Gothic Wedding, old-school-style

Ryan Brenizer Photography

…and not just because they’re not wearing facepaint. The bride is wearing an unaltered 109-year-old dress!

Over at End User, I have done a review of Nikon’s new 35mm f/1.8, which I took this photo with. No vignetting was removed from this photo in post. Find out what I think!

Joseph Yarrow - Ryan, if you say this lens is good, I’m sure its good. Great review, loved it.
Seeing as I add a vignette to allot of my images, this lens will do me just fine! =)
Thank you

Daniel Stark - awesome image! i think i pretty much have the canon equivalent 35mm 2.0. works ok but it sounds like there’s a bug trapped inside when you focus.

Terri - Beautiful! #haitirelief

Meghan and Kyle, 8/8/09

Like most of my weddings, the day began with a personal well-wishing from the president…


OK … not true (though I did take that picture.)

In fact, Meghan and Kyle’s wedding began on a gorgeous weekend in Boston. After a summer filled with rain, to come and see gorgeous sunsets, the swell of Boston Harbor, and this fantastic couple, well, that’s the sort of thing I’ll even drive down I-95 at rush hour for.

After a Catholic ceremony at a gorgeous church, the reception took place high up in The Boston College Club, letting the guests really soak in that sunset and great views of the city. The music was great — it was the first wedding band in a long time that had an electric guitar battle, and it was even more fun than it sounds — and the party was lively, as you shall see:


The bride and her father practice their dance.


I hope, at this resolution, you can still see Kyle’s eyes welling up.


A gendered twist on the oldest shot in the book, but Kyle wasn’t expecting it, so the surprised expression was real.


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Chris Honour - So is the Bride and Bridesmaid shot ala one light? In the same realm as the Zach Arias shot?

Regardless, awesome photo. My re-engineering of the light is failing me, though!

Chris Honour
East Orlando Photography

Chris Fam - Just another set of amazing photos! your works keep inspiring me!

Ricky Law - Ryan, on the 3rd picture, could still see the lightstands/tripod at the feet of two of the girls on the left.

Kyle - Ok really, what’s the deal with Obama being there? You can’t leave us hanging!

Dennis - Ryan,
There are some problems with RSS feed. It has no photos, just text.
Great pictures though!

Steve - Great composite shot of the bridesmaids but you’ve left the leg of the flash stand in for the two girls on the left

Ryan - Whoops, I did that PS quickly on the day of. Will fix later.

Jason - Backing up Dennis (#5) – no images on the RSS feed. Awesome once visiting the site though!

Ryan Brenizer - My images can’t be hotlinked, so if the reader is hosted on another Web site, that’s probably it.

Joe Sanfilippo - Awesome shots! I love the one with american flag!

Orlando Wedding Photographer - After reading your blog, I thought your articles is great! I liked your articles and Photographs. Your blog is very useful to me. Here you are provideing such a greatful information.

Thanks for sharing…….

Daniel - Love the shot of the bridesmaids. Great lighting!

Tammynize - One of the cutest picking up the groom pictures I’ve seen…and I’ve seen a lot. Haha. I also love the kissing one with the back light between the two buildings.

I love the 50mm…so if I could shoot a whole wedding with it. i would. :)

Beginnings and Endings

Ryan Brenizer Photography

For Kyle and Meghan, a kiss before entering the reception. For my poor 85mm f/1.4, a last shot before getting stolen from the bench behind them.

OK, this is a "brenizer method" panorama, so it was the last 24 shots.

At least it was a pleasant way to go.

(You can always cheer me up by ordering prints. Just sayin’.)

For reference, since I know this still confuses a lot of people, here was one of the 24 images in the panorama. This is one uncropped shot with the D3 and the 85mm f/1.4:

Ryan Brenizer Photography

ZogStriP - Gosh, I love these pictures!
I really need to try that technique of yours!

Btw, what a shame for your lense :(

Timothy E Kaldas - Hey Ryan, the shot as always is beautiful. I’m really sorry to hear about the lens. It’s been a rough year for you and your gear.

Lynn Michelle - I’m so sad for your 85 1.4. But, wow, did it go on a high note :)

Mark Mortensen - Stolen! 85mm f/1.4. The horror! How terrible people have so much time on their hands to take other people’s stuff. May much bad karma be cursed on the individual with your 85mm f/1.4.

