Stephanie and Kenny: 1.18.09 Bancroft Hotel, Berkeley, CA

View the slideshow!
(And try not to be drinking anything, lest you snort it out your nose.)

These two crazy kids broke my system! I had resolved to myself that, no matter how much I loved a couple and the photos, I would always edit a blog post down to 10 photos and put the rest in the slideshow, so I could show a little self-restraint. But I didn’t count on Kenny and Stephanie, or their willingness to act out a skit in a Berkeley college classroom that, as a sign of the gods, already had a chalkboard filled out with equations like “2Love+ 2Love = 4Love” when we came in! The skit would have taken up half my set, but the whole wedding was so fantastic I couldn’t let it stand. So let’s start with their act:

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(That’s my messy handwriting)

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Kenny and Stephanie, as you might have imagined, are absolutely hilarious. In fact, professionally so — they’re both writers, and Kenny in particular works for comedic television shows, and many of his friends were alumni of his college humor magazine (watch the slideshow to see them successfully pull off a human pyramid with the bride on top!)

It was a beautiful time of year to be in Berkeley and San Francisco, and a fantastic ceremony, including touching statements from bride and groom about why they’re marrying each other, and a lengthy, poignant reading of David Sedaris. The only sad part was I had to go back to freezing New York!

Extreme Wedding Sports

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Wanna experiment?

Shock it to Me

This entry is directed at my current clients and clients-to-be for 2009, but I won’t mind if you listen in. It contains a really good idea you can steal. After all, I stole it.

John Michael Cooper, who is 10 pounds of awesome in a five-pound bag, gave a fantastic lecture at the Digital Wedding Forum. From light-painting subjects to complicated Photoshop layering to use the same flash countless times in the same picture, he sent everyone there scrambling to their notebooks for techniques to copy. But the thing that really held my attention was a throw-away comment: “I ask my clients for 10 minutes to try something that may or may not work.”

Brilliant.

I’ve been struggling with a dilemma for pretty much my entire career as a wedding photographer. The best photographers don’t just push the envelope, they push beyond it — which means they fail, quite a bit. But when it works, it really, really works. Generally speaking, though, that’s not the best way to shoot a wedding. “Sorry guys, I tried this great technique, but it didn’t work, so there are no photos from the ceremony. I hope that’s OK.” You have to play it safe. Now, I’ve spent thousands of hours working to make sure that I can do some pretty crazy things and still know that I’m going to get photos exposed exactly the way that I want. But I’m absolutely at my happiest when I take a wedding photo different than what I’ve seen before. My bokeh panorama technique has been great for that, since as far as I know no one has ever used that at a wedding before … ever. But I practiced and practiced it until I knew I could make it work on a wedding day, and now it’s a fairly safe part of my repertoire. Gotta keep pushing that envelope.

So … will you give me 10 minutes at your wedding? 10 minutes to try something that could be fantastic, or could totally fail? I’ll spend the rest of the day working and pushing the envelope, but give me 10 minutes to bust out of it and play around in the mailbox. If you do, you could get some great shots that look nothing like your friends’ photos. And you’ll be paying it forward … the crazy stuff that I can make work on a wedding day will quickly move from “experiment” to “part of the repertoire.”

So … will you give me 10 minutes?

Emily and Jeffrey: 11.23.08

View the slideshow here!

You know, most couple are lucky enough if they have a fabulous wedding, surrounded by loved ones, laughter, and great food, but Emily and Jeffrey got to do it twice in the same day! The marriage ceremony was at the fantastic River Cafe in Brooklyn on a freezing November day. Apparently this is the best view of Manhattan anywhere, because even despite the cold we saw seven or eight other wedding parties wander by! Without a doubt ours were the most fun, though, especially the ladies who were willing to freeze in their dresses for good photos! This is when being able to work quickly comes in handy, but I couldn’t resist a little “OK guys, just hold that pose for … twenty more minutes…”

After that, the wedding party headed to Queens for a giant Chinese reception, complete with Emily’s outfit change and course after course of delicious food. On the way in between, I designed a slideshow of the wedding ceremony, which allowed the 80 percent or so of the reception guests who weren’t there to experience the full day. I was sore but ecstatic after two separate ceremonies, but not nearly as much as the couple.

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A New World

The Groom's Secret Service

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