Grouper San Salvador Bahamas

Lionfish, Sharks, and Groupers OH MY!|San Salvador

As mentioned in our previous post, February had some pretty big shoes to fill. Knowing we were going to San Salvador, Bahamas to dive with sharks and hunt lion fish, I wasn’t concerned about being let down…

However, the trip started out less then perfectly. Our plane from Nassau to San Salvador, having mechanical trouble, was grounded and we forced to spend the night in a hotel that looked like it was straight out of 1950. I can’t really fault the hotel; it’s not every night you have to take in 16 tired, hungry, and cranky scuba divers. They fed us well and we ultimately got to San Salvador the very next morning. Michele, manager of the Riding Rock Resort, greeted us with her usual warm smile, wonderful charm and all was right with the world again.

As we were prepping for our first dive, a second ominous thing would happen. As I’m putting my strobe together, I hear…CRACK….the battery door screw breaks and I’m down to one strobe. I’m forced to make a decision here: either destroy a $100  cable or flood and have to replace a $400  strobe. Either way, it’s not an enviable position. I decided the cable was easier and cheaper to replace. Wonderful, I thought, after all that work dialing in the settings in Grand Cayman last month, I now have to start back at square one….

After all of that, we hopped on the boat for our first dive where we ran into a reef shark I came to call “Hook.”  I called her that because of the fresh fishhook that was sticking out of her mouth.

Hook San Salvador Bahamas

 

On the very next two dives we’d see her sister (who we ran into all week). I nicknamed her “Leader” due to the hook and leader she’s got caught in her mouth.

"leader" reef shark

 

Being down a strobe with a flooded cable that wasn’t meant for single strobe use, I had to photograph the majority of the first two days with ambient light. Then I figured out that if I complete the connection with my hand (i.e. bury the strobe connector into my palm and deal with a mild electrical current coursing through my body) I could get my flash to fire.

San Salvador shark

 

I know what you’re thinking. ”Matt, you are insane!!!!!!!!”  And you would be right! But, I justify my actions with the words of my teacher: “Do whatever it takes to get the shot.”

reef shark San Sal

 

On the way to San Salvador, I talked with my friend and fellow instructor, Josh, about two photographs I needed to get on this trip and how I wasn’t leaving without them. Since he was going to be hunting lionfish, Josh offered to help. It may have taken us all week, but I would say I got what I wanted.

The first shot was a reef shark coming in to take a lion fish from Josh’s spear.

Shark and Spear San Salvador

The second was a reef shark killing a lion fish in open water.

Reef shark eating lion fish

 

Everyone knows that this week in San Salvador is special to me because it’s my own personal Shark Week. Each of the past three years I’ve seen the star attraction in the San Salvador’s shark world: the hammerhead. Heading into this trip my total hammerhead sightings was up to an even dozen. This year would be no different, as I saw my quota of four, taking me to 16. This curious girl was the only one that was within reasonable photographing distance. I call her curious because she came from the deep, swam up the wall, and started to come shallow to investigate. When she sensed a big group, she swam off.

curious shark, San Salvador, Bahamas

 

Being that this is my personal shark week, you would think that the sharks would be the stars of the dives. Oddly enough they weren’t, because for me the real stars of the trip were:

The flying gurnard

Flying Gurnard

 

A gray frogfish — Unfortunately, I was only able to get his dorsal fin because he was hiding by the time I was able to get over to him. Great find Linda, by the way!

Gray Frogfish San Salvador Bahamas

 

A tunicate

Tunicate

 

And finally, our friend, Gus the Grouper

Grouper San Salvador Bahamas

 

As the final sun set on another successful diving excursion in San Salvador, Bahamas, the Divers World staff decided that we were not going to let the sun set on our group going back to Riding Rock. We will be heading there again in July next year when the water is a bit warmer. Yes, we’re going to sacrifice hammerhead sightings. But, for us, that is only a small price to pay to spend a warm week with our friends at Riding Rock Resort.

Sunset Riding Rock Resort San Salvador Bahamas

Over the Edge Restaurant,  Grand Cayman

Break from the Winter Blahs| Grand Cayman

At the end of January, we at Matt Mead Photography LLC found ourselves on our favorite Caribbean island of Grand Cayman.

Grand Cayman Flag

We were sent there to photograph the USS Kittiwake for a private client.

