Ankara Miami 2018: Designer-Adjanie | Leighton DaCosta, Miami Fashion Photographer

Ankara Miami 2018: Designer-Adjanie | Leighton DaCosta, Miami Fashion Photographer

Adjanie is a ready-to-wear resort wear brand that infuses cross cultural inspirations, sophistication, and great influence from Adjanie Muller's Caribbean lifestyle. (@Adjanie)


Charleston Wedding Week: The Designer Shows | Leighton DaCosta, Charleston Wedding Photographer

Charleston Wedding Week: The Designer Shows | Leighton DaCosta, Charleston Wedding Photographer

The Designer Shows was titled sponsored by jewelers, Diamonds Direct and Henri Daussi. The four showcases were from Mason Hosker Bridal, Lovely Bride Charleston with its 'Made with Love' presentation, Emily Kotarski, and Modern Trousseau


Auto Money Holiday Party and Awards Ceremony | Leighton DaCosta, Charleston Event Photographer

I had a great time at the Embassy Suites in North Charleston, SC capturing the Auto Money Holiday Party and Awards Ceremony. Over 500 hundred guests from the Southern Region gathered together in December to not only celebrate the holiday season, but to congratulate the top performers across the organization from Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. 

The Photography team was:

Lead Photographer: Leighton DaCosta
Second Photographer: Geno Porter
Photographer's Assistant: Tyler Pentia

Full Gallery can be found HERE:


What I learned about photographing fireworks | Leighton DaCosta, Charleston Photographer

Charleston Harbor July 4, 2016. This is a 17 frame HDR Merge done in Adobe Lightroom.

Charleston Harbor July 4, 2016.
This is a 17 frame HDR Merge done in Adobe Lightroom.

I do not normally photograph fireworks, because I would rather just sit, watch, and enjoy them. This year for the Fourth of July, I was fortunate enough to have a great vantage point to watch the fireworks over most of the Charleston area. The one I came to watch, was the big one over the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, a retired, World War II Aircraft Carrier from the US Navy.

The fireworks were absolutely beautiful and I wanted to share a couple of things I learned that night for those wanting to do fireworks photography. 

Straight out of camera Shot of the fireworks over Charleston Harbor

Straight out of camera Shot of the fireworks over Charleston Harbor

Known Knowns

  • Slow Shutter Speeds. When Photographing moving luminous objects, to give a sense of motion, you are going to want to use a slow shutter speed to better capture the trailing light. I know many who photograph around 1-5 second exposures. Because of the distance, and the width of the lens I was using that night, I was between 15-25 seconds in exposure time. 

  • TRIPOD!!! Bring a tripod to give you the best stability when doing long exposures. Not only will it keep your camera stable, but it will allow you to take several images with identical frames that makes post production easier. 

  • Mirror Up. While I had already planned on using the live view function on my Nikon D810, I knew that I was only going to use it for precision focusing. In my experience, when using long exposures over 15 seconds, the mirror slap in a DSLR can cause enough vibrations to cause motion blur in distant luminous objects like stars and fireworks. For ideal stillness, photograph using a laptop and a tether cable, so you do not have to touch the camera at all. 


  • Lens Selection. When I first thought about about shooting the fireworks, I really wanted a wide perspective, so had all intent on using the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 manual focus lens. I absolutely LOVE that lens. Something told me though,  to bring my Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 lens; and it might have served me better to have brought my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens as well. due to the distance that I was photographing from. For future shoots, I plan on bringing something really wide, and something really tight, in addition to my intended lenses for an additional perspective.  
Straight out of camera shot; you may not know when something may go off causing a little more light than expected. 

Straight out of camera shot; you may not know when something may go off causing a little more light than expected. 


  • Wind and Weather. Wind and weather will play a part in which way your streams actually fall and how long the smoke stays around. With digital photography, you can do some immediate correction, but with film photography not as easy. I would advise carrying a simple point and shoot with manual functionality that can slow the shutter down enough to let you know what the wind and smoke are doing. 
  • Ambient/City Light. When photographing fireworks in the distance, you will have a disadvantage of having bright city lights in the background as well, which will compete with your fireworks. Consider adjusting your f/stop to reduce the highlights of the lights.

    While there is much more that goes into capturing fireworks, these are just a few things that I took into consideration and wanted to share with you. I had a lot of fun and can't wait to do this again!



6 hours with International Wedding Photographer Mike Colon at WPPI 2016 | Leighton DaCosta. Miami Wedding Photographer.

On the closing days of the Wedding Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) Trade Show, I was fortunate enough to attend a 6 hour Master Class with international wedding photographer Mike Colon. Mike is a photographer based out of Newport Beach California, who's work has graced many international magazines, clientele ranges from Usher to Mel Gibson, and extracurricular activities include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. With a list of accolades that would tower taller than his 6' 2" frame, he is probably one of the most humble photographers I have met.  I was really looking forward to his class. I won't go too much into the details of what was taught, but I will highlight a few things. 

International Wedding Photographer Mike Colon doing what he does best, creating beautiful images. 

Sponsored by Sony, the class was about being able to dial in your mirrorless camera for weddings. I am currently a Nikon shooter, but I have always had interest in mirrorless cameras, because of the minimal footprint of gear compared to the regular DSLRs from Canon and Nikon.

Going into the class, I already had reservations about mirrorless systems mainly because of the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) lag and the huge battery drain. I felt that Mike would offer a unique perspective, because while now a Sony Artisan, he was once a Nikon shooter as well. I can understand now, why he made "the switch."

The first couple of hours of the class were classroom lecture to go over the menus and custom buttons on the Sony A7 series, which is Sony's professional line of mirrorless cameras. A camera that is feature rich, but button sparse.

