nasty volunteering addiction. I didn't know how to sit there and not do anything.

But I'm a fast learner. I did indeed fill many of those moments on board with activities. I made friends with the ship photographers and wowed them with my fancy gear, I shot every nook and cranny of that big boat, I went to a few of the shows, saw some guys compete in a hairy chest contest, ate myself to insanity thanks to their sinfully good warm chocolate melting cake, and nearly peed my pants at the adults only comedy shows. But in the end I became an expert at doing absolutely nothing. It's really pretty simple. I can't believe I've been missing out on it all these years.

Carnival Conquest cruise ship Lido deck cocktails, photo by Lisa On Location Photography

Carnival Conquest cruise ship towel animal monkey, photo by Lisa On Location Photography
Lisa On Location Photography