A Taste of Things to Come

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I’m working on a little somethin’ somethin’, and The Markows are one of many who have helped with it. More details soon.

Most of you are looking at this and thinking how fabulous Stephen and Julianne are. But those who have taken a lot of Me Method photos are thinking “All those parallel lines and no stitching errors? What strange magic is this?” Well, sometimes a new dog can learn old tricks. More soon.

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: 71-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the Nikon 105mm f/2 D DC (equivalent of 30mm f/0.58 according to Brett’s calculator)

Venetian Wedding: Erica and Dan Eric

Filipino weddings tend to be an incredibly vibrant mix of deep ceremonial meaning and broad family ties, with more people in the processionals than even attend many of the weddings I shoot. These both lead to a deep sort of community investment in the wedding … or in other words, people are ready to party.

How do you take this energy and turn it to 11? First, you invite a LOT of people, whom The Venetian does a great job at housing in style.. Second, you be twin vibrating bundles of energy like Erica and Dan Eric. A couple that taught everyone how to Dougie for their first dance, and who had her father do a mean Beyonce impersonation for the father/daughter dance. There is warmth and then there is Erica, who at a number of times throughout the day would stop whatever she was doing and give me a hug. “I’m so glad you’re here!”

I was glad too. Glad to be there with such amazing, crazy people. Glad to share the day seconded by the amazing Tatiana, who also got her share of hugs, and my intern Leah. And really, just glad to show you these photos.

The Girl Who Lived

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If you don’t know Kelsie’s story, read it now. Just three months after a car accident that should have killed her, after injuries so terrible that just hearing them described made one of our friends pass out, Kelsie is here, she is beautiful, and she is strong.

Also, she is legal! (Today is her 21st birthday.)

This was shot 1/3rd of a second, hand-held, and lit by an iPhone, finally making use of that crazy 12-24 flare.

This was an important shoot to me, and I spent too much time during it mucking about with behind-the-scenes video, which is a whole new ball of frustration. At the end of the shoot, after equipment failure and getting chewed up my mosquitos and threatened by a large pack of raccoons, we walked back to the car. On the way back, I stopped and looked at this scene. “What’s the story you wanted to tell? What’s the photo you wanted to take?” I asked myself. “It’s time to think like a photographer.” And so we took this.

Kelsie also recently released her first original video. Enjoy her skills:



Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6

Carissa Rosario

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This afternoon I photographed Maxim model Carissa Rosario for CBS’s Man Cave Daily. How was your lunch break?

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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.

This used VSCO 4‘s Agfa Scala preset, the first black and white preset for Lightroom I’ve really liked.
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Lens: 105mm f/2 D DC, 9-image panorama
Camera: Nikon D4

Tappan Hill Wedding: Amanda and Mitchell

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.

Sneak Peek: Jenny and Jerry (with VSCO 4)

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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)

Mudan Wedding: Fallon and Andrew

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.

Jen Selter

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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…)

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Camera: Canon 6D
Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.2L

The Mill at Spring Lake Heights Wedding: Nicole and Kyle

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.)

Hempstead House Wedding: Maggie and Jonathan

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.

Liberty House Wedding: Regina and Jerry

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.

The Green and the Gray

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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