Photographer: Events, Weddings, Portraits – Austin, Texas

Archive for September, 2010

A Book For Wedding Photographers (Or Anyone)

I just wanted to share a book that I recently read that I really enjoyed that’s a quick read and I highly recommend:

It’s called “the accidental millionaire” by Gary Fong. The reason I read it is because it was a gift from a family member and I was naturally interested because Gary Fong is a famous wedding photographer, inventor and entrepreneur. I realize that everyone might not connect with the book in the same way I did, but this one is a really fun read because it is so conversational and such an honest, intimate look at one man’s life and struggles. There’s really not much in the book about making millions (which is probably a good thing) – only the philosophy of thinking about things in a different way and having fun while doing it. I like to think of it as the modern, simpler version of “Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance”.

One of my favorite little nuggets of information comes at the very end of the book (page 260 of 264):

Gary says, “When you’re passionately preparing for one thing, the universe may be preparing you for something else. As long as you’re actively and creatively preparing for something, you’re usually on the right track.”

I got the photo of the book above from, where Gary’s book is currently listed less than $11! Go grab it today!

2010 Bride’s Choice Awards!

I just wanted to post a blog about a nice little award we (Austin Americana Photography – formerly Martin Whitton Photography) won earlier this year. We’re proud recipients and supporters of Wedding Wire!

Austin, Texas – January 19, 2010WeddingWire just announced Martin Whitton Photography (now Austin Americana Photography) has been selected to receive the 2010 Bride’s Choice Awards™ for Wedding Photojournalism!

The annual Bride’s Choice Awards™ recognizes and celebrates excellence in quality and service within the wedding industry, as determined by recent reviews and extensive surveys from over 500,000 newlyweds.

Bride And Her Flower Girl

Martin Whitton Photography (Austin Americana Photography) is among the top five percent of all vendors in the WeddingWire community, which includes over 100,000 wedding professionals across the US and Canada. Awards were given to winners across 19 different service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers.

“We are excited to recognize and honor the success of the top wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Community” said Timothy Chi, WeddingWire’s Chief Executive Officer. “The annual Bride’s Choice Awards™ program has given us the unique opportunity to highlight the best wedding professionals in each region as reviewed by brides and grooms who have utilized their services in the past year.”

We are happy to announce that Martin Whitton Photography (Austin Americana Photography) is among the very best  Wedding Photojournalism within the WeddingWire Network, which includes WeddingWire and Martha Stewart Weddings. We would like to thank our past newlyweds for nominating us for the 2010 Bride’s Choice Awards™.

For more information, please visit our home at or our WeddingWire Storefront today at

“Getting Ready” Wedding Photos

I have a lot of favorites when it comes to photography of weddings, but I think one of the things that I enjoy photographing most is watching things unfold before the ceremony as the bride and groom get ready. You can almost feel the magic and mystery in the moment of anticipation – it’s the calm before the storm when you can almost feel the electricity in the air. The bride and groom ready themselves both physically with elaborate costumes, jewelry and makeup for one of the biggest moments of their lives: when they will stand before their friends and family and a higher power to commit to one another everything they have.

Normally for the groom and groomsmen it is a time of camaraderie and reflection. But for the bride it is the foremost time of her life where she shines like never before. All of her bridesmaids, her mother and other family members recognize that she has officially made the transition from single daughter to independent woman. Like a burgeoning flower, her beauty is in full bloom and at this moment her womanhood has come into full fruition. Everyone around her recognizes the amazing, glowing aura that emanates from the bride. She is confident and hopeful for the fortuitous future that lies ahead of her and her groom.

Bride Looks Into Mirror Before Wedding Ceremony

Like I said, the “getting ready” shots are a fun thing to capture with a camera. The moments before the wedding ceremony are frequently bursting with emotion and excitement. And if I do my job right as a photographer all this is translated into the images that my camera captures.

Bride's Dress on Hanger

Stylist Applies Makeup To Bride

Bridesmaids Help Fit Bride w/ Her Dress

Groomsmen Having Some Fun Before Ceremony

Mom Applies Some Finishing Touches To Bride's Gown


Bride Gazes Into Mirror

Bridesmaids Lend a Helping Hand To Bride

Bride And Her Flower Girl

Groomsmen Prepare For Wedding Ceremony

Bride Does a Makeup Check...

