Shakun, Tim and I were shooting an engagement session in the park when I saw, several block away, the sunset light streaming perfectly down the middle of the street. This doesn’t happen very often, especially on the very *Eastern* edge of Manhattan. We had about 30 seconds before it went down too low.
I knew Alicia and Jason were awesome. I just didn’t know how awesome they were on the dance floor.
It was a hot, humid Memorial Day weekend for the two of them — as I took the flash composite group photo (in the slideshow), at any given time half of the party was in the shade fanning themselves. But that didn’t stop everyone from having a great time throughout the day, whether it was the carefully choreographed wedding party entrance, or Jason doing the Kid N’ Play routine from House Party.
A gorgeous couple and a gorgeous day (at least, when you look back in the photos and don’t have to feel the heat), but in the end it all comes down to the fun you have and the love you share. At the reception, the DJ asked a woman who had been married for more than 60 years to give advice to the newlyweds. She paused for only a moment: “Just keep dancing!”
Congratulations, you two. I’m sure you will.
I can’t really overstate how much it meant to me to be able to document Missy and John’s wedding. It goes without saying that I love weddings. No one can see me bounding around a reception after a 16-hour day without knowing that. And it’s incredible to even attend the wedding of a friend you’ve shared so much with. Here were two of my closest college friends who, after so much searching, finally found each other (they didn’t even start dating until years after college).
Really, all you need to know is that that guest who cries at the wedding? That was me. Thank you, autofocus.
Now, there’s a lot of debate about shooting a friend’s wedding. Photography is a bit different than singing a song at the wedding (it was a stellar rendition of “the Origin of Love,” that did me in) — you are working non-stop every moment you’re on duty. But I know exactly what my friends want, and if I don’t do my best to give it to them, my recommendations would be … interesting for the budget. (“Hey! How do you feel like flying in a few people from across North America, and someone from Australia? Hello? Still there?”) So I work something out like this: I will shoot the heck out of the start of the day, portraits, and the ceremony … and as the night goes on and it’s time to dance, watch out. Remember that I pulled a hamstring this winter not out on a field somewhere, but doing a jumping high kick and landing in a split. Yes, it’s on.
John and I met on the first day of school, freshman year. He walked into my room and insulted my musical taste. Obviously, we became fast friends. For that, he was punished by having to room with a 19-year-old me sophomore year, and my endearing habits like getting chinese food on his B-52′s CD and letting my snooze alarm ring as much as 37 times in one day. But perhaps he will forgive me a bit, given that I also dragged him kicking and screaming onto the newspaper staff, where he would first meet Missy.
Missy is a force of journalistic nature. It’s kind of scary how fast she can knock out pieces — and this comes from someone who wrote his 75-page college thesis in a day and a half. I can’t even count how many different old and new media publications she writes for, so let’s just say all of them. She has seen me through so many ups and downs (we used to call it the Brenizer roller coaster), and I used to hang out with her so much after I had graduated, when I was living five hours away, that some of our mutual friends thought I was still in school.
The wedding was fantastic, and so very them, from excellent food and dancing at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington, VA, to countless quirky moments. Trust me, I don’t ask most brides to let me stick their ring inside a chicken nugget, nor the opportunity to shoot wedding shoes with The Cheat from Strong Bad web animations.
So here’s a taste of my crazy, wonderful friends:
I don’t usually get a chance to blog engagement shoots during the season, but when we get interrupted by Dave Chappelle, when we stumble across a line of crazy Apple fanatics waiting in line for the iPhone the next day, when a woman sees me lying on the ground to get a shot and checks to see if I’m passed out drunk, and when a restaurant lets us inside after it’s closed, that’s more than an engagement shoot, it’s an adventure. Specifically, it’s the kind of adventure you have in New York when a couple is kind enough to bend to my crazy summer schedule and start the shoot at 9:30 p.m.! Thanks guys, looking forward to the July 4 wedding!
The ring-bearer plays with flower petals after the ceremony.
More nostalgia. This was from the first wedding I ever booked, though I shot it four months later than the wedding from yesterday. Confused? That’s how I was before I got used to knowing exactly where I’ll be on a Saturday two years from now.
… and this one doubly so.
