Monthly Archives: October 2009

I unknowingly first photographed Stacy and Mike last year at Jessica and Jeff’s wedding, friends of theirs. I think their caption over a shot of them slow dancing was “I think someone’s in love”. Guess what, they still are, and they’re getting married next year! I met up with Stacy and Mike in the meat packing district in the city which is always fun to photograph in. As we were working at our first location, a big old NYC tow truck pulled up and began getting ready to tow some poor soul’s car. Mike says, “Oh man, that guy’s getting towed!”. Well, guess who THAT GUY was??? Yep, ME! Luckily I was there to thwart any car headaches down the road, haha. In my defense, I didn’t see any signs that said no parking, but that’s one of the perils of bringing your car into the city I suppose, there’s always a chance of getting towed! Anyway, we had an awesome time just walking around and it was really great to get to know Stacie and Mike better. I can’t wait for your wedding next year. Thanks guys!

It’s been a LONG journey getting here, and hopefully a MUCH longer journey still to come! My wife Susan’s due date was October 11th, so needless to say, we’ve been on pins and needles every day since then, especially while going through a few weekends of me having weddings/bar mitzvahs to shoot! Well, the wait is finally over, and I got the “poke” from Susan at 2:30AM to say “It’s time”! Grandma and Grandpa quickly came over to stay with Zoe for the rest of the night, while Susan and I headed to the hospital. I must admit, at 3:30AM with Susan going through some pretty intense contractions, I did get a sliver of enjoyment of speeding up route 78 at breakneck speeds! And although we didn’t get the police escort, we made it to the hospital in time regardless! After filling out what seemed like mountains of paperwork while trying to simultaneously comfort Susan through contractions was no easy task, but when compared to what Susan was doing, I had the easiest part for sure! A little later, our good friend Sarah showed up to lend some comic relief to the room. Thank you SO much for rushing over to the hospital in the middle of the night to be with us, it meant a lot! Sarah was also there for Zoe’s birth 4.5 years ago, and also had the honors of cutting the cord for each birth. I’m admittedly squeamish, so I was more than happy to turn that job over to her! So, this birth seemed to go a lot more smoothly than Zoe’s, and when we made it the hospital, Susan was already 6 cm dilated and quickly on her way to 9 cm. When it came time to push, I’d say our boy was out in roughly 10-15 minutes! I’m SO incredibly proud, thankful, and appreciative to Susan for giving me two of the most absolutely INCREDIBLE gifts anyone could give! I love you, and I love our family!

It was a little strange having the camera out during the birth, and sometimes felt like I was straddling the line between being both the observer, and the participant. Although, being a little squeamish as previously mentioned, I think it kept me just enough distracted to be able to stay in the room the whole time, unlike Zoe’s birth where I got a little faint and had to step out for a few minutes. Yes, THAT squeamish! The other thing I noticed while editing these photos for the blog was how different it was from editing someone elses “event”. I’m normally concerned over things like composition, lighting, sharpness, and of course emotion as well. But this was different. I shot this using just ambient light and didn’t alter any of the lighting, it was strictly “available”. But as I was going through the photos, those “normal” things like the technical aspects of photographs such as composition, lighting, etc. just went out the window as I was so focused on the emotional attachment to who or what was in the photographs. It was a different perspective for me, and gave me some insight for sure.

As of this second we don’t have a name picked out for him, but the plan is to nail that down from our short list by tonight. So here are his “stats”: Born 10-19-09 at 7:12AM. 20″ long with a 13″ head and tipping the scales at 7 lbs. 11 oz. UPDATE: We decided to name him Emerson Jack Laffler!

Leverage during some preliminary pushing.

I also took on the role of “Labor DJ”. I had wanted to make a playlist for each centimeter of dilation, but just didn’t have time! While I’m not a fan of Lyle Lovett either, this portion of the birth was CERTAINLY not about me!

I told you Sarah was there for both support AND comic relief!

Here he is! Just a few minutes after making his grand entrance!

I like to think he’s smiling in this photo!

He already loves the bink! And yes, his eyes are really this freakishly large and alien like. 🙂

This photo almost makes me tear up. Zoe giving him his first bottle!

Zoe opening her special big sister gift.

Susan has this same necklace, which was a gift from my dad and step mom. When Zoe was first born, she used to clutch Susan’s necklace while she was breast feeding. So, Susan decided to get her one of her own as a “Big Sister” gift.

A BIG thank you to everyone who helped with the birth of our baby boy, whether it was directly or indirectly, we appreciate it!

These guys booked me a long time ago, and I have been looking forward to shooting their wedding ever since! I just love my laid back brides! Christina certainly was right up there with best of them! Nothing phased her at all. She accepted the fact that her dress was going to get dirty today, and just kept on truckin’! In fact, she was so laid back that I’m pretty sure she wore her flip flops 95% of the day, including the ceremony! YAY! Christina and Chris had their ceremony and reception at the beautiful West Park Winery in upstate New York. Go right ahead and add this place to my list of favorite places to shoot a wedding! Fall is certainly in full swing up there. The weather was just perfect, well, maybe just a smidge chilly if you happen to be wearing a strapless dress, and although I saw the goose bumps, I never heard Christina complain about it! This was such a fun wedding to be a part of, thank you guys so much for entrusting me with preserving your memories! Congratulations, and enjoy that honeymoon in Aruba!

I love this one! When I showed Christina and Chris this shot, sans them of course, during the reception, they said “let’s go for it”, even though it required me to drive them up this hill and then drive back down to shoot it, then go back up again to get them. Super troopers!

