Wedding: Elyse and David at Temple Emanu-el

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about tricks like flash composites or the Brenizer Method, which I tend to use to open up new possibilities in portraiture. But my real love in photography is storytelling, and Elyse and David knew that they wanted photojournalistic coverage that would just let them enjoy their day. And why not? Elyse started her career in journalism … usually I’m the one telling stories about having to explain myself to officials on a photo-shoot, but her journalistic adventures came up several times during the speeches.

I always enjoy temple weddings, because you combine all the importance of ceremony and ritual to the marriage process, from the separate receptions of the Kabbalas Panim, to the (rainy) march to the b’deken, and the ketubah signing all before the public ceremony, but you also have the relative calm that comes from having every moment of the wedding day in one place. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the temple is gorgeous. Fitting, of course, with these too. David, no one pulls off a Snoopy yarmulke like you do.

Congratulations!

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Wedding: Sarah and Michael at Columbia University

Sarah and Michael had a gorgeous, elegant wedding in Columbia University’s Saint Paul’s Chapel, with a reception at the Faculty House. With the fantastic help of Nerissa and Jennifer at Private Receptions, every detail was stunning, from Sarah’s unbelievable dress to a cake with some of the finest detail work I’ve seen anywhere. The black and white theme added to the urban Manhattanite feel. Yet these two sophisticated New Yorkers both originally hail from Canada — warmth and kindness are the right kinds of stereotypes for a country to have, and Sarah and Michael and their families more than lived up to it. Not having grown up in America, they are making up for lost time, now on a tour of all the lower 48 states — a fantastic idea and something I would love to do.

Words don’t do justice to how gorgeous St. Paul’s Chapel is, the fun of an endlessly energetic band, or the relaxation of guests smoking hand-rolled cigars on a terrace in the summer night. Luckily I took some pictures.

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Photo of the Day: Video Light in Your Pocket

Video Light in Your Pocket

If you have an iPhone 4, apps like "Flash Light" can keep the LED flash on for a much stronger light than just using the display. If the best camera is the one that you have with you, so is the best off-camera light.

This works with any phone with an LED flash, as long as there’s a way to hack it to leave it on.

And it’s easy to mount:

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Wedding: Caroline and John at the OceanCliff Hotel

Did you know that Caroline was Old French for “bringer of the sun?” Probably not, because that’s completely untrue. But it should be. Everything was laid out and looking gorgeous at the OceanCliff Hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, with a view that lived up to the name, but the weather showed nothing but ominous rain clouds. That is, until right before Caroline was announced for the ceremony, when they had pared into brilliant — and actually, blinding — sunlight. Nice work!

The wedding was intimate and as peaceful as a wedding can get with a gaggle of gregarious children, including countless adorable flower girls, each with white dresses and ballet slippers. John and much of his family are from Ireland, which made for an interesting cross-cultural gathering that later included a Chinese tea ceremony, and Caroline changing into a traditional Chinese wedding gown. The wedding also featured culinary delights such as a gelato station, where I, at their urging, discovered that tirimisu gelato is probably the pinnacle of human achievement.

A gorgeous day I was happy to share in. Congratulations!

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Photo of the Day: Class Project

Ting and Weiji brought me back to my old stomping grounds of Columbia University for this shoot. Fun fact: Even though I didn’t start at Columbia until 2004, the last time I was in this room was 1997. Figure that one out.

Photo of the Day: Sunset in the Park

Not only do late-night engagement shoots make for some romantic lighting, it’s the only thing to do when the weather hits 103 degrees…

Wedding: Mary and Mike at Fox Hollow

There are few couples I’d rather get lost in the woods with than Mary and Mike … which is good because that’s exactly what happened.

They’d just finished a classic, emotional Catholic ceremony on Long Island, and we were all excited to head out and take some pictures with them and the extremely fun wedding party. So we went out to a forest reserve they’d heard was nice (with the groomsmen picking up drinks along the way, ensuring that the wedding party was getting more fun all the time), and it was great, but required a lot of walking along winding roads. We photographed some relatives … and then they left. We photographed the wedding party … and then they left. This left us with the opportunity to take intimate portraits with Mary and Mike, which I loved.

“Great!” I said. “Which way is out?”

“Hm, we’ve never been here before either…”

So the adventures continued for a bit, and we took some more portraits along the way. (There’s always a silver lining). But we got them back to the cocktail hour right on time, important because Mike was understandably excited about a full-sized rowboat filled with seafood that was the centerpiece.

The reception was incredibly raucous and fun — I’ve never seen such choreographed entrances, including a groomsman who borrowed some of my gear to pretend to be me, photographing the bridesmaid playing America’s Next Top Model. The giant dance floor was filled to capacity all night, mixing between modern and ethnic folk music with twisting and turning line dances that eventually took them outside into the night.

A wonderful time, congratulations you two!

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Wedding: Ellen and Jeff at TriBeCa RoofTop

You know you’re going to have a gorgeous, classy wedding at the TriBeCa RoofTop, and Ellen and Jeff’s fantastic affair was no exception. After all, one of the biggest arbiters of style in Mahattan is how many random letters are capitalized in the middle of a place name, and no one beats TriBeCa RoofTop. We started the day at the new Trump SoHo Hotel (see?) and had a gorgeous, sunny day shining down on their ceremony. I don’t need to tell you how clearly in love these two were; all you have to do is look through all the different expressions below or on the slideshow. Tears to laughter in two seconds flat.

Ellen spent most of the day in a gorgeous gown, then joined her mother and aunt in a colorful, traditional Korean Hanbok. I was joined on this day by Kenny Pang, a friend and fellow NYC wedding photographer with great energy. As always, the photos below and in the slideshow are just the ones I took, since I use them for promotional purposes, but he did a great job covering the guys and the wedding day.

Congratulations, Ellen and Jeff!

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Photo of the Day: Joy in the Machine

Joy in the Machine

This is a good example of how a simple light — two flashes on the ground aimed upward at a quarter power — can transform a scene. Of course, it was Michelle and Kunal who really sold it.

For comparison, here it is without the flash. The kind of place where people look at you funny when you stop to shoot there.

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Photo of the Day: The Streets Aglow

The Streets Aglow

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.

Wedding: Alicia and Jason at the Fountainhead

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.

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Photo of the Day: Beauty and the Rock Star

Beauty and the Rock Star

Matt and Val’s wedding reception featured Rock Band as entertainment, so I figured we’d work with it.

Flash composite, one SB-900 camera left at half power. through a Lumiquest Softbox.

Wedding: Missy and John at the Clarendon Ballroom

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:

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Engagement: Heather and Jordan

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!