What Is Bokeh?

Wikipedia defines bokeh as,

“a photographic term referring to the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus areas of an image produced by a camera lens using a shallow depth of field.[1] Essentially, bokeh is an aesthetic and qualitative measure of light distortion in the out-of-focus areas of an image, and is primarily caused by lens aberrations and aperture shape.”

Wikipedia goes on to explain that bokeh is taken from a Japanese word (boke), which can be interpreted as “blur” or “haze”.

In short, I just wanted to create a lead-in to the topic I’ll be writing about in the next week: Depth of Field (DOF). In a way, bokeh is the “Yin” to DOF’s “Yang”, if you will. Or perhaps bokeh could be considered the boundary that delineates where DOF begins.

Single Rose at Zilker Botanical Wedding in Austin

At any rate, the photo above shows a flower in the foreground that is the focal point of the image. Most of the image that remains is a blurred background or bokeh. The photo is from a Zilker Botanical Garden wedding I photographed earlier this year here in Austin. More on the topic of Depth of Field in the coming days…

Bride Prepares Her Makeup Before Ceremony


Shooting For The Moon!

Tonight, September 22, 2010, we observed a very large and beautiful moon in our back yard. A friend coincidentally asked us to photograph it, so I did. It was a beautiful sight. Keep in mind that wedding photography and astronomical photography are distant cousins, meaning they require totally different equipment.

According to, tonight is a special moon; it’s the harvest moon…

A week after the first quarter phase in September comes the full moon, which will also hold the title of Harvest Moon — a full moon that occurs nearest in the calendar to the autumnal equinox.

This year we have an almost perfect example of a Harvest Moon, since the moon will turn full only 6 hours and 8 minutes after the equinox on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 5:17 a.m. EDT (0917 GMT).

So go out to your back yard and have a look and enjoy the harvest moon! Read the entire article here: Harvest Moon

Austin, TX Harvest Moon at Dusk, September 22, 2010

Austin, TX Harvest Moon After Dark, September 22, 2010

Notice the little speck in the bottom right corner…I believe that is Jupiter, if my sources are correct (above).

Texas Moon


Dexter: My Favorite Serial Killer TV Show

I have a confession to make; I love serial killer movies and tv shows! There, I said it. I feel much better now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest. In particular, I love the Showtime series called “Dexter”, starring Michael C. Hall. But I’m not the only one who loves the show. Many of my friends have admitted liking the show and rooting for Dexter too. But isn’t there something morally wrong with siding with a serial killer/bad guy on tv? Perhaps there is, but the writers for Dexter do a superb job of making the viewer feel compassionate toward and a connection to a vigilante serial killer named Dexter.

Dexter: A Showtime Series

So who is Dexter? He’s a blood spatter analyst (imagine CSI-type) who works for the Miami, Florida Metro Police Department. He spends his days helping to solve murders by investigating crime scenes; he spends his nights researching, planning and executing his next kill. Unlike many well known serial killers like Hannibal Lecter or Jeffrey Dahmer (who were loners), Dexter is a more of a social person on the outside. When the series began he was single but soon finds himself in a serious relationship involving children, which creates challenges for his busy schedule as a crime-fighting criminal.

During the show the viewer is allowed full access to Dexter’s every thought. He frequently obsesses about who he is (a father, killer, citizen, etc.) and he often discusses his precarious situations with his deceased father, Harry, who introduced him to killing in the name of “The Code” – a series of rules that were developed to allow Dexter to quench his desire to take away life and yet balance it with the ideals of killing in the name of justice – i.e., killing those who have killed or caused serious, malicious harm to others and somehow escaped the judicial system.

Dexter Appears To Be All Americana!

