{Taisha & Andres @ The Carrollwood Recreation Center}

Taisha and Andres are both on the worship team at Bay Hope Church and it was pretty perfect that they walked down the aisle to say I do in the chapel there.  Taisha and her friends hand made the paper flowers on the wooden arch and the rows were lined with hydrangea.  Their little flower girl and ring bearer stopped a few times while walking down the aisle to make sure we got lots of photos of them, they were adorable!!  You could feel the nerves go away and the joy on Andres face as Taisha started walking down the aisle.  Taisha is a super talented singer and surprised Andres with a little serenade during the ceremony.  There was a tiny bit of rain but the light on the lawn and walkways was so pretty!  Their reception was a romantic, family style setting with rows of wine bottles lit with candles and lace accents.  You might remember Andres' fabulous dance moves from Lauren & Anibal's wedding, here they are again! Their entire day was all about the most important people in their lives being together to celebrate, it was perfect.  Taisha and Andres, we could not be happier to see you guys start your life together as husband and wife!  Congratulations!! xoxoxo
Church | Bay Hope Church | Reception Venue | Carrollwood Recreation Center |  DJ | Magic Mobile Entertainment 

Guantanamo, Cuba

I LOVE photojournalism and just photographing people doing what they normally do so wanted to share with you some photos around the town and streets of Guantanamo.  Ken, one of our team mates loves kids and was so smart to bring bags of candy and toys to just randomly give out whenever he could.  He would see kids playing in the street and would toss them a baseball or soccer ball out of nowhere and they would just explode with excitement.  We all stayed in homes where people had extra rooms that they rented out just a couple blocks from the church. Each morning (very early:-) we would hear a guy yelling to let everyone know he was selling fresh bread, loud diesel engines zooming by, and the clip clop of horse and buggies.  There were a lot of dogs, both stray and pets.  There was one that looked down on us from the roof everyday as we walked by.  There is a school right across from the church, and for gym class or recess they just string a rope across the street so cars couldn't cross and then would play soccer and run races.  The old cars are so cool and weird to see.  On the outside they are painted bright colors and look amazing.  Pastor Raidel has a blue 57 Chevy, and when you open up the hood it has a diesel Toyota engine, Fiat carburetor, 2 sets of different tires and makeshift whatever parts so that it runs.  There were people gathered in the town square as they do have wifi hot spot guys that for $1 will connect your phone. I tried it one day, and it really only worked for texting not for email or social media which was actually kind of nice for a change!  There are just a few options for stores there and they all pretty much have the same thing as they are all run by the government.  There's a picture below of one that had things like clothes and cookware and appliances.  The pricing was similar to what you would see in the US which didn't make sense to us since their incomes are $12-$20 a month.  They told us that since they are government stores, it doesn't matter if they sell things or not and that there is a huge black market where people go to get things at prices they can afford.  It was such an interesting place, like nothing else I've ever seen!  Our last day on the way out was spent in Havana so I'll be posting some of my favs from there next!

Cuba Wedding Mission

Last week I got to be a part of a mission team that traveled to the town of Guantanamo, Cuba! I have to say, it was one of the most interesting places I have ever been.  My church here in Tampa, Bay Hope Church, has a sister church there.  This mission trip was totally unique as it was geared around marriage and weddings, my favorite of course! We brought down over 80 wedding gowns, veils, jewelry, hair/makeup supplies donated by boutiques and individuals from Tampa Bay  to setup a boutique at the church there, taught a marriage workshop, and ended the trip with a huge wedding for 30 couples that I got to photograph! Every day this week I'm going to give you a peek into what we saw and did.  The photos I'm posting today were from my personal favorite part of the trip.
     The first 5 photos are what the neighborhood around the church in Guantanamo looks like.  The streets are loud with kids out playing, horse and carriages plodding by, and in the evening groups of me play dominoes on the street corners.  People there live in very small generally 1 or 2 room apartment like row houses.  I got to do a super mini session with each of the 30 couples the day of the wedding as they got ready.  All of these couples have already been married from anywhere between 9 months and one couple over 45 years.  Most of them never ever had a wedding ceremony, or gown, let alone photos to remember it by.  All the couples either attend the church or are missionaries that are sent out by the church.  The missionaries literally walk for miles a day into the mountains to do their mission work without knowing where they are going to sleep or what they might eat that day.  I wanted each couple to feel special and see how beautiful they looked. So, I used a different spot right there in the neighborhood that matched what they were wearing.  My Spanish isn't super stellar so I couldn't have done it without Zul, one of our team members who translated and was the most amazing photography assistant!  There's not really access to get prints made there very easily and so I brought my little 4x6 printers so we could surprise the couples with a framed photo as a wedding gift.  When their pastor saw the prints he told me something I will never forget.  He said that he's walked by those places countless times and didn't see them as beautiful, but seeing how they look in these photos gave him a new perspective on the beauty in his neighborhood.  There's so much more I could say about these couples but I'll let you see for yourselves.