Category Archives: business

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


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The Brenizer Method Video has a new home!

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The Brenizer Method Ultimate Tutorial is back up at brenizermethod.vhx.tv!

Doing a nearly three-hour-long tutorial about every aspect of the panorama technique that has come to be known as “The Brenizer method” was a daunting task, but I didn’t realize the most daunting part would be after the video was completed. Sadly, the site that originally hosted our content was quietly going out of business the entire time, which made for a bit of a bumpy ride. But happily one of my former clients helps run the world-class movie-hosting site VHX, and he has helped us get it up and running again!

We have good news, better news, and best news. The good news is that this new site should be very responsive to sellers and to my requests. The better news is that this version of the video has been upgraded thanks to lots of viewer feedback, including subtitles in one section where the sounds of the city made it hard for some people, particularly non-native English speakers, to hear. The best news, though, is that we are working with VHX to give free access to everyone who purchased the video from the previous host.

Yes, we are working hard behind the scenes to make sure that I earn as little extra money as possible. Keep that in mind during my business lecture in a few weeks at Mystic Conferences.

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: 25-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro (equivalent of 40mm f/0.8 according to Brett’s calculator)


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See me (and other amazing photographers) at the Canada Photo Convention!

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I am so thrilled to announce that I have joined the line-up for the Canada Photo Convention in Vancouver on April 23-24. And honestly, this is a convention I’d want to go to even if I weren’t speaking. I’ve been to a number of conventions before as a speaker and an attendee, and you tend to see the same people over and over again. Here, you have a lot of the top rising stars in the industry, including people like my buddies Jonas Peterson and the Nordica dudes, and so many people who are cranking out work that is fresh, original, and well, so hot right now. I’m honored to be among them.

I was born so close to the Quebec border that all the signs in my hometown are also in French. I absolutely can’t wait. I promise lots of new material in my presentation, and a few new moves for the dance floor afterward.

Even though the convention is a year away, it’s filling up incredibly fast. So sign up now!


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Featured in Adorama TV’s “How’d They Do That?”

Mark Wallace at Adorama TV interviewed me for his popular “How’d They Do That?” segment. Apparently he was flooded with questions about the “Brenizer method” and figured who better to explain it? I’ll never get used to seeing myself on video, but we had a great time. Thanks, Mark!


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March 18-19: Ryan Brenizer Workshops Go to Hollywood (or at least Burbank)


(Not that Hollywood)

I’ve gotten a lot of requests to do workshops outside the NYC area, and I did a test seminar in New Orleans back in 2009, but I wanted to wait until I could be sure I could take this show on the road and do a great job with it.

March 18th and 19th are that time.

This workshop, “What Would MacGyver Do?” will take some of the best things I’ve learned in the shooting and business workshops I led in 2010, as well as all of the preparation work I did for my DWF lecture in January. We’ll be taking the kinds of real-world problems that wedding and portrait photographers deal with all the time — bad light, not enough time, bad locations, awkward subjects, and more — and working through them to get technically and emotionally compelling photographs. Recommended for people-shooters who can at least count upward in f-stops.

This is a night-and–day workshop, with the night of the 18th given to networking and discussions of the hows and whys of shooting professionally. I take great care to make sure that people can get benefits not only from me, but from lasting connections to other photographers with shared skills and interests, and it’s been great to see lasting friendships come out of previous workshops.

Cost is just $500 for registration before March 1, and $600 thereafter. E-mail ryanbrenizerworkshops@gmail.com to sign up or get more information.

Fun fact: This will be the first of my workshops planned by more than one Brenizer.

UPDATE: I should note that with my current schedule I won’t be doing many workshops this year. My current plans are one West Coast workshop, one East Coast workshop, and one in December in Asia. Going to be another busy year with lots of fantastic clients.


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What Ryan Brenizer Loves: Junebug

I am very happy to be added to Junebug’s exclusive list of best photographers in the NYC area. They limit each metropolitan area to a select number of photographers and it’s quite an honor to be selected in New York because, well, we have the most people, and so many talented people flock to what I like to call “an amusement park for workaholics.”

