Spotlight: JR Pena Photography // Sligo Ireland

From April 18th to the 20th, I traveled to Sligo, Ireland with good friend JR Pena to highlight his engagement shoot with the to-be-married couple Karen and John.

When JR first approached me with the offer, my immediate reaction was nervousness. This was because this shoot presented too many “first time”s. It would be my first time traveling to a foreign country for a shoot; first time traveling to Europe – period; first time shooting for three days in a row… So many questions began racing through my head. What are the logistics on working overseas? What equipment should I bring/how will I bring my equipment to Ireland? I’ll be working by myself – how many bodies should I bring? What happens if my stuff gets stolen/will insurance still cover it? So on, so forth…

It was the calming words of my wife Julie that encouraged me to ultimately make the leap of faith and accept the offer. I was soon borrowing Dublin and Sligo travel guides from the library and reading them cover to cover. I double-checked my insurance to make sure all was good. I visited Unique Photo to get some extra batteries and ended up buying a camera poncho on a whim. (More on that later.) Finally the day came, and on AerLingus JR Pena and I flew across the Atlantic to the island known as Ireland.

Karen flew in as well but on a different flight, and John picked us up at the Airport. From there we drove another three hours bound to John’s hometown of Sligo, Ireland.

The first thing I noticed in Ireland was the weather – during our three hour drive to Sligo it must have gone back and forth from downpour of rain to sunny skies about ten times. Even during our shoots JR and I kept one eye on the sky and dashed for cover at the smallest sign of a rain cloud. That camera poncho from Unique Photo came in handy on one occasion, though I refrained from using it because I looked a bit silly with it. JR was very smart, and often used the changing weather to his advantage in getting a vast range of creative shots. We spent the days going from going to the local park, to Lough Gill, and to a beautiful local pub Shoot the Crows. With each location I was able to witness how much Karen and John loved each other, and how talented JR really was. Karen and John continued to carry on adorable conversations, and JR continued to engagingly interact with and direct the couples throughout our trip. The result was a series of amazing and timeless photos for Karen and John.

Ultimately it was a joy having the opportunity to travel to Ireland and shoot and edit this piece. Please check out JR’s work at, and if you have a wedding coming up, I suggest you give him a ring. 😀