Little known fact: We own Central Park and have the authority to kick all the people out.
It’s been amazing to shoot in places like Hong Kong, Chile, Ireland … but our deep, pervading love is for Brooklyn — that’s why we live here. We love being able to celebrate places like Pier 5 in the Brooklyn Bridge Park that are just down the street from us — particularly with a couple like Gillian and Rod, who share a love and history for the nabe.
There are some big changes afoot. People who know me well will likely find this to be the least surprising surprise ever. But now that I’m marrying one of the best wedding photographers in New York, and when we’ve found that we work exceedingly well together, it only makes sense for us to just … do that. So we are becoming something more. We’re still becoming, still in the chrysalis, since we are awfully busy right now taking care of our existing clients. We’ve finished up the contracts and made it official, but Marketing? Long-term strategies? Still working on them. Of course, this makes it sort of a fire sale, since 2016 couples who manage to book us before we manage to change our Web site are also getting in before we change our prices, effectively getting an extra wedding photographer with a spotless decade-long record of amazing customer service and photojournalism for free.
We’re also changing up our engagement shoot approach as well, with a bit more time and, well, a bit more photographer — and here’s an example of how it can all come together, a shoot Tatiana and I recently did in Long Island City. Noelia and Amadeo have personalities and smiles far too big to be overshadowed be all this news. They are born stars, and we were happy to shine a light on their connection. We are even more excited for things to come, more excited than we’ve ever been.
There’s vintage, and then there’s Michelle and Matthew. A lot of people dress up in vintage clothing for shoots, simply because it’s fun and looks great. But when Michelle met Matthew, she was impressed by how he looked in the 1920s strongman-style swimsuit he was wearing. She runs a blog called My Vintage Love, so a good part of their central identity looks back about 100 years.
So when Tatiana Breslow and I thought through their engagement shoot for them, we centered around some bars with beautiful interior woodwork to play off their look. The Campbell Apartments are in Grand Central, so they have to be very careful about how much photography they let in — even with prior approval, we were allowed to shoot with our dSLRs for exactly 90 seconds. One of the photos below was taken with an iPhone 6+, and I wasn’t doing it just to be showy — it was all we were allowed to use!
In contrast, June Wine bar in my studio’s Brooklyn neighborhood was so nice and amazingly accommodating that it almost freaked us out. “Why are you so nice? You know this is New York, right?”
It is such a great thrill to work alongside Tatiana, and to see how our businesses and lives will improve as we merge in the coming year, and the thrill doubles when we work with a great couple. This shouldn’t be the last you see of Michelle and Matthew.
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:
There are very few assignments better than surprise proposal assignments. Such raw emotion, and I get to be a sneaky ninja. Once I know that they’ve told all their friends and family I can show more from this fantastic evening.
Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6
It’s not often that I have a wedding date marked off on my calendar six months before the bride does. But Marcus and Kathy’s story is not your average wedding.
Marcus and Kathy are from Germany, and Marcus is a fan of my work, so he said “Hey, you know what would be fun? Let’s go to New York City! And while we’re there, Ryan can take some portraits of us.” Kathy loved New York and was working on improving her English, so it sounded good to her.
But Marcus had much deeper plans. He wanted to propose. So we planned together where the perfect spot would be, somewhere beautiful and as secluded as you can get in Manhattan. I would lead them in, taking portraits along the way and getting them comfortable. And then, when I said “Oh, look at this, this is the perfect spot!” Marcus would pretend to tie his shoe, kneel down to tie it, and pull out the ring.
Everything was working great. It was a beautiful day, as perfect as you could want. The park was green and lush, but not packed with people. I took them on a meandering path as we took photos, and came to a beautiful, secluded glade.
“Wow,” I said. “This is the perfect spot.”
“Yeah, it’s great!”
I waited. Nothing. “Ok, let’s take some photos here, and then I know an even better spot down the path a bit!”
“Well, look at this, what a spot! This spot is just perfect!”
Now I was getting a little nervous. Was the plan worked out well enough? I know that even the most enthusiastic proposal is such a huge leap, there’s always a moment like before you’re going to jump into cold water on a hot day. There’s nothing you want more, but you pause. I know this, so we continue walking. Last year I’d taught a workshop in this area, and some of the students said they found an amazing glen with a waterfall, stonework, all sorts of things you don’t expect to find in Manhattan. But I was busy and never saw it.
We kept walking, and there it was. The perfect spot. I set them up and said “Ok, guys, I want to to give a big hug.” And they did, and it was beautiful because they’re so in love. But really I wanted them to hug so Kathy couldn’t see me as I wandered behind. I signaled Marcus wordlessly.
Yeah, I got this.
He got down to his knees and said … well, it was all German, but it sounded very romantic. Tears, instantly. Joy, laughter, disbelief. Even bigger hugs. I absolutely love photographing surprise engagements just to be a part of this crucial moment.
But Marcus’s plan went deeper. He gave it a while, let the whole “I’m marrying this guy!” thing set in, and then he asked the real question: “Will you marry me … Wednesday? Here? In New York?”
She considered it, “Marcus, I’d love to, but I can’t get married without my parents here, they’re so important to me. And your brother, he’s traveling in Spain, it would kill him to miss it.”
He smiled. “Yes, we should ask my parents. We’re in luck! They’re here. And my brother? He’s not in Spain. He’s here.”
Woah. Marcus had planned it all out. He’d actually hired me six months earlier not just for the portraits, not just to capture the proposal, but for the wedding as well. It was all set … it just needed a bride.
She agreed. And that set about a whirlwind of emotion and shoes and dresses and more emotion, going through the entire process a bride usually goes through in six to 12 months in just a few days. So when we met on another glorious Central Park day, all of it was raw and powerful and beautiful.
It was an honor to tell this story and a pleasure to spend this time with Marcus, Kathy, and their families. And thankfully for the wedding day I brought along my own German, Stefy Hilmer, to help shoot and translate. I think I may need some more of this Germany experience, but more on that later.
Lightroom 5 beta is out, and for once Adobe’s magical new promised tools really are pretty magical. The one-click straightening tool actually does a great job in a one-second edit, and the parallel lines of New York’s architecture thanks it.
Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Sigma 35mm f/1.4
This image was a composite AND a panorama, but that wasn’t what made it so hard. No, it was the Universal Law of Shooting in NYC: When you have scouted a location, and the whole time you scouted there were no people there, and you really need no people to be there, right as you’re ready to shoot a hundred schoolchildren will flood the scene.
Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: 8-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (equivalent of 42mm f/0.68 according to Brett’s calculator)
I’ve had the findings I need to review the Nikon D600 for a month, but I’ve been (not so) patiently awaiting the software I like to use to update to support files from the camera. Alas, this hasn’t happened yet, but I will listen to those of you who have clamored to hear more about it.
One big plus for it — it didn’t freeze up at all while shooting this 47-image panorama, while the D800 would have locked up several times from all that data coming in too fast.
Camera: Nikon D600
Lens: Lens: 47-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (equivalent of 28mm f/0.45 according to Brett’s calculator)