As soon as I discovered Junebug, I knew that they were a publication that really “got” photography, feeling free to publish images just because they loved them, whether or not they showed the latest styles in centerpieces. It is an honor to be on their list of photographers they love.

I wrote a little personal statement for them, might be worth sharing here:

I have been blessed by photography. It has filled me with purpose and joy, and taken me places I never thought I’d go. I have covered three U.S. presidents, been blessed by the Pope, and been stared down by Muhammad Ali. I’ve shared a laugh with Smokey Robinson, and had a picture I took of him used when he received a lifetime achievement award. I’ve photographed a 110-year-old woman as she told me what it was like to climb onto the torch of the Statue of Liberty. I was chosen as the only independent photographer allowed near Obama and McCain in their last meeting before the 2008 election. But I have never felt so blessed by photography as when I am photographing a wedding. At weddings, we are most visibly ourselves — the walls we walk around with come tumbling down under the forces of joy, anxiety (and sometimes a bit of alcohol). To document that experience, the relationship of friends, families, and a couple launching a new stage in their life, is an incredible feeling. When a client says “This is the first picture of seen of my parents that actually looks like them!” I feel like I’ve done something with lasting value. And to do that with so many wonderful couples, from down the Manhattan street to as far away as Singapore, makes it all the better.

I am a storyteller and a problem solver. When I am posing you, I work to make you comfortable enough to find the real emotions and expressions within you. And when I am documenting the day, I work to make you comfortable enough to forget I’m there.


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“Creativity on the Fly” Lecture at Adorama June 21

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Exciting news! I’ll be joining the ranks of well-known photographers like Cliff Mautner and Joe McNally as a lecturer in Adorama’s workshop series. On June 21, I’ll be giving a talk on a subject near and dear to my heart: “Creativity on the Fly, Turning Bad Shooting Situations into Great Wedding Photos.”

Weddings are, at their heart, barely controlled chaos, and it is the photographers who learn to do good work even when everything is lined up against them who will be successful in the long run. And if there’s one thing that a long history of shooting in New York City has taught me, it’s how to deal with adversity. We’ll be discussing how to think through shoots when the light, the location, and time is against you, and hopefully have some fun. Just $35 for a two-hour lecture, which is about as inexpensive as anything gets in Manhattan.

Seating is limited, so click here to read more and sign up!


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Workshop recap!

Immediately after February’s “Creativity on the Fly” workshop, I got lots of messages from people wishing they could have made it. Free weekends are a rare commodity for me, but luckily I had one more before the season exploded and got a bunch of great photographers together for a day of discussing advanced techniques to make the most out of bad situations. I figure any workshop can take you to a fabulous beachfront estate, but what happens when you come back to real life, and all you have to work with is five minutes and a parking lot? I am lucky to work with Philip Stark in his studio, which is a great place to meet, but it’s almost TOO fantastic, so we spent the day looking for the least photogenic parts of the building and discussing what we could do with them.

Again, I want to say what an honor it is to have people come from across the country and the world to hear me prattle on for a day or two. Some people have asked me why I’ve started to do workshops when I have some rather well-documented gripes with the photography workshop industrial complex. First, it’s really, really fun. Second, it lets me try to address those problems by simply doing things the way I want. But lastly, the more I teach the more I realize that it is going to make me a much better photographer. I do so much client work that sometimes I don’t get the chance to step back and look at what I do from a different perspective. Teaching forces me to do that, to break down what I do and why I do it instead of just, you know, doing it. And by making me put this in some sort of sensible framework so people can reliably see whether a given workshop will be helpful for them or not, it has made me think about exactly the message I want to put out in the world, what things are valuable for me to teach.

Few things break my heart more than hearing people say “I wish you’d taken my wedding photos. We hate ours.” I think that wedding photography is important, and I want as many people as possible to love their photos, whether or not I took them. And I want as many people as possible to stay in love with the process of photography. And so, whenever I can find time within my packed photography schedule, I teach.

