An Evening at Ariana’s

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When I walked into Ariana’s meticulously designed apartment, I felt like I’d stepped into Paris, the way that Paris is at its best. She went a little closer to home to find that French style and passion with Eric, who is from Montreal. I’m already a bit silly with excitement for their May Metropolitain Club wedding. If you can wring this much style out of a Manhattan apartment, what can you bring to your wedding day?

Lens: 24mm f/1.4
Camera: Nikon D3s
Lighting: Sb-900s

SWPB takes on WPPI

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I’m a member of a number of wedding photographer communities who have been great to me — I’ve enjoyed so much support from DWF right from when I was starting out as a wedding photographer; I’m easing my way into the staggeringly talented crowd of the Foundation Workshops (and I promise I’ll go next year!) but one community keeps grabbing my attention, my love and friendship: SWPB.

You know how KFC isn’t called Kentucky Friend Chicken anymore and the Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy has five books? It’s like that with SWPB, which until recently was called Starting a Wedding Photography Business. With so many members who have now been in the industry for years and are on lists ranging from Junebug’s Best Wedding Photographers to American Photo’s Top 10, we figured we’d expand the scope to Succeeding as a Wedding Photography Business. But really it’s SWPB, and it’s a big, crazy family. Like any family, there’s dysfunction from time to time, but overall it’s the most supportive large wedding community I’ve seen.

I just returned from a massive conference in Las Vegas, and saw so many fantastic people from all over, but the highlight for me was heading out into the desert with my friend Stephanie and members of SWPB. I can’t wait to show you what happened when these talented photographers just cut loose and had a great time.

As we finished up, I suggested a group shot with our four cars (including the rental car we covered inside and out with dust) as backlight. I used a tripod and timer to put myself in — the most important thing was the posing. Photographers know how to pose pretty well, but I also wanted to make sure all of the headlights were hidden by body parts for the exposure.

The easiest way to see the lineup is in the Facebook post, where everyone is tagged. So much more to come.

We also are already starting to plan big things for WPPI 2013. Mark the dates.

Lens: 24mm f/1.4
Camera: Nikon D3s

Natalya.

I’m headed off to WPPI in Vegas, the biggest photography conference in the known Universe. I’ll be shooting, meeting friends new and old, and just possibly trying to ride Siegfried and Roy’s tiger around town. If you’re at WPPI, send me an @reply on Twitter — I’ll be playing host a few times throughout the conference, and I’d love to meet blog readers. The business continues as usual in Wendy’s capable hands, but I figured I’d leave something awfully pretty up for the blog when I’m gone, and Natalya more than fits the bill.

A photographer and documentary filmmaker herself, she was an amazing subject to work with: She can go from vulnerability to a Julia Roberts laugh in a heartbeat. And she knows how to dominate a beam of light.

Lots of different light sources in this set, including an iPhone. Photography-geeks can feel free to guess.

Hair: Chi Shay
Make-up (and light assistant): Andrew Sutphen

30 Rock’s Dot Com (Kevin Brown) and Barbara in “S & Om”

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Kevin Brown, whom 30 Rock fans will know as Dot Com, came by my studio last night for a really fun photoshoot, with yoga instructor Barbara Purcell. This is all stage magic, folks — Barbara is actually a lovely, kind person*, and Kevin was having a blast. He has been doing yoga every single day of 2012 so far. As some of you know, I’ve been studiously committed to fitness this year, but my jaw is still hanging open at his commitment.

I can’t even describe how much fun this was. Kevin is as kind an open as people come in general, not just for actors.

*though with more Urban Master Manhattanite in her personality than standard Yoga Earth Mother, which is appreciated.

Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6
Camera: Nikon D3s
Lighting: Two Sb-900s, one bounced, one through a Softbox LTP

Love Is a Battlefield

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I’ve been shooting some more fashion and beauty recently because of a new partnership I’ve made, some new gear I’m testing, and because it allows me to mix things up in my head before I hit the wedding season full steam. It’s extremely easy to take photos of a great model like Christine and make her look good. As usual for this sort of subject, my interest lies in creating photos with an unfinished story. Christine managed to bring out so much power and ambiguity on a dime. Lots more to come.