Sam Hurd - wow. it certainly went out with a bang! hope you can replace that thing soon.

i recently had two sb-900s and a teleconver stolen. it’s the price i pay for getting a shot quickly and not taking the time to properly bag my gear.

Daniel Stark - great shot, dude!! that sucks about your lens! didn’t your 1.2 get crushed too?! maybe you should stick to a kit lens :P

Ryan Brenizer - Yes, I lost two 85mm lenses FROM DIFFERENT SYSTEMS in less than a month.

Antonio Ferrer - Sorry about your lens. Coward bastards.
Your work is fantastic and that’s what matter.

Kristen - There is a ton of gear theft going on, so lame that some people just have no consciences. Gorgeous photo though, I just got the 135 f/2 so I’m ready to finally try this…

Chris - I always worry about my gear when I’m out shooting, I guess that is yet one more reason to have an assistant. I take it you don’t need to do any lens correction before stitching in post when shooting a pano with a 85mm f/1.4 on the D3?


Lindsay Buckley - damn those NYC hooligans who steal camera lenses! i lost 3 of mine on halloween thanks to them *grumble grumble*. all grumbling aside though, i’m in love with this shot and can’t wait to learn the brenizer method at your workshop! #haitirelief

Rae Threnoworth - How did you get your lens stolen that’s crazy!!!
Fascinating technique you use though. Beautiful image – I hope they bought a lot of prints to make up for the lens! #haitirelief

WPJA Awards!

I don’t generally enter contests, but the Wedding Photojournalist Association was one of the things that inspired me to get into wedding photography in the first place, so I’m thrilled to participate. The images the site regularly put forth in its contests showed me that the era of stilted poses was over, and that the storytelling coverage I had come to love as a newspaper and university photographer could be transposed to the wedding day. It is a highly prestigious contest filled with the best storytelling work of some great photographers.

So here are the latest results! You have to search for your wins and I’ve been known to have trophies arrive on my doorstep for images I didn’t know had placed, so tell me if I missed any:

3rd Place, Cake Cutting (From Eva and Lane’s wonderful New Orleans wedding)

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4th place, Creative Portrait (From Jen and John’s great wedding in Chappaqua, NY)

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and 5th place, Emotion, showing Kayla dancing during a wonderful little two-hour wedding at Lyndhurst Manor in Tarrytown, NY

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Thomas Lester - Great job, Ryan! That Creative Portrait has been one of my favorites since you first posted it.

Sarah and Jeff: 8.1.08

Sarah and Jeff had a fantastic wedding at NYC’s Union Square Ballroom. I know that any couple who can keep a near-100-pound dog in their midtown apartment is up for the surprises, joys, and responsibilities of marriage.

What a whirlwind their wedding was! With proper priorities firmly in mind, we set out early in the day to meet and take portraits so Sarah could come back to the hotel, take off the dress, and have some AMAZING barbecue for lunch before heading off to the ballroom. As you’ll see in the slideshow, we got some of the local Union Square color in to the day, as a group of people with “Free Hugs” signs were ecstatic to be able to hug the bride on their wedding day. Also, this was a very strong contender for my favorite wedding cake ever. Icing astroturf? Awesome.

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Ryan Brenizer Photography
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Dennis Pike - good stuff… was that last shot painting with light? looks like it… if so, I am impressed

Ryan Brenizer - Yup! Thanks!

Kat Braman - great stuff Ryan! that first shot rocks my socks

Jonas Peterson - Congrats on the WPJA Q2 comp, my friend!

Ryan Brenizer - Thanks! I was wondering when those would be released.

Corinn and Jeff, 7.31.09

Corinn and Jeff had the sense to get married on a wonderful day (my mother’s birthday — Harry Potter’s too, if you’re interested). Sadly, the weather was not *quite* as wonderful. But that didn’t keep their spirits down for a second. After a beautiful Catholic ceremony led by a longtime friend of Jeff’s family, they had a great party at the Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle. As you can see from the photos, they never stopped making sure that they and their guests were having a great time.


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Rochelle - Love love love the boots

Maria - your photos always are beautiful, which lenses are your favorite, you said something about a sigma 50mm 1.4 another favorite? or the most common lenses do you use?, please tell me. …AND… ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL WEDDING YOU ARE SO GOOD!

Billy Oblivion - Oh *man* I wish the dolt who shot my wedding had the talent you have in your left pinky.

