Monthly Archives: March 2010

one of my photos featured on

I was really honored when I was asked if one of my wedding photographs could be featured on If you aren’t sure what/who is, see the screen shot from Huy’s blog below.

Here is the full link to the feature… click away, but don’t forget to come back!

Huy - Thanks for the photo Todd. Great shot!

Kay - Yay Todd! Congrats!!!

Todd Laffler - Hey Huy, thanks for stopping by and for the compliment. By the way, I really enjoyed hearing you speak at Mystic 5 this past January! :)
As always Kay, thanks!

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Zoe | Life Lessons

I found this great old triptych I took of Zoe a few years ago. I remember watching her from a distance playing with that bubble stick thingy that comes with the bubble bottle. I sort of knew that she was at that age where she was probably ready to discover that just because the packaging looks yummy on the outside, doesn’t mean that what’s inside is in fact a tasty treat. And who am I to interfere with a valuable life lesson? So, I just sat back and watched/photographed as she dipped the stick in the bubbles, put it  in her mouth, and then gave the universal “yucky” face! After digging these shots up, I just can’t believe Zoe turned five last weekend! Needless to say, she never tried to eat the bubble stick again…but Play-Doh, well, that’s a different story!

moo - this is so adorable. couldn’t help but giggle :)

MattW - They grow up so fast! Happy birthday to her.

Chris Rioux - That’s hilarious! So cute! Love the colors! :)

Ben - This is great! :)

Like the new blog layout BTW…

mizchristine - i’m liking the new layout todd!
my dad was a fan of ‘let them learn the hard way’ too. among other things, that’s also how i learned to swim.

Todd Laffler - Thanks everyone! Zoe is now old enough that she is curious to know about the comments on her blog post. :) She says thanks too!

Kay English - she is just adorable!!! Her curly hair is so cute

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Down + Dirty {Behind the Scenes}

This behind the scenes shot comes from Sabrina and Jeff’s wedding which I photographed about a year ago. We were down in Asbury Park by the old Casino when I spotted a good sized puddle of water. I wanted to line up and photograph the bridal party so that I could nab their reflections in the puddle as well. The only way for me to do that was to get down and dirty and lay on the ground right in front of the puddle. This photograph is courtesy of my friend Elisabeth Millay. Not an overly flattering photo either, but not your fault Lis!

And here is how I saw it…

Alice - Both of these are fantastic images! I’m sure your clients were thrilled with their bridal party shot; and how cool to have an image of yourself getting down and dirty for the score!

Brandi - Haha, I love it. The other day I was shooting a senior and I was pretty much lying back in a pile of (soft-ish) thorny vines and my client and his mom were like, hey you’re getting into (whatever that plant is called)! And I go.. it’s fine, no problem, I promise! Whatever it takes to get the shot, darn it.

Alexa Catalin - Yep! It sure was worth it!
Great shot!

MattW - Those are both sick shots. I love the one on top, with the blurred out background. Kind of looks like you dropped dead in the middle of a shoot.

Chris Rioux - LOVE that shot! Seriously TIMELESS shot! And thanks for sharing the behind the scenes shot with it! :)

Todd Laffler - Thanks guys!
Matt, yeah I guess it sort of does look like I dropped dead in the middle of the shoot. I’ve always thought it looked more like I got thirsty in the middle of the shoot, and I’m just visiting the “watering hole”! :)

Naqib/Qippy - Wow..this new Blog layout is definitely awesome! Nice to see all the hands on info! At the moment I’m really into time lapse photography..its so fun…been messing around with it..cant wait to blog about it soon!

Hadar - Beautiful shot of the wedding party!!!!

Elisabeth Millay - hahahaha memories!

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Sheriff Bing Bing Bing, Ricochet Rabbit! {For Photographers}

Ok, I’m well aware of the fact that I just dated myself by using that title for this post. For those of you too young to remember that cartoon, simply “Ricochet” will suffice instead! What I’m really talking about here is finding and using direct sun light which has been bounced off a window, or other reflective surface to your advantage. Usually when you encounter this scenario, it will produce a very narrow band of bright light. You can either use that bright spot to light your subjects directly, or you can use it to backlight them. Either way, I think it can produce great results which should really serve to highlight your subjects nicely. The great thing about using this band of light directly is that you can expose for that bright spot (usually their faces) so that everything around your subject gets a little darker.

In this example the sun was reflecting off of two windows. Those two windows were relatively close to this orange wall, so the “bands” of bright light were somewhat defined and it becomes fairly obvious the light is coming from the window reflection.

