Thursday, February 25, 2016

10 Year Anniversary Session in Cuba on Film, Destination Fine Art Wedding Photography

My family loves to travel and I have had the pleasure of shooting my sister and her husband all over the world so when we decided to all go to Cuba for New Years I knew we had to do a very special anniversary session.  It was the three year anniversary of when her husband proposed (on New Years day in Antarctica) and just a couple months short of the 10 year anniversary of when they met (at a bar in New York).  I found the most perfect red hat at a little hat shop in Key West a few days before we left for Cuba and we let the color red inspire us for a bold editorial inspired anniversary shoot on the streets of old Havana.  We wandered the streets at sunrise, taking in the beautiful old buildings and wall after wall of chipping paint.  The streets were were already buzzing with locals, waking up early to sit on their stoop and chat with their neighbors.  We made our way to the city center where we grabbed a vintage taxi- a bright red Chevrolet of course- and took a few more photographs with the beautiful vintage car.  See more from this session featured on Style Me Pretty.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Behind The Frame: Photographing Groomsmen

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Photographing the bride and groom with their friends is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day.  I know those candid moments with your bridesmaids and groomsmen will end up as some of their favorites and are often the ones they will frame and put on their shelves.  Bridesmaids are a little easier to photograph because most groups of girls are used to taking photographs together all the time and feel comfortable getting close and posing together.  I'll often photograph bridesmaids both candid and laughing and a little more serious with a sexier editorial take.  Groomsmen can be a little harder.  They never know what to do with their hands (always in pockets) and seem to feel a little awkward lined up in front of the camera.  I completely understand that, it is an awkward thing to line up and PLEASE never do soccer pose!  This is not your 4th grade soccer team portrait, this is your portrait with all your friends on your wedding day! You want to look debonair and handsome, not goofy and uncomfortable.  There are lots of tricks for photographing the groomsmen well like staggering the line and having them walk, Reservoir Dogs style, but my favorite groomsmen photo ever actually came from a completely un-staged inbetween moment, and reminds us all to always have our camera at the ready.  I was shooting the bridesmaids against this gorgeous lake in the background in CT while the groomsmen waited their turn and all sat on this low stone wall.  My second shooter was snapping candid closeups of them laughing together and I walked over to come get them, but instead of just asking them all to follow me over towards the lake, I waited a beat and captured a few wide shots of them all just hanging out so comfortable and natural and it was my favorite of all the groomsmen photos.  The stone wall was in harsh direct mid-day sun and this shot digitally would not have turned out very well- a huge advantage to shooting film!  The lesson I learned from this photo was to always keep my eyes open and remember that the best moments can be the ones between the planned posed portraits, and when it doubt, sit groomsmen down!  Leave them for a few minutes to get comfortable with each other and let the magic happen naturally.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Behind The Frame: Leading Lines

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When I photograph a portrait in an iconic location like DUMBO, with the city skyline in the background it is always important to make sure that the subject doesn't get lost in the Cityscape.  This portrait from a very chilly anniversary session is one of my favorites from DUMBO because the entire composition leads the eye to the couple in the middle who are lovingly connected to each other within the frame.  There are two major leading lines in the frame: the Brooklyn Bridge above them and the railing they are leaning on at their midsection.  The two lines almost run parallel (except where the railing bends, which is where I placed them) and the two lines perfectly frame their faces.  I talk a lot about composition and letting the eye wander and a frame with these dominant leading lines is wonderful because no matter where the eye enters the frame it is visually forced to return to the couple.  Once the eye lands on the couple it can linger and doesn't jump back to the cityscape because they are so connected and there is visual tension between them.  The way her arm reaches up to his cheek and the way his arm actively pulls her in from the waist giving her a slight arch to her back makes this still portrait seem to come alive with movement and adds an authenticity to an otherwise posed portrait.  His feet point in at her and her leg is bent, which both shows off a woman's legs and creates a triangle shape, which as I've talked about before the eye loves to look at.  All these detailed nuances may seem complicated and like too much to think about while at a wedding or portrait shoot, but composition and framing are the building blocks of the visual language.  Learning these elements and practicing them will eventually make them second nature.  Think about it being the same as when you truly learn another language and no longer have to translate each word back and forth in your mind.  Let the visual language become intrinsic and you will naturally pose and look at all the edges of your frame for a dynamic and engaging composition before you click the shutter.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Behind The Frame: Getting Ready

