Wedding Photography and Travel in Portugal

Peggy Farren 2014-09-10

How the ‘98 World’s Fair led to a destination wedding 16 years on by Tom Tracy


I’ve long since forgotten how I stumbled onto it in those early days of internet surfing, but in the late 1990s I saw an announcement for the World’s Fair/Expo 1998 planned for Lisbon, Portugal.

In those years especially, I was enamored with all things Portuguese, fore-mostly “tropicalismo” music and Florida-Brazilian cultural happenings, so I set out to find something newsworthy to write about the Expo and Lisbon.

It was a spectacular World’s Fair with a beautiful riverfront setting of national pavilions, Oceanic-themed attractions and nightly concerts featuring World Music, especially from Portugal, Spain and their former colonies.

From there I dipped my toes in the greater Lisbon area and central Portugal’s coast, renowned for its rugged beauty and regal villages with names like Sintra, Cascais and Mafra. Over the years I returned once or twice with a little help from exceptional locals who became pen pals after that first visit.

Sandra, a travel agent I met in the press center of the Expo 98 and who subsequently moved elsewhere in Europe, asked me to document her beach wedding last July. It was to be 16 years since the World’s Fair, and the wedding was situated in Lisbon’s Setubal peninsula.

But exactly what gear to bring overseas? I rented a few items from the Florida-based Lens Depot: Canon's EF 135mm f/2L and the EF 28mm f/1.8 USM. Both those lenses rate very favorably with users and I hope eventually the 135mm will be a permanent addition to my bag. The Lens Depot has a pick-up center in Miami and reasonable rates for short and long-term loans.

Upon arrival in Europe I was horrified to realize I had forgotten my battery chargers. Turns out I had more than enough charge on several Canon batteries to get through the wedding and well beyond without a hitch -- a testament to the longevity of the newer lithium ion batteries. EreceiraSurf Portugal Photography
Wedding Photography Portugal Tom Tracy flower
Bride jumping Tom Tracy
Wedding Photographer Portugal Tom Tracy

For fun, I surprised my couple by creating a mock cover of one of the European society magazines using their portrait: a lush shot taken at a post-wedding session we organized at the public gardens of the Palácio Nacional de Mafra. It was a hit on Facebook. Wedding Photography Portugal Tom Tracy flower

After a week in their company, I said goodbye to my clients and spent a few days in my favorite (and everybody’s favorite) Portuguese village, Sintra. Even Beyonce was photographed there recently.

Around the corner from my cottage rental, called Cinco, a little inn run by a British couple with Florida ties, I stumbled onto a new venue called Sintra Magic. There I discovered Canadian architectural photographer Taylor Moore had newly established himself.

Moore, who does beautiful landscape prints and High Dynamic Range (HDR-style) imagery of landmarks in Sintra, including the must-see Quinta da Regaleira estate, gave me a private tour of another historic property which a Swedish family owns there and who have given Moore a place to display his large prints. The setup, Sintra Magic, is a modest cafe space with public gardens, a gallery-exhibition and Moore’s workspace. TomTracy Photography Portugal wine
Tapada Tom Tracy Photography Portugal

I hope he does well: Not only is Moore a nice guy who showed me some of his custom HDR camera settings and some secret-recipe Photoshop processes, he has both an idyllic place to live and he is finding regular paid commercial work with nearby palaces, garden venues and museums. There's no shortage of those in Portugal.


Tom Tracy is a writer, photojournalist and event photographer in West Palm Beach. He has traveled as a travel & religion writer.

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