This afternoon I photographed Maxim model Carissa Rosario for CBS’s Man Cave Daily. How was your lunch break?
Technically the world’s least-overlapped Brenizer method image. I was up against a wall, so I panned about 5 percent extra in the frame to turn this from a 105mm to a 100mm or so.
It’s sometimes hard to describe the unique thrill of a wedding day to people who haven’t experienced them as a photographer. There’s an incredible, omnipresent pressure, knowing that you just have one chance, that you should always do the best you possibly can no matter what … but at the same time it’s so incredibly enjoyable. And it’s made all the more so with hilarious clients like Amanda and Mitchell (who does a mean “slap the bass” impression from I Love You, Man), a fantastic venue like Tappan Hill Mansion, and help from Tatiana’s capable skills and winning ways.
I don’t need to tell you how emotional the day was — you’ll see that. I can only say that I shared in every moment of exhilaration.
This is always the time of year when I’m so busy documenting incredible stories that it’s hard to find time to share them, but my giant mug of coffee and I will work to show Jenny and Jerry’s gorgeous wedding. I processed this with VSCO 4, which was released today. Don’t worry, I don’t have nearly enough hipster in me to make any money off your VSCO purchases. But they’ve been doing some fantastic stuff over there with a killer iPhone app, and I’ve always like slide film, so I thought I’d give it a try. This was Astia 100F (one of my favorite films), modified with only the stuff from their toolkit.
And thankfully I didn’t have to shoot and scan 53 slides of Astia to make this.
Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: 53-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (equivalent of 28mm f/0.45 according to Brett’s calculator)
To use modern Internet parlance, this wedding was so full of feels. I could have created a blog post entirely of Top 50 Best Heart-Wrenching Sobbing Moments, but that would have edged out the possible Top 200 Best Hysterical Laughs. It’s what happens when you take two incredibly sweet people, one of them a wedding photographer herself, and throw them into a day with numerous ceremonies, from the quiet and reflective to the raucous hardship the groomsmen faced at particularly inventive door games. It’s what happens when family gathers from all over the world to ignore the heat and celebrate Andrew and Fallon. And it’s what happens with a wild group of friends — I don’t show photobooth photos on the blog for a few reasons, but we’ll just say that things got particularly creative and many guests walked out with a pretty good cardio workout.
I was thrilled to be joined on this wedding with Tatiana and Michael Stavrinos, even though all the good photos made my editing job much harder. It’s a challenge I’m happy to take.
As mentioned previously, I’ve switched to a new Web host that should keep everything here running smoothly even at high traffic times. I figured there is no better way to test that than with some photos from my shoot with Instagram Queen Jen Selter — with 335,000 followers on Instagram, countless Tumblrs and reflags and pins and so on and so forth, this should wake the servers up.
Jen caught my attention, and not for the obvious reasons. In the age of the Internet, things that were in some ways private behaviors — being a photographer, or enjoying exercise, for example — have become cults of personality in different ways. Having built a great business over the years that comes with what I call “microcelebrity,” I’ve had a peek behind the curtain of social media stars, and I knew there’s more that goes into it than you think. There are countless scores of attractive women out there whose photo collections have 335 followers, not 335,000. I knew that getting there so fast required a great deal of savvy, and doing a lot of hard work while making it look like you’re just taking things in stride. How fast? We did this shoot a month ago, and she had 100,000 fewer followers at the time!
I was about to share a bunch more, but it turns out we might shoot again soon as part of some secret projects we’re both working on, so I’ll save that for a computer-melting megapost. But I’m happy to show that there’s more than meets the camera phone’s eye when it comes to Jen.
Thanks to my incredibly talented cousin Andrew Sutphen for the hair and makeup.
(Ok, one more … for the servers’ sake. More to come…)
Thanks to a long string of luck, my clients tend to make description of them a bit difficult. “Extremely nice,” “deeply family-oriented,” “handling stress with cheer and grace,” — on the streets of New York you could pick someone out of a large crowd with just those descriptors, but I’ve been lucky to have this be common threads of the people that hire me. So to describe Nicole and Kyle, you take these and add the deep respect and camaraderie of Kyle’s military family, breeding West Point officers. You stir in the deep bond with his brother, who, in words I thought I’d never write, produced a hilarious, heart-wrenching PowerPoint display for his speech.
And then you add a gorgeous day, the heat that would later scorch the area just poking into the territory of a nice warmth. Finish with a bunch of friends and family ready to spring into the party, and you have a good day. Thanks to Robert Piangozza for assisting.
(Note: If you’ve noticed that this site has run slowly for a long time, blame my old Web hosts and, apparently, my popularity. I’m with new hosts now who have great customer service and the ability to handle the strain of lots of people looking at lots of photos. There are still a few kinks to work out, but if you can see this post, you should be in the clear.)
