Jamaican Adventures with Amy & Leroy

Check out this 10 min video to see some highlights of the whole story.
And be sure to choose the HD version and click the little button to make it go to full screen.

If you have a slow internet connection, just pause the show and let it load for a while before you watch.

After corresponding for two years with Leroy and Amy it was great to finally meet them in person in Negril. We met on the day before the wedding at a beautiful cliff-side restaurant called Rick’s Cafe. After an evening of dinner and drinks, the party bus came and took us all back to the Rockhouse Resort. The party gathered again back by the pool…

The highlight of the evening was the Queh Queh ceremony (an old Guyana tradition) where everyone danced and sang songs in a circle around the bride and groom. Then the bride was taken away to a hiding place (which is easy to do at the Rockhouse since the place is like a maze anyway). Then everyone formed a long line behind the groom (still singing and dancing) and snaked around and around the area searching for the lost bride. And of course if she couldn’t be found then the wedding was off! Or so the tradition goes. I suppose in the old days this gave the bride one last chance to run for the hills! But Amy was in no mood to run and Leroy eventually found

her hiding in the shadows.

The wedding day had not a cloud in the sky and everything fell into place perfectly. Immediately after the ceremony we took some family group shots then did a couple shots of Amy & Leroy out on the cliffs with the sunset in the background. Amy was quite the trooper as Leroy and I helped her out across the razor sharp Coral rocks in her Jimmy Choo spike heels.  I doubt Jimmy had that in mind when he designed those shoes. The shoes will never be the same but the light was so beautiful that I it was worth it.

The reception lasted far into the night. One of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen in the several hundred weddings I’ve attended was the “dance-off” that took place very spontaneously between the local Jamaicans (the DJ and Rockhouse staff) and the Groom’s relatives from Guyana. Pictures simply don’t do justice to something as fast moving as this dance but I can tell you it was a RIOT! I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.

As I was shooting table settings in the late evening, one of my 5D cameras (the one I’ve shot probably 200 weddings with) started making a funny noise when the shutter went off. When I held it over a table and took the lens off, the mirror fell out on the table! Yikes!  I always bring two camera bodies so it wasn’t really a big deal. The next day I walked down the road looking for some super glue but the tiny little Jamaican stores in that area don’t carry too much in the way of glue – except for finger nail glue. Upon closer inspection, I realized this stuff was the same cyanoacrylate chemical as super glue so I took it back to my hotel room and glued the mirror back in place. It’s still going strong, but yes, I am overdue for a new camera body. Maybe I’ll convert this one to Infra Red.

Two days after the wedding (and barely recuperated from waaaay too much rum punch) Amy, Leroy and myself met up with my long time Jamaican friend Ricky, for a drive out into what I call “the real Jamaica.” We drove out to Roaring River where we swam in the river and got the royal tour from a very real Rasta. He chopped open fresh coconuts, pick local wild fruits and herbs, and even cooked us lunch in what was perhaps the most humble setting I’ve ever eaten anything. But the food and the Jungle and the swim in the river and the leisurely stroll through this humble pastoral village could not have possible been more filling both to our stomachs, and our souls.

More driving through the countryside and up into the hills along twisting bumpy rocky roads that would barely meet the standards of a goat trail in the US, finally brought us to a private bird sanctuary nestled back into the thick Jamaican jungle. We arrived late in the evening as the bird life was at it’s busiest. Strange calls floated out of the Jungle, and the strangest of them all was the high pitched twittering of the Doctor Bird, Jamaica’s national bird. Like Tinkerbell, this tiny creature seems so strange that it could easily have jumped right off the screen of a Disney movie.  A tiny hummingbird that glows and sparkles iridescent green and blue as it rushes here and there on wings that twitter loudly sound as it darts through the thick tangle of forest branches. The iridescent green tail feathers split into a V and trail behind the tiny bird nearly a foot. So busy is it that most human activity goes completely ignored and it often passes so close that you can feel the wind from it’s tiny wings as it zooms past your face.

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Leroy and Amy, I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to share in your Jamaican adventures.

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Check out more YouTube videos from this photographer.

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Julia Rockler - February 11, 2010 - 11:26 am

These are drop-dead gorgeous shots; my favorite, the couple in chairs, relaxing in the sunset.

Will Pateman Photography - February 11, 2010 - 11:28 am

Great shots Great website

Shannon.haley@yahoo.com - February 11, 2010 - 12:42 pm

These photos are amazing. I never would’ve considered a location wedding, but I feel as though you’ve sold the destination with these special shots.