So why blog about Dexter? First, it’s one of my favorite shows on tv and second there’s a wedding scene that I enjoyed (as someone who works at a lot of weddings). [Spoiler Alert!] I’m about to discuss the end of season 3, so if you haven’t seen it, stop reading! At the end of Season 3 (Episode 12: Do You Take Dexter Morgan?), Dexter narrowly escapes the clasps of another serial killer, “The Skinner”. In the process of escaping he breaks his hand/wrist and cuts himself. But luckily he escapes just in time to make it to his wedding ceremony. One of the final scenes shows Dexter falling back into his hum-drum, suburban, Neo-Americana lifestyle with his new bride and family. As the camera pans away from the close up shot of Dexter dancing with his new wife, a single drop of red blood drips onto the back of her wedding gown, unbeknownst to either person. This drop seems to be the symbol for Dexter’s life – something serious and deadly is always lurking just beneath the surface or just behind you.

Season 5 premieres on Showtime – Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don’t miss it. Dexter could be your new addiction!

Dexter Artistic Rendition

My Favorite Dexter Photograph! Very Goth...

Cast of Dexter

Corporate Portrait Sessions & Individual Headshots

Did you know that we do personal headshots and corporate portrait sessions? Yep, we do that too! Although weddings keep things busy, we make time to photograph individuals for self promotion (like actors, musicians, etc.), seniors, and offices who need professional looking images of their employees for print or posting online.

Headshot Portrait

Austin Americana Photography Studio recently worked with professionals at Texan Eye to create in house portraits of optometrists and specialists in the environment where they work.  (See examples below)

Our clients have the freedom to choose where they will be photographed – natural, outdoor environment; studio environment; onsite/on location for corporate work environment.

Examples of clients for whom we’ve created beautiful, professional looking photos:

– Physician/Optometrist Offices;

– Fine Art/Media Clientele;

– Musicians;

– Individual/Personal

– Actors;

– Corporate Professionals

black and white outdoor headshots in Austin, Texas

Office Manager Portrait Photo

Corporate Headshot

Doctor Portrait Photo

Austin, Texas Headshot Portrait

Gifts For Groomsmen & Bridesmaids

Finding a gift for your bridesmaids and groomsmen isn’t always easy. I found this article that has some great ideas and suggestions for buying gifts for your guys and gals. Personally, I bought my groomsmen fossil watches, which fell into my budget nicely and insured that everyone would at least be sporting one piece of jewelry (and hopefully show up to wedding day on time!). Get creative and think about what they might like, along with what you can afford, of course. Happy hunting…

Wedding Gifts


Wedding Rings


Laguna Gloria Bridal Photos

These photos were captured during several different photo sessions this year at the beautiful Laguna Gloria, a part of the Austin Museum of Art educational center, located near Mount Bonnell in West Austin off of Mopac and 35th Street. The AMOA Laguna Gloria web page states that the grounds include a 1920s style flat located on 12 acres of park land with approximately 1 mile of water frontage on the Colorado River. It’s a beautiful place, inside and out including statues, lots of plant life and a feeling of calm just around the corner from the bustling downtown Austin.

Bride Relaxing on Antique Furniture at Laguna Gloria

About Laguna Gloria…

“I have placed in what I consider a proper setting a number of really beautiful and graceful statues, which I was fortunate to obtain from one of the finest gardens of Old Italy, this to give an Old World touch to an incomparably beautiful Texas landscape and contribute a little dignity and formality to the riotous caprices of this violet crowned vale. ” – Clara Driscoll

According to the official AMOA – Laguna Gloria Brochure, Laguna Gloria offers a selection of historic sites, including…

A. Historic Wrought Iron Gates from the Texas Capitol

B. Putto Fountain from Rome

C. Amphitheater

D. Wishing Well From Tuscany (c. 1925)

E. Location of Old Cannon

F. Location of Old Sundial

G. Mission Bell

H. Garden of the Four Seasons

I. Sunken Garden

J. State Archeological Landmark (Native American Site)

K. Temple of Love

L. Historic Wrought Iron Gates From The Texas Capitol

[See Map at AMOA Laguna Gloria website]

Bride Gazes Out Glass Doors at AMOA Laguna Gloria in Austin

As the Austin Museum of Art’s original home, AMOA-Laguna Gloria Offers a unique experience of history, art and nature. This beloved site has been declared a national treasure and is on city, state and national registries of historic places. Visitors are encourage to tour the restored Driscoll Villa, stroll the lush 12-acre grounds overlooking Lake Austin and view the outdoor sculpture.