I met Heather and Jordan for a very late-night engagement shoot at the swanky hotel where they got engaged. Unfortunately the floor they got engaged on was under construction, but I said “Hey, these elevators are pretty cool.” I usually try not to inconvenience anyone, but since the hotel was quiet at this time of night and there were two other elevators sitting unused, I hit all the buttons on the way down so we’d have time to set up a shot.
To get the ceiling lights and to not be in the reflection, I was crouched low to the right of the door, impossible to see until you came in. So we stopped at one of the floors and a guy walks in. “Woah, paparazzi!” he says. This is a pretty common joke people make when they see my giant camera, so I don’t think much of it. Then I look up at the guy to apologize.
It’s Dave Chappelle. And he thought I realliy was there for him. So he got doubly confused when I just kind of shrugged, apologized for hitting all the buttons, and went back to shooting Heather and Jordan.
“Man, I don’t need this…” he said, and got off at the next floor. He wasn’t really mad, but I think anyone would say that when they see two people making out on an elevator with a photographer and all of the buttons lit up.
P.S.: Dave has been working out. The guy was RIPPED.
Here’s a bit of nostalgia, a nice moment from the first wedding I ever shot as the primary photographer. The ceremony was out on a little island, and the groom, an extremely athletic Man of the Mountains, rowed them both out there in their own canoe. I think I may have been standing up in another canoe to get this shot, which shows that I was never very bright with my equipment.
The threatening rain was worrying for a bit at Karen and Aaron’s wedding, but the timing worked out perfectly, cooling the day down and giving us a great sky.
We had about five minutes to do group photos at Brooklyn Bridge Park, so I did a quick, three-shot flash composite of the wedding party and then a very quick flash-free shot with the kids in it. I talked a lot about flash composites and the possibilities it opens up at my Adorama lecture yesterday, so I thought I’d show a quick comparison from two sorts of shots in the same place and conditions:
How cool was yesterday’s wedding? The bride and groom danced to Langhorne Slim. And I don’t mean a recording … he performed for them.
If you don’t know who Langhorne Slim, is, well … Bruce Springsteen’s a fan of his. That’s a pretty good recommendation.
I’ll see some of you at my talk today at Adorama!
Tribeca Rooftop is a gorgeous venue for anybody, but it was uniquely perfect for Allie and Vilas — they live about 20 feet away. There’s nothing like the convenience of being able to stop by your (awesome) apartment if you need something during the day. And what a day it was — the rain held off, allowing a gorgeous ceremony on the roof, and the reception hall was stunningly decorated, including hundreds of carefully hung tea lights over the dance floor.
There were enough little touches that even some of the venue operators (who have seen a LOT of events) were marvelling. “How cool is this?” One of them asked me about a plaque that spelled out their new name, entirely using architectural detail from around the city instead of letters (watch the slideshow to see it — consider that the director’s cut).
There was a personal emergency for the couple before the wedding (that I won’t describe for privacy reasons), and it made the day and the throng of loving, joyful friends and family all the more poignant. It was a joy to document the day for them. Congratulations!
It was never hard to see the love that Rachel and Matthew had for each other. When I do a first look with couples it’s always an intense moment, and you never know how you’ll react to intensity. Just because you may laugh or be shy for a moment doesn’t mean you are any less than wildly passionate about your soon-to-be-spouse. But when Matthew and Rachel looked at each other and both started sobbing openly, there’s no mistaking that.
I always love shooting at Battery Gardens, one of my most frequent venues and one with an extremely helpful staff, and it was great to be back on a fantastic, sunny day. The wedding, an interfaith event with both a Christian minister and a rabbi, was touching throughout, and the day was filled with great details such as Rachel’s ring, an heirloom from the 1800s. And then, of course, a great party broke out.
Congratulations Rachel and Matthew!
With my background in photojournalism, I love the idea of bringing a documentary feel to couples’ portraits. Every gesture and expression tells a story, of course, but I like to see how your love really plays out, how you really express it with each other. Of course, it’s also fun to have someone prod you along to get you to do things you might not otherwise, like kiss in the middle of traffic. But when I saw Rachel and Jonathan’s comfy couch, I knew we had to do some shooting there to see love in its natural environment.
Basically no photoshop; a bit of contrast in the sky.
It was a wet Wednesday for Elyse and David’s engagement shoot, but we braved it anyway. I spent a good chunk of the time lying in puddles to get the best angles, and it was worth it. This is why I don’t wear designer clothes on most of my shoots.