Orlando Wedding Photography Blog

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Last week, I attended the Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp by renowned wedding photographer, Cliff Mautner. The three day workshop was held at his studio in Haddonfield, New Jersey (right outside Philadelphia). Evolving and improving my skills as a wedding photographer has always been extremely important to me and attending this workshop was something I’ve wanted to do for many years. The fact that it was close to where I grew up was a bonus.

Cliff Mautner has been a professional photographer for over 33 years – recognized as one of the top wedding photographers in the world. His amazing wedding photos at some very iconic Philadelphia landmarks have always stood out to me. These are places I have driven past hundreds of times, which makes you stop noticing them. Seeing the way Cliff captures weddings there brings them into a new light.

In addition, Cliff’s dynamic presentations at Photoshop World made me want to travel from Orlando to learn directly from the source.

So far in my career as a wedding photographer, I’ve had some amazing opportunities – being a second shooter at an Orlando wedding with photo industry leader Scott Kelby, assisting legendary wedding photographer David Ziser at a Tampa wedding, and participating in insightful workshops and classes. However, this was by far the most immersive experience.

I wanted to review this workshop to share some of the things I learned and to help others who may be considering attending in the future.

The workshop was capped at 20 students which allowed for a much more personal discussion and hands-on experience. So, let me walk you through what we did each day and what I took away from it. During the workshop, I took several hundred photos – some of which you’ll find at the end of this post.

Welcome Reception

Technically the workshop began on Tuesday, but there was an informal welcome reception Monday night at Cliff’s studio. Admittedly, I was nervous as I arrived – photographers were coming in from around the world to learn from Cliff and I had no idea what to expect – but when his studio manager Heather greeted me, I immediately felt welcome.

Being the first one there gave me the chance to walk around the studio. It was a converted old church (how appropriate for a wedding photographer?)

After other attendees arrived, Cliff did some basic introductions and we all began to talk about wedding photography. Everyone shared stories and asked questions over the course of the next 2+ hours. Cliff made it clear that no questions were off limits, and over the next three days, he would do his best to teach us what he has learned in 33 years of photography.

Day One

Before the workshop, Cliff sent out an email letting us know the days would be long, but we would be fed well. He also told us what gear to bring – don’t just show up with your iPhone and a notepad. I chose to bring the equipment that I normally take to a portrait or engagement session. He also said we would be editing photos from the workshop, so I brought my laptop as well. As for the food, Tuesday’s breakfast was fantastic – eggs, bacon, pancakes, and better grits than I’ve ever had here in the south.

A large portion of the first day was supposed to be all about shooting in harsh bright sunlight. However, the weather forecast was calling for rain, so as wedding photographers often do, we adjusted our plans to accommodate Mother Nature.

We did some initial introductions, and I realized that I was in the company of some amazing fellow photographers. After some discussion about lighting and in-studio demonstrations, lunch arrived from a sandwich shop across the street. The meals didn’t stop the momentum, we kept trucking through the material.

After lunch, Cliff chartered a bus to take us to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. We had the ballroom to ourselves for over an hour and worked on wedding reception lighting techniques with models.

From there, we headed upstairs to two different bridal suites where Cliff showed us different approaches to photographing brides getting ready. Even though I already use some of the techniques that Cliff was demonstrating, I learned some new tips that I was able to practice and look forward to using at future weddings. I really enjoyed these hands-on portions of the workshop.

Back at the studio, the topic changed to the business of wedding photography. Cliff shared how he runs his business, from his philosophies on customer service to how he plans for the wedding day. Cliff stressed that as good as your photos are, customer service is equally important. Conversation continued, and we wrapped up the day around 9:30 p.m. (I told you this was immersive!)

Wedding Photography Workshop - Cliff Mautner Lighting and Skillset BootcampDay One in Cliff’s Studio.

Day Two

Wednesday morning started just like Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. We wrapped up the business discussion and started to discuss shooting in bright light. Early on in the workshop, I asked Cliff what he thought of photographing outdoors at high noon and he responded, “Bring it on!”

After lunch, we boarded the bus and headed to Center City Philadelphia to photograph brides and grooms in Washington Square Park. As the sun raced in and out of the clouds, we were able to shoot in a wide variety of outdoor lighting conditions and really work one-on-one with the models. I think at one point, I counted 10 models for 20 students. That really gave us the chance to take what we had been learning and put it in to practice.