USS Kittiwake Grand Cayman

The Kittiwake dive (a.k.a. “the work part of the trip”) wasn’t scheduled until two days after we arrived. With two boat dives per day and unlimited shore diving, I had plenty of time to get my camera settings just right. (It was a labor of love, let me assure you.) While I wasn’t diving, Teri and I got to spend time touring the island of Grand Cayman with my newly retired boss, Linda, and our great friend, Deb. During one of our many excursions, we now have photographic proof that Teri will, in fact, go into the ocean and touch wildlife.

Deb & Teri at Starfish Point, Grand Cayman

One morning there was a brief rainstorm that blew its way through our side of Grand Cayman. While Teri was outside enjoying her morning coffee on our room’s back porch, I stumbled out to join her, bleary eyed, groggy and caffeine deprived only to be greeted with this awesome rainbow. I quickly went back into the room, fumbled around for my land camera, and snapped off this picture.

Caymanian Rainbow

I think it’s not too shabby for having zero caffeine and only being awake for the better part of twenty minutes.

The day of the Kittiwake dive happened to also be Deb’s birthday, so that night we celebrated at her house with her and several of her close friends. It was SOOO much fun – good food, great company, and the most delicious rum cake I have ever tasted!! We continued the fun the next night with Deb, Linda, and friends by participating in a weekly trivia competition at a sports bar near Deb’s house.  We dominated for the second consecutive year!

Sadly we had to leave our Caribbean paradise of Grand Cayman and return to the arctic tundra of Erie, PA to conclude our January. February, you have HUGE shoes to fill!

Over the Edge Restaurant,  Grand Cayman

Irene Richards Erie PA

Irene’s 90th Birthday Party|Erie, PA

Upon returning home to Erie after James Bonners’ party and our parking lot adventure, I had maybe an hour to drop off my wife and repack my camera bag to go and photograph our second event of the month, the 90th birthday celebration for Ms. Irene Richards.

There would be added pressure for this event for a couple of reasons. First, the family is long-time clients of my mentor and friend, Art Becker, who very awesomely referred them to me because he was booked that day. Second, they specifically requested a four-generation family photo that was to be submitted to two publications outside of Erie; the Tri County Sunday (the old DuBois Sunday paper) and The Derrick (the Oil City newspaper). The pressure was on, and I had to deliver.

Irene Richards Erie PA

If you read our last blog post, you know that we had quite an adventure the night before and I didn’t get much sleep. So, as you can imagine, I was pretty nervous walking into this event. Oddly enough, what put me at ease was seeing that Monsignor Daley, from my Our Lady of Peace Sunday school days in Erie, was at the party.

Irene Richards and Monsignor Daley

I must have looked like hell, as working on only a few hours of sleep will do. So, they must have taken pity on me because they gave me coffee, offered me food, and allowed me to get all the images I needed before the party actually started. (I can’t thank you enough for that!!!!)

Irene Richards birthday party Erie PA

The Richards family is very nice, which always makes my job so much easier and more pleasant.

Richards family Erie PA

Plus, seeing Irene toasting a wine with her family put a smile to my travel weary face for sure.

Irene Richards 90th birthday party

Surprise Party Pittsburgh PA

James’ Birthday Surprise| Pittsburgh, PA

The first job of the year for Matt Mead Photography LLC took us to Pittsburgh, PA to photograph a surprise 75th birthday celebration for James Bonner.

Surprise Party Pittsburgh PA

The party took place in downtown Pittsburgh at a cool restaurant called NOLA on the Square. Located in the Market Square district of Pittsburgh, it is a funky, Mardi Gras in New Orleans-themed restaurant that serves fantastic food! They use a 2nd floor space for private parties that they call the “Speakeasy.” How cool is that?

Pic-2

All James knew about the evening was that he was going to dinner at NOLA with some friends to celebrate his birthday. What he didn’t know was that his daughter, Bonnie, was flying in from Georgia and had organized close friends and family to help him celebrate as well. Kudos go to Bonnie, who planned this whole event from Georgia.

Bonnie & James Pittsburgh PA

The party was a resounding success! James was blown away and emotional all night.

Pic-4

The amount of love and affection in the room was palpable. It was a true testament to the overwhelmingly positive influence this man has been in the lives of his family and friends. Even we couldn’t help but get caught up in the emotions of the evening. This family was wonderful and really fun to work with. We hope to work with them again in the future!