Inspired by Clara Driscoll’s Italian travels, her passion for gardening, her love of antiquity and her native state, the grounds of Laguna Gloria have been revived to Driscoll’s landscape plan of 1916. The interest in aesthetics over function in the garden is in keeping with an 18th century notion that landscape gardens be appreciated as three-dimensional, living works of art. In the early 20th century, it was fashionable to organize gardens around a particular concept with poetic references to antiquity meant to stir the intellect and emotions. In this tradition, Driscoll filled her garden with classical references to the passage of time – including the Garden of the Four Seasons, the Sundial Garden, and the Wishing Well, as well as the bas-relief Aurora, which originally hung over the exterior of the Villa above the east doorway.

Driscoll also transformed the site from its rough natural landscape to a carefully designed garden laid out in two distinct manners – the “beautiful” and the “picturesque.”

Bride Poses as Wind Catches Her Veil at Laguna Gloria

Information on booking and tours:

512.495.9224 X313


Public tours occur each Saturday and Sunday at 1pm

Austin Museum of Art – Laguna Gloria

3809 West 35th Street

Austin, TX

Couple (bride & groom) Posing in Driscoll Villa of AMOA Laguna Gloria

Bride at Laguna Gloria

Bride Posing Behind Driscoll Villa at Laguna Gloria in Austin, Texas

Bridal Session Inside Driscoll Villa at Austin's Laguna Gloria

Bridal Photo Session at AMOA Laguna Gloria

9 Simple Lessons From A Child (Fun Friday Fotos)

1. Dress up every now and then.

Roman Playing Dress up

2. Take time to stop and smell the roses.

Roman Sniffing Some Flower Petals

3. Always find time to laugh and enjoy life.

4. Spend time with family and friends.

5. Sometimes you have to give a little love in order to get love back.

6. Ice Cream is good for the soul.

7. Never underestimate the power of a nap!

8. Be ready for new adventures.

9. Try new things and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Favorite Wedding Cake Toppers

Over the years I’ve seen lots of different wedding cake toppers. Some have been funny, some have been traditional and others have been unique. The wedding topper is like the flag that a ship flies; it sort of sets the tone and mood for a cake.

Bride Chasing Groom (My Favorite!)

The old traditional topper was usually a depiction of a happy, in love bride and groom or of wedding bells. But these days there are a few new ones to choose from that give your cake a little personality and set it apart in some instances. What will your cake have on top?

Check out some of the memorable or favorite toppers that I’ve photographed over the past few years…

Bride & Groom Holding Guns

Decorative Flower and Vine Motif for Pseudo-Topper

More Traditional Wedding Cake Topper

Bride & Groom Ball & Chain I

Bride & Groom Ball & Chain II

Topper with Cupcakes

What is Americana?

If you do a Google search for “Americana” and you click on “photos” you get images like American flags, barns, flags on barns, stars, eagles, Lindsey Lohan (Ok, so she’s not really Americana, but I guess she just pops up in most searches! 🙂 – you get the idea though.

When I think of Americana, I think of what might be considered the Golden Age of the 20th Century – a time when life was simpler and slower. American Heritage Magazine considers America’s Golden Age to begin around 1870 and to end in 1970. Although it’s probably still a little too early to write the history on this particular topic it’s still fun to speculate.

Cowboy Groom

Here are some ideas that I have about what is Americana:

Scene 1: A family huddles closely to a radio in the living room of their tiny wooden house to hear the weekly broadcast of The Lone Ranger.

Scene 2: An old man dressed in dusty overalls and a hat sits on a bucket under an oak tree and plays the blues on an old, out-of-tune acoustic guitar.

Scene 3: A uniformed U.S. Sailor disembarks his ship returning from a long deployment and runs to embrace the woman who anxiously awaited his return.

St. Louis Cardinals 1910 - Library of Congress

According to Wisegeek, an online source of information,

“Americana refers to cultural artifacts, cooking, art, architecture, and history that distinctly reflect the US culture. In essence, Americana expresses those things that would be most associated with Americans, even if they were beloved in other countries. For example, the apple pie, though made in a number of other countries is thought a perfect example of Americana cuisine. Statements like “It’s as American as baseball or apple pie,” suggest that Americans in a sense “own” certain cultural developments and most associate these things as part of their cultural heritage.”