Next up, City Hall. Directly below the William Penn statue was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever taken a photo. Cliff’s approach to photography is simple – find the light and put your subject in it. The City Hall archways create the most wonderful directional light, and I was so happy with the images I took there, it has definitely made me think differently. Quality of light is more important than the quantity of light.

We headed out to dinner at a great place called P.J. Whelihan’s, where I had some amazing wings. It gave us a much needed chance to relax and talk about everything we did.

After dinner, we went back to the studio and talked about marketing until close to 9:30. I have to admit that I was physically exhausted after this second day, yet I had trouble sleeping as my mind was racing with all of the information I had just learned. I can’t wait until the next wedding, where I can start to use so much of it.

Wedding Photography - City Hall - Philadelphia PennsylvaniaCliff showing us the importance of great light.

Day Three

Thursday was sadly the final day of the bootcamp. Cliff went through a mock client consultation, where students were able to ask him questions from the perspective of a client. Cliff would also provide critiques of the photos we took during the workshop. Insight from someone who has been in the business as long as Cliff is invaluable.

We headed upstairs after the reviews where Heather, Cliff’s studio manager, showed us how she edits the photos from a wedding. Heather did a fantastic job at explaining her workflow, an area that photographers are always looking to improve. Just like Cliff, she was very candid with what she showed us and answered everybody’s questions.

At this point, Cliff asked us again for any questions, and by this point, most of us were out of questions! Everything we wanted to learn and more, we learned over the three days. Cliff and Heather are incredibly warm individuals who put their all in to making you a better photographer. It’s no wonder that this bootcamp always sells out in record time.

It was one of the best business investments I’ve ever made – better than any lens or camera. The skills that I learned have already had an impact on my photography. The group of friends that I made is also invaluable – 19 wonderful, kind individuals from around the world who share my passion for photography.

Prior to the workshop, I set up a Facebook group for the attendees, so that we could do some basic introductions and figure out what to pack. After the workshop, the group has become a great resource for sharing information as we all advance our careers. Cliff even pokes in to the group from time to time to answer questions.

If you are still on the fence about signing up for this workshop – Sign Up! If you want more information, visit Cliff Mautner’s Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp website.

Amazing Photographers

Cliff Mautner Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp Attendees Bootcamp attendees – Photo courtesy of Heather Bilek

Lucia Cintra – Lucia Cintra Photography – Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer
Cristian Pop – Cristian Pop Photography – Chicago Wedding & Portrait Photographer
Krista Resnick – Krista Resnick Photography – Wisconsin Photographer
Cala Iverson – Cala Marie Photography – Senior Portrait Photographer from Twin Cities, Minnesota
Kelly O’Keefe – Kelly O’Keefe Photography – Photographer based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dana Chrysler – Bella Vita Creative – Mount Vernon, Washington Photographer
Jeanne Marie Viggiano – Jeannemarie Photography – Hawaii Wedding Photographer
Becky Koesel – Photographer from Texas.
Melissa VanLeeuwen – Simply Said Photography – Portrait and Wedding Photographer – Tillsonburg, Ontario Canada
Anna Nguyen – Zee Anna Photography – Wedding and Portrait Photographer based in Naples, Florida
Elaine Welbourn – Flashback Photography – Wedding and Portrait Photographer – Peterborough, Ontario Canada
John Pautienis – Photographer from Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Michael Duncan – Photographer from New Jersey
Linda Luczun – Linda Luczun Photography – Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer from Northern Virginia
Alex Porter – Wedding Photographer from Queensberry, Australia
Alena Hagedorn – Both Brides Both Grooms – Ohio Wedding Photographer
Michael Wright – Michael Wright Photography – Boca Raton Portrait & Wedding Photographer
Frank Donnino – Frank Donnino Photography – South Florida Wedding Photographer
Chris Chapman – Chris & Hannah – Surrey England Wedding Photographer