Kate - February 23, 2010 - 8:26 pm

This feels like a spread in Conde Naste… really. I feel like I have just taken an intimate journey to Jamaica … the real Jamaica and I loved every minute of it.

Yvonne Dunnington - July 26, 2010 - 12:04 am

Oh my goodness. I just myself returned from a destination wedding in Jamaica (as a guest, not a photographer). Wish we would have known you before the wedding … absolutely love your work!

Dani Meadows - August 3, 2010 - 5:48 pm

What a wonderful story and beautiful imagery. Gorgeous!

Lyndsay Bucik - August 8, 2010 - 8:17 pm

Beautiful, beautiful photos! I want to get on the next plane to Jamaica — the photos were so inviting.

22 Branding Tools in our Marketing Arsenal

What’s in a brand?  Turns out, there’s a lot.  

Several photographers recently asked me a few of the most helpful branding tools in our creative arsenal. Since I like lists, especially when it comes to goals, things to do, and items to think about for improving our business, I’ve compiled a list of 22 branding tools in our marketing arsenal. 

Copyright Kern-Photo 2009

Everything about our studio marketing/branding efforts is about communicating a consistent style. It has taken several years to build our brand and collateral, but in the end the clients see our efforts as a clear distinction between a hobby and a business. The numbers in the above image correspond to the notes below:   

  1. Me. No one else can be me. My style reflects a large part of who I am.
  2. Pricing Menu. Know what you are worth and don’t be afraid to stick to it. This is the first item that makes it into a potential clients hands and I want it to reflect what we do. Designed by Purr Design, printed by PS Print.
  3. Sample albums. It is easy for a wedding photographer to show a few great images from a dozen weddings. But completed albums (plural) are important to show consistency, regardless of the weather on the wedding day, the cost of a wedding dress or flowers, or prestige of venue. We work with Graphistudio for many of our wedding client albums.
  4. Postcards. Keeping personal contact is sooo important. These WHCC 5″ square cards have an awesome pearl finish which makes ‘thank you’ notes shine!
  5. Business cards. This single most important piece of marketing collateral. It reflects style, branding, and has all the right ways to get in contact with me. If I was a piece of paper, front and back, this is me. Alan & Janet from Trion Promotion and Design hooked us up. 

Copyright Kern-Photo 2009

6)   iPhone. Clients can expect to hear back from me within 24 hours. Also, I love to share my portfolio on my iPhone if people ask. 

7)  Parent albums. After all is said and done, parents want to remember the wedding, too. While they many not want to hang up a bunch of photos on the wall, a brag book is the perfect way for them to share your work…. all in a way that scale’s itself in a big way over time. 

8)  Stickers. Custom logo stickers add a simple & classy touch to ordinary packaging materials. Less can be more. Kudos to Trion Promotion and Design, once again. 

9)  A bomb-proof contract. Lawyer-approved and created by a graphic designer, this is the single most important piece of paper in any business transaction. We got our start by working with Photographer’s Toolkit.

Copyright Kern-Photo 2009

 10. Lens bag. Actually a Gregory bag intended for a woman’s purse, it also makes a great small camera & lens bag. The embroidering was about $35…. more than the cost of the bag. This thing is on my back when I’m out on engagement sessions, portrait sessions, and shooting weddings. It’s my alternative to a shootsac which has several soft zippers to keep gear lenses, card cases, wallet, and keys all safe when I’m on the run. I generally choose to hold my camera, sans strap, and choose to keep things simple and this works as a simple solution. Got it from REI.

11. Jacket. I like black. And I like staying warm in Colorado. This tool serves a triple purpose. This Costco jacket was purchased less than the cost of the embroidery on it. But the total value is far more, considering the awareness it brings when I’m running errands to the bank or post office. I booked clients just from the conversation which started about the logo on the jacket.

Copyright Kern-Photo 2009

12. CD tin. It holds up to 5 discs, makes it safe to mail high-resolution digital negatives in, and represents our signature aluminum inspired from Apple. Got ‘em from American-Digital

Copyright Kern-Photo 2009

13. Paper clips. Yes, they are our logo color. Little things get noticed by detail-oriented people. Many of our brides love details.
14. Mailing Box. Perfect for mailing digital negatives, our pricing sheets. White tissue paper to wraps the disk inside with custom sticker outside. Get yours at Creative Gift Packaging.
15. Ribbon. Perfect for wrapping albums. Coordinated with logo colors. Purchased at Costco.