Americana is also considered a genre of music and is defined by the American Music Association as,

“… music that honors and is derived from the traditions of American roots music. It is music inspired by American culture traditions which is not only represented in classic man made / roots based sounds but also through new and contemporary artists whose music is clearly inspired by these great traditions. It is a great genre, vast, like jazz which encompasses a wide range of music. Like jazz, which spans from Miles Davis to Harry Connick to the Preservation Hall, Americana’s range includes artists like Gram Parsons, Soloman Burke, The Band, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Mavis Staples…”

Wikipedia goes further by defining Americana as,

artifacts, or a collection of artifacts, related to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of the United States. Many kinds of material fall within the definition of Americana: paintings, prints and drawings; license plates or entire vehicles, household objects, tools and weapons; flags, plaques and statues, and so on. Patriotism and nostalgia play a defining role in the subject. The things involved need not be old, but need to have the appropriate associations. The term may be used to describe the theme of a museum or collection, or of goods for sale.”

Rosie Riveter - Reminiscent of WWII

I think as simple and mundane as Americana can be, I like it because it evokes a genuine spirit of our United States heritage. Every little item that embodies what Americana stands for reminds us of our past and of our family’s heritage. And I don’t think it really matters if you’ve lived in this country for 1 year or if your family has made a home here for hundreds of years. Every one of us feels the comfortable kinship that Americana inspires.

Austin Americana Photography Studio strives to provoke the same kind of spirit – the Americana spirit that lives within all Americans. With the camera lens we capture all that is American and Americana culture.

Woodie Guthrie - Courtesy of Library of Congress

Abraham Lincoln - Courtesy of Library of Congress


  5. Library of Congress Photography

Photography Good Enough For The President!

A few months back I blogged about how excited I was to announce a new addition to my wedding camera family: the Canon 5D Mark ii. While it probably doesn’t mean much to my wedding and portrait clientele that I’ve upgraded, to a photographer it means a lot. To the photographer it’s the difference in a full frame and partial frame sensor; greater flexibility in low-light situations; the ability to capture high-resolution HD video and more. Ultimately for my brides and grooms it means that they’ll be getting more great shots than ever with an increased quality in images that can be seen in the printing process.

Ring Bearer & Flower Girl Are Escorted Toward Austin Wedding Ceremony

I recently read an article that President Obama’s official portrait was taken with the Canon 5D Mark ii as well, which really surprises me. So now I’m telling my clients that if the Canon 5D Mark ii is good enough for our American President, then it’s definitely good enough for their wedding photographs. It’s definitely an exciting time for photography in America as we watch things change and evolve so quickly. I’m proud to be an American Photographer!

Large Floral Boutonnière In Groom's Tux at Austin Wedding Ceremony

Poll: Brides Use Internet For Wedding Vendor Searches

Where do brides go to find a caterer, photographer or other wedding vendor? In the past they’ve used the Yellow Pages, visited brick & mortar stores, attended bridal extravaganzas or asked a friend. But today the answer is clearly “The Internet”!

Jeff Kear and the gang at My Wedding Workbook (an online resource for wedding planning) recently conducted a poll that surveyed over 800 brides. They discovered that when searching for wedding ideas and information, brides go online. In fact, the top three kinds of pages that brides visit when researching for their wedding are wedding websites, wedding blogs and search engines (like Google).

flowers captured at an Austin, Texas Wedding

Here’s some great information taken from the My Wedding Workbook article:

Generation Y and the Millennials have been using computers and the Internet practically their entire lives, so it only makes sense that these are the first resources they use when they start planning a wedding,” said Jeff Kear, owner of My Wedding Workbook.

In fact, when brides were asked what will be their main source of aid throughout the wedding planning process, the Internet (17.8%) ranked just behind brides’ fiances (28.4%) and their mothers (21.3%) – one of the more interesting statistics from the survey.

And what do brides specifically look for when they are surfing the Web? The top items are wedding advice and how to’s, planning tools, wedding attire, floral and decor, and photography/videography.

“It’s no surprise that wedding guidance and shopping are definitely the two areas of most interest for online brides,” says Kear. “However, the recent recession has made brides even more reliant on the Internet for assistance in these two areas. Brides are more budget conscious than ever, so they are planning more events and details themselves and need more guidance. They are also spending more time comparison shopping and browsing for bargains, and the Internet has become the default venue for comparing prices and vendors.”