In this next shot the sun was also reflecting off of a window, or it might have even been several windows. The main difference between this shot and the one above though is that in this photograph the window(s) were much further away, and the reflection was coming from a different angle, so they aren’t clearly defined as “window reflections”. The street and background were dark colored to begin with so they sort of just “melt” away when you expose for that bright spot on her face. You can see how this just naturally brings all the attention onto my subjects.

Now here is an example of using that bright sunlit window reflection as a backlight. I still tried to expose for those bright highlights and let everything else darken up a bit. By the way, I usually find that if you post process these types of window reflection shots a little warmer (yellow) than normal, they look nicer, but that could just be me though!

Here is the last example of using the bright spot to light your subjects directly and exposing for those bright highlighted areas.

So, the next time you’re out and about and you see the sun ricocheting off a window, go find where it’s hitting and place your subjects carefully, expose for the brightness, and Bing Bing Bing, you come back with gold!

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:

Melissa Papaj - As always, you are so good. I am friends with Kaycee through both Facebook and and I am always so jealous that she gets to go and shoot with you. You rock!

IRIS CHEUNG - Thanks Todd, your post opened my eyes! I’ve never approached light this way. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

Justinelement - this is what they need to be teaching us at school. lol – great stuff todd

Kay English - Thanks so much Todd for posting this! :) I thought it was pure genius when you did it at Alex’s wedding. I never thought of using that light for rim lighting too. So you spot meter on the highlights? Please do a workshop! I will so be there :)

Justinelement - lol. i’d like to agree with kay, its these times i wish i lived in new york.

Kay English - Love your new blog layout!!

Todd - aaawww shucks, thanks Melissa!
No problem Iris, glad to help.
Thanks Justin, maybe I will open a photography school then! ;)
You’re welcome Kay. Yeah you could spot meter on the bright part or just get close and chimp your way to the right exposure too. ;) I have started taking on some one on one mentoring sessions with a couple of photographers. I’m not 100% sure I like the format of a workshop and the divided attention, but we’ll see. Glad you like the new layout too! :)

rachel d - Todd! Thanks for sharing these tips! Im going to go out and practice, pratice, practice!….as soon as the weather lets up again. =)
btw, have you done a post on the “harsh”, mid-day lighting? Thanks again! You are an inspiration! =)

Chris Rioux - Todd! Wow! SO INSPIRATIONAL!! Makes me want to be shooting a wedding RIGHT NOW! haha Thanks so much for sharing!

Todd Laffler - Hey Rachel, no problemo! I haven’t done a post about harsh mid-day lighting yet, but probably because I try to avoid it at all costs! I’ll have to dig through the archives and see if I have anything that fits that bill.
Howdy Chris! So glad you enjoyed that. I hope to see you sometime this year before the next Mystic!

Amy Bennett - Thank you Todd! On my way out to do an engagement shoot and I am going to definitely look for some light! Your work is so inspiring! I will be following you…;-)

norman yu - todd thanks so much for this post. it answers a lot of what I thought you might be doing. So inspiring that I just shot a wedding for 10 hours and I’m here on the couch stalking your page! lol

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Ross’ Bar Mitzvah

Another great Mitzvah weekend! This one was Ross’ big day and he totally rocked it… literally! I had an awesome time working with Ross and his family. And although Ross wasn’t ALL smiles all the time while I photographed him, I could tell that he and everyone else had a total blast! Ross went with a guitar/rock theme, and Beth and her whole team from EVENTION did a phenomenal job putting this together. There were even 5 real electric guitars used as centerpieces at the kids tables, which were given away by the end of the night. Congratulations Ross!

There were these cool posters of Ross hanging all around the room.

These were the tickets for the electric guitars.

Jodi Silverstein - The most phenomenal pictures I have ever seen. You have truly captured the entire event and all its splendor. Thank you so much for that beautiful picture of Zachary, he looks like a little Michael Jackson!

Sandi and Seth - These pictures are amazing. What great memories were made and captured! Thanks for a great night and sharing it with us. Can’t wait to see more of the unbelievable pictures.We can say we knew him when.

Cindy - Wow…just wow!! Totally blown away by these photos. Awesome job!!

Cheryl Schickler - Unbelievable pictures. I have never seen bar mitzvah pictures that resembled true art. I have sent your link to everyone i know showing and telling them why they should hire you. I have also sent the link to Crystal Plaza and Total Entertainment urging them to recommend you. Can’t wait to see the rest.

Ellen & Lenny Schickler- - We are the proud grandparents-These pictures are just umbelievable–we can’t wait to see all of them. Thank you for capturing my grandchildren.

jeff tisman - yo t-

just signed up for your seminar!!!!


Todd - Thanks Jodi, Sandi, and Cindy!
Cheryl, thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed these teasers!
It was my pleasure Ellen! :)
Jeff, awesome! I went to your seminar almost 12 years ago when you shot my wedding!

