The city of Orlando held a contest with locals for a new nickname in 1908. A recent transplant from South Dakota named Jesse Branch was so taken by the greenery and flora that she suggested “The City Beautiful,” which lasts to this day. Orlando can easily hold onto this title for its 100 parks, including the 23-acre Eola Park, yet it also is a legendary hub of family fun. Home to famed theme parks such as Disneyworld, Universal Studios, and Sea World, millions of visitors come to this city every year to discover these adventures for themselves. Orlando is also filled with wonders beyond its most famous destinations. If you travel west you can swim with the manatees, if you head east you can enjoy a sunset at Cocoa Beach, and if you stay in town you’ll be amazed to have access to over 100 lakes. Many festivities occur throughout the year, including its massive Mardi Gras parade, while the list of local attractions could go on forever. Yet one can stop here and say that Orlando will always exist as one of the highest concentrations of fun in the United States, if not the world. With so many families dreaming to make this trip just once, a lifestyle photographer in Orlando is in a fantastic place to help local businesses stand out and add to the experience.
At Wonderful Machine, we define lifestyle photography as depicting an idealized, aspirational version of real life. Usually showing happy, attractive people in nice clothes doing fun things in beautiful places. Often using professional models, hair/make-up, props, wardrobe, locations, and yet still looking authentic. Often intended to help promote a product or service, but can be used editorially as well. Here are the seven best professionals capturing the infinite fun in Orlando.
A Florida native with a love for adventure, Josh Letchworth is an outdoors enthusiast most at home by the water. Clearly, he finds much success in connecting with subjects who share the same exuberance toward living life to its fullest.
I love mixing my passions with what I shoot and I enjoy it the most when I can capture someone doing what they love in that environment. That’s where our essence lives. I would describe my shooting style as very authentic and candid with a documentary feel.
Often going for imagery of people enjoying sports, swimming, and exploring nature, Josh’s work projects a youthful energy that is here to enjoy every last moment. The composition and quality of his portfolio make him stand out as an Orlando lifestyle photographer. Yet, also one who can find himself easily taking on campaigns for fitness brands, sporting events, and anything related to the outdoors. Josh’s focus on the youth experience as well as his diversity in using washed-out natural lighting mixed with the occasional black & white imagery also gives his work an inherent hipness that is perfect for young adult-oriented brands.
Brian Carlson has been a lifestyle photographer in Orlando for over a decade. Also a very accomplished travel and portrait photographer, he effectively blends the three specialties to give something special in the vibrant, yet authentic moments he captures.
My portrait work is honest and engaging and my extensive travel throughout the world has taught me how to interact with all kinds of people. The best part of my job is to have the privilege of using my work to speak into the lives of others.
With his own gifts of humor and empathy, Brian excels at providing his subjects with a comfortable place to be themselves while providing situations that are perfect for lifestyle photography. Minigolf, pools, parks, and restaurants are all simple pleasures that everyone can relate to, and by capturing his subjects in these places one can see their very real laughs and smiles in his work. Himself a devoted family man, he shares that passion through the people he photographs. Perfect for Orlando, Brian’s work flourishes in natural light, yet he also creates a soothing atmosphere in the neon-lit evening attractions he showcases his subjects enjoying. Also worth noting is that he is just as outstanding at working with larger crowds as he is with just one or two people. Taking a lifetime of world travel and bringing it to what can be explored in one’s own city, Brian is always finding the magic of discovery in the people he photographs.
Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Tina Sargeant began photography as a full-time profession in 2008. She started with a focus on lifestyle and portraits, then expanded into food, interior, and product photography. Now having been based in Florida for much of her career, Tina channels the cheery weather that her adopted home is known for in much of her work:
Life is about slowing down, loving people, and laughing loud enough your neighbors recognize you from the next aisle at the grocery store.
Yet just because she’s a natural at bringing the best out of her subjects, Tina is extremely diverse in the moods she captures. Whatever the image calls for, she goes right for it. In the lifestyle specialty, this communicates that people are posing less while living more, bringing authenticity to the moments Tina showcases in her work. Very adept in outdoor photography, her use of natural light shows expertise in working with various times of day to get the image she’s looking for. A look through her portfolio will show that Tina has a refreshing ability to document quiet moments fluidly next to exciting ones while providing a multitude of locations for these scenes to play out. Proof that going with the flow and keeping a great attitude can truly pay off in such a solid body of work.
