This past weekend I had a photo-session scheduled for 8am in Viejo San Juan. There were several large events scheduled in the San Juan area that morning creating unbelievable traffic, I was already in the city early to scout the location for my portrait session so I missed the traffic, but the couple I was supposed to photograph got stuck in the middle of it. We decided to reschedule the photo session for sunset the following day. If found myself in San Juan with my camera and lenses on a bright sunny morning and decided to take a photo walk.
One of my favorite places to photograph is the Cemeterio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis. It is a beautiful cemetery nestled at the foot of El Morro with the caribbean sea as its back drop. To get there you go through a tunnel that is covered in graffiti. The whole place is so rich with metaphors, to me I don’t get a creepy sense being down there, things just feel peaceful. Last January I did a really interesting self portrait photography series there using my infrared camera. I love getting to revisit different locations. There are so many ways of photographing the same place. This time I did some experimenting with double exposures using the cemetery statuary as my models.
Last summer I was contacted by Lambda Legal, a large not for profit legal organization that defends the civil rights of gay, lesbian and transgendered people all around the united states. I covered their press conference in San Juan and took portraits of their clients who were filing law suits on the steps of the government building where the press conference was held. It was such a wonderful experience to work with such a great organization and to meet the couples that were being brave enough to stand up for change. On March 20th, 2015 the government of Puerto Rico declared that it would no longer defend the ban on Same Sex marriage in Puerto Rico. Read the full story from Lambda Legal here.
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal, said:
In declining to further defend the Commonwealth’s discriminatory marriage ban, Puerto Rico’s government finally recognizes that denying marriage to LGBT people is harmful and cannot be justified. The marriage ban’s sole purpose is to perpetuate discrimination, and it is just plain wrong. Same-sex couples, LGBT people and their families are part of Puerto Rico’s rich social and cultural fabric. Today’s actions fulfill the constitutional promises of justice and fairness for LGBT people in Puerto Rico. Simply put, discrimination is never in Puerto Rico’s best interests.
I feel so honored and excited to have been a part of this historic happening. Even though my photographs were only a very small part of the process of moving the island towards marriage equality if feels wonderful to have contributed to something so important to me. As a wedding photographer I get to make people happy by creating amazing photographs of them in love on their wedding day. I do this for both my gay and straight clients. Although getting to use my talents as a photographer to create portraits of brave couples that were used as part of a national campaign for marriage equality has been a truly rewarding experience. I can’t wait to photograph the wedding days of all loving couples when everyone is legally allowed to marry on the enchanted island of Puerto Rico. For more information about my photographic approach to LGBT weddings in Puerto Rico check out the LGBT wedding photography section of my website.
Where was your first date?
We met at a mutual friend’s birthday party and then ran back into each other at Bern’s Wine Fest a few weeks later.
How did he ‘pop’ the question?
We took the boat out to Egmont Key. The weather was absolutely perfect! We pulled the boat up to the beautiful empty beach for a picnic. Bill even snuck a bottle of Dom Perignon Rose Champagne in the picnic basket! He got down on one knee and proposed on the beach. That night, we had dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse with 4 close friends. Bill had pre-arranged to drink a bottle of wine from each of our birth years. It was perfect!
What made you choose Puerto Rico as a place to have your engagement photographs done? What was your favorite part of your trip in Puerto Rico?
We had taken a vacation to Puerto Rico the year before and had a great time. It’s such a beautiful place and a happy memory for us, so it was the perfect place to take our engagement photos. It’s hard to pick a favorite part of the trip. We had a great time diving, but just relaxing and spending time together was amazing too.
What are you most excited about when you think about spending the rest of your life with your partner?
I get to spend every day with my best friend. What could be more exciting than that?!?
What did you enjoy most about your engagement photography session?
It was fun to be together in such a beautiful place and have it all captured.
What advice would you give to ‘brides to be’ when having engagement photographs done?Relax and pretend like the camera isn’t there. Our best photos are where we look the most natural.