Likewise, it’s also critical for brides to do their homework in evaluating vendors they have discovered online. “Don’t just rely on the ratings on websites, as they might be unfairly weighted toward positive or negative reviews,” says Kear. “Instead, ask your friends who have planned weddings, pose questions in local online forums and even talk to vendors who you have already found and trust. I guarantee a caterer has already worked with a florist they admire, or an officiant knows of a great wedding coordinator who they would recommend. The Internet can be helpful, but there’s no substitute for word-of-mouth.”

The complete online system for planning a wedding, My Wedding Workbook offers a step-by-step process for planning and sharing your wedding, from the proposal all the way through the honeymoon. Included in the system are dozens of wedding planning tools, a wedding website, guest email communications center and dozens of tip sheets and checklists that walk you through the whole wedding planner process.

You can contact Jeff by email at or by phone at 1-877-266-3885.

Source: My Wedding Workbook

Austin Americana Photography Goes “Green”!

Austin Americana Photography is excited to announce that we are teaming up with Greener Photography to become the greenest photography studio that we can be. How? Well, there are many small things that we can do, environmentally speaking. But first, what does “green” mean?

Wikipedia defines “green” (also, eco-friendly or environmentally friendly) as, “synonyms used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies considered to inflict minimal or no harm on the environment.[1] To make consumers aware, environmentally friendly goods and services often are marked with eco-labels. But because there is no single international standard for this concept, the International Organization for Standardization considers such labels too vague to be meaningful.”

Being “green” is still new and a concept for which a foundation is currently being laid. Each individual has an idea of what being “green” means to him or her. Here’s how we intend to become a greener studio, some of which we already do:

  • When buying new equipment is necessary, we buy products from the following green companies that have a strong commitment to the environment and various environmental programs: Canon USA, Fuji Film, Kodak, LowePro and UPS.
  • We offer green products when available, including recycled paper and other recycled products related to albums.
  • We offer clients a CD of images after wedding day (as opposed to huge numbers of print proofs that get thrown away).
  • We use high efficiency automobiles (when travel is required).
  • We pass along all unused electronic equipment to others who use it.
  • We pass along broken equipment to local recycling centers.
  • We combine home/office working space to save energy.
  • We recycle all office waste.
  • We use recycled materials for printing and wherever possible.

We realize that there is always more to do and improvements to make in order to fully realize the potential of becoming green and reducing our carbon footprint (calculate your carbon footprint here) on earth. Therefore, we intend to continue our effort to become the greenest studio that we can be my making continuous positive changes to how we do business, one step at a time.

Zilker Botanical Garden Engagement Session

From The Greener Photography Website:

Greener Photography, a non-profit organization, actively seeks to mitigate the environmental impact of the photography industry by educating photographers, suppliers and the general public about the benefits of going green. The organization was founded by wedding photographer Thea Dodds and portrait photographer Dawn Tacker who were both looking to make their studios more environmentally-friendly. Finding the resources necessary for greening their businesses, however, proved challenging. Dodds and Tacker found themselves spending countless hours researching and sifting through information, often trying to decide what was truly an environmentally friendly option, versus a product or service just jumping on the “green” bandwagon.

“After we spent an enormous amount of time and energy doing the research to make our own businesses more eco-friendly, we realized that other photographers really could benefit from this information. If we could help other photographers more easily green their studios, we’d be not only be helping the photography community, but also the environment. That’s when Greener Photography was born,” said Tacker.

Eco Friendly Links provided by Greener Photography:

Carbon Compass – Australian carbon reduction tips 
Eco Wedding – Green Wedding Resource Guide – Free listing
Ethical Weddings –
Forest Stewardship Council – U.S. – FSC-certified papers
Forest Stewardship Council Canada – FSC-certified Printers
Green America –
Green Bride Guide – Free listing and upgrade discount for GP members
Green Elegance Weddings
Green Maven
Grow Me the Money – Australian business sustainability program.
Home Energy Resource – Energy gadgets
International Society of Sustainability Professionals
International Solar Energy Society
Tree Hugger
Wrap Art – Clever ways to re-purpose waste materials


Playing In The Yard (Fun Friday Fotos)

Running House To House

Lying On The Driveway

Star Hill Ranch Wedding

Ever thought of having your wedding on a movie set in Texas? Perhaps you didn’t know such a thing exists, but it does! It’s called Star Hill Ranch and it’s located right here in Central Texas, about 30 minutes from downtown (depending on how you drive), out near Hamilton Pool (near Bee Cave) in West Austin.

