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Ritz Carlton Naples Wedding: Joanna and Tony

You don’t know how many times Tatiana and I have sat around our office saying “I wish our clients were here, right now.” We have so many clients who are not just pleasures to work with, but people who would brighten any of our days, and it’s one of the things we’re most thankful for. Joanna and Tony exemplify this … almost literally, as I believe Joanna’s multi-watt smile could be examined as a new alternative energy source. It was such an honor to have them fly us to forida for their Ritz Carlton Naples wedding. It is such an intensely beautiful place — the literal moment we pulled up the evening before, I had to jump out of the car to photograph the sunset on my iPhone, because our bags were still packed, and it was one that I couldn’t bear missing. People show up each night on the show to stand there and applaud the sunset the moment the sun crosses the horizon.

Yes, location isn’t everything — I’ve photographed weddings I’ve loved in gymnasiums — but this sort of scene really didn’t hurt. More important, though, was what an uplifting, hilarious day it was. To see Joanna and Tony’s love for each other and their family, and to be able to share it with Tatiana* … thank you. Thank you all.

*who did just a phenomenal job, once again maintaining her status as wedding photography’s biggest weapon.

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2013 in review

As I said last year, a funny thing happens over the course of taking a few hundred thousand photos. Each individual photo is about the subjects, the moment, the emotion, the story … but over time, in a big enough collection, it also becomes a self-portrait of the photographer. These are the stories I see and the way that I see them. And so this is not a “best of” list, because picking the “best” out of so many photos would probably give me a nervous breakdown, but this is a portrait of who I was in 2013.

I’ve devoted my life to documenting love, but in 2013 I felt it in ways I’d never imagined — both inside myself and the sort of effects that love can have on someone. In short, all the clichés can be true. No matter how silly or treacly or saccharine you may sound, you probably aren’t saccharine enough. Love changes everything, and it makes things worth changing in the first place. If I had energy and fervor to document it in all its forms before, now I burn with it, and I cannot wait for my shared story to continue.

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Pleasantdale Chateau wedding: Teresa and Dan

Teresa and Dan fairly drip with humor, savviness, and charisma, even on a normal day, so adding the warmth and fun of a crazy wedding day (especially with Teresa’s Fox 5 News fellow broadcasters, a profession not known for shyness) to the beauty of a Pleasantdale Chateau wedding, and I knew we’d have a good time.

Normally, a wedding day that involves going back and forth from New Jersey to Manhattan on a Friday sets of giant “Danger Will Robinson!” klaxons in my head, but with my “pessimistic so you don’t have to be” planning and their relentless cheeriness, we made it through the sea of tail lights without dampening the day’s excitement one bit, and in return got a gorgeous church and one of my favorite wedding venues within hundreds of miles.

Thanks to Jashim Jalal for his help, and it’s always a pleasure to work alongside the videographers at Fiore Films.

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The Bejewled Sea

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I am so blessed to be surrounded by so much amazingness every weekend. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this month alone I’d be writing a novel somewhere around the 80,000-page mark, so you can imagine how hard it is to condense this stuff into a few words in blog intros. So just … wow. Here’s one from yesterday. So much more to come.

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: 31-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII (equivalent of 104mm f/1.4 according to Brett’s calculator)


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Mudan Wedding: Fallon and Andrew

To use modern Internet parlance, this wedding was so full of feels. I could have created a blog post entirely of Top 50 Best Heart-Wrenching Sobbing Moments, but that would have edged out the possible Top 200 Best Hysterical Laughs. It’s what happens when you take two incredibly sweet people, one of them a wedding photographer herself, and throw them into a day with numerous ceremonies, from the quiet and reflective to the raucous hardship the groomsmen faced at particularly inventive door games. It’s what happens when family gathers from all over the world to ignore the heat and celebrate Andrew and Fallon. And it’s what happens with a wild group of friends — I don’t show photobooth photos on the blog for a few reasons, but we’ll just say that things got particularly creative and many guests walked out with a pretty good cardio workout.

I was thrilled to be joined on this wedding with Tatiana and Michael Stavrinos, even though all the good photos made my editing job much harder. It’s a challenge I’m happy to take.


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The Mill at Spring Lake Heights Wedding: Nicole and Kyle

Thanks to a long string of luck, my clients tend to make description of them a bit difficult. “Extremely nice,” “deeply family-oriented,” “handling stress with cheer and grace,” — on the streets of New York you could pick someone out of a large crowd with just those descriptors, but I’ve been lucky to have this be common threads of the people that hire me. So to describe Nicole and Kyle, you take these and add the deep respect and camaraderie of Kyle’s military family, breeding West Point officers. You stir in the deep bond with his brother, who, in words I thought I’d never write, produced a hilarious, heart-wrenching PowerPoint display for his speech.

And then you add a gorgeous day, the heat that would later scorch the area just poking into the territory of a nice warmth. Finish with a bunch of friends and family ready to spring into the party, and you have a good day. Thanks to Robert Piangozza for assisting.

