Category Archives: photo of the day

Playing with Fire (Fiddler’s Elbow Wedding)

150731 DSC 4074 jpg

Just when I think after 500ish weddings I’ve run into all of the challenges out there, life shows me how wrong I am … and I’m thankful for it. Without challenge, growth is slow and meandering.

On Friday morning, Tatiana and I got an e-mail from Kristin asking if we could do a long-exposure shot with shooting sparks. There were just a couple challenges 1) We had never taken this kind of photo before. 2) The wedding was also on Friday, and we were packing to leave.

Generally, photography tricks are modifications and extensions of existing techniques. I never would have thought up the so-called “Brenizer method” if I hadn’t already been experienced in regular panoramas, and while we’d never lit anything on fire and violently swung it around for a wedding photo, I was experienced enough in the other basic skills of night-time long exposures — such as exposing and composing a photo without being able to see anything that you’re doing — that we said we’d give it a try.

When pushing the envelope at a wedding, it is absolutely vital to manage expectations. I often ask couples if they want to take a given amount of time for something that might be awesome, or might be absolutely terrible. In the rare situation that we’re trying a new technique on the wedding day, we made absolutely clear that the result might be no photo at all, especially given that by doing this during the time of the reception we had time for only one frame.

That’s right — this photo is not only the very first time I’ve tried this technique but also, as of this writing, the last. Treading new ground on a tight time frame could only have been achieved with the capable help of Tatiana, who talked them through the posing and lit them with flash.

Important note: while I wasn’t sure whether we’d get a photo, I did make *really* sure that at least we wouldn’t set anything or anyone on fire. The bridge wasn’t just a pretty bit of symmetry for the photo — it also made sure we were surrounded by steel, concrete, and water. I was also farther away than it may look, though there is no such thing as too paranoid, especially when around highly inflammable things like lace (which we weren’t) or hair-sprayed hair (which distance and angle of velocity made exceedingly unlikely to get hit, but anything is possible, hence eager, informed consent from bride and nearby water).

Thank you Michael and Kristin for encouraging us toward creative and literal sparks.

Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II


BACK TO TOP | CONTACT ME

A New Day

Blog 150418 185729 12mm f6 3 577 Edit

Yesterday I started my first-ever 365 project. The season really went into full, non-stop-work mode last week, so this isn’t the best time for some deep, time-consuming personal project, so I’m keeping it vague: I will post a photo online every day over the next year. Some of them will be here, some on the countless different social media profiles photographers tend to collect along the way, but all will be collected on my business Facebook page.

I haven’t done a preponderance of personal work over the past six years not only because I’m shooting for work all the time, but because that work is so personal. A friend of mine said years ago: “I love weddings because the kinds of photos I’d want to take for free happen there, but I also get paid for it.” Weddings very quickly allow me to get to the stuff that matters in people … the emotion, the connections, the history. It might take days or weeks for people to become comfortable with a photographer around if you’re a long-form documentarian, but on wedding days it’s so natural for you to be there, and people have so many other things to think about, that you can get into the varied, real emotional life of people really quickly.

And it also allows me to play visually in so many different ways, because your only real instruction is “here’s the time you have, let’s see what you can do.” Shooting portraits with a wide-angle lens is general rule-breaking. Shooting with a 12mm lens is general insanity. Shooting from a lower angle with … well, you get the picture. The reasons for this is that it takes all sorts of tricks and learned skills to keep this sort of shot flattering, but it can be done. And it opens up the door to creating images that look completely different than the actual scene. Here all we had was about three minutes, a parking lot filled with cars, and rapidly oncoming rain. The lens stretches the venue behind them and the tree above them into looking like they’re on the same plane; the addition of light transforms them from three-dimensional objects to shapes.

I get to play, to try things that, by the rule book, are completely crazy, and then within minutes share in the chaotic emotional energy of a wedding celebration? Most of my job is personal work.

Also, because of the in-season, mid-week timing, there are still some seats open for my May 28 and 29 workshop here in Brooklyn. I will teach all of the tricks to make images like this work and many more, and we will also take you through getting, working with, and maintaining clients. We’ve gotten a flood of people saying that the dates couldn’t work for them, so similar to some of the favorite workshops I’ve done we’re going to allow signing up for just one day: May 28, the shooting-heavy day that runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with breaks for lunch and dinner, will be $650. May 29, featuring portfolio review, all aspects of getting and pleasing clients, and running a long-term wedding photography business that sustains you financially and emotionally, will be $450 for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Both days (which is recommended) is $1,000.


BACK TO TOP | CONTACT ME

She said “Fine”!

DN1 1491 as Smart Object 2

She said yes!

OK, technically she said “fine,” a private joke given that Tatiana says “fine” way too much, but you get the idea. We are going to go down the same crazy roller coaster as our clients, and we are already understanding this wedding business in different lights. Like sure, diamond rings are a massive industry scam perpetuated by devious corporations … but oh my god we love ours — it’s like a constant dance party on Tatiana’s hand — and when Tiffany & Co. asked if we wanted to trade it in for a properly sized ring we said “No, resize THIS one!” And we realize how important photos are in a different way. As soon as I knew I was going to propose to Tatiana in Montreal it was obvious that I would hire the incredible davina + daniel | wedding photography to capture the moment. Daniel sent me this last night and even with everything we paid I almost don’t even care if there are other photos or amazing portraits — this is a perfect moment from the THIRD time I got down on my knee showing how happy we were once the reality of the situation started to sink in.

