Bonnie and Roel are really chill people who had their reception only event at Cavo in Astoria, New York. From the toasts, to the friends and family, to the couple’s chemistry, you witness how rich their relationship is and how much they like each other, it makes photographing them incredibly easy and exciting. The short and sweet wedding events are the best!
One of my favorite stories is how Susan and Henk found me. It’s been a while so I might have not have the details accurate, but Susan and Henk both work in the Middle East, Henk is originally from South Africa and Susan is from Philly. They had wanted to get married in New York City Hall, so they asked their coworkers for recommendations. Somehow my name came up from a referral stationed in the Middle East, so that’s how they hired me! I can only say thanks to that person if you’re reading this!
I’ve known Eddie since high school, so it was exciting to be his wedding photographer and see his family again after so many years after they moved to LA. I liked Celine immediately with her charming, friendly, and outgoing personality, and all three of us just had great chemistry when they came to New York to shoot their engagement photos, since they both grew up in the East Coast. It was in the middle of winter during the session, but Celine braved the freezing weather better than anyone else I’ve met, her smile never dimmed and I don’t even remember her shivering at all.
They picked a beautiful location on campus to get married in LA where Celine works. The weather out there is perfect, and the foliage and architecture made for plenty of opportunities for photos. It was such an easy day, I couldn’t ask for a better couple!
This past weekend was supposed to be a great night for a meteor shower, so I took a late night drive up Palisades Parkway to 9W through Black Rock Forest in New York and stopped at a lookout. It was nearly pitch black with a hint of city lights in the distance. Unfortunately while I was busy setting up the camera and taking photos, I missed the few shooting stars that my friend witnessed.
The photos are all single exposures, taken with a Canon 16-35mm 2.8L on a full-frame body, 30 second exposures with a remote. The foreground was lit by the iPhone flash and the lens was manually focused. It’s a good idea to take multiple photos with slightly different focusing distances in case you misfocus the first photo.
It was finally her turn to find true love, but he hurricane had taken away all that she had worked for. She was left to her own devices to search what she was looking for, and without a soul in sight, she found herself. The storm had set her free.
Fly Maya, Fly.
I don’t need experienced subjects to make great photographs, I need individuals who like to have fun and not be shy in front of a camera. I’ve had couples who don’t like public displays of affection, some who don’t like to smile, or some who don’t even seem to like each other. I ask myself “why did they hire me?” When the subjects and the photographer share chemistry and just try to have fun, it no longer feels like work.
Here are some tips for couples:
- The photographer can only give as much as you put in. Either do some research beforehand, practice, or give ideas and suggestions during the shoot. The photographer can’t read your mind or know your past history of your personality. You need to show him why you’re attracted to each other so he can capture it.
- There needs to be a little bit of acting when taking photos, or rather exaggeration of gestures and movements. Sometimes the camera is 20 feet away and you need to express yourself for an audience far away. Pretend you are both little kids on a play date, show some puppy love, flirt with each other, make love.
- The last thing on your mind should be how the photos look in the camera. That’s not your job. A good photographer will not waste time taking photos of a bad pose, and will never release an unflattering photo – that would only make him look bad.
- Try your hardest not to be shy! You don’t always need to look “cool” for a photo, the sillier you are, the more personal the photos become, and the more people will love it. You want people to love your photos don’t you? Some photographers rely on advanced lighting, crazy angles to make the photo look interesting, but it doesn’t tell your story. I say run away with your loved one hand in hand and play in some secret hideout, and have the photographer run after you.
- Don’t just wait for the photographer’s exact directions. The photographer will direct your general movements, but it’s up to you to fill in the gaps. That’s where the “natural” comes in. Your movements should feel like a movie, not a stiff photo.
- When you talk to each other in a photo, talk about cute puppies, not your mortgage payment. If your partner is making a dirty face when talking to you, change the subject.
- Do things in public as if nobody else were there. No photographer, no pedestrians.
- The guys have the easier role, they can usually be the prop and the girls have to work around them. The girls should always get the attention right?
- Get your nails did, bring lots of breath mints.
That’s how I describe one of my favorite couples to have photographed… “the French couple.” There was a flair of style like no other, a spirit of youthfulness found in a child, and an overwhelming flood of love that was contagious between the two. They made me smile the whole day observing them. Not to mention of my top 5 wedding dresses of all time.
Yes their last name is Hennessy. Yes they are one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to. Yes they are my ideal couple. As artists themselves, their attention to detail made the wedding day what it was, yet they also understood my role as the photographer to capture those details in my own way. They are also by far one of the most laid back people I have ever met, it was truly about enjoying the experience rather than fulfilling a tradition or ritual or family request. It’s the type of wedding where if you had access to a mansion and catering for one night, any night, you would invite your closest friends for some good food, dancing, and even some karaoke! In fact when I asked them if they wanted to take family portraits, they said “later”. Well in all honesty, I still can’t remember if “later” ever happened. It was also about sharing the most beautifully written vows I have ever heard, I wish I had the transcript.
At the end of the night there was no usual announcement for last dance or end of the party, I watched the two lovers walk away into the distance without goodbyes to anyone. The guests casually dispersed as if they would all see each other the next day. Their theme centered around time, though I did not ask what the significance was to them, I think you can come up with your own conclusions from the images. The rustic mansion at the Alder Manor reminded me of ruins from a Tomb Raider game.
I truly wish all weddings were about enjoying the experience, while keeping traditions as a reminder of our cultural backgrounds, but not to run the show.
I realized I never posted these two driving videos, both were recorded last year. The first drive was through Bear Mountain in my Z4 M Roadster. Unfortunately only one GoPro was in HD, and the one viewing my car was low-res. The second was a rental car driving down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I can’t wait till the weather warms up and I can make more polished videos with my new GoPro Hero HD.
I just realized I haven’t blogged any engagement sessions for the entire 2009 year. Here are some old photos. I never had the motive to quit wedding photography, I just took down my website to relieve some stress. You don’t just give up something you have a passion for, it’s in your blood.