Photo of the Day: Fabulous, if Freezing

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As I teach in my classes, there is nothing new about the idea of compositing images so multiple subjects can be perfectly lit — it’s pretty much the standard in big ad campaigns, editorial shoots, you name it. But the important thing for a wedding day that will let you do it FAST. And that premium increases when you have a bridal party standing in a New York February. This took less than three minutes to shoot.

Five-page feature on me in What Digital Camera magazine!

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I feel incredibly honored to have a five-page spread featured on my work and photographic history in the magazine What Digital Camera. The spread was in the August 2009 issue, but since it primarily sells overseas I didn’t see it until now! There is an extensive look at the gear I use and a nice interview to show where I come from and where I’m heading.

Of course, as you’ll be able to see from the gear listings on the sample photos, my equipment keeps changing as I try new ways to capture photos the way I want. That means there are some new additions since the article (such as the D3s, 50mm f/1.2, 35mm f/1.8 and 24mm f/1.8) and of course a bit of gear that was swallowed by the angry god of the sea in Puerto Rico.

You can click on any of the spreads below for a larger, readable version!

Also thanks to Timothy Herzog for taking the photo of me with my kit.

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Photo of the Day: Hold Tight

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A tender hold during Emily and Myles’s first dance. Myles has these incredible hands. Thank you for responding to my telepathy and putting them in the perfect position.

Photo of the Day: Billionaires at Play

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Richard Branson gives rock star face with his son Sam helpfully sticking his fingers and his mouth and nose at the launch of Virgin Galactic in 2006.

Betcha didn’t think you’d see a billionaire with someone else’s finger in his nose this morning, did you? Gotta keep on your toes around here.

I shot this for Wired way back when.

Engagement: Emily and Myles

I just shot these photos yesterday, and I knew I wanted to get some samples out right away, partly because I’ve been excited to shoot this awesome couple since I met them at Stephanie and Wade’s wedding, partly because the geek in me was excited to test my rental copy of the new 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII, and partially because I’m shooting their wedding tomorrow!

Yes, as I tell couples, any time between 18 months and 18 hours before the wedding can work for engagement shoot, and since Myles, a coach for the Edmonton Oilers, had been spending this past year working up there, we decided to play in the cold-but-not-Siberian-cold environment of New York in February. And we had a wonderful time. If anyone wants tips on how to make sure they can bring out passion in front of a camera, try spending most of the previous year away from your fiancée in a place with cold spells almost eighty degrees below zero.

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Photo of the Day: Launched into Marriage

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God I love the Horah. But they should probably develop some specific chairs for it. Lightweight with a good base that you won’t feel like you’re falling out of. Maybe velcro. Or a seat-belt.

Clearly I’ve found my first wedding product to sell. Who needs actions when you can sell chairs?

Photos of the Day: A Proposal in the Park

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I hope you guys all had a great Valentine’s Day weekend. Maybe some of you got engaged (hint, hint). I know one of my readers did, at least, because I was there.

Specifically, I was there in full ninja-mode, waiting on Central Park’s Bow Bridge, pretending to be one of the countless enthusiast photographers wandering around, most of my gear hidden off to the side. When Chris and Chauntey, visiting New York from Missouri, walked by, I kept an eye on them, waiting for him to drop to one knee as I surreptitiously took pictures. Which he did:

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Happily for all, she said yes! Luckily pretty much nothing distracts a woman at this time, so I got to wander around and take pictures of the moment without freaking her out.

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Then Chris introduced me, explaining why some random guy in the park was taking photos of them. I let Chauntey gather herself, and then we had fun in the park taking some portraits.

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Congratulations, guys!

There Are No Rockstar Photographers

One of the attendees of my workshop told me this little anecdote that I absolutely loved. A friend of his is a teacher at a high school, and asked her students one simple question: “Can you name any photographer, living or dead?”

Silence. One student picked out a business card someone had given him and read the name off it.

If that doesn’t sink in, let me put it another way: In American culture, “The Situation” from Jersey Shore is way more famous than any photographer in history. Let that sink in for a bit.

At best, this entire industry has one rock star (Annie Liebowitz). Also, one classic pop diva ignored by the hip young masses (Anne Geddes). And I’ll give you Ryan McGinley as an indie hit.

There are a lot of things to take away from this — yes, you can bemoan a lack of education in the arts. But I LOVE it. Photographers aren’t important — their work is. Honestly, I couldn’t pick Richard Avedon, Alfred Stiglitz, or even modern masters like Steve McCurry out of a line-up — but I know their work inside and out. The Internet makes everything personal, turns everything into self-publishing, making the individual more important. It opens new opportunities, but it can get things twisted around.

Why does this get under my skin? It’s not a matter of individual behavior — most really well-known wedding photographers are the nicest people you could hope to meet. And, as the ad above shows, lots of industries have “rock stars.”

It’s all about what people aspire to. Is what really drives you to become more and more famous, or to do better and better work? Maybe fame is simply supplanting money as a form of currency — there have always been people out simply to get rich — but the central problem is that I believe that what wedding photographers do is more important than what many rock stars or celebrities do.

We aren’t important, but our work is. Love what you do and do it well, and you will spend a lifetime crafting the memories and social histories of people on the most important days of their lives. You will take photos that make children gape in amazement that their parents were so beautiful, you will take photos that will be laid with people in their caskets, you will take photos that can make people cry even if they don’t know the people in them.

Is that really less important than being the drummer for Nickelback?

UPDATE: Mark leaves a fantastic story in the comments: “I teach a HS class in photography. When I asked my kids to name one photographer they all said Ashton Kutcher. Then they saw a grown man cry!”

The Breakdown: Feb. 6 “How to Shoot Like MacGyver” Workshop

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On February 5th and 6th, 35 avid and awesome photographers came to 2 Stops Brigher Studios to talk shop and learn about some of the crazy stuff I get up to as a photographer. I figured I couldn’t teach a workshop about how to be fabulous, since I’m just a pretty normal guy, or how to run a business, since the most important thing I know is to work with other people who know how to do that stuff, or selling actions and presets, since I don’t use them.

What I do know as a New York City photographer is how to make the best of situations that aren’t always in your favor, and I thought it might be useful for some people to get my perspective. Also, I’m always looking at photographic gear and saying “Is there anyway I can use this in a weird way that would make some pretty cool pictures?” and we spent most of the day talking about some of the things I’ve found that can give you some new tools for bad situations — things like the “Brenizer method” of bokeh panoramas, video lights and light-painting for low-light, using flash composites for dynamic shots on bright days, and more.

I had such a wonderful time, and so many people have been asking about it, that I am going to host another one soon! I’m thinking April. Watch this space.

There are going to be a lot of photos in the full write-up, so click below to read the rest!

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Photo of the Day: Bridal Plumage

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Getting ready to strut her stuff. If you get past the gender-reversal, I like the idea of bride-as-peacock. All eyes are on them, and they’re fabulous.