Here some of the workshoppers gather for the day. None of them seemed to need nearly as much coffee as I did to start at 9 a.m. Hmmm…

I always want to do these with people I’m comfortable with, so the day was filled with people who have been featured on this blog before, such as my friend Rochelle, who made a fabulous model. On the left she is looking cheeky for a Brenizer Method demonstration (I took the class through the whole process, from visualizing to stitching and output) and on the right we are mixing ambient and off-camera flash.

It was brisk, but much warmer than February, so we headed outside for some flash composites. This is three frames used for stark contrast with the ambient light.

And here is our “wedding party.” Flash composites are great for group shots, and here it wasn’t used as starkly, just to provide attractive light and better contrast. Again, I took the class through everything from pre-visualizing to the (very fast and easy) photoshop output.

Here I was doing a quick demonstration of Auto-FP flash, using 1/8000th of a second to bring the room ambient to blackness.

Then we moved on to couples, including my intern Isla and her husband Dan. I put them in the only part of the studio you would never want to photograph in — the kitchen we had just made dirty. To bring down the background, I stuck three flashes outside the window, mimicking bright daylight and getting interesting textures from the bars on the window.

Our next couple was the amazing Kindiya and Thomas, otherwise known as “The Couple on the Rocks.” Now we went to the ugliest part of the whole building, a nasty stairway where, Thomas noted, it looked like they were about to conduct a drug deal. Although, I said, it also looked like a place where a couple might actually make out. I don’t know anybody who spends a lot of time making out in front of gazebos. Off-camera flash and some movement to blur the shadows brought the effect here.

Here we used a very warm tungsten video light to cool the puke-green ambient into a nice turquoise. And you can see all the voyeurs in the class.

The sun came out and I showed the class how to kill it dead. f/22 wasn’t nearly dark enough for the effect I want, so we used the Sledgehammer of Light and Auto-FP to shoot at 1/8000th, f/6.3. That sky is straight out-of-camera. No HDR here.

Then we used the dramatic effect with flash compositing to light the couple from the left.

Then I wanted to show how to work when you had very, very little time, such as when you are holding an elevator. Yes, the “shaft of light” from the last post is an elevator shaft. The important thing here is pre-visualizing and then working quickly. We tossed three flashes in the reflective elevator at half power to turn it into a glowing room of white and positioned them right in the doorway. We also had a second, safer shot using video light inside the elevator.

We had a session of free shooting so everyone could work through some of the things they saw, and I took another Brenizer Method shot of Kindiya and Thomas, as well as showing the effects of studio lights (not shown).

Group shot! One of these days I’ll remember to do a group shot at the beginning, before many of the workshoppers leave.

Thanks so much everyone! This is probably the last weekend workshop I can host for a long time, but I’ll put together a weekday one aimed squarely at wedding photographers, covering business as well as wedding-specific issues, in the mid to late summer.


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(Phillip Stark’s) Photos of the Day: Workshop Review

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Studio picture by Phillip Stark

Given that this is a blog devoted to my photography, generally I’m going to feature … my photography. But today I have a good excuse. Phillip Stark, owner of 2 Stop Brighter Studios where I conduct my NYC workshops, sent over some great shots of last time. He has a great space over there, and I thank him for all his help!

I am extremely excited for the workshop on Friday and Saturday. We were full to the level I wanted, but there are a couple spaces open now due to two last-minute personal emergencies, so contact me if you’re interested! We’ll be spending a lot of time talking about advanced techniques that can pull off good shots no matter the ambient lighting you have to work with. In addition to all the great things that we did in the February workshop, it will be a bit more intimate, and I promise the weather will be warmer this time. The reviews show happy attendees despite the freezing weather.

