Category Archives: engagement

Photo of the Day: Joy in the Machine

Joy in the Machine

This is a good example of how a simple light — two flashes on the ground aimed upward at a quarter power — can transform a scene. Of course, it was Michelle and Kunal who really sold it.

For comparison, here it is without the flash. The kind of place where people look at you funny when you stop to shoot there.

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Photo of the Day: The Streets Aglow

The Streets Aglow

Shakun, Tim and I were shooting an engagement session in the park when I saw, several block away, the sunset light streaming perfectly down the middle of the street. This doesn’t happen very often, especially on the very *Eastern* edge of Manhattan. We had about 30 seconds before it went down too low.


Engagement: Heather and Jordan

I don’t usually get a chance to blog engagement shoots during the season, but when we get interrupted by Dave Chappelle, when we stumble across a line of crazy Apple fanatics waiting in line for the iPhone the next day, when a woman sees me lying on the ground to get a shot and checks to see if I’m passed out drunk, and when a restaurant lets us inside after it’s closed, that’s more than an engagement shoot, it’s an adventure. Specifically, it’s the kind of adventure you have in New York when a couple is kind enough to bend to my crazy summer schedule and start the shoot at 9:30 p.m.! Thanks guys, looking forward to the July 4 wedding!


Photo of the Day: Every Photo Has a Story…

Every Photo Has a Story…

… and this one doubly so.

I met Heather and Jordan for a very late-night engagement shoot at the swanky hotel where they got engaged. Unfortunately the floor they got engaged on was under construction, but I said “Hey, these elevators are pretty cool.” I usually try not to inconvenience anyone, but since the hotel was quiet at this time of night and there were two other elevators sitting unused, I hit all the buttons on the way down so we’d have time to set up a shot.

To get the ceiling lights and to not be in the reflection, I was crouched low to the right of the door, impossible to see until you came in. So we stopped at one of the floors and a guy walks in. “Woah, paparazzi!” he says. This is a pretty common joke people make when they see my giant camera, so I don’t think much of it. Then I look up at the guy to apologize.

It’s Dave Chappelle. And he thought I realliy was there for him. So he got doubly confused when I just kind of shrugged, apologized for hitting all the buttons, and went back to shooting Heather and Jordan.

“Man, I don’t need this…” he said, and got off at the next floor. He wasn’t really mad, but I think anyone would say that when they see two people making out on an elevator with a photographer and all of the buttons lit up.

Sorry, Dave.

P.S.: Dave has been working out. The guy was RIPPED.


Photo of the Day: Love by Night

From the archives: Two years ago. (Man, time flies). This was the shoot that helped me realize that, especially with newer DSLRs, the most romantic time to do engagement shoots in NYC is at night. There are a few more technical challenges, but it’s worth it.



Photo of the Day: While the Day Away

With my background in photojournalism, I love the idea of bringing a documentary feel to couples’ portraits. Every gesture and expression tells a story, of course, but I like to see how your love really plays out, how you really express it with each other. Of course, it’s also fun to have someone prod you along to get you to do things you might not otherwise, like kiss in the middle of traffic. But when I saw Rachel and Jonathan’s comfy couch, I knew we had to do some shooting there to see love in its natural environment.


Photo of the Day: Water Fire

Water Fire

Basically no photoshop; a bit of contrast in the sky.

It was a wet Wednesday for Elyse and David’s engagement shoot, but we braved it anyway. I spent a good chunk of the time lying in puddles to get the best angles, and it was worth it. This is why I don’t wear designer clothes on most of my shoots.


Photo of the Day: The District Won’t Sleep Alone Saturday Night

What’s better than one of your closest college friends getting married? TWO of your closest college friends getting married to each other! That’s where I’ll be Saturday night, where, if history continues, I will manage to serve as both photographer and official performer of Kid and Play’s routine from House Party. I am elated, excited, and absolutely terrified. You see, Missy is a bit competitive, and a photo I took at our mutual friend’s wedding is pretty much the most-popular wedding photo in all of Flickr. Curse you, expectations!

I’m kidding (mostly). It’s going to be a fabulous day, and with a pair like this, I know we’re going to get expressive, hilarious photos throughout the day. You see, this wasn’t exactly your normal engagement shoot. Your normal engagement shoot doesn’t include commands like: “OK, you see those lights? I want you to stand in them like you are Kryptonian war prisoners!”

Yeah, I’m excited.


Photo of the Day: Marriage Can Be Freaky

Marriage Can be Freaky

I had a wonderful shoot with these two on their fifth wedding anniversary. In 2008, the groom suffered from a disease that left him paralyzed, and he had to teach himself how to walk again. As you can see, he does a lot more than walk. They loved the "Shoot the Freak" at Coney Island, and I had to deal with harsh mid-day light, so I decided to let them have some fun, solving my lighting problem at the same time.


Photo of the Day: Home Bodies

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I like the idea of starting engagement shoots in the home — if these shoots are meant to reflect a couple’s actual personality and unique love, where better than where they actually spend so much time together?

Of course, in New York, which I call an amusement park for workaholics, we tend to have less strong connections to our living spaces than in most other places, but they are still important to us.

(EXIF and GPS)


Photo of the Day: When is a Forest Not a Forest?

When it’s in the middle of NYC. Amazing what the right angle and some uncut grass can do.

Only Brooklyn would have roving gangs of hipster art school dropouts. I was setting up this shot by lying in the grass before Rachel and Jonathan got into position, and one called out “Hey buddy, great shot! Very artistic!” I managed to avoid arguing the merits of set-up shots and location scouting with them — that way madness lies.

I do love the final shot, but I give all the credit to the incredible energy Rachel and Jonathan brought to it.

(EXIF and GPS)


Bokeh panoramas and Photoshop CS5


The trials of Photoshop CS5 are available for download, and of course the first thing I did was to try a “Brenizer method” panorama on them. Since I like to be timely, here’s one I just shot a few hours ago, during an engagement shoot with Jennifer and Richard.

For new readers, basically the trick is to use a multi-image panorama to make for a super-shallow depth-of-field by using a longer lens. This was 18 images with an 85mm f/1.4. If I’d had to use a shorter lens like a 24mm to capture everything in one frame, all of that background foliage would be in focus as well. Here is an example of a single frame from the shot:


I have not been happy overall with the performance of CS4 in stitching these sorts of panoramas, keeping CS3 around or using a dedicated program like Autopano Pro. Is CS5 better? On the good side, I fed it 18 full-resolution images, which usually causes Photoshop to hang for a long time, if not crash. It took a while, but the progress was steady and measured, and produced an image without major artifacts. On the bad side, it still has the CS4 habit of throwing pieces it doesn’t know what to do with into the corner and not making it easy to move them:


Now the exciting part is “content aware fill,” which fills in gaps by taking into account all of the textures around it. And it seems to work really, really well in general. Here was the cropped section, with a gap the stitching couldn’t fill. One swipe of content-aware spot healing produced the image up top:


BUT you have to be careful when doing these panoramas, as the whole point of them is to create a very three-dimensional look where everything is in a certain amount of focus due to its relationship to the focal plane (like most pictures, just more so). Photoshop will very happily grab the surrounding textures even if they’re in a different part of the focal plane, which in this case would have made content-aware fills of the out-of-focus brown patches in the grass look out-of-place. Overall, though, it should be a valuable tool in the panorama arsental.