Photo of the Day: The End of the Beginning

The End of the Beginning

I’m skipping to the end of an epic story.

This isn’t from an engagement shoot. This is from a wedding day.

What kind of wedding could lead to this? Stay tuned…

Workshop update!

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We still have some slots open for the October 12-13 workshop, given that I haven’t made the formal, full announcement yet. But I’ve been working on the syllabus like crazy in-between my even crazier shooting schedule, and I’m ridiculously excited.

You can read reviews of some previous workshops here. What makes this one different is that it is focused entirely on professional wedding photography, while my previous workshops were more generalized. Not only will we be working through location shoots, solving the sorts of problems we constantly deal with on wedding days, from bad backgrounds to bad light to lack of time, but there will also be an extended session on the business of running a photography business, with a focus on client relations. Most “bridezillas” are really just people with understandable concerns about a stressful time, and I’ve learned a lot of tricks along the way about how to make people as relaxed as possible.

Or, in other words, my photography business is booming so much I don’t even have the time to make a proper workshop flyer.

The best part? Even though the workshop is based in the swanky Garment District, it’s one of the few things left in Manhattan that are affordable. Registration is $500 before Sept. 15, and $600 thereafter (if any spots are still open). Register at

I also am giving a $35 talk on flash composites at Adorama on Oct. 11, and if you sign up for both, the Adorama talk will be reimbursed!

Wedding: Jennifer and Richard at Mulan

It was a scorching day in the hottest New York City July in history, but that didn’t slow down Jennifer and Richard one bit. The entire wedding party seemed up to run around and try new things, 98 degrees in tuxes or not.

The day was a mixture of their devout Christianity and Chinese heritage, with a heartfelt church ceremony followed by a full banquet in Flushing. I always love Chinese banquets — yes, because of the food, but also because of the focus on family and the connections between the bride and groom and the people who got them to where they are today. And the food.

Congratulations, Richard and Jennifer!

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Engagement: Chika and Andrew

I don’t generally have time to publish engagement shoots during the busy season … which, these days, seems like about 11 1/2 months of the year … but when someone comes all the way from Tokyo for the shoot, I’ll make an exception! Chika and Andrew met in Tokyo, and currently are having a very long-distance relationship while they plan the wedding, so I knew they’d have a great time at the shoot. Chika wanted to show her relatives back home some New York City landmarks (the real kind … taxi, subways, hot dogs) while in a beautiful kimono, and then they both changed into (very stylish) western clothes. It was a gorgeous afternoon, and I hope to see them again as they plan the wedding!

Wedding: Lindsay and George at the Hershey Hotel

I have always been a chocoholic, so I was very excited to shoot Lindsay and George’s wedding at the Hershey Hotel. And it’s true that the streets in Hershey, PA are paved with chocolate. Or at least they’re colored brown.

Lindsay and George are new transplants to the area, and we’d already had a great time with them and their dog in a NYC engagement shoot, so I expected a low-key, fun, beautiful day — and that’s exactly what I got. The ceremony was in a gorgeous stone alcove, making for a long and dramatic processional. They’d selected the officiant in part for his lively personality, and he delivered in spades with a ceremony that was in turns touching and hilarious: You can see in the photos below Lindsay reacting to his emphasis on “until DEATH!” in the vows.

The ceremony and reception paid homage to Greek heritage, from dual crowns to a slow folk dance that builds to a huge crescendo.

And yeah, there was kind of a nice sunset. You’ll see.


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Photo of the Day: Under the Wedding

Under the Wedding

Charity, Adam and I snuck out of the reception for a minute to get some photos while their friends chatted above.

Luckily my clients trust me. “So … we’re using the light of a vending machine? Haha, OK…”

Wedding: Heather and Jordan at the Ritz Carlton

What better way to spend Independence Day than with Heather and Jordan at their Ritz Carlton Battery Park wedding? You may recall that we’d already had lots of fun together, with an engagement shoot stumbled across by Dave Chappelle. The day was extremely hot and windy — the moment Heather stepped outside her gorgeous cathedral veil almost went flying off the edge of the building — but they couldn’t have been having a better time. They were so excited that every time they saw each other in key moments, from the first look to the ceremony and kiss, cake cutting, anything, they would just keep bursting out in gales of laughter.

Of course a wedding at the Ritz was classy and gorgeous, with a fantastic cake that marked the day in another way, looking like fireworks exploding over the city. We never did see the fireworks display, which was on the other side of the city, but they had plenty of their own. Congratulations!

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Video: What’s in My Bag (and Why?)

I just made another massive contribution to Nikon’s bottom line, replacing my trusty D3, which I essentially ground into dust, with a second D3s. This meant that every last piece of gear I owned the last time I made a “What’s In my Bag” video has been sold, lost, stolen, or (mostly) broken. Every flash, lens, camera, everything. So here’s another one. More important than the gear are the reasons behind it — I try to only bring what I can carry to most weddings, and like to travel overseas without checking bags, so everything is carefully planned to give redundancy without taking up needless space.

