As a professional photographer and parishioner of St. Stephen Catholic Church in Valrico, Rick Tauceda is often called on to photograph church events.
This time was no exception. He received a phone call from Gretchen Robens, the communications director for the church, asking him if he'd be willing to photograph a young family for the cover of the church's quarterly magazine.
"The objective was to have them represent the Holy Family in a nativity setting," said Tauceda. "I agreed, and the following night the Riethmiller family was knocking at my door."
Bradley and Joelle Riethmiller of Riverview are the parents of four young children. Joelle Riethmiller showed up with all four kids, Abby, Emma, Ian and baby Ave, carrying scarves, shepherd and angel costumes and a staff.
"They were so excited to do this," said Tauceda. "Everyone dressed and got into position, including 'baby Jesus,' and with mom's final touch, I told them, 'Now kids, let's all look at baby Jesus and look very, very holy.' And they did."
To achieve the dramatic appearance of starlight shining on the nativity scene, Tauceda used an LED light he purchased at Home Depot and placed it on a light stand.
More magic was achieved with the help of computer programs.
"I needed a background to simulate an animal stable so I took a small one from a manger scene we place on our book hutch every Christmas and photographed it," he said.
He combined that photo with the photo of the children. Then, using a special filter, he made the photo appear as if it were a painting.
"I would say, the Riethmiller kids deserve an Oscar," said Tauceda.
Tauceda said he became interested in photography 12 years ago when he went on a vacation to Cairns, Australia.
"I had a cheapo Kodak disposable camera...the images were horrible," he said. "From that moment on, I was determined to photograph the color of life as best as I could."
As a freelance photographer, Tauceda said his mission is to capture "those timeless moments of life, document important events and places, portray people in ambient light and create images that compel one’s attention."
To see more of Tauceda's work, visit his website. He can be contacted at 813-641-4757 or by email at email@example.com.
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