Virginia Autumn

As a photographer, you tend to get around. Between trying to meet the clients specific needs and inserting a little creativity into your work, you never quite do the same shot twice.

I recently did a round of holiday cards for some people in my area, which I am extremely fortunate to say is Virginia in the Fall. We met at the Noland Trail to hike in, just a little, and get some shots amidst the unbelievable beauty of Virginia’s Fall foliage. Right from the beginning, I knew it would produce some of my best work. Here’s a view of the bridge on the way to the starting point near the Mariner’s Museum:

AutumnBridge

In the interest of privacy, I won’t share any of the family portraits I took for my clients, but you can believe me when I say they turned out really fantastically. To give you an idea of how idyllic the location was, here is a shot of some of us hiking up towards the spots I’d scoped out for the mini-shoot:

AutumnHikers

And here is another of us immersing into nature, also on the way:
ForestAutumn

Here is a shot of the bridge you can see in the center of the very first photo:
NTBridge

Here’s one of some wildlife that happened by:

LakeView

I’ll leave you with a few final foliage shots. I should probably tie this back to the original theme of working creatively with your surroundings, but really I just wanted to show off how gorgeous my state is. By all means, please send some of your best shots of the beautiful world around you to me at jamessmithsonphotography@gmail.com. I love it when people engage. After all, we all love good photography. Speaking of:

Cheers, everyone!

Beauty All Around

Location, location, location.

One of the things I love the most about photography is that you can take it with you wherever you go. There are always ways of getting creative and artsy, of using what’s around you to full effect in the pursuit of that next great shot, but let’s be honest: nothing beats a great view. To that end, mother nature is the ultimate friend for any photographer, and I will be eternally grateful for the endless opportunities she provides me.

And of course the wonderful thing about learning to appreciate nature is that it’s literally everywhere. Go look out the nearest window, right this very moment. There it is.

Now, we all dream of the chance to travel to Aruba or Shrilanka, or perhaps Alaska, but big adventures often aren’t the norm and we must make the best of what we have during less exciting times. Fortunately for me, I live in Virginia, which is particularly lovely in the Fall. So even during less adventurous periods of life, there are plenty of beautiful spots nearby, if only I care to look for them.

I live in an adorable little neighborhood called Hilton Village, which is in Newport News, Virginia. Here is a shot I took while walking my son the school:

HiltonFall

And here is another I took while walking home after dropping him off:

HiltonAutumn

I have a tendency to get so focused on the day-to-day tasks of adult life that I walk right through this sort of beauty on my way to the next thing, but when I just slow down and remember to take in my surroundings, I remember that I live here all the time. I touched this photo up a little, using lightroom to bring out the colors, but honestly not much. Nature did all the work.

 

Hilton Village was built in the 1910s for a large influx of soldiers returning from WWI, many of whom got jobs at the Shipyard, not far away. Most if the houses, including mine, are more than a century old.

Here is a long exposure shot of the Shipyard from the neighborhood fishing pier which extends out into the James River:

EireShipyard

I like the way that the lights reflect on the water and create an eerie, otherworldly vibe. It reminds me of alien spaceships, maybe.

Actually, that fishing pier is a favorite of mine. It’s right next to the neighborhood playground, so I’ll frequently walk over with my son and set up a great shot as he plays, especially in the evening as the sun is going down. I could easily do a whole blog post about just that, but here’s my most recent one, just for a taste:

SunsetHiltonPier

 

I’ll often go on a quiet nighttime stroll once everyone is sleeping soundly to gather my thoughts and have some down time. Occasionally I remember the rich opportunity for nighttime photography, especially while experimenting with long exposure shots. Here’s a fun one:

StreetNight

It’s cliche but true: there is beauty all around, and it often doesn’t take much to find it, if you care to look.

Here’s a challenge: break out of your routine and seek out an opportunity to capture a beautiful moment on film. It doesn’t have to be very elaborate. A sunset view from your neighborhood park will do just fine. Make it something that’s relatively easy to access, but  you usually just can’t find the time. Do it today. Right now! Send your picture to jamessmithsonphotography@gmail.com. There’s no time limit on this. I want to do a regular “Beauty All Around” series and happily feature you as I go. Tell me a bit about the pictures you send. I love seeing people use photography to capture and celebrate the beautiful world all around us.

Cheers friends!

Fall Shoot

I’m still starting up and can’t afford luxuries like my own studio. So, if I want to do a themed shoot, I need to get creative. I do a lot of on location shoots. What to do if I want to celebrate Fall?

IMG_7865

I packed up my gear (plus all my photography knowledge and skills) and my family and headed over to Wood’s Orchards in Hampton, not far from where I live. They had everything I needed in terms of a set, allowing me to capture a precious baby moment, plus I bought a few pumpkins to decorate, which gives me a few hours of fun with my five-year-old, plus allows me to help support a great local business. Win win win!

BeckettPumpkinPatchCalebBeckettFall

If you’re in the Hampton Roads area in the fall, I highly recommend stopping by Wood’s Orchards. They’re a great local business, very family friendly, and a great showcase for the beautiful landscapes typical of Virginia. I’ll definitely be back next year. Thanks guys!

Support Local Business!

https://www.facebook.com/Woods-Orchards-127137030633240/

A Beautiful Wedding

It was a beautiful late Summer day in Virginia Beach. It started slowly, with people from the wedding party arriving one at a time. As members of the bridal party started prepping things for hair and makeup, and of course the dress, the groomsmen were suiting up and watching YouTube tutorial videos on how to do a proper bow tie. Others were getting ready to help with other necessities, like photography, audio and lighting for the nave. There was a low grade crackle of energy in the air, an anticipation for things to come.

  It was clear that both wedding parties cared about the happy couple very much. These were friends and family, taking their supporting roles seriously, working hard to ensure a smooth day for the stars of the show, the bride and groom. Several verbal run-throughs of the sequence of events were called for. Everyone wanted the day to be perfect. The love and support was plainly visible.

Things escalated when Family began to arrive, nearer to the start time of the ceremony. It was an emotional time. Some family members traveled exceptionally far in order to be there.

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There was an exchanging of vows and rings, then a lighting of candles. A series of interconnected metaphors for the beautiful and eternal love shared by these two unique people. It was all presided over by an able priest to the rapt attention of a full congregation.

There was a flurry of excitement and cheering as the ceremony came to a close and the couple was declared ‘Man and Wife.’ Everyone crowded to the front to get in an assortment of group pictures. Everyone was overjoyed!

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Next the entire wedding party absconded off to the reception, which was held at a Hilton right on the beach. While everyone took their places at the reception tables, the newly weds stopped to pose for a few formal pictures.

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The reception involved food and speeches, laughter and a few tears. There was cake. Everyone was eager to wish the newly weds well. But the highlight was undeniably the First Dance. The couple’s dance was beautiful and elegant. Soon everyone was on the dance floor and a proper party started off.

To end the night, the wedding party went out for a few pictures on the beach. This all took place while hurricane Florence was bearing down on the East Coast. While the worst of it missed Virginia, for a time it seemed like the wedding might have been called off, and so it was with an air of defiance and celebration that the party greeted Florence.

People stayed around to dance and celebrate well into the night. It was an amazing end to a fantastic day that everyone involved would remember fondly for a long time to come, all centered around the love of two amazing people who found each other in this crazy world.

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