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!

Photo of the Day: The Joy of Youth

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.

Photo of the Day: Every Photo Has a Story…

Every Photo Has a Story…

… 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.

Sorry, Dave.

P.S.: Dave has been working out. The guy was RIPPED.

Photo of the Day: The Beginning of a Long Journey

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.

Photo of the Day: Big Sky (and Flash Composite comparison)

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:

Photo of the Day: Maybe Weddings ARE for rock stars

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!

Wedding: Allie and Vilas at TriBeCa Rooftop

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!

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Wedding: Rachel and Matthew at Battery Gardens

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!

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