I spend most of my time by the sea on the west coast of Puerto Rico, soothing ocean waves and calm breezes. Every so often though, I get the chance to play in the big city. Trips to Viejo San Juan always help recharge my creative batteries. Its important especially as a photographer to give yourself a change of scenery from time to time, it helps keep the eye fresh. On this particular trip I stayed at Da House. A cute boutique hotel above the lively Newyorican Cafe.
The rooftop patio of the hotel is cozy and there is a hot tub. I opted against dragging my lighting equipment up the four flights of stairs to the roof and just used my tripod and a little bit of fill from my on camera flash. I created a few images around the sky light above the stair case. Those tiles at the bottom of the stairs are quintessential Viejo San Juan tiles and the iron work is iconic of Viejo San Juan as well. The last picture is a long exposure of me playing with an LED hula hoop. I love hooping… after photography it really is the other great love of my life. I like to use a similar technique when I’m doing wedding photography. I do long exposures during the reception to create trails of light around dancing guests.
Scott and Colleen were married at the beautiful and tropical Villa Cofresi Resort and Hotel, in Rincon, Puerto Rico this past October. Everything about this wedding said Tropical fun! Her fantastic hand beaded bouquet as well as all the tropical seashells, and colorful touches made for a playful and romantic celebration. I absolutely loved the hawaiian t-shirts and tropical flowers. The whimsical murals on the walls at Villa Cofresi made great back drops for some of our pre ceremony pictures. The couple was also blessed with a gorgeous sunset that made for fantastic photographs as well.
I’m really a portrait photographer at heart, that’s why I love photographing weddings so much. There are only a few occasions in a persons life when they get to have their portrait taken professionally and weddings are one of those occasions. Over the course of the wedding day there are lots of different moments for pictures and different kinds of portraits. My favorite time with a bride is right before the ceremony just after she’s put her dress on. Her make up is fresh, and she is usually surrounded by her closest female friends and family, so it’s a very supportive environment. There is a lot of anticipation and excitement. I shot these photographs of Brooke before her wedding in Rincon. The light on the balcony was perfect. There are always lots of colorful photographs during tropical beach weddings but I chose to edit these in high contrast black and white.
These photographs were shot on the balcony of Pelican Point at Sandy Beach in Rincon, Puerto Rico.
In late June I was asked to photograph the Lambda Legal Press conference in San Juan. The press conference was held to introduce the people to the couples who are currently fighting the same sex marriage ban here in Puerto Rico. I was thrilled to be a part of the movement and contribute to the cause. As a wedding photographer living in Puerto Rico it is my hope that same sex marriage in Puerto Rico will one day be legal. I have had the pleasure of photographing two gay weddings ceremonies here on the island. Take a peek at my blog post for the gay wedding I photographed in Culebra and the one I shot in Arecibo. The couples were first legally married in the main land and then held their celebrations here. I hope that more couples will courageously hold their ceremonies here and push the envelope for marriage equality here in Puerto Rico.
This seaside wedding at 8th and Ocean was all about family. The happy couple came down from Jamestown New York with their two sons and a house full of their closest friends and family. Rev. Gregory Ruiz married the two of them during a beautiful sunset wedding in Rincon Puerto Rico.
Tamara and Jason met as correctional officers in the United States (Yes of course I had to ask her about Orange is the New Black!… and she told me that for the most part its pretty true to life), they were partnered together for self defense classes. We did this wonderful day before photoshoot at the Faro (lighthouse) here in Rincon. Their destination wedding was right down the beach from where we did this engagement style portrait session. I find that destination wedding photographers in puerto rico can sometimes get in a rut with coming up with creative portrait ideas since we are usually photographing on the beach. Using some creative photography tricks any place can become the perfect spot for portraits. Pre and Post photo sessions are great because there is extra time to spend focusing on making wonderful images, there also isn’t the pressure of a time line or other people around. During Tamara and Jason’s session I did some more creative photography; double exposures and I also used my infrared camera. Having the extra time and space as well as a couple who is up for making something beautiful is the best space to create amazing new pictures. I always highly highly recommend doing an additional portrait session as an add on to wedding photography. I tell my friends that most photographers will even do it at a discounted rate if they are already doing the photography for the wedding. Its always worth it and another chance to have fun in front of the camera… and if you doing a post wedding session it could be another opportunity to wear your dress!