Copyright Kern-Photo 2009

16. Office sign. We never forget who we work for.
17. Rubber stamp. Great to stamping boxes, folders. A cost-effective alternative to stickers on colored boxes.
18. FlipVideo. Great for filming digital shorts during workshops, speakers, or tutorials. Also, ever watch yourself shoot with clients? It’ll improve the way you move more than you think (I learned this from a recent Mike Larson workshop).
19. MacBook Pro. On the go editing, sharing photos, and the digital darkroom of Kern-Photo. Tons of RAM and hard drive space make editing a breeze.
20. Fleece blanket. Goes under the 23″ Apple cinema display for important wedding reception slideshows, a huge part of our word-of-mouth marketing effort. Blanket serves dual role for wrapping around monitor in traveling case.
21. Watermark. Reinforces the brand on every image we post on the blog or Facebook. Also, keeps people from ripping off our images.
22. Checks. Small-business banks will print your name on a check, generally for free, which reflects far more professionalism than a personal check. Also, many banks will provide you with a rubber stamp to endorse your business name on the back of a check. A side note, this is a framed check from our most successful month.

What’s missing?

Cameras, lenses, lighting equipment won’t do as much for your business as marketing efforts. Investing in good branding materials will make you more money than a fancy lens or camera ever will.

A few tips if you are just starting out in your branding: choose a logo that reproduces as well in embroidery, in black in white, and in print as it does for the web. That is about $500 in advice, trust us. It is easy to make something that looks good on screen, but when you make a rubber stamp or patch out of a logo, it may not look as good as it does on-screen, especially those important tiny details in your logo. In addition, expect slight differences will result between color spaces (RGB vs CMYK) and manufacturer’s colors. Work with good people and you’ll have no problem. Work with people that will “give you a good deal,” well… that may be another issue.

Kate - February 10, 2010 - 12:08 am

What great ideas! I love the embroidery on the “camera bag” and the DVD cases are display-worthy. Paper clips, ribbons and special papers — small details that surely make all of your brides feel like royalty.

Dave - February 10, 2010 - 12:11 am

Super run down of marketing tools. Half of these I have not really thought of as marketing tools, but you’re right, they might as well be turned into marketing tools! You’ve done a great job making an attractive logo and making it apparent where ever you can.

alexis - February 10, 2010 - 1:07 am

thanks for sharing. it’s a great reminder for me to finish off a few more items in my studio with my logo, feel like I’m about 90% there!

[…] justified in doing so. Feel free to check out our listing and also see a featured blog post about 22 branding tools in our marketing arsenal, specifically written to offer up ideas for other wedding photographers in the […]

Natasha du Preez - March 5, 2010 - 2:23 am

Some great ideas definately need to think about all of these. No … definately have to implement these in my business

Anna Bedek Photos - July 26, 2010 - 12:11 am

I recently found your blog through a Google search … and am so GLAD I found it! This is quite incredible of you to provide these tips on branding to aspiring new photographers. Thanks for sharing your tips and secrets. It’s so nice to find someone who believes in ‘payihg it forward’.

Barb Furlow - August 8, 2010 - 8:19 pm

Great stuff! Thanks so much for sharing these insights and practices.

beer brewing equipment - October 10, 2011 - 7:00 am

Great blog you have here, I’ll come back soon

RJCarbone - July 7, 2014 - 2:54 pm

Very comprehensive. I think the iPhone as put FlipVideo out of business, though. As an owner of a Flip Cam, during it’s time you couldn’t beat the ease of shooting and uploading to a PC or Mac. Now, as far a marketing goes, the iPhone and it’s rapid ability to upload video to Facebook and Instagram, as pretting much wiped FlipVideo out.

Orlee + David: Day After Shoot on Angel Island, San Francisco CA

Orlee and David had a beautiful wedding in Belvedere Tiburon, CA on June 21, 2009. The following weekend we planned a ‘Day After’ shoot at the hauntingly beautiful abandoned military facility on Angel Island. Orlee and David are no ordinary couple, and I am not the typical photographer. We new we wanted to do something different, extreme and exciting. Angel Island proved to be the perfect adventure!

This island can be found in San Francisco Bay just to the North of the infamous Alcatraz. From 1910-1940, Chinese immigrants were detained and interrogated at Angel Island’s immigration station. Japanese and German POWs were also held on the island, during WWII. The barracks and infirmaries were eventually abandoned, and now the island itself is a California State Park.