Below are just a sample of the photos I took over the course of three days:
Bridal Portrait - Wedding Photography - Cliff Mautner Workshop
Wedding Photography Workshop - Crown Plaza in Cherry Hill New Jersey
Cherry Hill New Jersey Wedding Photography
Portrait of Bride at Wedding Photography Workshop
Our Groom Sammy in Washington Square Park in Philadelphia
Cliff Mautner Workshop in Philadelphia, PA
Wedding Photography in Washingotn Square Park
Philadelphia Wedding Photography - Washington Square Park
Wedding Photography - Washington Square Park in Philadelphia
Bride and Groom on a Park Bench - Wedding Photography in Philadelphia
Wedding Photography Workshop - Cliff Mautner Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp
Photography Workshop by Philadelphia Wedding Photographer Cliff Mautner
Photo of a Bride and Groom in a Park

City Hall in Philadelphia PennsylvaniaCity Hall in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Philadelphia City Hall - Wedding Photographer
Finding the Light at Philadelphia City Hall
Wedding Photography by Orlando Wedding Photographer DSWfoto
Our model Alex in City Hall in Philadelphia

Meghan and Damian’s Disney inspired wedding at the Omni Championsgate had many touches of pixie dust – all showing how much they love the Mouse. They met while working at Walt Disney World, so it seemed right that it played a part in their wedding.

Meghan wore amazing custom-painted Little Mermaid flats (did we mention amazing? They were so cool!) and the harpist played instrumental Disney songs as the wedding party and the bride walked down the aisle.

At the reception, guests were given little cards on which to write advice for the bride and groom for 5, 10, and 25 years in the future – but these two needed no help in showing how much they love and care for each other. The whole day was a wonderful mix of Disney, friends and family. The reception ended with the DJ playing the Mickey Mouse March (M-I-C See ya real soon! K-E-Y. Why? Because we like you! M-O-U-S-E).

Meghan and Damian were an awesome couple to work with. Their speeches at the reception, with some gentle ribbing of each another, had everyone cracking up. It was just a FUN day.

Omni Championsgate

The Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate was a beautiful location for their wedding. Their wedding ceremony was held in the Garden Gazebo with the reception in the Championsgate Ballroom.

Kyle from Blush by Brandee Gaar did a fantastic job as the event coordinator. It always takes the stress off of the bride and groom knowing that their wedding day is in great hands.

We were so excited to be a part of such a wonderful wedding – thank you for letting us join in your special day!

Wedding Vendors

Hair and Makeup: Brides be Beautiful by Jasmine Doublette (www.jasminedoublette.com)
Floral: Cheryl’s Distinctive Creatons (www.cdcfloral.com)
Bridal Gown: David’s Bridal(www.davidsbridal.com)
Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal(www.davidsbridal.com)
Formal Wear: Men’s Wearhouse(www.menswearhouse.com)
Event Coordination: Kyle Grafton – Blush by Brandee Gaar (www.blushbbg.com)
Ceremony / Reception: Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate (www.omnihotels.com)
Officiant: Chaplin Charles Caudill
Harpist: Catherine Way (www.harpstringsinc.com)
DJ: Marc Burgess Productions (www.djmarcburgess.com)
Catering: Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate (www.omnihotels.com)
Cake Artist: Party Flavors (www.orlandocustomcakes.com)
Linens: BBJ Linens (www.bbjlinen.com)
Chivari Chairs and Uplighting: Orlando Wedding and Party Rentals (www.orlandoweddingandpartyrentals.com)
Photography: DSWfoto (www.dswfoto.com)

Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate - Wedding Location
Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate - Wedding Dress
Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate - Wedding Shoes
Orlando Wedding Photographer - Bridal Porttrait - Omni Championsgate
Omni Championsgate Orlando - Wedding Rings
Omni Championsgate Orlando - Wedding Bouquet
Bride in Window at Omni Championsgate by Orlando Wedding Photographer
Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate - Groom's Cufflinks
Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate - Groom Putting on Tie
Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate - Groom
Omni Championsgate - Wedding in the Garden
Omni Championsgate - Wedding in the Garden
Omni Orlando - Just Married - Wedding Photography
Omni Championsgate - Bride and Groom
Bride and Groom on steps of Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate
Bride and Groom on steps of Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate
Omni Championsgate Resort - Wedding Photography
Garden Gazebo at Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate
Omni Orlando Wedding Photographer
Bride and Groom Walking the Fairway of the Golf Course at Omni Championsgate
First Dance - Bride and Groom - Championsgate Ballroom at Omni Orlando Resort

There are many different great websites and magazines giving you advice on your wedding. While their advice is often great, bear in mind not everything you read applies to you. Planning a wedding in Florida is much different than planning a wedding in Chicago or New York.

