Category Archives: wedding

Sacred Oaks at Camp Lucy Wedding: Taylor and Brandon

In the world of modern families, we might need some new descriptors. It may sound mostly confusing to say that Taylor is my step-half-neice, but the important thing is that she’s awesome. She’s filled with warmth and giant smiles even when she’s not getting married, so all of the beautiful lighting at Sacred Oaks at Camp Lucy was redundant; she could have lit the whole thing by herself.

It didn’t matter that the off-again, on-again rain turned on again, disallowing the gorgeous outdoor ceremony they had hoped for, they were far too excited for that. And man, I know Texas is proud of a lot of things, but the Austinites’ performance on the dance floor should be high on that list. This would have been a fantastic, uplifting experience even if it didn’t allow me to see my sister and her family, or if I wasn’t seconded by the fantastically talented Tatiana. But I was. Thank you for experiences like these.

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Watching over Cristian (Viña Santa Rita wedding)

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This is probably my favorite “tilt-shift candid” I’ve taken. The groom, named Cristian, prays during his wedding ceremony in Viña Santa Rita – Copiapo, Chile. Thanks to Kyle Hepp for having Tatiana and I tag along for this gorgeous wedding. She’s just posted more photos and the slideshow on her blog: http://www.kylehepp.com/2014/03/matrimonio-vina-santa-rita-2/

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


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Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove wedding: Jossie and Andrew

Often, the weddings I shoot have been a long time coming for couples. I photographed a couple who had been together for 16 years and whose official wedding theme was “Fricking Finally!” But in a way Jossie and Andrew’s wedding felt like it had been a long time coming for me.

Six years ago, I’d already been shooting weddings for a while, but I knew next to nothing about the wedding industrial complex, or the photographers in the industry. I was entirely steeped in the work of photojournalism, looking at images off the newswires each morning as well as classic documentarians such as Capa or Smith, but I didn’t know a Jerry Ghionis from a Jessica Claire. I decided it would be fun to network with some other photographers in my area, so when I read about Mystic Seminars — then just a one-day affair in a single hotel conference room — I figured it was worth the chance, and took a snowy drive up I-95.

I met some great people that day and picked up some good tricks, but I wasn’t prepared for some skinny, dapper dude named Ben Chrisman to get up on stage and blow my mind. These weren’t images of cut-and-paste, church-then-banquet hall affairs. These were long-multi-day documentations that dripped with life, energy, and creativity. He’d taken similar inspiration from war photographers like James Nachtway, and had even studied under some, and was quite open that when it cant o choices of an easy life versus art, he chose art. I met him on stage after, and told him I’d buy him a drink and we’d chat about Robert Capa someday.

It took a while, but I bought that drink. Years later, we’re now friends, dance partners,, and colleagues. But when he called me asking “Hey, I’d love to shoot with you sometime, do you have any weddings left this year?” part of me still went back to January 2008′s feeling of “Who is this guy?”

I’m so happy that we got to collaborate on Jossie and Andrew’s Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove wedding, because it was crazy in all the best ways. Jossie is a dance instructor, which is always a good sign for someone who loves crazy receptions, and she told me beforehand that the “crazy dancers” would be out in force. And I thought, “You bet they are!” — with her dance students all over and props in every corner of the room, people were tearing it up.

I didn’t realize that in South American and Latin culture, the “crazy dancers” meant Rio-style costumes, stilts and drums and absolute insanity. We never left the confines of the building the entire day, but it felt like a cultural exchange and as much an extravaganza as a wedding.

Thank you Jossie and Andrew for letting us in to this ludicrous, hilarious, fantastic day, and thanks to Ben for the collaboration: we got the drink, but there’s a lot more to say about Capa.

And incidentally, six years later I am also speaking at this upcoming Mystic Seminar in less than two weeks. Who knows what future speaker will be in the audience?

(A good chunk of the photos are by Ben; the watermarks are automatic to avoid orphan works in the Era of Pinterest.)


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Beginning the year with a bang (Crestwood Manor wedding)

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When I saw these lights at the Crestwood Manor, I couldn’t help myself, and did what may be my biggest panorama ever: 143 frames, 281 megapixels, effectively a 24mm f0.45 lens.

And Anil and Mabel outshine it all.
Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: 143-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the Nikon 105mm f/2 D DC (equivalent of 24mm f/0.45 according to Brett’s calculator)


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Heck of an Exit

Heck of an Exit

I really want to blog Demere and James’ fantastic wedding but my computer is in the shop, so you’ll have to hold on a little bit with just the magnificent ending.

(If the color looks off, it’s because the color profile isn’t sRGB. View in Safari or Chrome another modern browser that reads color profiles!)

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


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Gramercy Park Hotel wedding photo: Love from the ceiling

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Thanks to a glitch with my Web host, it looks like I haven’t posted anything since September. Not so! I’ll repost some content when I get some chance, like an amazing Indian wedding and a shoot with Stephen Colbert, but in the meantime I’ll give you something new. It’s not often that I pull out a stepladder during a wedding reception, but the fantastically lit ceiling of the Gramercy Park Hotel called for it. I can’t wait to show this whole wedding, and I love that incredible venues like this are a five minute walk from my studio. Thanks to my beloved Tatiana for having me aboard!