Simon - Amazing work, but it’s your consistency that I find incredible. Every one a winner, every time, yet without a hint of safe-and-boring. Major respect for going WAY beyond what most people expect from a wedding photographer.

Battle of the Sexes

Ryan Brenizer Photography

Sometimes, I try to turn challenges into opportunities. One of the toughest times to shoot is peak mid-day. This is counter-intuitive to the layman: “Photographs need light! Let’s shoot when there’s as much as possible!” but the sun is a very harsh, extremely strong light source, and there are few less attractive places to put a hard light than directly over someone’s head. (Coming directly from below is worse, but for obvious reasons that doesn’t happen very much with the sun).

So we try to work against it or overpower it. But there’s the second problem — overpowering the sun is about as hard as it sounds. Wee little flashes only do well if they’re close, which limits the sorts of compositions you can do. That’s why I’ve taken to doing multi-frame composites recently, so I can get the flash close to my subject in a big frame and then quickly digitally erase it later.

But there are other ways — who says the light source can’t be in the frame? Who says you can’t have some fun with it? The rooftop garden at the Met is absolutely one of the brightest places I’ve been in New York, other than the waterfront. I used every trick to get “normal” frames well-exposed, and then dipped into the abnormal.

Steve Elmer - Absolutely ace Ryan. A trip to the abnormal side is a pleasant one :) Very fresh Mate :)

Stephanie and Phil: 7/18/09

I knew the second that Stephanie and Phil said the words “West Point” that their wedding would be fantastic. Phil is a member of the renowned West Point military band, and if anyone knows how to enjoy themselves, it’s the military and musicians. They are both unbelievably sweet. Stephanie is a school-teacher, so instead of a limo we got to ride around in a bumpy school-bus with a driver who was either insane or far too used to G-force testing. The reception hall was beautiful and so was the day.

But the best part of the wedding was their first dance. They began to “Unchained Melody,” beautiful, touching, precisely what someone might expect. And then … SCRAAAAAAATCH! went the recording, and the entire wedding party broke into “Thriller”! The crowd, as you may imagine, went nuts.


Secret “Thriller”!

Landon - I love the natural light / high ISO shot (2nd from the bottom). Your photography is inspirational. Nice work.

Daniel Csiky - fantastic pictures, ryan!
I love to watch your slideshows!
pls. never stop!! :)

rgds, Daniel

Dennis Pike - These are great. I shot a wedding at West Point about 2 months ago. I find that you and I are shooting in the same places more and more, the coolest part is our photos look COMPLETELY different. Although I’m sure skill has a little something to do with that

Steve Elmer - The groups shot of the Thriller Dance, is by far my favourite shot of the week!

Rules for Shooting Wedding Couples

We’ve had Rules for Shooting Groomsmen and Rules for Shooting Group Photos, so now it’s time for the big one: Rules for shooting couples.

1. This is the most romantic day of their lives. Play on that energy and capture it.

2. These photos aren’t just for them. They’re for the parents, they’re for the children they might have down the line. Bring class to the image, and it will be a lasting work.

3. Watch your backgrounds. Nothing ruins a romantic photo faster than unwanted clutter.

4. Weddings are, by their very nature, ritualistic. Sometimes even tried and true poses can be classic and fresh just because it’s them.

5. All of these are good rules, but not all clients are the same. Elegance and beauty are important, but so are individual personalities. If they’re a bit nuts in the best possible way like Dara and Chris, don’t be afraid to show that off. (Of course, there are a lot of couples — one would say the vast majority — for whom this shot wouldn’t work. And that’s cool, too.)

Jonas Peterson - Great shot, Ryan.

Ryan Brenizer - I had a feeling you’d like this one.

Samo Rovan - Hey Ryan,

you made my day with photo, but especially with rules. :)

All best from Slovenia,

Dennis Pike - I dig these posts, the ones where you talk about the rules, then break them, I can always get behind that kind of thinking

alan - Ryan, simply elegant, ha ha. I bet it took more time to compose THIS shot than one of your more classic poses. “Flagpole sticking out the head” – simply great! :)

Nirwen - Great site. Keep doing.,

Konrad Bazan - Very cool Ryan! :)

Juan Pablo Velasco Fotografía - perfect

Just an Expression

Ryan Brenizer Photography

A big part of the work I do on wedding days is the collecting of expressions. I love people’s faces, and I never get tired of finding telling, emotional-but-not-embarrassing expressions that capture the essence of a person in that moment.