The short list, for gearheads:

Cameras: Nikon D3s (x2)
Flashes: SB-900 (x3)
24mm f/1.4
35mm f/1.8
COMING SOON: 35mm f/1.4
50mm f/1.2
60mm f/2.8 Micro
85mm f/1.4G
135mm f/2 DC
70-200mm f/2.8 VR II
Memory cards: 16GB Sandisk (x4)
Sledgehammer of Light: A Manfrotto 682B and Lastolite triflash
Umbrellas and Lumiquest mini-softbox (not in video)

I also have a bunch of White Lightning studio gear, but I only bring that to weddings when there is a very specialized need, or for photo booths.

This is the point where I note that one of the advantages of living in NYC is that my apartment is made darned hard to break into.

Photo of the Day: Lounging about the Mansion

I said in my very last post that I don’t do much boudoir … and then I set out to shoot some. But you can’t blame me; my muse was my wonderful girlfriend. She’s a professional dancer and skilled fitness trainer, but, like most of the people I shoot, has never thought of herself as photogenic. If a gorgeous woman with an eight-pack doesn’t think she looks good in photos, what chance do the rest of us have? So I rose to the challenge, and we had a great time doing (clothed) boudoir in a style sometimes inspired by the noir lighting you can create when you’re doing a portrait shoot at 1 a.m., and also by 1940s pin-ups. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

But what made it even better was the setting: The Mansion in Saratoga Springs, NY. We both fell in love with the place, through and through. With gorgeous Victorian styling and a large backyard for a party, I didn’t know if I wanted to shoot weddings at The Mansion or save it for myself one day.

More to come! (You’re welcome, in advance).

Photo of the Day: Bump Your…

I don’t shoot boudoir except in very special cases, so it’s not often that I have to link a photo as potentially not-safe-for-work. But when you’re doing an engagement shoot in Coney Island, anything can happen…

But first, one a little more romantic:

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Wedding: Valerie and Matt in San Francisco

I love shooting weddings in California. Not just because the cities are great (although there is a special place in my heart for San Francisco), but because you can’t throw a 5D Mark II without hitting three great wedding photographers there, so when a couple says “We want to fly you in to shoot this,” I know that their styles and mine will mesh perfectly. That was true with Karen and Kamil, and it was oh-so-true in the case of Valerie and Matt.

I mean, all you really need to know is that they Rick-Rolled their ceremony. After the gorgeous and heartfelt ceremony (with vows that Val, of course, read off her iPhone), the strains of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up came over the loudspeakers, and the crowd went nuts as the wedding party danced their way off.

I don’t have to tell you how much fun I had; just look at the photos below and the slideshow. Their love, their awesome friends, and their care for their guests having a good time was constantly palpable. Congratulations Valerie and Matt!

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Lectures! Workshops! Oh my! Oct 11-13

It’s been a crazy season so far, but client work isn’t all I’ve been cooking up — I’ve been bursting with ideas for a “workshop on sterioids” aimed squarely at wedding professionals, from the newly minted to long-time pros. And thanks to the help of Adorama, I’m putting together a stretch of instruction, networking, and fun where even the steroids are on steroids. Here’s the run-down:

On October 11, I will be giving a lecture at Adorama for a nominal fee, all about flash composites, like so:

Love and Mansions

This part of my June lecture was a big hit, but it takes more time to really teach the possibilities and methods of it right, so for two hours I will systematically take people through the steps so even relative Photoshop and lighting novices can try it for themselves and learn what sorts of new compositions open up to you when you don’t care about getting your equipment out of the shot. Adorama are great hosts, and their facility is top-notch for this type of lecture.

The full workshop will be October 12-13 (that’s a Tuesday and Wednesday — so you can come without missing weddings). You don’t have to attend the Adorama lecture to go to the workshop, and some of the content will be repeated, but if you do go to both, I will reimburse the cost of the Adorama lecture.

What, you ask, is a “workshop on steroids?” It’s a night and a day devoted to teaching my perspectives on and answers to the unique problems wedding photographers face — and not just in photography. I will guide you through topics like:

•Effective client meetings (with demonstration)
•Differentiating yourself in your market
•Keeping your passion alive
•Relationships with other vendors, including perspectives from fantastic wedding planners

I will also make sure that the attendees have the chance to show me and each other their work and share information so we can all network with each other as effectively as possible.

And, then, of course, there’s the photography. I’m not going to take you to fabulous places with professional models and perfect lighting and scenarios you could rarely recreate during a wedding. I’m going to show some of my perspectives on turning bad scenarios into good pictures. Bad background? Terrible lighting? Nervous and awkward subjects? Almost no time? These are the things we really deal with every weekend, and will be the main focus. I’m hoping the weather is miserable on the day of the workshop, but we can always pretend.

The cost of the lecture should be about $35. The cost of the night-and-day workshop is $500, and the number of attendees will be limited to a small group. Again, if you attend both, I will reimburse the cost of the Adorama lecture.

For more information and to sign up, e-mail me at