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Nikon 85mm f/1.4G


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The Next Step

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I discussed in my recent CreativeLIVE talk that there are ways to push beyond your normal envelope while still doing your duty to your clients, and also that good photos require a lot of intentional choices on behalf of the photographer. Here’s a breakdown of all the thought that can go into a capture of 1/1000th of a second:

For this photo I wanted to provide a different spin on the standard first-kiss shot, coming in from behind and shooting wide. This would replace the standard isolation with an image that shows the family in the background and a unique element of Kristen and Steven’s wedding — two officiants, a rabbi and a priest — in the foreground. They are coming together not just as individuals, but blending religious and cultural traditions, and so they are framed right in between, with their joy palpable. But that standard shot is important, so I also made sure that my second shooter Jashim got a nice, safe 70-200 shot from the front. I try to use foreground elements to block out less important background elements, like Jashim and the videographer, and while not perfect the framing and depth of field de-emphasizes them. Had I moved over more, I might have committed a more important sin of being obtrusive at this important moment. With the openness of the layout and the joy of the moment I was able to dart in and get this without taking away from this celebration for the audience. For me, the best wedding moments are both symbolic and particular to the couple. Most importantly, there is a combination of being ready for the shot, standing in the right place at the right time, followed by a hundred tiny decisions in a few seconds to make it right. Move, wait, move — and along the way don’t make it about yourself.

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


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Venetian Wedding: Erica and Dan Eric

Filipino weddings tend to be an incredibly vibrant mix of deep ceremonial meaning and broad family ties, with more people in the processionals than even attend many of the weddings I shoot. These both lead to a deep sort of community investment in the wedding … or in other words, people are ready to party.

How do you take this energy and turn it to 11? First, you invite a LOT of people, whom The Venetian does a great job at housing in style.. Second, you be twin vibrating bundles of energy like Erica and Dan Eric. A couple that taught everyone how to Dougie for their first dance, and who had her father do a mean Beyonce impersonation for the father/daughter dance. There is warmth and then there is Erica, who at a number of times throughout the day would stop whatever she was doing and give me a hug. “I’m so glad you’re here!”

I was glad too. Glad to be there with such amazing, crazy people. Glad to share the day seconded by the amazing Tatiana, who also got her share of hugs, and my intern Leah. And really, just glad to show you these photos.


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Sneak Peek: Jenny and Jerry (with VSCO 4)

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This is always the time of year when I’m so busy documenting incredible stories that it’s hard to find time to share them, but my giant mug of coffee and I will work to show Jenny and Jerry’s gorgeous wedding. I processed this with VSCO 4, which was released today. Don’t worry, I don’t have nearly enough hipster in me to make any money off your VSCO purchases. But they’ve been doing some fantastic stuff over there with a killer iPhone app, and I’ve always like slide film, so I thought I’d give it a try. This was Astia 100F (one of my favorite films), modified with only the stuff from their toolkit.

And thankfully I didn’t have to shoot and scan 53 slides of Astia to make this.

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: 53-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (equivalent of 28mm f/0.45 according to Brett’s calculator)


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Liberty House Wedding: Regina and Jerry

Whenever my fantastic wedding photographer friends fly in to New York to help me shoot a wedding, I like to give them days that might be well outside their norm. It’s an old magazine photo editor trick to bring a fresh sort of vision to a given story, and gives a different sort of accent to my standard “work my butt off and tell the big story” style. For example, when Sara K Byrne came in fresh from her open-air, rural, hipster Idaho weddings, I had her help with a quintessential high-class Manhattan wedding in the opulent cavern that is the Metropolitan Club.

But what could be fresh to my friend (and fellow Moment Junkie co-founder) Kyle Hepp? She’s based in Chile but spends most of her time in or around airplanes, shooting and traveling all over the world. What can be fresh to someone who was in her third hemisphere that week?

“OK, Kyle, this wedding is going to be fantastic. The couple is extremely nice, I love the Liberty House, the day ends at 4…”

“Four a.m.? Cool! That’s pretty standard in Chile, though I don’t always stay the whole time…”

“No … four p.m.”

That did it. Of course the biggest challenges of daytime weddings are that sometimes it’s hard for people to feel the same sort energy at tea time that they would at mid-night, but with Jerry and Regina’s friends and family there was no need to worry about that. A cold mist turned the dramatic NYC skyline view into an impressionistic panorama, and inside the Liberty House the day was marked by deep convictions — convictions to friends, family, religion, and each other.

While the day was almost entirely culturally Western, the energy was helped further by the deep sense of fun of Asian-style reception games. I am sure Jerry has forgiven Regina by now for mistaking the arm of a female guest for that of her new husband.

Thank you both for letting me share in this day, and thanks to Kyle for doing a great job more than 5,000 miles from home.


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The Green and the Gray

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One of the hidden benefits of using so many advanced panorama and compositing techniques to quickly do the otherwise impractical or impossible is that it takes you back to the film days where you can be pleasantly surprised by a photo much later. The result of this tilt-shift pano of Central Park’s urban/pastoral view is exactly what I had in my mind, but it was great to see it take shape.

Lens: 45mm f/2.8 PC-E, 9-image panorama
Camera: Nikon D4


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