When I got to the room Christina was getting ready in at the hotel, the door was answered by Chris! I guess he was crashing there for a bit before Christina arrived, so I grabbed some shots of him trimming things up.

While Christina’s bouquet was stuck in traffic, we tried to stay busy without them.

I love this shot with the two leaves falling.

The walk up to the cermony site.

A little practice right before going public with it!

Party time!

What a great finale to a great wedding!

Ok, so this one isn’t about anything specific really, other than encouraging you to think fast on your feet, or perhaps even “MacGyvering” something on the spot if need be. The end result is about getting the job done, and doing it the best you can with what you have! I’m going to use a scenario from this past weekend’s wedding (which I am in the process of blogging) as an example of both my thought process and how thinking fast can sometimes mean the difference between just getting the shot and creating a WOW image.

Here’s the set up: towards the end of the night the guests at this particular wedding were led outside for a firework display. Now, I knew this ahead of time, but to be perfectly honest with you, I wasn’t overly prepared for it. As most wedding days go, the pace is fast, sometimes frantic, so when they announced the firework display I grabbed my 35mm 1.4 and a flash on my 5D Mark II and hoped I could work something out. My initial plan was to try and shoot this using only ambient, either with the couple silhouetted in front of the fireworks, or perhaps the fireworks would be somewhat close enough to throw some light on them, or maybe I could ask the couple to stand near some outdoor lighting. I wasn’t sure exactly where this would go down, what would be near me, how close the fireworks would be etc., so wasn’t sure how I was going to pull this off exactly. A little scary, and a little exciting at the same time! When the fireworks began I knew right away that all of those aforementioned ideas were not going to work. The fireworks were too far away to use any of its light to help me light the couple who were standing in total darkness. There also was no outdoor lighting I could utilize to shed some light on the couple. I had to think fast as I knew the fireworks were only going to happen for a few minutes at best.

So now I know that I am going to have to provide my own light to this shot via flash. Here is where I need to interject the fact that I was working this wedding alone, so had no 2nd shooter to help me and no assistant either. So having someone hold an off camera flash/play with the settings for me etc. wasn’t an option. I could have set up an off camera flash on a light stand and kept running back and forth to change the power output (I’m using pocket wizards, not radio poppers), and then also hope that no guests tripped over it in the dark. My options pretty much exhausted I had to do what I didn’t really want to do, which was fire my on camera flash at the couple directly. (See first photo) ICK!!!!! Yes, it looks horrible, but in the end it does get the job done, albeit in an ugly way. But wait a minute, there WAS a better way! As the fireworks were a little more than half way done I realized that the couple was standing about 8 feet or so away from the outside of the venue’s white tent. AHA! That’s when I thought, hey, I bounce off white walls inside, why not outside too!? I quickly pointed my on camera flash away from the couple and towards the white tent. From here it was just a matter of adjusting the power output from my flash to get the right exposure. Now I have a MUCH softer and directional light source. (see second photo)

This first photo (see image below) was taken towards the beginning of the fireworks display, when I knew that I had to supply my own light source. This is essentially a test shot, trying to get the right exposure for the fireworks and the right amount of flash to light the couple. This is on camera direct flash, before I realized that I should bounce my flash off the nearby white tent. At this point I am not caring about getting a good firework in the shot, or composing the couple in a nice way, this is strictly testing to get good settings. So, you have to still use your imagination a little to envision a nice pop of fireworks over their heads and them composed nicer in the frame, maybe from a lower camera angle etc. Regardless of all that, I still would have wound up with an ugly direct flash look, which to me is painful to look at, but hey, sometimes it’s any port in a storm ya know!? Let’s move on to the second photo, my grand finale as it were!

And here is the second photo, taken about 2 minutes after the first test shot. By this time, I have figured out I should be bouncing off the white tent, I have dialed a good background/firework exposure, found a good flash output setting, and composed the couple from a low camera angle and waited for the grand finale, complete with the bride’s “fist pump” of approval! Check and mark! Notice how soft and directional the lighting is now, all coming from on camera flash, just bounced indirectly.

For those interested in shot settings in the second photo, it was shot using a 35mm 1.4, ISO 1250, f/1.8 at 1/40 sec. and I don’t remember exactly what my flash settings were, but I’m guessing it was around 1/16th power, maybe less.

So there you go, think fast, and come back with the best possible shot you can make with what you have to work with! So, hopefully that was somewhat helpful to you photographers out there. Don’t be shy now, chime in with comments or questions. Also, if you think this might be useful for someone else you know, please send them a link to it:

This has to be one of the most dramatic turn arounds in wedding day weather I have ever witnessed! As I was driving to the Montauk Yacht Club for Pam and Craig’s wedding it was bucketing down with rain. I knew there was some hope though because as I was driving through Manhattan things looked pretty decent. Just as Pam and Craig’s ceremony began the rain let up! YAY! And as you will see in the first photo, not only did the rain subside, but we actually had a terrific sunset! Pam and Craig were SO amazing and patient to work with today. Craig was a real trooper during the photo session, and maybe it’s true what father Mike said about him, he IS very coachable! Thank you so much for having me along guys, I had a blast! Congratulations!

After all that rain throughout the day, I NEVER would have guessed the day would end like this!

Pam checking out the weather outside.

Hands down favorite of the day!

Craig tearing up the dance floor!

I liked this angle because you could see what was happening both inside and outside.

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