I hope these tips can help you with your planning for your wedding day in Florida!

Florida Wedding Photographer

1. June is not the most popular month to get married in Florida

Nationwide, June has notoriously been the most popular month to get married (17% of couples nationwide choose this month to get married). However, in Florida, the more popular months are often March and October, when the weather is almost perfect.

2. Traffic is unpredictable

As you know, driving in Central Florida can be very unpredictable, especially when it comes to some of the major roads such as I4 and the Florida Turnpike.

If you have a wedding where guests need to travel from the ceremony to reception, try to account for this. Especially with Friday weddings, avoid introducing your guests to rush hour traffic.

Another thing that can add delays is the tollbooth plazas. Although, you can zip through the sun pass lanes, not all of your guests will have that option.

A good rule of thumb is to drive the route and double that time as an estimate for how long it will take.

3. Weather is unpredictable

We are so fortunate to live in Florida where we can have weddings year round due to our warmer climate.

However, our wedding can be quite unpredictable. There has always been the adage about Florida — if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes. It is not uncommon to have a major lightning storm in one part of town, where just down the road, the sun is shining.

Account for this, especially rain, when you are meeting with your locations, as it is always good to have a backup plan.

4. Plan for heat

Even in early November, I’ve seen days where the temperature hit 90 degrees. If you are having an outdoor wedding, it’s a good idea to plan for ways to make your guests feel more comfortable.

Some good suggestions for this include – fans to cool themselves, cold water bottles to stay refreshed, and an air-conditioned option for guests to duck in to.

5. Pick the best time of day

The time of day for an outdoor wedding makes a big difference. If you are having an outdoor ceremony, check to see what time the sun will be setting, and more importantly where the sun will be facing.

Having a wedding an hour before sunset can be beautiful. But, if half the bridal party is staring directly in to the sun, it can be very uncomfortable.

Your wedding photographer is often the best person to talk to, to help make suggestions with scheduling key moments of the day.

6. Plan for humidity

Not only does Florida get quite warm, it can also be extremely humid throughout the year.

Consult with your hair and makeup artist to make sure you will be prepared to look beautiful throughout the day. A little extra hairspray can help keep your hair manageable. The makeup artist can also give you some “weapons” to prevent shiny skin.

7. Plan for out of town guests

Another great thing about a Florida wedding is that it’s not hard to convince out of town guests to come to this part of the country. We have so many fun things to offer your guests – great weather, theme parks, golf, beaches, etc. Many of your guests will make a vacation out of your wedding.

For your out of town guests, most hotels will offer a promotion if you book a block of rooms. It’s also key to try to book rooms near your reception site. If your reception is at a hotel, even better!

It’s fun to put together a “Welcome to Florida” basket for your guests with Florida citrus, waters, snacks etc. so that they feel more at home. Feel free to stick in some information about things to do while they are in town.

8. Check for other events

There’s always something going on in Tampa and Orlando. If you can, try to do some research beforehand to find out what will be going on around your wedding day.

Going back to traffic, if there is a major sports event going on at the Citrus Bowl, that could definitely affect traffic.

If you pick a park to go to for some photos after your wedding, make sure that other activities aren’t also going on at the same time.

9. Remember comfortable and appropriate shoes

There are so many gorgeous places to go to for photographs – the 18th hole of a country club, along the shoreline of the beach, through the streets of downtown, etc.

It’s very likely that the shoes that you wore to your wedding, may not be the most comfortable shoes to walk that little stretch to take those photos. If they aren’t, plan on bringing a spare pair of shoes to wear when going from Point A to Point B. You can always change back to your bridal shoes.

You may even want a third pair of shoes that you’ll be hitting the dance floor in at your reception.

10. Be upfront about a dress code

It’s Florida. It’s not uncommon to see guests in shorts and a tee shirt at our nicest of restaurants. The warm wind makes people think that a Tommy Bahama shirt and flip-flops are “fancy clothes”.

But, if you want your guests to be a little more dressed up, spell it out in the invitation. Otherwise, you’ll have some guests that look (and feel) out of sorts.

Along the same vein, if you are going for a casual “beachy feel”, tell your guests too. That way, your uncle won’t feel out of sorts in his three piece suit.