Photo of the Day: Streets Ahead


Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: 70-200mm VRII

I don’t do a lot of family shoots, but when the best man from one of my recent weddings said he wanted some captures of his beautiful family, I knew it would be a good time. And man, it was. To get all sorts of angles of three energetic, playful kids … if I did more shoots like this I’d never have to go to the gym again.

As someone who basically grew up like Huck Finn, with a 300-acre backyard out in the middle of nowhere, I’m always fascinated by kids who grow up with the city as their playground. But whatever this family is doing, it’s working, since everyone was an absolute pleasure.

They decided to run a little race down a cobblestone street. Little brother here was a big fan of false starts — he took off when I said “Ready!” But no one seemed to mind.

Wedding: Charity and Adam at Breakers on the Beach

It was a Jersey Shore wedding with 100 percent less Snooki and a billion times more awesome. A sunny, blessedly cool day allowed Charity and Adam to get married right on the beach with a low-key, heartfelt ceremony. This was one of the few weddings where the clear photographic hams of the bunch were the groomsmen. I’ve finished photographing the bridesmaids and I turn around, and all of the groomsmen have themselves laid out around the area in various GQ poses, turned to the light just so. There was no question that we’d have a good time.

It was a gorgeous day, all the more welcome since we braved frostbite for the engagement shoot. Raucous, fun, loving, perfect. Congratulations!

Adorama talk coming up Oct 11!

Rain Can't Get Us Down

I’ve been talking so much about the full-day workshop on Oct. 12 and 13 that I haven’t really highlighted the separate Adorama talk on Monday. At the last talk, I saw a lot of interest about the process and potential of flash composites, so I want to devote an entire lecture to laying it out in a way that’s clear to understand, both in terms of how to put a composite together and some of the practical applications.

There’s nothing new to the idea of erasing your lighting equipment from a photo — the idea is almost as old as commercial photography itself. But that’s the beauty of it — so many of the looks that are in our visual vocabulary come from this process, and what I’ve tried to do is streamline it to make it really easy. I shoot well over a hundred jobs every year. I can’t do anything that requires a lengthy bout of mucking around in Photoshop. The photo above took three minutes to shoot (it was raining after all), and about three minutes to put together. I processed it over a few bites of dinner at the reception that same day. And it achieves an effect that would be quite tricky to do with independent lights — throwing up grid spots to light under their umbrellas is not something I’d like to do on a rainy day in Central Park.

No to mention all of the potential for supplementary lighting, such as the highlights on the walls here:

Love and Mansions

Again, three minutes to shoot. So for $35 and a couple hours of your time, you should walk away ready to do this yourself. Sign up here!

Photo of the Day: Beyond the Hustle and Bustle

I love shooting with other photographers, such as this session with British photographer Albert Palmer and his now-fiancée. They’re always up for anything, such as when I say. “Hey, how do you feel about sitting in the middle of Grand Central? It’s likely that we’ll get a talking-to from security.” “Sure!”

And doubly so, since I’d conceptualized shooting through the legs of a rushing businessman, pants and all. But I think this adds to their natural class.

I also seem to have a (subconscious?) habit of getting the American flag in whenever shooting British subjects.

The Best Sunset I’ve Ever Seen

I remember my father’s hands, mostly. Huge and and always warm; they dwarfed mine even though I was a tall, lanky eight-year-old. And a voice that sounded deep and resonant even compared to mine now, much less my excited boyish squeaking as we sat in a parking lot and watched the sunset.

“This is a 774!” I cried!

“I’m not sure sure about that, Ryan,” he said, pointing upward. “Look at the way the sun is catching those clouds. I think this is at least an 824.”

We had decided that there were exactly 1,000 sunsets, and that God and his angels put them on display for us, numerically ranking them according to how majestic they were, and it was our duty to catalog them. We did a pretty good job. I was fastidious about not ranking one sunset higher than another one I’d seen that had been even better. Beauty, I learned early, is contextualized.

It was cocktail hour at Lauren and John’s Battery Gardens wedding when the skies set themselves on fire. It started as a golden streak mixed with the rich blue, and grew more and more colorful and complicated by the minute. There seemed to be eight different types of cloud, all catching the sun in different ways.