Kay English - I love all the angles you got!!! And the lighting is just FABULOUS! Great job!!!

betsy gitelle - I love these photos, and, in fact, I love all the photos on your whole blog and website. I am just bummed that you are not available to shoot my daughter’s bat mitzvah — also to be orchestrated by beth at evention. I will just have to wait until the wedding! Meanwhile, I am inspired by the way you capture personalities, relationships, and connections to settings — all while making each photo fun and interesting to look at. Amazing work. Maybe you’ll have a cancellation??? (JK)
– betsy

Todd Laffler - Thanks Kay.
Thanks so much Betsy, I really appreciate that. I’ve never had someone cancel, but I suppose you just never know. :)

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Rachel’s Bat Mitzvah

This past weekend I had the pleasure of photographing Rachel’s Bat Mitzvah. The weather gorgeous, and so was Rachel! I had a lot of fun working with Rachel and her family throughout the day. Rachel’s theme was candy, and let me tell you, there was no shortage of the sugary confections! By the end of the night, I think I had about 7 gummie bears stuck to the bottom of my shoe, a sure sign of a good time! Congratulations Rachel!

Naqib/Qippy - Amazing Colors,and expressions!..very nice collection of pics here Todd

IRIS CHEUNG - This looks so much fun. Yummy colors!

Corey Sewell - Looks like a ton of fun! Love all the colors!

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What’s on TV? {For Photographers}

I happen to think that watching TV isn’t such a bad thing, as long as it’s done in moderation. So, why not try watching a little TV while you are shooting a wedding too!? I have used televisions in a few of my wedding photographs, and usually wind up liking the result. Now, more often than not, I am avoiding something as potentially distracting as a TV at all costs, but sometimes you just have to roll with what’s in front of you, and not ignore the 800 pound high definition gorilla in the room! The exciting part of doing this, I find, is that you really don’t know what you are going to get. The idea, for me at least, is to somehow connect what’s happening on the TV with whatever else that is “real” in the room. Achieving this sometimes just comes down to dumb luck, or if you prefer, serendipity. Let’s see some of that “serendipity” in action!

This one REALLY was dumb luck, but you have to be prepared for dumb luck to happen to you though! The bridesmaids were watching TV, and I had set the dress up next to it. Pretty straight forward. Then I just stood back, took a test shot or two to make sure that what was on the TV would show up in the final shot, and then just waited for something “interesting” to come on. Seriously, after about a minute or two, this ad for a Soap Opera came on. “CLICK”….done! So, here is an obvious and almost literal “connection” from what’s on the TV to our reality. Let’s look at a not so literal connection in the second image…

On this shot, I set the bride up so that she was in the path of the window light and so that she contrasted from the white blown out area of the window itself. I then framed up my shot, including the TV. I turned the TV on, but had to surf the channels a little to find a something I thought might work. What I liked about this particular frame was how the bride and chef are both wearing all white, and how they are both facing the same direction, and also placed in the frame in about the same position, the bride off center to the right of the frame (the overall frame of the entire photograph), and the chef off center to the right of his frame (the black frame of the TV itself). So, here the connection between TV and reality isn’t so literal, but more a play on mimicking one another.

Pretty much the same deal on this shot, set it up, test shots for exposure, then wait for something to come up. What I liked about this frame is how the close up of the cartoon girl on the TV appears to be looking wide eyed over at the dress hanging in the window. I also like that she seems to be around the age of a teenager, and perhaps fantasizing of her own wedding day/dress. Once again, here is our connection. Without which I don’t think any of these images would have worked.

So, hopefully that was somewhat helpful to you photographers out there. Go ahead and try it, you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

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:

Ok, just one TV “fun fact” for you: “American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV.”
– The Kaiser Family Foundation

Thanks guys.

Shang - I was once doing a bridal shoot in a hotel and we all had so much fun watching a romantic comedy on the TV during the preparations. In retrospect I would have loved to capture that as well!

jeff tisman - uh, what are you smoking before the wedding??!! (just kidding t-!!!) Shots ROCK!!

paul - hey todd! tx again for sharing you’re insight and thought process on how you do things. even though i can’t go to your workshop later, it’s great to know that you’re gracious enough to share some of that info here on your blog! keep it up dude, we photographers (atleast I know I am!) are soaking up the info! ^^

Deanna Peralta - I love the shot you took of Robert and little Robert getting ready for our wedding and the TV was on with Spongebob playing!

knot - your website is my most favorite site keep up your great work. what a tutorial!! : )

John - great post-Just read them all. Really got me thinking about how I can see things differently. Thanks and keep em coming!

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