Kat and Zak: 10.3.09

Oh, Internet, you tricky beast. Kat told me that when she stumbled across my site from an Internet search, she said “This is exactly what I’m looking for! We found him! Good thing he lives in Washington D.C.!”

“… oh, wait.”

Luckily, they decided to work with me despite my New Yorkerness, because I had such a great time with the both of them. My second double-architect wedding recently, there’s just something about the meticulous but creative types that makes for fantastic energy. Plus, you have to admit, they’re freaking adorable.

The ceremony was at the gorgeous St. Mary of the Mills Church in Laurel, MD, and the reception was at the elegant — and architecturally interesting — Sequoia in Washington, D.C.

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First time I’ve seen this. Kat, you’re awesome.

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I know I like to set up similar shots, but this was candid. They actually lift and spin on their own.

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Continue reading Kat and Zak: 10.3.09

Sara and John: 9.26.09

Blue. Hill. Stone. Barns.

Four syllables, and that’s really all Sarah had to say to get me psyched for this wedding. Great food is one thing, but great food made from a farm about fifty feet away and prepared by exquisitely trained chefs? Bring it on.

It was the perfect venue for the sort of wedding Sarah and John wanted. Low-key, focused on food and friends and family and more food. The guest count was small, the reception was calm but filled with personal warmth, and every bit was tasteful.

We began the day at the Soho salon where Sarah works, and it was great to see all of these professionals, who prepare brides all the time, getting so emotional for the wedding of their dear friend. It was well worth the wedding party having to brave New York Sunday traffic to get to the ceremony.

Congratulations on a day that was tasteful, classy, and delicious.

Flash composite, but that sky is all real.

Continue reading Sara and John: 9.26.09

On Hometowns

Like most of my ruminations, this will be largely populated by iPhone photos. Like so many other photographers who think in exceedingly technical ways for their jobs, I find something freeing about a camera with no settings at all, and no hope of true technical excellence. That said, even shot through a train window you can get some decent results.

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I am a product of two worlds. On the surface is someone who has been thoroughly Manhattanized. I get nervous when I am not within walking distance of a coffeeshop, and sometimes will wander around other towns at 1 a.m. wondering why everything is closed. But I am just as much a product of small upstate New York towns, the kind of place where you leave your doors unlocked and say hi to people on the street without them wondering what your angle is.

Sometimes, even knowing which town is your hometown can be complicated — look at how many towns in the Northeast try to lay claim to Walt Whitman or Edgar Allen Poe? Is it the mid-sized city Plattsburgh, where I was born, where I attended elementary school? Is it Lake Placid, which is usually where you have to tell native New Yorkers you’re from so they have a frame of reference? Or is it where I actually grew up as a child, in the woods, far from any neighbors, leaping over springs and running around wooded trails like a mid-80s Huck Finn?

I’ll pick Saranac Lake, where I went to high school and where I now return when I want to get away from the city’s chaos for the holiday. It’s a town so pastoral and pure that it became a tuberculosis sanitarium because city-dwellers would come here seeking a pleasant place to die … and then find that the clean air put the disease in total remission. It was actually named one of the best 11 small towns in America, by some sort of commission that can’t think in terms of Top 10 lists. Ok, here’s a photo not from an iPhone:

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I wandered around Saranac Lake today, seeing ghosts of my memories on every street, feeling more peaceful and contemplative with every step. After just one weekend off from doing photography (my first since April), I already find myself thinking deeply about photography, what it means to me and to my clients, where I can go from here. What they don’t often tell you is that one of the best things about years of photography training is that simply looking at things is a richer experience. Many of my favorite photographs are taken only by my eyes, and the intended audience is only me. Today I saw things — entire fascinating buildings in a small town — that I never noticed in all my years growing up here. And little things as well.

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There’s something deeply comforting about coming from a place that barely changes over the years, and thanks to the Adirondack Park Authority and their strict building rules, Saranac Lake will never become a strip-mall megalopolis. But I don’t know if I’ll ever return here. People talk about the pulse of Manhattan, how it breathes. A big part of that is that there are a heck of a lot of people, but more than that is that the air is thick with ambition. People there walk quickly and purposefully, because they know exactly what they’re going to do. It’s a theme park for workaholics, a place that you need to get away from to clear your head, but when you’re there it charges you as it challenges you. I always figured there would be a day I would want to slow down and look for space and comfort, but I don’t see that day on the horizon. The work I do is more than work. It invigorates me, pushes me forward, and when I do it right, I’m making people’s lives better. With all of that, how could I not be a workaholic? And we workaholics deserve a theme park.

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But it’s nice to rest every once in a while.