By and large, these aren’t shots to base a portfolio around. If you submitted them to a contest, the judges would toss it away. If you submitted them to a high-end magazine, they would furrow their brows: “I don’t get it! This is just a picture of a person. Weddings aren’t about people, they’re about centerpieces!”

Magazines do a great job at what their supposed to do, but their clients, the readers, are generally people ABOUT to get married, looking for ideas. I work for people actually getting married that day, who have chosen to surround themselves with loved ones. If I can get photos that not only look cool, but bring out the quirks and way of being that these people carry with them, I’ve done my job. I call these my “That’s SO…” photos. I want to take shots that make people say “That’s SO my dad!” or, “That’s SO my crazy college roommate Bill.” I think these present a tremendous value to the couple, their friends and families, above and beyond just it being a good photo.

When I left my job as a photographer for Columbia University Teachers College, my (very cool) boss said something that puzzled me at first. “You take photos that actually look like your subject.”

At first, this seemed like the most underwhelming complement ever. Imagine showing someone your favorite image of a flower and them saying “Yes, that’s definitely a flower!” But, after considering it, I was elated. As valuable as it is to take a photo of someone who looks like they’re having their photo taken, or who is in Pose #68 from the Posing Rulebook, if I can take a photo that makes you feel like you know that person at that point in time, that they have independent essence and personality, then I feel like I’ve done my job.

The trick to photographing expressions is to use your peripheral vision and be very, very fast. I use fast-focusing cameras, fast-focusing lenses, and take hundreds of thousands of photos a year, so I’ve gotten pretty used to making my stuff work immediately. If you have slower lenses, the trick is to keep the focusing area close to where you want it so it doesn’t have to hunt much. This is the secret to getting great moments with, for example, the glacial Canon 85mm f/1.2.

(But I like centerpieces, too.)

John Heil - awesome post and shot! those are most often the clients favorites!

daragh - You could also use Canon’s 85mm f/1.8 lens for photojournalistic work at that focal length as it is one of the fastest focusing lenses they make and certainly within the price range of anyone who also has the glacial f/1.2 version.

katie - do you have any recommendations on some snappy nikon lenses?

Ryan Brenizer - One of the very snappiest around is the 24-70.

Show Your Worst

100 percent out-of-camera (except for border and logo)

I’ve started a new thing this month — posting my day-of slideshows publically to my Facebook.

As a branding idea, photographers are told this is quite possibly the worst thing you can do. You’re supposed to show only your best work, carefully culled and processed to the best of your ability! The very last thing you should show your public are a bunch of pictures you picked out from the thumbnails and are straight out-of-camera, or with less than five seconds of editing. What are you, nuts?

Maybe. Oversharing IS a common photographer’s problem. I certainly remember seeing work of photographers I admire when I was just learning the basics and thinking “Oh my God, they’re human!” if they ever put forth something mediocre.

Everyone takes mediocre photos, of course. I think I took a photo of my foot yesterday, just because it was still there.

But I hope I’m on to something. Wedding photography is Different. It emphasizes consistency in a way no other demanding field does — Good Always will beat Brilliant Sometimes. It’s one of the few fields where it actually really matters how good the 100th best photo was you took that day. These things dovetail into day-of slideshows.

Of course, there are lots of benefits. Clients LOVE seeing photos the next day. You get out of the gate before someone else posts really bad photos to their Facebook and everyone assumes you took them. Everyone loves photos of themselves.

Better, though, doing a good day-of slideshow is HARD. Doing wedding photography right is already really, really hard, and day-of slideshows add a few more “reallys.” Hard is good. Do things that are hard, and you’ll never be shown up by the random guest with the professional gear.

Just this year, I’ve had wedding guests that were professional cinematographers, trained by Ansel Adams, photography teachers at major institutions, and all sorts of other intimidating things. If wedding photography really does flourish under a unique set of skills (I think it does), and if you’re a specialist, you should be aiming to do things they cannot. But those things will be the Hard Things.

I’ve been spending my entire life making things unnecessarily hard on myself. Now I think I’ve finally found a use for it.

Lynette J - Further proof that you are my photography hero ;) I am going to try this at my next wedding…now I just need to get my “worst” to look as good as your “worst”. Nice post!

Sarah Alston - Brilliant post. I love it, and I keep on loving you!!!!!

