Ruskin FL; Our March adventure

So, every month we make it a point to go on a road trip to a new location. We blindly pick our destination and hit the road. In March, we only had a part of a day to explore, as work schedules just got in the way. So, luckily we picked something close to Tampa.

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We hit the road in the afternoon and headed to the not real big town of Ruskin. We really have no idea how big the town is, or what the population is but we did find a couple of interesting things to look at. Unfortunately, because of how late we had to leave, we weren’t able to see everything (the park was closed) but we did check out a couple of places and had a pretty good dinner.

We went by the firehouse cultural center and an odd looking roundish building that had all kinds of paintings on the outside. Then we went to Popi’s and tried their Monte Cristo sandwiches. Overall, it was a nice couple of hours, but we will probably need to go back and see the stuff we didn’t get to see. Until that time, we can at least say “Ruskin? Yup, we’ve been there!”

Fort De Soto Park: Our February Road Trip

For our February road trip, we went to Fort De Soto Park, just South of St. Petersburg, FL. Our road trip plan is to pick a place blindly each month, but we had other things going on that day, so we weren’t able to really go out of town. Since the Fort was a place we had talked about going before, we decided to go there.

On the way there, we came upon 2 toll plazas. Of course neither of us had any cash. I managed to scrounge up $1.00 in change between my car, and my camera bag. Then we got to another one that was $.75 but we had nothing except some pennies! So, we had to turn around, go back to a gas station and buy stuff so we could get change.

Once we got there, we decided to eat lunch at the park. We had a gourmet meal of a microwaved (for way to long) hot dog and a ham and cheese sandwich (pre-made, on regular bread wrapped in foil).

Lunch at Fort De Soto
Our “gourmet” lunch”

After lunch, we walked out on to the pier, where we saw a dolphin. It was swimming close enough that you could hear it blow out air every time it surfaced. Then we went over to where the fort is and explored the ruins. We also went to the museum and read about the history of the fort and the soldiers who were stationed there. Its a pretty interesting area and and important to the history of Tampa Bay.

After we left the fort, we drove around the rest of the park and hung out for a while at a small beach that looked towards the Skyway bridge. The water was really nice and there were fish jumping all over the place.

Eventually, we left there and headed north to Indian Rocks beach for Thai food. I don’t know if you have ever been to Thai-Pan alley, but the food is yummy and they have a covered, outdoor patio.

It was a great day and its always fun to be able to see new things and take pictures just for fun. We went to a new place, saw some cool stuff, learned some history and had some fantastic food. Sometimes, the life of a photographer is really, really cool.

Williston, FL: Jess & Tony’s January Road Trip Adventure

As many of you are aware, we love to travel. We go anywhere possible whenever possible. We have driven places to take photos, to try new restaurants, for conventions, to meet clients and just because.

For 2018, we decided that we were going to pick a place in Florida blindly to visit each month. One of us basically closes our eyes and points to a spot on the map and that’s where we go. We don’t google the place, and we don’t use GPS. We are going old school style. Get there and see what we find.

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In January, we blindly picked Williston. Neither of us had ever heard of it, but that’s the way the game works, so on January 13th, off we went. Turns out, Williston is about 2 hours North of Tampa, close to Gainsville. It is a small town with some friendly people.

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We 1st went to what looked like a granary and did a few photos, then on to a park that had a Howitzer. It was not particularly warm on January 13th, but we did get some nice photos. After that, we headed to lunch at a local place called Melanies Restaurant, which is located inside an old gas station. There, we both ordered the special, which was smothered country friend steak. It was yummy. We also talked to some really nice people who lived there and they directed us to our next photo destination.

After lunch, we took the advice and headed North for about 1.5 miles. There we found Cedar Lakes Woods & Gardens, which is a beautifully built botanical garden, complete with a Japanese garden area. (They are also apparently a wedding venue, so if your looking for something different….) We trekked around the gardens for awhile, photographing various things, checking out the Koi pond and stalking the swans (that was all Tony).

Once we got back to the entrance, we decided we should head back to Tampa, as it was getting to late afternoon and Tony had to work that evening. So back on the road we went.

Overall, our trip to Williston was a good day. We had some good food, met some nice people and got to see some new stuff. We shall see where the map takes us in February!

P.S. Tony never got a photo of the swan, it kept turning away from him.

That’s (almost) a wrap…..

Well, Sunday will be the end of 2017 and Monday will see the world waking up to a brand new year, with new goals, plans and resolutions. 2017 has been a big year for DLPS, and we thought we would share a few of our exploits with you.

We started the year off right, by attending Imaging USA in San Antonio, TX. We attended lectures, went to parties and barely slept! Then we drove straight to Southern LA to attend a 5 day, intensive CPP prep class. By the end of those 2 events, we were both fried and needed a vacation.

