Coming soon: Susanne and Jason at the Douglaston Club

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One of the problems with the Brenizer method is that it’s hard enough to pre-visualize and execute a multi-image panorama of a portrait, and much, much harder if you want to have a sense of motion or candid dynamic emotion in the image. But no one said this job was supposed to be easy.

Now that the season is just about to slow down a bit, I will first be making sure my fall clients are taken care of, but then working on the how-to to end all how-tos for how to do these sorts of photos in all their iterations, taking people from “the What method?” to flawless execution, for a cost that you could probably pay just by scouring your couch cushions. Watch for release in early 2013.

Camera: Nikon D600
Lens: Lens: 35-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (equivalent of 30mm f/0.5 according to Brett’s calculator)

Blue Hill at Stone Barns Wedding: Jingjing and Yixi

Blue Hill at Stone Barns is one of my favorite venues anywhere in the world, much less in the NYC area. When clients even mention it I start thinking about the beauty of the Rockefeller farm, and the food … oh man, the food. Jingjing and Yixi had the same thought — they wanted to have an intimate wedding for themselves and about 30 of their close friends and family, and what better way to share that experience than over a fantastic meal?

They are warm, caring and kind — the sort of people who, when doing a picture of all their Columbia friends said, “Hey, Ryan went to Columbia! Get in here!” They take the people around them and make them friends. That is a relationship I am thrilled to document. The gorgeous venue just doesn’t hurt.

Love Gives You Wings

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And so, apparently, do some South American wedding traditions. Between the stunning bride and the wings she was wearing, we got some attention from New Yorkers. Nothing gets New Yorkers attention. I’ve seen topless women walk by a few blocks south of this spot with nary a startled look. But we did it.

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6

Pratt House wedding: Linda and Joseph

Wedding photographers see the world a little differently. Our weekends are on Wednesdays, our crunch time might come at 10 p.m. We measure time and history a little differently too. Yes, I will always remember how kind, smart, and funny Linda and Joseph are. I will remember their laugh, the way they celebrate with friends and family. I will remember the intimate beauty of the Harold Pratt House, the deft planning of Christine at Exquisite Affairs Productions.

But I will also remember this as my first wedding where the guests truly owned Gangnam Style.

There’s elegance and grace, and then there are elegant, graceful people willing to dive through someone’s legs to re-enact a Korean music video. These are my people.

Thank you to Dennis Pike for second-shooting, and being awesome in general.

Bridgewaters Wedding: Megan and Michael

The highest compliment I can give a wedding is that it made me wish I was a guest. Not only was I itching to get out on the dance floor with Megan and Michael — the entire affair was so stylish that I left thinking “Man, I have to get a new suit.”

Yes, I expected style from the couple that brought me the Mad Men-themed engagement shoot, complete with newspapers actually from 1963. But pair that with with a ceremony in a midtown terrace and a decorated-to-the-hilt reception at Bridgewaters, and it was a fantastic day throughout. Now about that suit…

Congratulations, Mr President!

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The Empire State Building has turned blue to mark the re-election of Barack Obama. Congratulations, Mr. President!

It’s been a long road since this one I took in 2008 (and a shorter one since a few weeks ago)…

Wainwright House Wedding: Joey and Tony

I got an e-mail from a client this week that said “I can’t believe I’m going to say this but THANK GOD it was raining.” It wasn’t Joey, but it could have been — or at least, thank God it rained when it did.

They had a gorgeous ceremony at the Wainwright House, without a drop or an ominous cloud anywhere. But I pretty much run an entire weather van out of my pocket on wedding days, so I kept eying the sky for the storm that I knew was coming.

And it came, just as soon as everyone was back safely in the tent. The Dark Sky app has been my constant companion in a season of rapidly changing weather, and I got asked Joey “So, it’s about to rain in three minutes. Can we do a photo outside that will take two minutes?” Despite her fantastic dress, she was brave, and we got it.

It was an intimate wedding marked by intensely deep connections between friends — such as a maid-of-honor who had “Groom” tattooed behind her ear because of how many times she and Joey had dreamed of staging a wedding as kids. Joey has had her dream wedding planned for a very long time, and I’m so glad she got it, and that the rain only helped.

Thanks to Dave Paek for assisting!

Back in the Swing of Things

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It was quite a week, but now we’re getting back to normal here.

Of course, with Susanne and Jason, it’s better than normal. Because they decided to celebrate their 15-minutes-old marriage with a stop by the carnival behind the church. No Photoshop effects here, just panning.