I stopped, just to watch. Unless you’ve seen me in action at a wedding, you might not understand how shocking that is. I don’t stop at weddings. I’ve received devastating personal news at weddings and not stopped working, bobbing and weaving and looking for new angles. Later that night, my assistant literally had to chase me around the entire reception floor to give me back some memory cards he was backing up, because I was circling so fast.

I know that sunsets are pretty much the lowest-regarded form of art. I didn’t have anything to do with how nice it looked, after all — I just had a decent sense of composition and know how to get the right exposure. But more importantly it’s because my normal job is to take photos that look much better than reality does, but there was nothing I could do here to even match what I was seeing. After all, who knows how you’re viewing this? You could be cramming this slice of a sunset into your mobile phone screen. We had it spread out across the sky for us, morphing into different beauties over half an hour.

But if I can’t even allude to the best sunset I’ve ever seen, if I can’t share some pretty pictures because they’re disdained as fine art, then I have forgotten the joy of taking pictures in the first place. Or worse, I have forgotten the joy of seeing.

But my father made sure I never would.

Untitled_HDR2.jpg
101003-183423 85mm_f1.4.jpg
101003-183249 24mm_f5.6.jpg

Wedding: Ela and Joe at the New York Country Club

I don’t think there’s much I can say about this great wedding at the New York Country Club featuring chill guys, hilarious, hammy bridesmaids, and a firecracker of a bride that the pictures don’t show. Secret handshakes, golfing at twilight, squaring off for a guys-versus-girls rendition of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”? It’s in there.

OK, just one thing. Polish people are hard-core. You think it hurts getting pelted with rice coming out of a church? The Polish tradition is to throw coins. That’s tough.

What a great day.

View full post »

Photos of the Day: Soulja Boy and Keri Hilson in Concert

Yesterday I was selected as the photographer for the launch of five new products in Monster’s Beats by Dre line, a series of high-end headphones (and now a high-end iPod dock) partnered with hip-hop legend Dr. Dre and a series of other celebrities, from LeBron James to Justin Bieber.

100929-150847 200mm_f3.2.jpg

(I love photos that look totally surreal even though they’re basically out-of-camera; this was just a white balance and contrast shift)

I have a feeling that publishing unapproved candids of Dr. Dre is the kind of thing that would lead publicists to shove flaming bamboo shoots under my fingernails, so I’ll hold off on that. But I also had the run of the place for the launch concert featuring Soulja Boy and Keri Hilson.

100929-180518 24mm_f1.6A.jpg
100929-180412 200mm_f2.8.jpg
100929-180913 102mm_f2.8.jpg
100929-180941 24mm_f1.6.jpg

Soulja Boy makes it rain $100 bills as his pants finally give up.

100929-183248 24mm_f1.6.jpg

Keri Hilson, a split-second before the curtain opens.

100929-180641 200mm_f2.8.jpg
100929-184602 24mm_f1.6A.jpg
100929-183819 140mm_f2.8.jpg

That’s some microphone.

Workshop: “Lessons Learned the Hard Way,” Oct. 12-13

As previously announced, I’ve got a workshop coming up on Oct 12-13. Everything is set, and I’m really excited about how it’s going to turn out. Unlike the previous full-day workshops, this one is aimed squarely and solely at people who want to be in the business of wedding photography. And I’ve based everything around this idea: What do I wish I’d known when I started shooting weddings?

Years ago, when I entered this industry, I had already spent years as a photojournalist and a photographer for Columbia University, but there are a lot of things you have left to learn about how to translate that into a world of clients and of running a business and of the very specific skills required to do your best job on wedding days where it sometimes seems that everything is working against you, and you have absolutely no room for failure.

I like simplicity. I base my wedding packages on the simple question: “What would I want from my wedding photographer?” And so what I will be giving is exactly the workshop I wish I’d been able to attend years ago.

How to make your mark? How to stay passionate? How to make very particular clients happy? (Among other things, there will be a mock client meeting where you’ll see me handle every difficult question I’ve ever heard) How to run a business without running it into the ground, even if you’re the type of person who hyperventilates when you see a spreadsheet?

And we’ll be shooting, not just to take cool photos, but to solve the sorts of problems that are the common bane’s of a wedding photographer’s life. Bad weather (we’ll fake it if we have to), bad lighting, bad locations, tight timing, awkward subjects.

