This will hopefully be the coldest engagement shoot I ever do. Not Nick and Rebecca, who are warm and fun and awesome, but the unbelievably freezing weather. Since Nick and Rebecca are long-time friends of mine, I felt free to poke at them a bit about the weather in this Nikon D3s video.
2009 was without a doubt the craziest year of my life, and I was so glad that I could end the wedding season with a couple as nice and fun and Dora and Josh.
The mixture of Eastern and Western heritage started early, with the traditional Chinese game of forcing the groom to either pay money or pass challenges to be let into the brides’ parents’ house. As weddings go later and later into the winter, you can see the groomsmen being increasingly desperate in just their tuxedos. The mix continued with a beautiful ketubah signing and Jewish ceremony under the chuppah. For this ceremony, the rabbi turned Josh around so that he was the very last person in the congregation who would see the bride, and his reaction was priceless.
Also, for my fellow geeks, this was one of the rare weddings where I shot with both Canon and Nikon cameras. Watch the slideshow and see if you think you know which is which.
I couldn’t have ended the year with a better couple. Congratulations!
A couple weeks ago, I got hooked up in the “Ask me a question” Formspring meme that was going around, and you can see all my answers (and ask me more) here. While I didn’t get as obsessed with it as some photographers … *cough* Jonas Peterson *cough* … it was a lot of fun and a great way to answer some of the burning questions people had. But the list is long and filled with questions that are either technical or sometimes silly, so I thought I would put some of my answers that readers might be interested in right on the blog. These aren’t exactly frequently asked questions, since most were just asked once, but close enough.
Is there a point at which you will think “I’ve arrived” in the photography world, a goal to reach “before you can rest”?
Photography isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. I don’t want to rest, I want to take pictures.
What do you remember about yourself when you were a child?
I was definitely shorter. And precocious.
Been a fan of yours since your early days on flickr. How do you stay healthy? And what do you do if you’re sick on a clients wedding day?
It’s important to me to stay healthy. In more than 100 weddings, I’ve never had to miss one for any reason (there are very good emergency plans, but it is very important to me not to have to use them). I try to get a decent amount of sleep. For me that means at least six hours. In college I was always sick because I slept about three hours a night.
Also, I get a good deal of exercise.
Are you a “stuff junkie” or an “experience junkie”?
Experience junkie. If I were a stuff junkie, I wouldn’t keep breaking it.
How do you get people to so such cool stuff on the dance floor?
They’ll do it. All you have to do is be unobtrusive enough to be in front of them without them noticing or caring.
What happens at your client meetings? Spill some tricks!
It’s mostly just pleasant conversation and watching slideshows, and when they ask a question I answer the seven they haven’t thought of yet.
Do you dance at all your weddings?
Only if my friends are getting married … then it’s ON.
I read that you said you deliver 100 images per hour, do you feel that delivering hundreds of photos detracts from the end users satisfaction when going through so many photos?
No. I deliver a front page of my 75-100 favorites, so people don’t have to view the full set unless they have a reason to. I like to photograph as many guests as possible, because they were important enough for the bride and groom to invite and pay for.
Could you describe the post-processing you usually do on your images in a sentence or two?
I do way less than most shooters, because I don’t want my post-processing to be trendy. Quite often it just looks OK right from the start. But sometimes I really love a picture and just like to finesse it a little. I also have a default tone curve that I shoot in or apply afterward.
Thoughts on diffusers? I’ve noticed some great photogs use them and others just bounce.
I don’t use them much, but really it’s all just about understanding light, and using the tools that make it looks how you want. Lots of diffusers turn flashes into bare bulbs, which can be useful but I’d rather not have it on-camera.
Note to DJs: Please stop using red and geen laser dots. Chicken pox are generally not a good look. In this case, though, I just went with it, shot at f/1.4 with the ambient light, and let the laser lights fill in the scene … including the groom’s mouth.
I still have to do the final tally, but thanks to the attention of so many I will be donation hundreds of dollars to Water Missions International, a charity with good presence in Haiti that focuses on the crucial issues of clean water and sanitation. If you’re interested in taking more action, Charity Navigator lists them as a very well-run charity with low overhead.
I will keep looking for ways to help and I hope you do the same. Also, as my friend Charlotte Geary pointed out, at times like these unrelated charities tend to suffer, so remember to keep supporting yor favorites.
I’m a pretty bad marketer. I know it. That’s why it took me years of sitting around, seeing other people successfully brand themselves as “green” wedding photographers without thinking about it until, about five minutes ago, I realized I’m pretty much the greenest wedding photographer I know. How many other wedding photographers choose not to own cars? (It actually makes more sense in Manhattan to rent every time I need one for a shoot, but that means I don’t drive unless I have to).
My office generates a staggeringly little amount of paper. All of my contracts are online. I only give DVDs on request, because DVDs go bad eventually and litter landfills. I give flash drives, with instructions on how to back up photos forever on one’s own hard drives — or, if clients are into it, I provide the online servers for full digital delivery. No mail planes, no torn envelopes, ta-da.
Even my staff, including my brand-new intern (more on her later), comes into the office via mass transit. Albums are made with recycled materials when possible, and my studio requires minimal energy to heat and cool.
We’re pretty darned green here. Who knew?
Remember Timoria and Bob? What a great couple, and a fantastic wedding.
I hate back-tracking. If I miss an exit, I’ll probably look for the best route forward, 10 miles out of the way, instead of just turning back. And so it is with equipment. I just don’t like the idea of replacing a broken lens with the same darned lens. Lenses are tools, and they all give us their own unique way to see, so why not try new things? The 24-70 broke again? Fine. Sure, it’s maybe the best, most useful lenses ever made, but that can also make it boring if you’re not careful. Let’s try some new ways of seeing. Wider, longer, faster. The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 broke? Ouch, that one hurt. Not only did I love the thing, but I got one of the very first copies ever on American soil. I literally picked it up at the warehouse for the first shipment (a post-apocalyptic place in East Williamsburg).
So instead of new, let’s go old. My new, old way of seeing is the Nikon 50mm f/1.2. It’s a manual focus lens, but I’ve always liked working with it (the photo above was taken with my assistant’s 50mm f/1.2). I’m always either shooting or looking for the next shot at a wedding, and putting that tricky beast means a little more looking, a little more breathing, with rewarding results.
Plus, as a quick tip, you can always buy great lenses used and not feel bad about the price, since you can sell them to someone else for the same cost. Unless, of course, I break it. There’s about even odds for that.