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6

Christina and Brian’s Trash the CAKE session

Sometimes fate knocks on your door … and sometimes it brings cake.

I’d met the incredible cake-maker Hope from A Little Imagination Cakes at a Grace Ormonde event and I started thinking: Hey, your cakes are incredible. Why don’t we destroy one? Wouldn’t it be great to get a bride and groom just going nuts with it? Man, who could we find for that?

A couple days later, I get an e-mail from Christina. She wants to do a Trash the Dress session … but she really wants to trash it. No “just wading into a puddle and getting it a little wet.” She has a Vera Wang gown, and she wants it to go out in style.


Christina and Brian had a comic book-themed wedding, and Hope went all out to make an awesome DC-hero themed cake for them — AND recreated their fantastic save-the-date on layers of the cake itself. All this for something we were about to smash to tiny bits. That’s love of craft.

And smash we did.

This was an awesome day. Thank you Hope, thank you Christina and Brian, and thank you Dave Paek for great assistance.

Midtown Loft and Terrace Wedding: Dana and Jamie

I don’t do as many destination weddings as I could because, in NYC, destination weddings come to you. Yes, I would love to go to Scotland and shoot a crazy celebration in the lush highlands, but I could also have clients like Dana and Jamie, you bring all of their guests and the band in from Scotland to celebrate at Midtown Loft and Terrace, a five-minute walk from my studio. And on a Wednesday, no less.*

It was an amazing day, especially thanks to the guidance of planner Christine at Exquisite Affairs Productions and the help of John Edgar and assistance from Dave Paek. John actually grew up in Scotland, so he was my cultural attaché. But even he couldn’t fully translate the heavy dialect of the grandfather’s nonetheless hilarious speech.

Randy kids, wild adults, waving kilts, grand marches, and lots and lots of alcohol. All of the destination, none of the plane travel. Thank you.

*I support this trend. I’ve photographed weddings on every day of the week in 2012, which is not a common feat.

The 67th annual Alfred E. Smith dinner, with President Obama and Governor Romney

In the middle of an important and extremely hard-fought campaign, two competitors who visibly dislike each other on personal and political levels came together to briefly put their swords aside, the mission of the Al Smith Dinner, which has been bringing candidates together since 1945. And yes, the moment was brief — one of the speeches seemed more biting than normal for an event primarily dedicated to self-deprecation — but it was there. President Obama and former Governor Romney met for the first time on friendly ground since 2004, the first sitting president to attend an Al Smith Dinner since 1984, and I was there, as the exclusive independent eye. They joked about Romney’s singing, they smiled in ways that showed exactly why they have reached the pinnacles of political life, and they prepared to bring the house down, raising millions for the archdiocese and marking the progress Catholicism has made in American politics. When Al Smith ran for president in 1924, the Klu Klux Klan almost managed to get an explicit anti-Catholic plank on the Democratic party platform. In 2012, both tickets have Catholics on them and no one even really notices.

It was an incredible honor in 2008 with Senators Obama and McCain, who as co-workers at the time were openly collegial throughout the night, but there is a unique thrill to photographing a current president, to tell the most powerful person in the world even which way to turn and smile.

I’d covered Presidents Bush and Clinton as part of press scrums for upstate newspapers, and won an award for coverage of Clinton when I sneakily broke away from the press pack with this crazy new device called a digital camera, but it’s hard to be fully prepared for an event like this. Even just maintaining sight lines for good compositions is a Herculean challenge when you are between the rock of not wanting to elbow aside a billionaire and the hard place of making sure Secret Service can keep a direct path to him at all times.

A challenge, and a thrill. One of the draws of photography is to spend my time doing something that will outlive me. I shoot weddings because these are images that people will value for decades. But to stand at a crossroads in history and witness the moment when these two candidates came together, shared each other a laugh, and called each other honorable men … thank you. Thank you for this.

Chateau Briand Wedding: Samantha and Tushar

When you meet Samantha and Tushar, they strike you as extremely kind, deeply in love, and a little quiet. Well, two out of three are true, at least when it comes to wedding receptions. With countless deep friendships that they’ve maintained over the years, extensive dancing, musical performances, and even an entrance via a pneumatic platform via the Chateau Briand, it was anything but a quiet reception. What else could one expect from a wedding featuring Tushar’s brother, from deep Georgia, the self-proclaimed “only Indian redneck?”

Gorgeous day, amazing people. Congratulations, you crazy kids.