Let’s face it — a lot of people can take photos of a model on a tropical beach. You could make that look good if the camera went off by accident. But it’s the ability to solve problems that makes a wedding photographer consistently successful, and there are a lot of lessons I’ve learned along the way, mostly the hard way. By the end of a day and a half, I hope we’ll make them a bit easier.

Only $500, and six slots left (as I write this). E-mail ryanbrenizerworkshops@gmail.com for more information and to sign up.

I like pictures, so here’s one I made at the last workshop.

Photo of the Day: The Color of Night

The Color of Night

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

There are so many reasons to love the high-ISO capabilities of modern DSLRs, but more than anything I love that, with the right lenses and careful technique, we can actually take portraits and casual photos at night, that really shows wsa night looks like. Night is not the bright blue lighting cinematographers have had to use for decades to connote darkness. It is a barely grey darkness punctuated only by the things that humanity have made, the areas and objects that we deem important enough to light up when the sun goes down. It is many-colored, shiny and complicated. I love it.

I sometimes will be out shooting people at night with the tiniest of lights or no light at all, and I will see other photographers walk by , and I know they think I’m nuts. Right after this shot, a team walked by with a battery pack and a giant octobank on a boom. The way that you’re *supposed* to take photos at night, the way that destroys the night. It’s a good way to shoot, too — octobanks are killer light sources. But I love the freedom of choice.

What Ryan Brenizer Loves: Junebug

I am very happy to be added to Junebug’s exclusive list of best photographers in the NYC area. They limit each metropolitan area to a select number of photographers and it’s quite an honor to be selected in New York because, well, we have the most people, and so many talented people flock to what I like to call “an amusement park for workaholics.”

As soon as I discovered Junebug, I knew that they were a publication that really “got” photography, feeling free to publish images just because they loved them, whether or not they showed the latest styles in centerpieces. It is an honor to be on their list of photographers they love.

I wrote a little personal statement for them, might be worth sharing here:

I have been blessed by photography. It has filled me with purpose and joy, and taken me places I never thought I’d go. I have covered three U.S. presidents, been blessed by the Pope, and been stared down by Muhammad Ali. I’ve shared a laugh with Smokey Robinson, and had a picture I took of him used when he received a lifetime achievement award. I’ve photographed a 110-year-old woman as she told me what it was like to climb onto the torch of the Statue of Liberty. I was chosen as the only independent photographer allowed near Obama and McCain in their last meeting before the 2008 election. But I have never felt so blessed by photography as when I am photographing a wedding. At weddings, we are most visibly ourselves — the walls we walk around with come tumbling down under the forces of joy, anxiety (and sometimes a bit of alcohol). To document that experience, the relationship of friends, families, and a couple launching a new stage in their life, is an incredible feeling. When a client says “This is the first picture of seen of my parents that actually looks like them!” I feel like I’ve done something with lasting value. And to do that with so many wonderful couples, from down the Manhattan street to as far away as Singapore, makes it all the better.

I am a storyteller and a problem solver. When I am posing you, I work to make you comfortable enough to find the real emotions and expressions within you. And when I am documenting the day, I work to make you comfortable enough to forget I’m there.

Photo of the Day: Through the Trees


Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: 70-200mm VRII

Tree branches made a great texture for this shot of Svetlana and Dmitri (whose wedding is tomorrow!) but I was a bit nervous about police seeing me poke my lens through the trees at a couple making out at the park.

Luckily, no arrests were made.

Photo of the Day: Our Own Railroad Car

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

Once upon a time the line followed the river
and peeked into all the backyards
and the laundry was waving
the graffiti was teasing us
from brick walls and bridges
we were rolling over ridges
through valleys
under stars
I dream of touring like Duke Ellington
in my own railroad car
–Ani Difranco,
self-evident

Wedding: Elizabeth and Aaron at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Elizabeth knew two things going into wedding planning: 1) This was the man she wanted to be married to and 2) She wanted her last dance to be Modern Love.

Spoilers: She got both. And along the way she had a gorgeous, intimate wedding at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. With great friends, gorgeous weather, catering by Abagail Kirsch, and starting the day at the Ritz-Carlton, it’s hard to go wrong.

Elizabeth is originally from the South, and there was an air of Southern gentility in people such as her grandfather, who walked her down the aisle and gave a moving speech at the reception.


View full post »