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Wedding days are the combination of authentic moments captured as a fly on the wall and stylized moments that require a little more planning, but can and should feel just as authentic as the former.  I always urge my couples to think about where they're getting ready and to pick a place with lots of natural light.  I will pick a few spots in that room that will photograph well and then once the hair and makeup is done or the boys are dressed I bring the action into those spots for the final touches.  I have also tidied up so there's no bra or beer bottles in the back of the shot.  I love when the getting ready photos can also provide some context into the day, like distinctive windows, or wall paper, like this blue pattern that anyone in New York knows is the Wythe Hotel.  During the getting ready process there are a few key moments that I know are the most photogenic and will result in the best photo that is flattering and helps tell the story of the day, like straightening a bow tie or buttoning the tuxedo jacket.  It creates a simple composition where the subject isn't in any strange position (like arms awkwardly up while they're putting the jacket on) and these final moments of getting ready are usually when the reality of what's ahead hits them and there's a wonderful raw moment in their expression that I love to capture.  Brides and grooms both spend a lot of time getting ready for the wedding, often surrounded by their friends and family and it's an important part to the story of the day that I always want to include in the album, but with the same thoughtfulness and attention to composition and detail as the rest of the images in their album.  As I've mentioned before in my btf series, I always take a few frames and I loved that in this one that his watch and cufflink (the groom's two most personalized accessories) are both showing and his bottom pinky finger is ever just so slightly extended creating another little layer of visual interest making this photo the stand out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cuba on Film- December 2015 & January 2016

I had the joy of ringing in the new year in Cathedral Square in old town Havana, Cuba with my family to celebrate 2016.  We had been planning the trip for years and it turned out to be perfect timing when a few months before the trip America began to ease its embargo with Cuba. We booked our trip on a cultural "people to people" visa with a tour group called Insight Cuba.  We created a private group trip with our family, my sister's in laws and some family friends and had an amazing week exploring Havana and Vinales.  Going on an organized group tour has it's benefits and its drawbacks.  We weren't free to go anywhere we pleased within the country because of the visa we were granted we weren't allowed to go the beach, but we did get some amazing cultural opportunities through Insight Cuba that I've never experienced before as a tourist.  Since the reason of the visa is cultural exchange, Insight Cuba set up meetings with prominent Cuban artists and musicians and it was a fascinating and unique opportunity to learn about and from them.  We had a wonderful guide who gave us a lot of flexibility in our schedule and we had a good amount of "free time" in the mornings and afternoons and I was able to do my favorite activity in a new place, which is just wander with my camera in hand.  Each of the three mornings we had in Havana I awoke right before sunrise and cabbed over to the un-restored area of old Havana to capture the fascinating streets, full of juxtapositions of gorgeous architecture and peeling paint.  The derelict buildings had a unique beauty to them and I brought my sister and her husband along for a mini 10 year anniversary session on the city streets.  Those photos aren't included below, but will be coming soon to Style Me Pretty!  We headed out for a few days into the country side to see the town of Pinar Del Rio and Vinales National Park.  The park was absolutely incredible, it reminded me of the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii with it's gigantic mountains and lush countryside.  I kept saying it felt like Jurassic Park (which was filmed on the Na Pali Coast). We went on a walk and short boat ride through a cave and then split into two groups with the parents heading to a cigar factory and the younger generation set off on a six hour hike through the valley of Vinales, where we hiked through a cave, then into another cave for a swim in the pitch dark river and then more hiking past endless farms of tobacco leaves.  We finished up the trip by heading back to Havana for New Year's Eve in Cathedral Square and a few days to explore old Havana.  It was a fascinating time to be in Cuba and hear from the locals about their hope for Cuba's future and their excitement about better relations with America.

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