This was my 4th year volunteering for Help Portrait. I was turned on to the idea thanks to my friends over at Long Island Photo Gallery. I researched the movement and I found that their mission was quite simple. Find people in need and take their picture. Well, St. Patrick’s Parish in Bayshore made it simple for us. They found us the people and we showed up with tons of gear to take professional portraits for every family.
The church puts on a really nice Christmas party for families in need that do not have much to give their children for the holidays. They feed the families a nice meal, Radio Disney comes in to get the kids dancing and laughing and then Santa Clause comes in for a visit to deliver each child a bag of gifts that were on their Christmas list. It is one of the most heart-warming experiences I have ever been a part of.
My role in this whole thing is to take portraits of all the families that wish to receive a free portrait. Giving the gift of photography, as the Deacon described it. Some of the families do not have much to smile about, but the children were adorable and excited to see Santa. We took professional portraits of each family and our friends at LIPG were generous enough to print all the pictures for the church so they can distribute them to the families.
I am privileged to be part of this awesome event and I look forward to doing it for years to come.
Have a Happy and Safe New Year!
On one of the coldest days of the year, we decided to head out to the rooftop terrace of an NYC penthouse apartment. We were looking for some nice skyline views and hopefully a nice sunset. For this weeks image, I chose to show some basic concepts I like to use during any sunset shoot and that is to include at least one silhouette. The main challenge is to include some some of the surrounding environment so it does not look like a plain silhouette image with nothing but empty space in the background. Body language is a pretty key factor here as well.
We shot 95% of this engagement shoot on this terrace, starting about an hour and a half before sunset. It was freezing cold and we needed to keep taking breaks to go inside and warm up. It was worth it as both the terrace and view were awesome.
More pictures to come. Happy New Year!
I met Amy and Joe a little over a year ago. They are an awesome, fun-loving couple that wanted one basic, yet very important thing for their wedding from each vendor. They wanted to be sure if they were going to pay someone to do a job, that they were going to do that job well. I gave them the opportunity to put that theory to the test when we came up with the idea for their engagement shoot. Their first date was a the Top of the Rock in NYC, so of course, that is where we went. We got some great images that day and after that, there were no doubts.
It really is a serious consideration when you hire someone to do a job. How do you really know that the work they are showing you is theirs? I often work with other photogs on the wedding day, but I made a strict business decision when I started that I would not put a photo from another photographer in my portfolio. I get feedback from people which implies that knowing that makes them feel more comfortable. At this point, I am doing engagement sessions for 90% of the wedding I shoot, so they are getting to know me a little before the wedding day, and likewise.
We me recently as we viewed their wedding photos together, and it was really nice seeing their reactions to each and every photo. I kept hearing, “I can’t wait to show my family these pictures”.
Congratulations Amy & Joseph. I wish you all the best as you start a new chapter in your lives.
This weeks image(s) of the week are dedicated to my beautiful daughter who is turning 4 years old this week. She has a world of personality and has the god given ability always makes me smile. She is my little helper when I need someone to sit in and test my lighting down in the studio and never turns down an opportunity to hang out with me when I ask her to.
Being a younger sister, she always takes a back seat to the weekly excitement. Having an older brother that plays just about every sport imaginable, she is stuck following him around to practices and games, yet she never complains, because we are together. Last night we spent time going through pictures from when she was a baby while I played and sang our song, Father and Daughter by Paul Simon. This week is her time and she will have the spotlight for a change. I am looking forward to making this birthday special for her, because she deserves it.
Happy Birthday to my very special little girl, Punky. You light up my life!
When time allows, I enjoy spending some time with the bride and groom to capture some fun shots that play off their personalities. These shots are never preconceived, it all depends on the subjects. I have been fortunate to have met some pretty cool and fun people, the anti bridezilla.
This week is a quick hit cause I have a lot of work to catch up on due to the holiday week coming up. I want to wish everyone out there a very Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you get to spend some time with the family.