Maggie is a decisive person. When she first met with me, not long before her wedding, she was just in for a couple days from her home in China, and I quickly realized that this was not the traditional “Convince me why I should hire you” meeting, but rather “This is why I’m hiring you.”
Weddings are hard enough to plan when you have plenty of time and are able to keep checking in the venue — it’s another story when you live almost 10,000 miles away and with just a matter of weeks to put the major details together, but she handled it with grace and all sorts of style, for example putting a modern twist on Chinese cultural traditions by ending the reception in a killer (Western-style) red dress.
As the thermometer pushes 100 degrees this week, we forget what a short time ago that it was cold and windy, but the wind whipped so hard during the ceremony that for a bit I was sure I was going to be documentarian of disaster. But clearly Maggie’s decisiveness included some very strong tents — and of course, no winds are going to bother the sturdy Hempstead House.
Thank you Pieter Sienatra for your help on this fantastic, blustery day. And thanks to Maggie and Jonathan’s friends and family for making it such a fun day — not every groomsman out there would dress themselves up in toilet paper and re-enact the proposal just so the groom could earn the right to see his bride. And we won’t discuss the body hair collection part.
Whenever my fantastic wedding photographer friends fly in to New York to help me shoot a wedding, I like to give them days that might be well outside their norm. It’s an old magazine photo editor trick to bring a fresh sort of vision to a given story, and gives a different sort of accent to my standard “work my butt off and tell the big story” style. For example, when Sara K Byrne came in fresh from her open-air, rural, hipster Idaho weddings, I had her help with a quintessential high-class Manhattan wedding in the opulent cavern that is the Metropolitan Club.
But what could be fresh to my friend (and fellow Moment Junkie co-founder) Kyle Hepp? She’s based in Chile but spends most of her time in or around airplanes, shooting and traveling all over the world. What can be fresh to someone who was in her third hemisphere that week?
“OK, Kyle, this wedding is going to be fantastic. The couple is extremely nice, I love the Liberty House, the day ends at 4…”
“Four a.m.? Cool! That’s pretty standard in Chile, though I don’t always stay the whole time…”
“No … four p.m.”
That did it. Of course the biggest challenges of daytime weddings are that sometimes it’s hard for people to feel the same sort energy at tea time that they would at mid-night, but with Jerry and Regina’s friends and family there was no need to worry about that. A cold mist turned the dramatic NYC skyline view into an impressionistic panorama, and inside the Liberty House the day was marked by deep convictions — convictions to friends, family, religion, and each other.
While the day was almost entirely culturally Western, the energy was helped further by the deep sense of fun of Asian-style reception games. I am sure Jerry has forgiven Regina by now for mistaking the arm of a female guest for that of her new husband.
Thank you both for letting me share in this day, and thanks to Kyle for doing a great job more than 5,000 miles from home.
One of the hidden benefits of using so many advanced panorama and compositing techniques to quickly do the otherwise impractical or impossible is that it takes you back to the film days where you can be pleasantly surprised by a photo much later. The result of this tilt-shift pano of Central Park’s urban/pastoral view is exactly what I had in my mind, but it was great to see it take shape.
Lens: 45mm f/2.8 PC-E, 9-image panorama
Camera: Nikon D4
I’d been dying to go to Vancouver ever since the Winter Olympics showed off its beauty, and thanks to the Canada Photo Convention and Varun and Kartika’s wedding at the Vancouver Four Seasons, I went two times in a month. Of course, given my schedule this time of year, that means that my grand total of sight-seeing for both trips was about 15 minutes.
But I had so much fun that I’ll have to come back. Varun and Kartika aren’t just incredibly nice, they’re absolutely hilarious. I’m a softie — usually when I’m thankful for autofocus it’s because something touching has made me tear up a bit. But I had to spend most of this day photographing through the laughter. Of course a bit of door games started that off right — wedding days drive brains crazy, so when Kartika left a complicated mathematic clue about where she was hiding, I forgive the groomsmen for coming up with “somewhere on the 271st floor.”
Eastern and Western traditions have very different expectations for wedding receptions, and it was fascinating to see the Indian/Indonesian/Chinese/Canadian cultures mix with the quirkiness of Varun and Kartika’s own friends and family. Who needs a garter toss when the groomsmen can toss swords around and do a lucky Dragon dance?
Thank you both for flying me out to document this beautiful, hilarious day. And thanks to Rachel Pick for helping on the day and being my local Vancouver liason.
Oh, Varun … you mentioned me in your reception speech, saying that my work had made you start loving your work as a photographer again, and I teared up even as I blushed furiously (“I’m a documentarian! No one is supposed to notice me!”) And then you threw me a curve ball, “And now I’d like Ryan to take a really cool shot! Everyone get out your cameras!”
The idea was what you see here … a stylized take on the Uncle Bobism of a photographer’s wedding. But how do you make a bunch of flashes go off when they’re all from different manufacturers … and most of them are camera phones?