Sheila - I have said it a million times,you are inspiring and what I love most of all human.You can’t be perfect all time .Although you are darn close as far as what you share with the rest of us.Thank you for all that you share not only with your photographs but wisdom as well.

sergey - fantastic post. Everything you said applies not only to photography, but to every aspect of any skilled profession. You make wonderful pictures as what seems to be effortless click of a button on a camera and yet its a practiced art. Good to see that you are a human and admit it.

Chris Lin - “just because [the foot] was still there.”

Don’t jinx it! ;-)

Too hard on self - I constantly make it hard for myself too.

The thing is most of the times I fail to comply. IT’S too hard..

Maria - next week I´ll go to the Texas for Nikon 50mm f1.4! (in my DX 75mm) Now, I definitely will try to take my photos more beautiful 100 % out of camera! …..and the Brenizer Method of course :)
, and if not for that there always have NX2, aperture, photoshop :p.


Lyndon - Wow, even your worst looks good. No wonder your photos look so amazing :)
So glad you decided to do that piece for Photojojo. Might not have seen your work otherwise!
Looking forward to seeing more.

Ryan Brenizer - Thanks! I didn’t write it; it was written about me.

William Bay - Good to see you’ve come over to WordPress. Now you’ll have to design it to look like the rest of your site (or build your entire site on it).

Interesting thoughts on the day of slideshows. I think whereas other photographers will be overly critical, clients will love to see something up so soon, and many times better than casual guest snapshots.
I try to get a handful of my favorites up the next day. But can imagine a full slideshow from the ceremony would be very impactful.


*BTW Dennis Leary rocks, and I laughed my ass off at that comment.

David Redding - So glad you have a site I can comment on!

I absolutely love this shot! and it being sooc really shows your stuff.

Gotta ask though…where is that rim light coming from?

Ryan Brenizer - Riverside Church has some serious lighting, and in a VERY rare case, I was shooting from the back of the altar toward the audience.

Emily Porter - Love this mentality and this shot, Mr. Brenizer.

Rochelle - I think that’s a great way of thinking – but do remember that your worst is pretty much the rest of the population’s best! :o)

Daniel Stark - great post!!

Balok Imagenes - Wow!! all your work is fantastic. Congratulations!!

Bethany - Thank you for being one of the pros to admit that you don’t always take extraordinary photos.

I just quit following a blog that was moderately interesting because they posted yet another, “I’m a pro, look at how silly an amateur photographer is with an expensive camera they’ve not yet learned to operate and that I didn’t even show how to properly focus before handing it to them, I never take a bad photo, blah blah BS,” entry. Personally, I think people that put forth this line of thought are elitist liars – there’s no way they could possibly take 100% fantastic photos; or they themselves are simply a higher level of amateur who’s been paid a few times. It’s an attitude designed specifically to limit competition by making people new to high-end photography (such as myself) feel bad about what they’re learning to produce.

In fact, I find the people that truly have the mad skills are usually the humblest ones around, the most willing to share what they know, generally encouraging toward others, and rarely ever have to try hard to elevate themselves – what they produce does it for them.

Looking forward to reading more of your blog :)

Marianne - Never heard of you before right now, and I feel like I will be coming back to this page from here on out. This post is hilarious and wonderful, and I agree with the spirit of everyone that has posted…perhaps one day my best will be in competition with your worst :) Keep it up!

Kat Braman - what a great shot and I love the post! definitely my goal to do this at my next wedding.

jtimages - WOW wonderful,…what else is there to say?? GREAT job!!

Unfortunate Reflection

The cabbie wouldn’t get out of my way in time, so I went with it.

In my twisted mind, this is one of the funniest pictures I’ve ever taken. Good thing the couple has a great sense of humor.

jeremy - not sure if its just me but all of the info on the page is jumbled together. im running the latest IE.

just wanted to let you know.

Ryan Brenizer - Is that still happening? Looks fine to me.

jeremy - looks good now. could have been my work pc

For You Blue

More extreme white balance? Nope — this is exactly what the scene looked like in real life, thanks to the crazy night lights at the High Line.

I’m always looking to do something a little different from the norm with clients, and when it’s warm enough more and more I say "hey, why don’t we do the shoot when it’s pitch black out?" Even popular engagement spots like the High Line take a very different tone at night — during the day, this spot looks like a random airplane hangar.

Thanks, Bill, for holding the Lowel video light on this one!