(Note: If you’ve noticed that this site has run slowly for a long time, blame my old Web hosts and, apparently, my popularity. I’m with new hosts now who have great customer service and the ability to handle the strain of lots of people looking at lots of photos. There are still a few kinks to work out, but if you can see this post, you should be in the clear.)


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Four Seasons Wedding: Kartika and Varun

I’d been dying to go to Vancouver ever since the Winter Olympics showed off its beauty, and thanks to the Canada Photo Convention and Varun and Kartika’s wedding at the Vancouver Four Seasons, I went two times in a month. Of course, given my schedule this time of year, that means that my grand total of sight-seeing for both trips was about 15 minutes.

But I had so much fun that I’ll have to come back. Varun and Kartika aren’t just incredibly nice, they’re absolutely hilarious. I’m a softie — usually when I’m thankful for autofocus it’s because something touching has made me tear up a bit. But I had to spend most of this day photographing through the laughter. Of course a bit of door games started that off right — wedding days drive brains crazy, so when Kartika left a complicated mathematic clue about where she was hiding, I forgive the groomsmen for coming up with “somewhere on the 271st floor.”

Eastern and Western traditions have very different expectations for wedding receptions, and it was fascinating to see the Indian/Indonesian/Chinese/Canadian cultures mix with the quirkiness of Varun and Kartika’s own friends and family. Who needs a garter toss when the groomsmen can toss swords around and do a lucky Dragon dance?

Thank you both for flying me out to document this beautiful, hilarious day. And thanks to Rachel Pick for helping on the day and being my local Vancouver liason.


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Sometimes the best way to use a tool is not at all.

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Yesterday I lectured and taught at the WPPI Online Road Show in Atlantic City. As always it’s an honor to work with these folks, and I liked the set-up where I could talk about concepts in the morning, and then show them hands-on and let people try it for themselves in the afternoon. I was tasked with teaching techniques for working with speedlights, and we went through everything from reception shooting techniques to how strong your flashes can really be when you use them right (lighting a subject at ISO 100, f/29 at 1/8th power!)

But one of the most important lessons I taught is when to ignore me. Or specifically when to ignore the plan and the tools you’ve set out for yourself. In a lighting class, we’re going to overshoot and overlight — that’s how teaching works. But start simple and if you make a setup more complicated, know exactly why you’re doing so. Don’t use tools just because you brought them. Because even when you’re teaching a class on flash, it’s a crime to ignore a good sunbeam.

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


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Westminster Hotel Wedding: April and Rich

I always love Filipino weddings, because I feel that the culture has its priorities in the right place — deep family ties, celebrating these ties through dancing, and, of course, documenting all of this through photography. B&H doesn’t have as many DSLRs as a large Filipino wedding reception.

April and Rich had deep connections to both sides of the Hudson river, so the ceremony was at the Fourth Universalist Society church in Manhattan, and they decorated the space at the Westminster hotel to meet a classy, modern design for their reception.

The emotions were on the surface, as Rich’s tear ducts had a good workout. In this case, there was no metaphor behind the idea of forming a new family, as tender moments with Rich’s daughter and April showed. Thank you again for letting me (and assistant Braham Rhodes) tell this story.


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Quick hits from the weekend

I’m in the air over Iowa now on the way to WPPI, where I will close out the party with a lecture on what to do when you’re shooting a wedding and everything seems to be working against you (otherwise called “most weddings ever.”) What better way to get ready for it than shooting two weddings? So much more to come; here’s a quick fix:


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Heck of a First Kiss

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No matter how long we’re in this business, we should never stop learning and growing and pushing ourselves. One of the ways I did this in 2012 was to try to push myself to capture the first kiss in creative ways. There’s a good reason I hadn’t done this before, of course — this is an extremely important moment that really doesn’t need embellishing, so it’s more important to just capture it than to be fancy and risk not capturing it. But this is an outgrowth of using second shooters and assistants I really trust. When I see a shot that can benefit from a risky technique, I tell them beforehand “OK, your job is just to get the first kiss straight-up and close, keep it simple. I’m going to do something wacky.”

For Annie and Bill the wackiness was a tilt-shift to capture the overhead lights, as well as an SB-900 I’d placed behind the altar before the ceremony started, turning a very dark scene into this.

Lens: 45mm f/2.8 PC-E
Camera: Nikon D3s
Place: The Foundry


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My First International Workshop: London area, Feb. 23

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Lots of UK folk have been begging me to come across the pond, and I’ve been dying to go to London ever since I was aware of what it was, so here we are. http://www.ryanbrenizer.com/workshops/ I want people to get real benefits from this, and am not a sunshine-and-rainbows peddler, so I may have written the only vaguely depressing workshop announcement ever. Like Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, I’m just keeping it real.


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Sometimes You Just Have to Play

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It’s the end of a busy year, and even though weddings are a bit slower here we have lots and lots of photos to process before 2013. But personal work important, sometimes to explore entirely different genres, sometimes to clear out your head of the normal way of doing things, and sometimes just to play. yesterday, with Dominique Dicaprio, I got to do a bit of all three.

Just a quick taste. It got really nutty.

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


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