The proposal: I had a lot of grand ideas, but honestly I just couldn’t wait. I wanted to do this the very second after we shot our last wedding for the year. Tatiana knew that months ago, I booked the travel for a trip that would take us through 3.5 days of vacation in Montreal before spending Thanksgiving with our families. She didn’t know that I’d booked our hotel at the Ritz-Carlton, Montréal, or dinner the first night at the incredible Maison Boulud Montreal. I’m not generally a flashy, free-spending person, so she would have known something was up … so I had a plan. I ALSO booked us rooms at the Best Western down the street for last night. That way we could come off the plane and get all dressed up “for dinner” at a restaurant at the top of Parc du Mont-Royal — a restaurant that does not, in fact, exist.

I have never been to the spot, which Daniel picked, and Tatiana has never been to Montreal at all, so Google Maps led us astray and we had to not only climb up a dark muddy mountain trail in our fancy clothes, we had to crawl over four different chained off pathways to get there. All the while I’m sending and receiving secret texts from Daniel to make sure he knew where we are — and of course me, photographer that I am, makes us wander to a spot without people in the background, a beautiful reflective rainy ground, and at least a bit of ambient light, which was in short supply.

I turned to Tatiana: “It’s been a wonderful year and I’m so happy to celebrate it. But I have a few surprises for you! First of all, we’re not staying at the Best Western tonight, we’re staying at the Ritz!”

“What???”

“And we’re staying there every night!”

“Wow, wait, what?!?!”

“And there’s actually no food here, that restaurant behind us is actually a closed-off government building. Our dinner is back at the hotel.”

“Wait, what? What??”

“Also,” (and here I began to cry, as I knelt down to my bag to pull out a white-wrapped turquoise Tiffany’s box), “You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, the best person I have ever met, and I want to spend as much time of every day for the rest of my life with you that I possibly can.”

“WHAT!?!?!?! WHAT?????? WHAT????”

Daniel’s video light turns on, and man, those things are bright when they are aimed at you, and we hear cheering and the sounds of hundreds of shutters, but it a ll seems to fade into the background. I wanted her to be surprised before the ring was out, and boy did that happen. She was still in shock probably an hour later while we were doing portraits, but so thrilled. We haven’t stopped smiling for the past 18 hours, and our cheeks are starting to hurt.

We are so happy to begin our forever, to let each other and the world know that we are totally, one hundred percent committed to each other in every way, and can’t wait to spend the last half of this week celebrating with our family.

Thank you to Davina and Daniel (and associate Chris) for the amazing photo, thank you to my mom for coming with me to pick out the ring and being the best all-around, and thank you to Kyle Hepp for being my on-the-ground recon, finding out Tatiana’s thoughts on proposals in general. (Her thoughts on having a photographer there? “Absolutely not.” Public proposal? “No, just on the couch.” Sometimes you have to be a bit rebellious.)

We are just going to bask in our engagement right now and no wedding planning — the only thing we know is that there will be a good dance party. No other details.


BACK TO TOP | CONTACT ME

Love is Work Made Visible (literally)

De Seversky Mansion wedding

Lawrence built these letters himself with foam-core and Christmas lights, in addition to handcrafting exquisite wooden signs, tables, and hand-painting dozens of luminaries for the grounds of his De Seversky mansion wedding on Saturday. Speaking as a guy, Lawrence, you’re blowing the curve for the rest of us.

Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II


BACK TO TOP | CONTACT ME

This is For Keeps

140831 161411 45mm f2 8 7750 blog

Patrick looks back at Lisa one last time before getting a wedding ring tattoo right before their wedding at Midtown Loft and Terrace on Saturday.

I just finished the busiest weekend of my career — so far and likely ever — and through a great deal of careful planning we showed up each day much better rested than the bride and groom. Now I look back on so many wonderful moments from 57 hours of shooting and it overwhelms me. Where to begin? So I will begin simply sharing images that make me happy, and this image made both Tatiana and I tear up a bit.

I feel so lucky to be a part of moments like this.

Lens: 45mm f/2.8 PC-E
Camera: Nikon D4


BACK TO TOP | CONTACT ME

Layers of a Lovely Day

140607 181720 28mm f2 6105

Sometimes the problems solve themselves, at least when you have brides like Jennifer, awesome enough to brave a forest trail in a gorgeous couture gown. We’ve had this strange but beautiful thing where all the rain and nasty weather has fallen on weekdays. The New York Times even had to point out that there is no reason for special seven-day cycle in the weather. Me? I credit karma.

Apparently the reason that sometimes you come to my site and there is no site here is that someone out there has been attacking ryanbrenizer.com for a long time. We’re working on fixing it, but in the meantime, please hold back for a bit, Mr. Cyber-Jerk. I have so much great stuff coming to the blog this week, from gorgeous weddings to camera reviews, that we’ll probably bring the site down all by ourselves.

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Nikon 28mm f/1.8G


BACK TO TOP | CONTACT ME

Rain in the Rockleigh

140516 225518 12mm f5 6 3719 Edit

The first time I shot at the Rockleigh Country Club, it was just 36 hours after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the region. This time, I was second-shooting for the fabulous Tatiana Breslow, and during the reception everyone’s phones started clanging with flash flood warnings. So our reaction? Let’s go out in it! Thanks to the Michelle and Michael’s willingness, an intrepid Tatiana lighting, a helpful wedding guest, and four umbrellas, we made this shot work in the driving rain.

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II


BACK TO TOP | CONTACT ME