The old buildings on the island are no longer open to the public, and cannot be reached directly by ferry boat, so we were graciously chauffeured on a private sailboat over to the island by the couples good friend and fearless sea captain Conor. The sail over provided for some great photo opportunities with gorgeous views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Once we arrived on Angel Island, most of the shooting took place in the derelict buildings that once served as both a military base and quarantine station. The location was absolutely incredible. The setting combined with this gorgeous and willing couple made this shoot a day to remember!

We stayed until dusk and then headed back for a sunset sail home…It was an absolutely perfect evening! I can’t say enough good things about Orlee and David – It was truly a joy working with them.

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Copyright Larissa Cleveland 2009

Dave - February 10, 2010 - 12:06 am

Larissa, these are amazing! And it looks like you had a blast while you were at it!

Patricia Bailey - July 26, 2010 - 12:14 am

The photo of the couple sitting in the window with all the ‘greenery’ around them was my favorite. How very romantic!

Madeleine Jutras - August 3, 2010 - 5:54 pm

Gorgeous shots. I can’t get over how ‘blue’ the sky looks.

Katyln Forrest - August 8, 2010 - 8:22 pm

How appropriate … Angel Island … these photos are angelic!

Alisha and Brook Todd: Lens & Light Honor

The Lens & Light Honor is awarded to twelve photographers each year who are true leaders in the world of wedding photography. We look for photographers who produce stunning, modern, artistic imagery at the frontier of the field and for photographers who have achieved a rare level of success and recognition among brides, fellow photographers, and others in the wedding industry. We are proud to recognize Alisha and Brook Todd with our first-ever Lens & Light Honor.

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Copyright Alisha and Brook Todd 2010

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One of the Top 10 Photographers in the World

American Photo

Fabulous photographers capturing every moment, Brook and Alisha Todd

Oprah Winfrey

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Happily married for more than 10 years, Alisha and Brook share a passion for people and art which is readily evident in their blend of documentary and fine art photography. Alisha and Brook live in sunny California with their beautiful daughter (whom they adore), Giada Bella.

This dynamic duo travels worldwide to photograph destination weddings ~ from the warm, sandy beaches of Mexico and Hawaii to the breathtaking hills of romantic Tuscany, Italy. Locally, it might seem that Alisha and Brook have left their hearts in San Francisco, since many of the California weddings they photograph are in this lovely city by the bay. Yet, you’ll also frequently find them shooting weddings in the vineyards of Napa Valley and in charming Carmel.

No strangers to Hollywood, Alisha and Brook have photographed A-list celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Shania Twain, jazz artists Diana Krall and Chris Botti, Adam Sandler, and Rob Schneider. Alisha and Brook also photographed the wedding of Major League Baseball player Pat Burrell (of the Phillies). In 2004, Alisha and Brook photographed the nationally-televised Fantasy Wedding Dreams Come True (designed by celebrity event planner Colin Cowie) which was featured on the Oprah Show. As their images appeared at the conclusion of the show, Oprah acknowledged them as “Fabulous photographers capturing every moment, Brook and Alisha Todd.”

In 2007, Alisha and Brook were named by American PHOTO magazine as one of the 10 Best Wedding Photographers in the World.

Not surprisingly, their images have have graced the pages of many top magazines including Destination Weddings, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, Weddingbells, The Knot, Elegant Bride and Get Married. Alisha and Brook have also appeared in books including Signature Sasha: Magnificent Weddings by Design, The Best of Wedding Photography, and The Portrait Photographers. In addition, they have also been interviewed in articles of the following publications:  Studio PhotographyAmerican PHOTOKodak’s ProPass, and Rangefinder.

Awards granted to Alisha and Brook include the Grand Award for Photojournalism and First Place for Wedding Photojournalism from WPPI, and they have both received the Accolade of Photographic Mastery for their award-winning images. Sponsored by Kodak, Alisha and Brook continue to speak at WPPI’s international conventions as platform speakers. And as two of the founding members of “The Shortlist,” a select group of elite wedding professionals in San Francisco, Alisha and Brook are also members of PPA.

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VISIT WEBSITE: ALISHA AND BROOK PHOTOGRAPHERS

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Copyright Alisha and Brook Todd

Copyright Alisha and Brook Todd

Copyright Alisha and Brook Todd

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How did you get into wedding photography?

I knew from the very beginning when I took my first photography class in high school, that this was what I wanted to do. I started with portrait work while I was in college and then when a close friend was going to get married and asked me to photograph her wedding. I realized that I enjoyed it and that this was going to be my direction.