In 2002, the movie The Alamo was filmed on the set of Star Hill Ranch. One of the reasons that Star Hill Ranch was chosen is because it resembles an old west town. The 30-acre tract has one main street of dirt lined with antique buildings and churches that were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, giving Star Hill Ranch the look of a western town.

Star Hill Ranch - A Popular Wedding Venue in Austin

Creating the town was the brainchild of architect and 5th generation Texan, Adam Woolley, who dreamed of creating such a set for years before making it happen and opening officially in 2004.

“Some childhood dreams DO come true. By the time Adam Woolley was nine years old, he knew that someday he wanted to create a town of his own, just like his great-grandfather’s hometown of Industry (the first permanent German settlement in Texas, near Brenham). When his fourth-grade teacher asked the class to write an essay on what they’d like to do when they grew up, Adam earned an “A” by detailing plans remarkably similar to what he has put together, thirty-four years later, in Bee Cave. ”

“My goal was never to build an Old West town,” he explains. “I was aiming for a Hill Country town – the kind of civilized, self sufficient community that European immigrants built when they came to Texas. I wanted a location close to an urban area where people could go to experience that lifestyle; one where people could just step off into an earlier time.” – Hill Country Magazine Online

Groomsmen at Star Hill Ranch Wedding

Star Hill Ranch hosts many different events including movies, weddings, corporate events and more. On site facilities include a historic, indoor chapel, an outdoor arbor (for outdoor ceremonies), a bride’s house, a groom’s quarters, large and small reception halls which can accommodate up to 300 people, a bier garten and lots of fun props including a windmill, wagons and more.


Church at Star Hill Ranch Wedding

Bride & Father at Star Hill Ranch Wedding

Wedding Reception at Star Hill Ranch

Star Hill Ranch

Bridesmaids at Star Hill Ranch

Bride & Groom at Star Hill Ranch Windmill

Austin Wedding Photographer: 15 Popular Venues in Austin, Texas

15 photographs of 15 places that I’ve photographed weddings in and around Austin, Texas. These are some of the more well known wedding spots in Austin. I frequently get asked by brides where I’ve photographed weddings around Austin. Of course there are many more places that I’ve photographed over the years, but here are some of the more popular and well known locations for weddings in and around Austin, Texas…

1. Star Hill Ranch – Near Hamilton Pool in west Austin, it’s a remake of an old west town, complete with a main street lined with old churches, bars and other antiques – amazing!

Star Hill Ranch - It's Like Being On An Old West Movie Set!

2. Driskill Hotel – Austin’s most famous historic hotel, since the 1800s on the famous 6th Street in Downtown Austin.

Street View Of The Driskill Hotel In Austin

3. Villa Antonia – Italian villa-style in the Texas Hill Country – a superbly popular wedding venue.

Bride Descends The Winding Staircase at Villa Antonia

4. Avery Ranch – North Austin hot spot that’s affordable and on a golf course!

Avery Ranch - North Austin's premier place to live, work and have a wedding on a golf course!

5. Austin Woman’s Club (Chateau Bellevue) – Historic event location located in the heart of Austin – filled with antique furniture and design from the early 1900s.

Austin Woman's Club

6. Canyon Of The Eagles – Best kept secret in Burnet, Texas, just north of Austin – featuring unrivaled privacy and sweeping lake views of Lake Buchanan.

Bride & Groom at Canyon Of The Eagles

7. Renaissance Hotel – The most fantastic hotel in the Arboretum in North Austin.

Reception Setup at Renaissance Hotel Austin

8. Vintage Villas – A beautiful venue in the Hill Country overlooking Lake Travis.

Villa Antonia Wedding

9. Casa Blanca – Southern plantation-style mansion on the banks of the San Gabriel River, just north of Austin.

After Dark Shot of The Back Patio of Casa Blanca in Round Rock

10. Zilker Clubhouse & Zilker Park – Zilker Park, located in Central Austin near Lady Bird Lake & Barton Springs, is a historic, natural treasure to Austin.