There’s a huge hoopla going on right now in the wedding industry about which workshops are rip-offs — 95 percent of you will have never heard of this debate, and you are lucky, as it’s pretty ugly. I don’t have anything to say of consequence, since the alleged scammers are people I’ve never heard of before. But someone exclaimed I was “giving it away!” by offering workshops at $350. Maybe. But I also know how much 10-week courses at the International Center for Photography cost, and they aren’t $30,000. I simply bring the same philosophy to my workshops that I do for my weddings: Price as low as supply and demand will allow me*, and hustle like crazy to do good work. As a long-term strategy of someone who wants to stay in this business for the next 40 or 50 years, and who wants to make sure as many people as possible have great wedding photos, it’s working pretty well.

I’m not alone in this idea. I don’t know any wedding photographer who knows lighting as well as Joe McNally — I mean, really, the guy has evenly lit up coliseum-sized telescopes while standing in a crane — and you might be amazed at the low prices of his workshops. I’m not a rock star, I just know some neat tricks and like to share them. Information wants to be free, I just don’t have quite that much time.

There is also some extremely exciting news to come on the workshop and lecture front, but I can’t tell you yet.

Onto the pictures:

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*I should probably point out that this only works well if, by working hard, you are continually raising demand.


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Mmmmm … albums …

The wedding albums for Kristy and Mike’s gorgeous wedding at the Belhurst Castle came in this week, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to show it off. These are from Kiss Wedding Books, one of the three main companies I work with and one that is very popular with my clients, because they do one thing and do it very well. If you like stylish, minimalist leather books with some great accessories, you like them, and I certainly like their great customer service.

I’ve been relaxing a bit to gather myself for the coming season, but I’m really aching to get out, shoot and shoot and shoot and try some new things. So here I asked myself “How have I NOT seen a lot of product photography done?” Well, I haven’t seen a lot of products shot at 1/8000th of a second to take advantage of high-speed sync flash. So I had a bit of fun:

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Next Workshop! April 16-17th, 2010

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Our first workshop was a huge success (you can read reviews here), and so we’re going to get one more done before the season starts in earnest. This will be the last weekend workshop I’ll be able to offer for a loooooong time.

It would be great if life were always fabulous, if the light were always perfect, if everything happened according to your schedule, if your subjects were always naturally comfortable in front of the camera. But that’s not the world in which we live. So my workshops focus not just on tools that will let you create beautiful imagery, such as “the Brenizer Metho”d of bokeh panoramas, but how to make the most of less-than-perfect situations. What do you do when you want to create dramatic lighting, but it’s high noon, you have a giant wedding party, and one tiny little speedlight? What do you do when you want to create great portraits, but it’s pitch black out? What if the weather is horrible and you can’t go outside, and you’re left with no obviously interesting locations to shoot in?

These are the situations I and other photographers face all the time, and I’ll show you how I work through them, as well as showing you advanced tools for artistic expression like quick-and-easy flash composites, mixing strobe and continuous lighting, and basic flash techniques that guarantee perfect exposures every time.

But photography is more than just exposures. There will also be discussions of documentary style, how to make uncomfortable subjects comfortable, and how to further develop your own artistic style.

Lastly, these workshops are great opportunities for networking, and I want you to have as much fun as possible, so there will be a social mixer at the studio on Friday night (April 16) as well as the full-day workshop on Saturday (April 17), as well as official hotel accommodations for those who need it. Both the mixer and the workshop will be at the fantastic 2 Stops Brighter studio.

And, because I think some workshop prices are a bit nutty, all this is just $350.

To show interest or sign up, e-mail me here!


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Five-page feature on me in What Digital Camera magazine!

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I feel incredibly honored to have a five-page spread featured on my work and photographic history in the magazine What Digital Camera. The spread was in the August 2009 issue, but since it primarily sells overseas I didn’t see it until now! There is an extensive look at the gear I use and a nice interview to show where I come from and where I’m heading.

Of course, as you’ll be able to see from the gear listings on the sample photos, my equipment keeps changing as I try new ways to capture photos the way I want. That means there are some new additions since the article (such as the D3s, 50mm f/1.2, 35mm f/1.8 and 24mm f/1.8) and of course a bit of gear that was swallowed by the angry god of the sea in Puerto Rico.