Brook had taken photography in high school also, but started at first with carpentry, which he did for several years. He assisted me during my first couple of years in doing wedding photography, and we discovered that he had the ‘eye’ for this. He’d found his niche, too.

How would you describe your style?

We’ve said for years that our style was ‘fine art meets photojournalism’. The truth is that since we’ve left film a couple of years ago, I would say that our work took on a different look: a more cinematic look. Our vision is fashion, with romance.

What cameras do you shoot with, what’s your favorite lens, and what’s your favorite accessory other than your cameras/lenses?

We use Canon 5D’s. Brook’s favorite lens is the 35-350 because it’s so versatile. Of course, it’s not a good lens indoors, but we shoot a lot of Napa weddings, which are predominantly outdoors. My fave is the 70-200 2.8 IS, which is fabulous indoors and outdoors. It’s a great lens to shoot photojournalistically and not be in anyone’s face. I love a big telephoto lens for the portraits of the bride and also the bride and groom. We both adore our 85 mm 1.2 lens!

As far as an accessory is concerned, I like to use a tripod to get scene setters that show off the reception. It’s not that I couldn’t skip it and just shoot high speed, but I always used it with film and I like to get the best quality scene setters.

How important is post processing in your final images?

While post processing can be very creative, the most important part is that the image has to be there first. It shouldn’t be about shooting a massive amount of images and hoping that some of them work, nor telling yourself that you can just make it work later. We do enhance the images, but feel that the impact of the initial image is primary and the enhancement is secondary. The enhancement, to me, should be like spice: it’s needed but should improve what’s already there.

Who or what inspires you to create great imagery?

We’ve been inspired by a number of great photographers during our career. However, a lot of other things have inspired us, too, such as film noire from the forties, the cinematography of some current movies and a lot of music videos, which are usually pretty cutting edge.

What is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?

When other things run late before you, the photography time is reduced by the length of time that the previous vendor was over. Then the photographer has to produce the expected body of work with a reduced time, catch the timeline up to speed and get the bride and groom to the reception on time. There can be other things occasionally, such as guests who think that they are the official photographer and try to shoot every shot over your shoulder.

What do you think are the most important trends in wedding photography today?

This is probably not the answer you might expect, but the biggest trend in wedding photography is that  brides think that is that every photographer is negotiable. We realize that people are affected by the recession, but  quality should still be viewed as quality. To quote something from Grace Ormonde: ‘The bitterness of poor quality remains long after low pricing is forgotten’. We know how important the photographs are. These become the client’s memories when day rushes by like a blur. We need to remind people people how meaningful these images are when this is all that remains of such a momentous day in their life.

If not a photographer, what would you want to be?

Brook says that he would do something in sales. I would either be a makeup artist or a Disney princess!

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VISIT WEBSITE: ALISHA AND BROOK PHOTOGRAPHERS

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Copyright Alisha and Brook Todd

Copyright Alisha and Brook Todd

Copyright Alisha and Brook Todd

Chris Flentye - February 9, 2010 - 4:17 am

Alisha & Brook ROCK!

Grant Oakes - February 9, 2010 - 1:12 pm

Great work Brook and Alisha!

Jean-Pierre Uys - February 16, 2010 - 2:14 pm

Fantastic – well done!

Rich Miller - February 20, 2010 - 9:24 am

Beautiful! The mirror photo at the top is – I know this word is way overused- amazing!

Elaine Borges-Ibanez Reel Life Photos - February 22, 2010 - 8:02 pm

Love the blend of colours on the first image: very creative composition altogether with the foreground blurring and the strong vertical division left and right, the textures… a true artist!

Brook - February 23, 2010 - 6:24 pm

Thanks for all the kind comments. You made our day.

phillipa - February 28, 2010 - 7:10 pm

You guys are amazing…love the one of the bride sitting down with her dress behind her, so artistic and beautiful.

Natasha du Preez - March 4, 2010 - 2:55 pm

WOW, that is just awesome! Congrats

Ariene - March 23, 2010 - 12:36 pm

I like your style 🙂
Best regards

Katyln Forrest - August 8, 2010 - 8:26 pm

I just stumbled across this blog and can completely understand why you were in the Lens and Light Honor! Wow! Beautiful work! Congratulations — Best of Wedding Photography must be so proud to have you as a member.

Marcel - September 10, 2012 - 9:07 am

Beautifull… The Black and white ones are amazing!

Alicja Duchiewicz-Potocka - September 23, 2018 - 9:21 pm

Absolutely amazing!