Zilker Park Wedding - A Rose

Zilker Club House Reception - Austin, TX

11. Chapel Dulcinea – Austin’s famous “free” wedding chapel, located in South Austin.

Bridesmaids Approach Chapel Dulcinea

12. Angel Springs – New premier, secluded wedding location in Leander/Cedar Park area.

Angel Springs Wedding

13. Green Pastures – Austin’s oldest and most famous “world class” restaurant – a classic venue that includes peacocks and acres lush, green vegetation.

Green Pastures Wedding

14. Kindred Oaks – Another hidden treasure in Williamson County (north of Austin), featuring solace in a rural setting that makes you feel at home.

View Of The Lake From Kindred Oaks Outdoor Chapel

15. Mercury Hall – South/Central Austin’s original restored early 20th century church, placed among oaks – quiet in an urban area that is close to downtown.

Mercury Hall Wedding Reception

Playing In The Sprinkler!

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do as a child in the summer time was playing in the water. And why not?! – Texas summers are blazing hot and there’s no better way to cool off and have fun at the same time when you’re outdoors. We weren’t always around a pool during the summer time, but if there’s a backyard near then all a person needs is running water, a water hose and a sprinkler. I would think that it’s pretty self explanatory how it works, but if that is unclear here’s what you do:

1. Find a grassy, open area in your yard suitable for a sprinkler (you’ll need lots of space for running and jumping!);

2. Hook up faucet to hose and then hose to sprinkler;

3. Turn on water and let the sprinkler frenzy begin!

A Soggy Pause Between Sprinkler Fun In The Backyard

There’s just something magical and exciting about running through the sprinkler. I call it a “frenzy” because it is sort of random and chaotic how things unfold when more than 2 people are involved. Basically, everyone takes turns running through the sprinkler and getting soaked. Sometimes there’s yelling or screaming during this pure, aquatic delight. Many times there are interpretive dances and jumps that occur above the sprinkler. But most important is that everyone has fun and everyone gets completely soaked.

Knowing that I had so much fun at this activity when I was young allows me to now feel a vicarious connection and kinship to the fun when I watch my young son do the same thing this summer. It’s a great feeling.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend! And if you’ve never experienced the frenzied fun of running through the sprinkler, it’s never too late to try it!

Running Through The Sprinkler!

More Sprinkler Madness! 🙂

Who Is Elmo Tide?

I stumbled onto this interesting photographer’s photos through NPR’s website. He’s a bit of an enigma, but his photos are simple, yet fascinating slices of strange Americana photography. He photographs people in the streets, wrestlers (luchadors) in the ring, smokey backroom scenes and much more. He’s apparently only made 2 uploads to his Flickr page, but there’s lots of amazing work to see. He is a photographer who captures the imagination. View more and his interview here:
My favorite Elmo quote was when he was asked if he had a desk job. He responded:

A desk job is very much like a nose or a boob job in that being unhappy with who we are we hide behind someone else’s creation. I made a very small desk from an old matchbox and 4 blood stained tooth picks. I carry it in my breast pocket. In the matchbox is a tiny tome written in classical Arabic which I cannot read.

Elmo’s Flickr page:

Grilling (Fun Friday Fotos)

National Geographic Photography

Every time that I start to think that I’m a great photographer I like to go to the National Geographic website and peruse photos there – which quickly reminds me that I still have lots of learning to do about how to take amazing photographs.

One of my favorite kinds of photography is anything having to do with traveling. I’m a lover of traveling at heart and although I’ve been lots of places, I seem to have an unquenchable desire to see new things. I love seeing the mundane, day-to-day events all over the world. But to me they aren’t mundane because carrying drinking water in a husk or living amongst wild animals is something totally foreign to me.

If you visit the National Geographic travel photography website you can see what I’m talking about. So many amazing colors and scenes of every day life made extraordinary by the photographer’s lens.

Photograph I snapped while visiting Thailand