You can click on any of the spreads below for a larger, readable version!

Also thanks to Timothy Herzog for taking the photo of me with my kit.

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The Breakdown: Feb. 6 “How to Shoot Like MacGyver” Workshop

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On February 5th and 6th, 35 avid and awesome photographers came to 2 Stops Brigher Studios to talk shop and learn about some of the crazy stuff I get up to as a photographer. I figured I couldn’t teach a workshop about how to be fabulous, since I’m just a pretty normal guy, or how to run a business, since the most important thing I know is to work with other people who know how to do that stuff, or selling actions and presets, since I don’t use them.

What I do know as a New York City photographer is how to make the best of situations that aren’t always in your favor, and I thought it might be useful for some people to get my perspective. Also, I’m always looking at photographic gear and saying “Is there anyway I can use this in a weird way that would make some pretty cool pictures?” and we spent most of the day talking about some of the things I’ve found that can give you some new tools for bad situations — things like the “Brenizer method” of bokeh panoramas, video lights and light-painting for low-light, using flash composites for dynamic shots on bright days, and more.

I had such a wonderful time, and so many people have been asking about it, that I am going to host another one soon! I’m thinking April. Watch this space.

There are going to be a lot of photos in the full write-up, so click below to read the rest!

View full post »


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Reviews of the workshop!

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I couldn’t have had a better time at Saturday’s workshop, and was absoutely thrilled with how everything went — my staff, Isla and Thomas, did a killer job throughout, Phillip Stark could not have been more gracious a studio host, and our models and couples were top-notch! But, as they used to say in Reading Rainbow, “You don’t have to take my word for it …” When you have an audience filled with 35 people, almost all of whom have a blog, you know there are going to be a lot of independent reviews. The first comprehensive one I’ve seen is this article by Dmitri Gudkov, but let me know if you have any others and I’ll add them to this entry!

You can also see 117-and-counting attendee photos here, including proof that it is nearly impossible to take a good shot of me while I am talking.

(Photo by attendee Jeniel Corpuz)

UPDATE:I randomly stumbled across this review in a Nikon forum by one of the attendees. Since he didn’t think I would see it, that means he’s not sucking up to me. ;-)

I am inspired by his shooting philosophy. He lives for the “worst” shooting conditions and actually gets bored when things go right the first try. I take that as always learning and being prepared for the worst. I also appreciate his take on ‘getting it right in camera’. I hate using photoshop and really appreciate the fact that he can get such great results with spending 5-10 secs per image and sometimes not even touching them.

I highly recommend his workshops and I will be attending one of his in the future again.

UPDATE: A nice review by Zack Delaune, who came out from New Orleans for it:

After two days of hanging with Ryan, I knew this wouldn’t be any normal workshop. And he confirmed that right out of the gate by starting the discussion with the “why” of photography rather than the “how”. His philosophy on the subject definitely changed the way I think about photography, and especially wedding photography. So, big thanks to Ryan for flipping da script, as the kids say.

Once we got into more technical things, we discussed bounce flash techniques, the “Brenizer Method”, and quick flash composites. In that portion of the workshop, Ryan focused on tools we could add to our bag of tricks to make us more versatile photographers, even in undesirable situations. He demonstrated by making some beautiful shots in the ugliest flourescent-lit hallway I have ever seen. This was a refreshing reinforcement of something that I have been preaching lately to anyone who will listen. To get a beautiful shot, you don’t NEED a “beautiful” location

UPDATE: Here’s a nice video by Brett Maxwell showing the process of the shot shown here. I didn’t know I was being recorded and wasn’t speaking with that in mind, so hopefully you can pick up some of the audio. And although it sounds like I was overshooting, taking thousands of shots, those are the sounds of all the attendees’ DSLRs behind Brett. When I’m thinking about shooting, and not about talking, I say “you know” a lot. But before and after this I explained to the attendees more about the process, and showed the results.


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