On that note, happy Valentine’s Day, especially to the 71 couples I’ve photographed who will be celebrating their first in marriage.

Lens: 45mm f/2.8 PC-E
Camera: Nikon D3s
Lighting: White Lighting 1600 (modeling light only) with a modifier to be named later…

I can’t believe it, but Moment Junkie, the wedding photojournalism blog I partner with Kyle Hepp and Chris Lin has turned one year old! To celebrate, we’re hosting a big contest for Photo of the Year (our photos were recused, of course).

Moment Junkie has been a labor of love all year. We haven’t made a dime on it, and now here we are, people who earn our living as photographers, doing everything we can to show the work of other photographers. Are we crazy? Yes. But we also believe in the power, the complexity, and the joy of relationships, and want to celebrate photographers who can capture that feeling.

Thanks to Matt Shumate for the modified logo (he also did the fantastic original logo).

Natalya sneak peek (and Workshops in Dallas and D.C.!)

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I’ve had a very fashionable week, with two, going on three fashionable portrait shoots as part of a new partnership I’m doing with CBS, as well as testing some rather fantastic gear on loan from B&H. This is a shot of Natalya, who is an excellent photographer herself as well as an amazing model. This one is a three-image pano with the Noct-Nikkor. Is that moonlight? Is that streetlight? No — it’s an Alien Bee and the handy fact that my studio wraps around a corner, so even on the 23rd floor I can fire from one window and into the other. See it in this surprisingly sexy set-up shot.

Intersted in learning tricks like that to solve photographic challenges? Luckily I’ve announced a series of workshops in Dallas and D.C. The Dallas one sold out almost immediately, so we’ve just added a second day! My workshops have been overhauled for 2012 — more fun, more shooting, more inspiration, more differentiation, just more. Read more here.

Hair: Chi Shay

Make-up:Andrew Sutphen

A Central Park Elopement: Katherine and Zak

One of the things I’ve forced myself to specialize in is getting good photos in terrible conditions, especially bad weather. Time after time I’ve been assaulted by rain or wind or cold or heat. I’m waiting for the cloud of locusts.

But sometimes you catch a break. When Katherine told me she wanted to spend three hours in Central Park in an amazing but not-very-warm dress in February, I said “OK, time to keep an emergency coffee thermos for her in my supply bag.”

It was SIXTY-THREE degrees. Or 17 degrees, since Katherine and Zak hail from Australia.

Absolute intimacy, absolute love, absolute beauty. I couldn’t think of a better way to start my 2012 wedding season. Also this is the first time I got to choose the ceremony location based on how it would look in photos. I think I did all right.

Hong Kong Four Seasons Wedding: Samantha and Gary

After a 16-hour flight, overcoming intense jet lag, wrestling a James Bond villain off a security guard, and happily eating many things that are used as contests on Fear Factor, I was ready for anything with Samantha and Gary’s wedding. What I got was an incredibly sweet and hilarious couple, an extremely elegant wedding at the Hong Kong Four Seasons, two giant banquets, misadventures traipsing around a Kowloon fruit market after dark, and an ache in my cheeks from smiling so much. The photos tell the tale of their personality — I mean, I couldn’t fit photos like this into the layout or even the genre of wedding photography, but I still laugh every time I see it.

Thank you both so much for flying me halfway across the world to document your love, your fun, your insane door games (the smell of durian sandwiches is still with me), and so much more.

View on the Hudson Wedding: Ryan and Siobhan

This was some good craic. It’s not often I get to shoot for another Ryan, and particularly with a couple whose speech and attitude toward life still drip Ireland at every moment. From Irish flags following us wherever we went to starting the day with whiskey, I knew this would be a wild time. I grew up with an Irish family that is known to do The Wave during wedding ceremonies, after all.

It was far from a letdown. Extremely strong family bonds kept every part of the wedding fresh and fun, from Ryan’s brother turning in a great set on the Bodhrán to a wedding band comprised of Siobahn’s uncles. It was a fantastic way to end my (American) wedding season. Thanks so much to Zack Delaune for coming along, helping out with everything from finding our way in the pitch-black darkness during the portraits to taking a few of the photos below.