Bonner Party Pittsburgh PA

Because the party ended at 10pm, we decided to spend the night in Ligonier with our friends, Steve and Jaime, instead of driving 2+ hours to get back home to Erie. As a “thank you” for their hospitality, we promised our friends that, after the party, we would bring some crab bisque to enjoy while we visited over some adult beverages. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Well, they’re right…

On our way back to the parking lot where we parked our car, my in-phone GPS decided it wanted to get us lost. I’m not sure what happened but we could not find our parking lot — and we had absolutely no idea which parking lot we had used. After about 30 minutes of wandering around downtown Pittsburgh, we hopped into a Classy Cab and explained our predicament to the driver, a very nice older gentleman. He took pity on us and drove around downtown Pittsburgh until we were able to locate our car. It took about an hour AND he only charged us $7.00! Talk about restoring faith in humanity! Thank you, Mr. Cab Driver — wherever you are!

Although we were an hour later than expected, we did finally get to visit with our friends over crab bisque and cocktails. And if eating crab bisque at midnight is wrong, then I don’t want to be right!

Pic-6

Erie Otters Matt Mead Photography LLC

From Hockey to Headshots: A Year In Review| Matt Mead Photography LLC

February 4, 2013 marked the official launch of Matt Mead Photography LLC with high hopes for a successful year. So far, it has been. As 2013 ends, I find myself adding to my skillset in areas I would never have dreamt of photographing and booking jobs into 2014 and beyond. Here are the highlights of our first year:

2013 started out with a dive trip to San Salvador, Bahamas to see our friends at Riding Rock Resort. You can read more about this trip here and here. As you can see, it produced some great shark images as well as some fantastic macro shots.Macro San Sal Matt Mead Photography LLC

Throughout the year, I got the chance to assist my mentor and friend, Art Becker, photograph events like:

Color Me Rad,Color Me Rad Matt Mead Photography LLC

Lake Erie Fanfare 2013,lake-erie-fan-fare Matt Mead Photography LLC

The 2013 Erie Art Museum Blues and Jazz fest,blues-and-jazz-fest Matt Mead Photography LLC

and The Perry 200 Memorial Parade. The image from this parade was the first published image of my career. perry-200-parade Matt Mead Photography LLC

My third dive trip of the year came in July when I traveled with Diver’s World to Morehead City, NC.  During this week of diving I got up close and personal with some very big sharks and saw some awesome World War 2 shipwrecks. pic-7-u-352-b&w

The major highlight of the year for me came in September when Matt Mead Photography LLC took our photographic talents across the pond and back to my family roots – Rome, Italy. While there, we also traveled to:

The ruins of Pompeiipic-8-pompeii-and-vesuvius

Villa d’Estepic-9-villa-de-este

Hadrian’s Villapic-10-hadrians-private-quarters

The Vaticanpieta-vatican Matt Mead Photography LLC

And, most importantly to me, the Colosseum . Colosseum, Rome, Italy

We loved our trip to Italy so much that we booked a return trip for 2014 while we were in country. Our travel agent, Terry Sage, happily rebooked us. FYI, she knows how to book a great vacation. I also can’t say enough good things about I.C. Bellagio and our contact, Jen Jacobsen, who provided us with great tours and service to make sure we made the most out of our time in Italy.

This next highlight would take me in a direction I never thought I’d ever go in. One night over a glass of Jameson I asked a longtime friend of mine, who works for the Erie Otters, what it would take to get me a press pass.  A month later, I found myself photographing my now favorite sport of hockey.Erie Otters Matt Mead Photography LLC

Watching the Otters dominate the OHL from behind my lens is unbelievable! I also never realized that I can actually photograph the sport and do it well.Erie Otters Matt Mead Photography LLC

We rounded out the year with a 25th anniversary celebration for Rothschild/Doyno collaborative (who are absolutely wonderful people), pic-15-rothschild

a shoot for the Garden of Life Magazine featuring a wonderful couple, Stephen and Deborah,pic-16-steve-and-deb

an advertising campaign for Terraboost Media, professional headshots for Penny Qualls, and several family portrait sessions.

In 2014 we at Matt Mead Photography LLC are taking the attitude of practicing our photography like a musician practicing for his big solo and not turning our noses up at any request. You can never tell which job could turn into your next long-term client….

Happy New Year from us at Matt Mead Photography LLC! We couldn’t have come this far without your support. May 2014 bring you health, wealth and love!

 

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