Growing up in Western Maryland just outside of Washington, DC, Doug Scaletta came from a working family that embraced the outdoors. Following his father on countless expeditions to pursue projects, often related to building, he began to find that nature itself was a deep inspiration. Discovering a love for photography in high school, he went to college and began with graphic design as a focus before moving back into photography which he graduated with a BFA from the University of Maryland. Relocating to Florida in 1992, Doug began shooting professionally that same year.
Curious by nature, for me photography has always been a way to get closer to something. A way to spend more time with a particular person or subject. With an unassuming approach and a quiet intensity, I try to give those interested the opportunity to see what the experience might look or feel like. Creating space for the story and allowing it to unfold, I try to capture real moments and emotions that draw viewers into the image.
Using the multitude of exciting locales available to a lifestyle photographer in Orlando, Doug’s work shows an excitingly diverse quality that leans almost toward the travel specialty. The quality of his images is top-grade and as is the humanity in the moments he captures, especially in scenes where his subjects are enjoying a night out or an adventurous day trip. The artistry of his editorial work often features in his lifestyle portfolio, as well, giving every image a beauty and feeling of completeness that is unique to each photograph.
A dedicated lifestyle photographer to the point of having multiple portfolios highlighting different aspects of this specialty, Pam McLean also excels in hospitality, food, and interior photography. Often doing work for cruises and resorts, she effortlessly blends all of these specialties to make memorable images. Growing up in the business, Pam’s grandfather owned a camera shop and it was there that she would get to know and learn from the professional photographers who came through. Gaining a deep understanding of how to run a shoot from such an early age, she also has expertise in art direction, graphic design, motion direction, production, and art buying. Effectively leading her crew with a collaborative approach, Pam’s work is bright in its use of both natural and naturalistic light. While she leads a team additionally capable of both drone and motion work, Pam herself is a creative force, bringing a lifelong passion for travel to her images. This shows in the many kinds of locations she’ll feature her subjects in, which not only makes her a perfect Orlando lifestyle photographer to pair up with resorts and the hospitality industry but also treats any viewer to an exciting and dynamic portfolio.
Richmond Gibbs is based in Winter Park and has an interesting beginning to his career. With a need to fulfill a high school fine arts credit, he chose photography. What he didn’t expect was to find what would become a lifelong passion and livelihood. Both family-oriented and with an adventurous zest for life, Richmond brings positivity to his subjects that translates seamlessly into their own happiness in all of his lifestyle imagery.
I strive to create natural spontaneous images which convey energy, excitement, and most of the time, joy. My style is fun and energetic. I am collaborative. I love to make people smile and I work well with subjects who do not often find themselves in front of a camera. I work above and below the water line. I’ve shot while riding roller coasters and water slides, in storms, in boardrooms, from lift trucks and helicopters, on the farm, and in the kitchen, and have enjoyed it all!
One can imagine his simultaneously friendly and daring outlook to be a winning combination for a lifestyle photographer in Orlando, and his work for Sea World and Visit Orlando, as well as Busch Gardens and Sesame Place up north, are a testament to this. With a rare ability to capture his subjects in the height of a wild activity in such fine detail, a professional like Richmond could only flourish in the excitement-oriented atmosphere his Florida home shares with the world around it.
A professional photographer and director for 35 years, Ben Van Hook began his career at The Louisville Courier-Journal in his home state of Kentucky. It was there that he shared in The Pulitzer Prize and was a finalist for its prize in photography. After establishing himself further in Kentucky and winning Photographer of the Year at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, Ben relocated to Florida in 1990. Working for Sports Illustrated, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune, among other nationwide publications, Ben won the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award in International Photojournalism for a story in LIFE magazine. By the late 90s, he moved into shooting advertising campaigns all over the world and in 2001 established his own production company, co-directing his first documentary which would be picked up by Showtime. It is this very cinematic quality that makes Ben’s photo work so warm and yet so exciting. Known for bringing his sense of humor and creativity to his shoots, his subjects are immersed in their activities while their joy is as authentic as it is appealing. Using his time-earned artistry to add a quality of the landscape specialty to his work, Ben is an epic-scale lifestyle photographer in Orlando whose boundless talent brings the viewer with him wherever he goes.
As there is so much material for a lifestyle photographer in Orlando to work with, there is also a need for their services to make ample room for all the diverse talent that rises to the top. And perhaps that is because so few places can blend experiences that can be so adventurous, wholesome, and dynamic at once, such as the city of Orlando.