The first dance is one of my most anticipated shots in any wedding. I’m not sure exactly why, maybe it has something to do with my love for music. When most people think wedding photo, they probably visualize an image of the bride and groom either kissing or posing for the camera. First dance is always atop my list, if not first. I think it’s because you can always find a picture of two people kissing or smiling for the camera, they are flooded all over facebook. There is a certain class when I look at a nice image of two people dancing.
I am anticipating this image from the moment I enter the reception venue. I visualize where I am going to stand, where my assistant will be and any other variables that come into play. My assistant has a pretty important assignment during this time and needs to have some experience, or it does not work. That is why I am happy that my wife has taken this responsibility and has been working with me now for over a year.
The newlyweds have just been introduced to the reception and are now on showcase in the center of the dance floor. There is a moment when their song begins to play where they both seem to block out the reality that they are surrounded by every important person in their lives right now. The moment is usually just that, a moment and it’s gone. I always try to capture this moment if it happens because sometimes they come out of it, reality kicks in and it looks as if they are dancing for the camera.
Sometimes it takes time for a child to warm up to the stranger with the big camera. If you don’t have an opportunity to photograph a child before the formal portraits, and they are either shy or just do not want to have their photo taken, it may not turn out good. One very important thing I learned about photographing people in general is that there is just as much work that goes into building relationships as actually taking pictures and are often done at the same time. By that I mean simply getting to know people and more importantly, letting them get to know you and feel comfortable with you.
This beautiful young lady was as shy as can be when I arrived at the home where the bride was getting prepared. I introduced myself and went about setting up my camera. I tried not to move around too much as to intimidate her. I sat close to my equipment bag and was testing some shots inside the den where the wedding dress was hanging. The sunlight was pouring in through the windows, so I was testing for a good exposure on the dress where I would not blow out the highlights or underexpose from the sunlight. I then opened up a third stop to better expose for skin tones because I wanted to be ready to grab a shot of her, which I knew would be quick.
I turned around to see what she was up to. She was peeking her head out from the kitchen watching everything I was doing. I told her I liked her tiara and asked if I could take her picture because she looked so beautiful. She nodded yes and quickly ducked right back into the kitchen. When she peeked her head back out, I was already focused and ready to snap the shot that literally lasted about a half a second. I smiled and said “I got you”. I then asked her if she would like to see the photo. She smiled and nodded yes again as she came over to look at the back of my camera. I told her again how beautiful she looked and wouldn’t you know it, she followed me around and modeled for me for the next 20 minutes. When it came time for the formals, she was my best subject (next to the bride, of course).
During one of the biggest events of your life, you want to be safe by making note of every important detail, even if it is a given. You could freeze up there when asked the question and you want to make sure you come up with the right answer. You could pull out a cheat sheet when you’re up there in front of everyone in your life that has every reason to laugh at you, or you could put it right there on you cufflinks. Pow, good-to-go!
This time of year is something special. Like everything else, it comes and goes and before you know if, it’s gone. I usually set aside some important time to go out and shoot fall foliage, but this year has been real busy. However, I was able to deprive myself of some much needed sleep and head over to Belmont Lake State Park early one morning this week at sunrise and get a few images. Holy shit was it cold, but it is beautiful and peaceful to be at such a busy place that early in the morning…..and so close to home.
This weeks image was inspired by a wedding I covered yesterday at this same venue. As my wife and I were on our way to the reception, we were going over a mental check of equipment/shots/timeline stuff that we usually go over while in route. I mentioned that on the dance floor, there is an 8 point star that plays well into my first dance images. One of my signature first dance shots is a backlit, highlighted image of the bride and groom on the dance floor. Because the image is backlit, if I compose the shot in such a way to capture some of the back light, it produces a star-like glare which is similar to the one on the dance floor.
As we arrived at the venue, I was lugging my equipment across the dance floor to the back of the room and I noticed that the beautiful floor I remembered was no longer there. They had replaced it with a plain dark flooring. I asked the manager and she said that they just decided to replace the floor a few months ago. No real reason, just because. Oh well, no big deal, I still captured plenty of cool images, however this just made me reflect back to this one which I happened to like a lot.
Back to work. Enjoy your weekend!