Engagement Photography tips with B&H!

Thanks again to the great production team at B&H Photo, who came in to film a segment about engagement sessions with me. Here we discuss not only some of the advantages to these sessions, but my general approach to planning and discussing them as well as on the shoot itself.

And thanks to Jen and Charles for posing for us, and doing a great job even though they had never met! Jen’s actual fiancé had a last-minute schedule change … we don’t normally provide stunt doubles for shoots but we’re always willing to go the extra mile!)

Here’s a frame from the shoot:

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Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6

Sacred Oaks at Camp Lucy Wedding: Taylor and Brandon

In the world of modern families, we might need some new descriptors. It may sound mostly confusing to say that Taylor is my step-half-neice, but the important thing is that she’s awesome. She’s filled with warmth and giant smiles even when she’s not getting married, so all of the beautiful lighting at Sacred Oaks at Camp Lucy was redundant; she could have lit the whole thing by herself.

It didn’t matter that the off-again, on-again rain turned on again, disallowing the gorgeous outdoor ceremony they had hoped for, they were far too excited for that. And man, I know Texas is proud of a lot of things, but the Austinites’ performance on the dance floor should be high on that list. This would have been a fantastic, uplifting experience even if it didn’t allow me to see my sister and her family, or if I wasn’t seconded by the fantastically talented Tatiana. But I was. Thank you for experiences like these.

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Streaming Live at 5 p.m. at BandH.com/wedding!

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This photo makes me happy because it was always my secret favorite from my latest Obama shoot, even if not the obvious choice. There’s a hint of storytelling and context to it with the woman’s hand, the man straightening his tie, and even Pete Souza poking around the corner. The President is still perfectly identifiable thanks to his famous ears, and it’s an angle you don’t get to see often because it is not easy to get two feet behind a sitting POTUS (I had to do a great deal of friendly negotiating with the Secret Service).

I’ve been lucky to be in lots of wild situations, and today brings a new and exciting challenge — I’ll be speaking about business and how I keep things fresh and exciting despite my massive workload today thank to B&H Photo Video Pro Audio, and we’re streaming it for FREE! at http://bandh.com/weddings. See you at 5 p.m. Eastern!

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Nikon 28mm f/1.8G

Watching over Cristian (Viña Santa Rita wedding)

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This is probably my favorite “tilt-shift candid” I’ve taken. The groom, named Cristian, prays during his wedding ceremony in Viña Santa Rita – Copiapo, Chile. Thanks to Kyle Hepp for having Tatiana and I tag along for this gorgeous wedding. She’s just posted more photos and the slideshow on her blog: http://www.kylehepp.com/2014/03/matrimonio-vina-santa-rita-2/

Lens: 45mm f/2.8 PC-E
Camera: Nikon D4

Greetings from Chile!

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This is my last day of travel in Chile, and it’s been a wild ride. Thanks to the 40+ talented, fantastic people who attended my workshop and especially to Kyle Hepp, who hosted Tatiana and I and showed us how to live. So much more to come…

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6

Going Nuts With Hues in the New Studio

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We’ve been up to a lot of big things behind the scenes over the off-season, and the biggest is a move to a new studio in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn! It’s coming together as a fantastic place for meeting clients and being relentlessly productive in style, but as a photographer one of the things I’ve been most excited about is the lighting. We have the place tricked out with Phillip Hue lights, smart LED bulbs that can transmit 16 million colors, controlled by software on your phone.

So I thought we’d get a little crazy. This whole scene, from key lights to hair lights to rim lights to the tonality on the walls, is lit just by the two light fixtures you see, and a third Hue on an extension cord, composited into a LOT of frames.

Yes, this is how Tatiana and I amuse ourselves on a Tuesday night. We get to create something a bit different than I’d ever seen before, practice iterations of some new techniques we’ll be tweaking a lot this year, and have a great time doing it.

This is just a small corner of the studio … you’ll see more soon!