In March, we took the Certified Professional Photographer exam and both passed. This is the 1st step to becoming certified. We also took a trip to FL to find a place to live and check out Tampa & the surrounding area. We stayed with some friends whom Jess hadn’t seen in close to 20 years. Luckily, Vermonters are friendly and always willing to welcome old friends.

In April, we moved to Tampa, FL from Monroe LA. We decided to come to Tampa for a change of scenery, city size and new opportunities. In doing so, we left behind a lot of fantastic people who were really supportive of our plan to build a photography business.

In June, Jess earned her Certified Professional Photographer certification through PPA and can now write CPP after her name. To earn this distinction, a photographer must demonstrate that they are knowledgeable and skilled in various aspects of photography, and must pass a written test, then submit 15 images through a panel of 5 professional photographers.

In July we went back to LA to attend the annual convention for LA Professional Photographers in New Orleans. We spent 4 days expanding our education, in addition to hanging out with some of our favorite LA photographers. We brought 2 of our LA models back to FL for 3 days of photography in the sun!

August was a hot, humid month, but we did get to go to Universal Studios with some family visiting from Hawaii. Jess learned that she is going to be an Aunt and we got to hang out in the land of Harry Potter! Plus we watched the eclipse through homemade pinhole cameras.

In Sept, we once again made the trek to LA, this time to Monroe & Shreveport for the annual Barksdale AF Ball. We also did senior portraits for Cam, a soon-to-be graduate in Bastrop, LA. We were able to visit some of our favorite restaurants and hang out with some of our favorite people. We also attended LightPro in St. Petersburg, which is one of our all time favorite conferences. Plus we survived Irma, our first Hurricane!!

November saw us heading North to Vermont, where we spent Thanksgiving with the Wakefield family. Of course we got out and took pictures, got some much needed rest and hung out in the snow. Tony also learned the basics of being a blacksmith.

In December, we donated 2 photo booths. One was for photos with Santa at Inspired Living in Tampa with many of their residents. The other was at the Christmas Charity Ball in Tampa, to raise money towards sponsoring families for Christmas. This was a great success and the charity was able to sponsor 60 families in the Tampa area.

Those are some of the highlights of 2017. We are still learning about everything Tampa has to offer and of course still working on getting to know people here. There are many places to see and things to do that we have yet to experience, but its all part of the fun. We will continue to build and grow our business here and are looking forward to a successful and fun 2018. We wish everyone a Happy New Year and will see you all in 2018!

Danville, Vermont USA

For the Thanksgiving holiday, we decided to get out of dodge and head north, to visit my (Jess’) family in Danville, VT. If you think you have never been to Danville, its possible you have, but you accidentally blinked while you were driving or riding and soared right through without noticing. Its a quaint New England town, sitting in the northeastern part of Vermont, about 55 miles south of the Canadian boarder and 20 minutes west of New Hampshire.

We flew into Boston, then took a bus north into New Hampshire, where we were met by my parents. My Dad recently had throat surgery to remove some cancerous lumps, so he regaled us with tales of the hallucinations he had while on the medication while we drove the 1+ hr further north to my parents house.

We were there for 7 days, 2 of which were spent traveling. My brother and his family came as well, so the house was plenty full (7 people, 3 dogs and 3 cats). While there, we hung out, played cards & Yahtzee, watched some westerns and of course took photos.

Barn in Danville, VT
A barn in Danville, VT

Tony took a crash course in the art of blacksmithing. He quickly learned that the hammer gets heavier with every swing. (That might be due in part to him taking 100 hits to achieve something that my dad can do in 10) Regardless, he made a plant hanger that we will definitely use on the patio.

 

We also traveled to Bretton Woods, NH to the Mount Washington Hotel Resort. Its a beautiful old hotel at the base of Mt. Washington and has some fantastic views from its wrap around balcony.

mount washington hotel, NH
The Mt. Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH

Of course, with my niece Zoey there, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take some portraits. Zoey takes after my sister Eliza, the horse trainer. Zoe loves all things horses and is beside herself with joy any time she is around my moms horse Arlo.

Zoey & Arlo
Zoey & Arlo

Overall, we had a fun trip and it was great to see some family. It even snowed a couple of times. Apparently, it snowed quite a bit more the day we left, as my mom texted me a photo of it snowing with a text that said “thanks for wishing it would snow”. I can only assume she was being sarcastic. We arrived back in Tampa on Monday night, flying in to a beautiful sunset over the water.

Sunset over Florida
Sunset over Clearwater/Tampa

Cam’s Senior Session

Recently we drove back to Monroe, LA to do a senior session for one of our favorite families. We left 3 days after Hurricane Irma went through. On the road, there was bumper to bumper traffic headed south on i-75. We were able to zoom North with no issues, but felt for the Southbound traffic, full of people trying to return to their homes after the storm. Everywhere we stopped, people asked us if we had evacuated. We got strange looks when we said that we had stayed for the storm, but were now leaving.