I HATE MENUS, and the Sony has LOTS of them. I did enjoy the layout of the menus though. Mike walked us through each menu, and showed us what he did on wedding day to make it easier for him. Those who have photographed weddings, know that there is so much going on the day of the wedding, that if you are wasting time looking at menus, you might miss something important. After the lecture portion it was time to move on to the practical part of the class. 

Mike Colon holds a speedlight that has been modified, while another participant captures the image. 

We went to the Sony PRO lounge where, we were provided with kits containing the new Sony A7RII Mirrorless camera. I was fortunate to have a 90mm f/2.8 G lens in my kit as well. (All images on this post are shot with the A7RII and are only adjusted for crop and color balance.) the other lens in the kit was the 55mm. 

The practical portion reminded me of being in school where as soon as you went into the lab you forgot everything in the lecture. I was ready to throw the A7RII in the MGM Grand pool, but a few moments more the camera started to actually make sense. One of the cool things that Mike showed us was the focus tracking that the A7RII provides. I will say it blew my mind. While there were some missteps, it is a pretty reliable feature, able to track the models' movements with ease.

We had two beautiful models, although, I wish that we would have had a model "couple" to simulate more along the moments of a wedding. Nonetheless it was great to have such beautiful models. Thank you to 24 Seven Productions who provided the models and to Sony. 

I see mirrorless in my future, and this class helped me move closer to that point. I loved the knowledge and hands on training that I got from the class. I learned a lot and would recommend to any photographer out there who attends WPPI in the future to take advantage of booking at least one Master Class or Plus Class. You wont regret it. 

One private lesson from an accomplished instructor is worth at least 10 group lessons.
— Mike Colon (Top 10 things I've learned from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu)

Ankara African Fashion Takes Over Miami | Leighton DaCosta, Miami Fashion Photographer

All eyes were on the runway Saturday night at the Gallery of Amazing Things

I've always had a love for fashion regardless of the source or culture, but fashion often follows art, and art has a tendency to be culturally based. The use of colors, lines, designs, materials, curves, textures and other things has as much to do with cultural persuasions as much as it has to do with function.  Lace, beads, crochet, and even sequins may be used to create a visual look of relief, but will vary in application based on the region you find them.

With African fashion, in my experience, the fashions are VERY culturally based. Often designed for function, modern African designers from Nigeria, to Egypt, to South Africa create designs with message. The art is not just in the prints, cuts and designs themselves, but even to the fabric itself.

I heard about The Ankara Fashion Show last year, shortly after I first relocated to South Florida. I was very impressed. At that time, it was about 3 years old. Essentially a toddler as far as events go in South Florida, but impressive none the less in an industry where events fade away and quickly lose sponsorship. Unable to attend last year, I was given the opportunity this year, its 5th year, to cover the established designers showcase. I must say, I was completely BLOWN AWAY.

This has probably been one of the most FUN shows that I have been to in the past 5 years!

The Venue:

The main area, with hundreds of attendees, was standing room only.

The venue was the famous Gallery of Amazing Things located in Dania Beach, FL. The posh venue was perfect for the upscale event. With a niche gallery of vendors,  a cocktail area, a featured artist exhibit and a beautiful VIP photography area, the the event rivaled the feel of a show during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Miami. 

The Show

Ankara's Host for the 5th year, Chello, makes his entrance.

Ankara's Host for the 5th year, Chello, makes his entrance.

While I did not get a chance to see the entire show, or the after party, what I did get a chance to see, I will share with you. The designs, the designs, the DESIGNS! Were absolutely gorgeous. My favorite was the two-piece pants suit pictured to the right. Simple and elegant, yet complex and functional. 

The show was hosted by Marcellus "Chello" Davis, who has been the host for all 5 years of Ankara Miami. Born to perform, he kept the crowd involved between the walks. 

I loved the DJ. DJ Baboo of Phash entertainment was really spinning the music. The vibe was so good, that a few models incorporated the beats into their walks which the crowd LOVED. 

The designs pictured are from Adjanie and Eldior Sodeck Design.

The Designers

The Feature Designers were:

The Looks


I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the featured visual artists, Alfrena Moosa. An artist with a strong spiritual identity, she gets her inspiration from God and the world around her. When I asked, "What would you do if you weren't making visual pieces?" Her answer was, "Sing!" The number one thing that impressed me about this talented artist was that she takes pride in finishing her pieces in under a day. That is powerful!

My only regret is that I could not have been involved the entire week with Ankara Miami 2016. This is definitely a great event for people of all cultural backgrounds. I can't wait until next year. 



ps. I will be uploading more images to the galleries in the next couple of days. Thanks!


Body by Banks Fitness Fundraiser for Autism

Fitness Innovator, Michael Banks and his Body by Banks crew are all smiles after a great workout

Fitness Innovator, Michael Banks and his Body by Banks crew are all smiles after a great workout

More than 3 and a half million Americans, as well as 1 out of 68 children born in the US are diagnosed with Autism. In Utah, that rate increases to 1 in 54. Over $250 billion is needed annually to help those with Autism live comfortably in a world that many take for granted. This is why the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning, Valley Behavioral Health, and Body by Banks are doing ongoing fundraisers for Autism. If you would like to help, you can donate HERE.

I had the pleasure of covering one of the fundraising events on Saturday, May 9th. at the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning. Though there it was cold and rainy inside, there was lots of fun, excitement, and exercise going on inside, being led by the man himself, Michael Banks!

I want to thank Mr. Banks for the opportunity to be a part of this great event.