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6

Crest Hollow Country Club Wedding: Mabel and Anil

Three little words. Marriages are based on three little words, and it was three little words that let me know this wedding would be an absolutely amazing way for me to start 2014. Lip. Sync. Contest. And not just any lip-sync contest, but one that morphed into a surprise flash-mob performance of “What Does the Fox Say?” to the bride — this all adds up to the perfect combination in my eyes: We take this marriage and our love seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously. We can have an amazingly beautiful day, and look fantastic doing it, but stay focused on celebrating that love with friends and family in a big, loud, hilarious way. I don’t know if the Crest Hollow Country Club knew what it was in for with Mabel and Anil, but they have already given me a great feeling about 2014.

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2013 in review

As I said last year, a funny thing happens over the course of taking a few hundred thousand photos. Each individual photo is about the subjects, the moment, the emotion, the story … but over time, in a big enough collection, it also becomes a self-portrait of the photographer. These are the stories I see and the way that I see them. And so this is not a “best of” list, because picking the “best” out of so many photos would probably give me a nervous breakdown, but this is a portrait of who I was in 2013.

I’ve devoted my life to documenting love, but in 2013 I felt it in ways I’d never imagined — both inside myself and the sort of effects that love can have on someone. In short, all the clichés can be true. No matter how silly or treacly or saccharine you may sound, you probably aren’t saccharine enough. Love changes everything, and it makes things worth changing in the first place. If I had energy and fervor to document it in all its forms before, now I burn with it, and I cannot wait for my shared story to continue.

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Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove wedding: Jossie and Andrew

Often, the weddings I shoot have been a long time coming for couples. I photographed a couple who had been together for 16 years and whose official wedding theme was “Fricking Finally!” But in a way Jossie and Andrew’s wedding felt like it had been a long time coming for me.

Six years ago, I’d already been shooting weddings for a while, but I knew next to nothing about the wedding industrial complex, or the photographers in the industry. I was entirely steeped in the work of photojournalism, looking at images off the newswires each morning as well as classic documentarians such as Capa or Smith, but I didn’t know a Jerry Ghionis from a Jessica Claire. I decided it would be fun to network with some other photographers in my area, so when I read about Mystic Seminars — then just a one-day affair in a single hotel conference room — I figured it was worth the chance, and took a snowy drive up I-95.

I met some great people that day and picked up some good tricks, but I wasn’t prepared for some skinny, dapper dude named Ben Chrisman to get up on stage and blow my mind. These weren’t images of cut-and-paste, church-then-banquet hall affairs. These were long-multi-day documentations that dripped with life, energy, and creativity. He’d taken similar inspiration from war photographers like James Nachtway, and had even studied under some, and was quite open that when it cant o choices of an easy life versus art, he chose art. I met him on stage after, and told him I’d buy him a drink and we’d chat about Robert Capa someday.

It took a while, but I bought that drink. Years later, we’re now friends, dance partners,, and colleagues. But when he called me asking “Hey, I’d love to shoot with you sometime, do you have any weddings left this year?” part of me still went back to January 2008′s feeling of “Who is this guy?”

I’m so happy that we got to collaborate on Jossie and Andrew’s Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove wedding, because it was crazy in all the best ways. Jossie is a dance instructor, which is always a good sign for someone who loves crazy receptions, and she told me beforehand that the “crazy dancers” would be out in force. And I thought, “You bet they are!” — with her dance students all over and props in every corner of the room, people were tearing it up.

I didn’t realize that in South American and Latin culture, the “crazy dancers” meant Rio-style costumes, stilts and drums and absolute insanity. We never left the confines of the building the entire day, but it felt like a cultural exchange and as much an extravaganza as a wedding.

Thank you Jossie and Andrew for letting us in to this ludicrous, hilarious, fantastic day, and thanks to Ben for the collaboration: we got the drink, but there’s a lot more to say about Capa.

And incidentally, six years later I am also speaking at this upcoming Mystic Seminar in less than two weeks. Who knows what future speaker will be in the audience?

(A good chunk of the photos are by Ben; the watermarks are automatic to avoid orphan works in the Era of Pinterest.)