Anyway, we had photographed Cam and his family last year out at Black Bayou and they are proof that a family can have fun together. The 3 boys seem to get along well and they all appear to have a great relationship.

For his senior portraits, Cam wanted to use the area around his house, dressed in camo. As you can see from his photos, he is very into the outdoors and hunting. We’ve been told he is very good with the bow and he duck hunts as well. (I don’t know how good he is, but no one got shot while we were there, so he has some degree of skill)

We had a great time with Cam, his dad Alan and his brother Colby. They were nice, funny and helpful. We wish Cam all the best in his senior year and in whatever he decides to do with his life after graduation. Cam, we hope that you achieve fantastic things and that you have a wonderful life adventure!

To set up your senior session, please contact us by phone, email or through the form below:

 

Why Jess became a photographer

I became a photographer because I want to have thousands of dollars of heavy equipment to carry around, but have no actual money. That’s right ladies and gentlemen…if you want to lug around bags and bags and bags of stuff that you probably won’t even use regularly, then being a photographer (or a pack mule) might be the life for you!

Washington DC in December
In DC with some fellow photographers, 2015

Truthfully, I became a photographer because I decided I wanted to. I really, really enjoy taking pictures and have been doing so for as long as I can remember. I went to South Korea in 2003 to teach English for 2 years because in my head, I was thinking that I would be able to get tons of awesome photos and do a lot of traveling while I was there. (I was right on both accounts) Then, when I returned to the states in 2006, I decided that I would become a professional photographer. So, I applied for and was accepted into Hallmark Institute of Photography in Massachusetts. I graduated in 2007 and have been doing photography in some capacity or another since then.

I won’t sit here and bore you with tales of how I’ve been looking at lighting patterns since I was 2 or that I had an epiphany and realized it was my life purpose. It is something that I enjoy and so I decided why the hell not? I believe in doing what I want, and in living life as happy as I possibly can, so why not make money doing something I like? I don’t want to be on my deathbed and have any regrets, so I do what I consider fun and exciting.  Plus carrying around all that equipment is good for muscle building!

Great Sand Dunes, CO
Photographing in Great Sand Dunes, CO, 2014

Our July Photo Adventure

In July, we went to New Orleans, LA for the annual PPLA convention. We brought Derek H. and Victoria W. back to Tampa with us. There were a lot of firsts for Victoria, who had never been to New Orleans, Florida, the beach or in an airplane. There were a lot of other 1st for her as well and it was a fun trip for everyone. They also both modeled for PPLA, with Derek posing for Micheal Brown and Victoria posing for Hanson Fong.

On the way drive back, we stopped at Flounders Chowder House in Pensacola for lunch and some Key Lime Pie. Its pretty amazing! Besides, who wouldn’t want lunch on the beach?

We wanted to go to some iconic and beautiful places in the Tampa Bay area. We went to the beautiful Honeymoon Island for a sunset session. We also went to the fascinating  Dali Museum and the iconic and magnificent Don Cesar Hotel in St. Petersburg.

On the last day, we went downtown and visited the historic Plant Museum and Ybor City. Then later that evening, we played around with our new background by Backgrounds by Sebastian and some studio lights.

Victoria

On the last morning, after a few panicked moments (at 4:30 am) when we weren’t sure if we would be able to get all of Victoria’s stuff into her suitcase, we sped off to the airport and dropped them off for their flight. It was an awesome 4 days of fun, friends and photography. Thank you so much to both Derek & Victoria for being willing to adventure with us!!!

We have arrived!

Well, we have been in Tampa for about 3 weeks now. It’s definitely a change from Monroe, LA. The traffic here is hectic and constant. Luckily, u-turns are popular here and with out of state plates, we can get away with not knowing where we are going and driving a little crazy sometimes.

There are a HUGE variety of restaurants just in the area of Tampa that we live. In the first couple of weeks, we had Mediterranean, Korean, Colombian, American,  Greek, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Chinese and who knows what else. OK, OK, we’ve spent a lot of time eating.

We have joined a Kickboxing gym and that is cause for some fun times followed by a lot of moaning and groaning when it comes to being able to move afterwards. BUT, it is a lot of fun and we are going to be in butt-kicking shape in no time.

Of course there are beaches everywhere. We are about 20 minutes from the beach (if the traffic is moving steadily). The beaches are beautiful and so far, it hasn’t been so hot that you can’t enjoy them.

We are just over an hour from Orlando, so we have plans to go to Disney world & Universal in the months to come. I’ve heard that Harry Potter world is pretty fantastic! We also have Busch Gardens here, as well as a couple of aquariums, a zoo and tons of other stuff to do.

Overall, Tampa has been good to us so far. We are having fun and getting out to meet new people. Feel free to come visit us here in the Sunshine State!!!

 

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