My favorite part to capture in a wedding is usually the end of a reception party. This is when most people finally let their guard off and show a side of themselves that only appears only at this moment. I captured these images during the last hour of my first Indian wedding in Pennsylvania.
The reception is usually preceded by several hours of work that requires the most intense focus and concentration from all parties involved. The wedding couple can be nervous as they hope that everything will be just right on their special day. As a photographer you are fully aware of your responsibility to hopefully capture all of the key moments as history is made for your client and couple. So by the time of the reception I definitely feel a bit drained from hours of intense work. But I always feel a resurge of energy when I see the joy and exuberance on people’s faces as they celebrate this special and joyful occasion.
From the technical point of view I usually set my camera on full manual mode to capture just enough ambient light without pushing my ISO too hard to avoid too much digital noise in the images. I like to keep my shutter speed fairly low to capture a sense of motion as people dance the night away. Then I use my flash to as a fill in to give the photos a punch. By setting my Canon 600-EX speed lights on a second curtain sync mode, I can add nice light trails to the images. Finding just the right balance requires some experimentation but once I hit the sweet spot, I get onto the dance floor and fire away… while trying to stay out of the way:)
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Here are a few shots from a portrait photo shoot I did in downtown Manhattan recently. All photos are taken with Canon 5d Mark iii and 85mm f/1.8 USM lens. Do you need photos for your social media presence, modeling portfolio, business or engagement? You can send me an inquiry or book me for a photo shoot by clicking the “contact” tab under my website menu.
The MTA’s Holiday Season Nostalgia Trains run on the Sixth Avenue line between Queens Plaza and Second Avenue stations on four consecutive Sundays, November 30th-December 28th between 10am and 5pm. (Technically, it’s the M line but since that train doesn’t run in Manhattan on weekends, you’ll actually be catching a special shuttle.) For your regular fare, you can enjoy a classic ride on vintage R1 to R9 subway trains that date from the 1930s through the 1970s. Old-school advertisements, from quaint to downright funny, and overhead displays have all been maintained and refurbished by the New York Transit Museum. Some commuters like to showcase their vintage fashion while dancing to the music of the several swing and jazz ensembles in the train and on the 2nd Avenue F train station. You can also check my video from the train on Juha Photography Youtube channel.
The vintage trains will hit all of the stops along the M line every 90 minutes or so. 34th Street/Herald Square, 42nd Street/Bryant Park and 47-50th Streets/Rockefeller Center are all on the route, so you can take an old-fashioned ride to some old-fashioned seasonal fun, like Macy’s Santaland, ice-skating rink at Bryant Park and all of the department store holiday windows on 5th Avenue.
I did another couple portrait shoot in DUMBO, Brooklyn in early November. It turned out to be a gorgeous day out after rescheduling the shoot a few times due to weather and scheduling issues. DUMBO is such a great location for getting that classy NY look to your portraits. Wether you are on Washington Street at the famous scene of Once Upon A Time In America, a movie starring Robert De Niro, or on Plymouth Street with the view of the impressive Brooklyn Bridge in the background, there is no doubt that DUMBO is one of the most spectacular locations for NYC portraits. On the day of our photo shoot there was a considerable amount of construction work going on in various streets, but by carefully framing the photos and using shallow depth of field to our advantage we were still able to get satisfying results. This is why I love my Canon telephoto zoom lens; it allows me quickly to zoom in and out to crop the shots to my liking without running back and forth. It also allows me to shoot from a comfortable distance relative to my clients, which encourages them to interact more freely by keeping my lens out of their personal space. There are moments though when I find the wide angle lens irreplaceable; like when I want to include that stunning Manhattan landscape in the shot with my clients. This kind of a shot really gives a sense of location and space. After all, if you only want to have stunning shots of your clients, you might as well be shooting in the studio. Wide angle lens gives you both, a sort of cityscape-portrait. But you do need to use extra caution when shooting portraits with the wide angle lens due to the fact that it distort the proportions at the edges of the lens. Ladies love it when a wide angle lens makes their feet look longer than they actually are, but not so much when the lens stretches their shoulders or face out of proportion. But when correctly handled, wide angle is a great gadget in a photographers box of tricks. In addition I used two off-camera Canon Speedlites, which my lighting assistant held in a extendable boom arm with an shoot-through umbrella, to give a little extra punch to the photos in the shady streets of DUMBO.
After about two hours of shooting in DUMBO we walked up to the Brooklyn Bridge and did another session up there. On any given day the Bridge can get crowded by tourists as well as local bicyclists who don’t look favorably on pedestrians wondering on the biker lane, so take extra precautions when walking and working in that environment. But if you and your clients can weather it, you will be rewarded with some stunning and uniquely NY portraits. In addition to the regular hassle, we got literally swarmed by about a hundred school students this time. At first it seemed it was a bit too crowded to get any decent shots but thanks to my Canon telephoto zoom lens I was able to frame the shots tightly so as not to have any unwanted distractions in them. Also my clients ended up loving the few shots that had some Jewish school students in them:) Shooting outdoors in NYC is always unpredictable and in my opinion the best strategy is to go with the flow and try to use any random distractions to your advantage. After all, its all a part of living in this wonderfully crazy city. Its like Taylor Swift sings in Welcome To New York, “Like any great love, it keeps you guessing. Like any real love, it’s ever changing. Like any true love, it drives you crazy. But you know you wouldn’t change anything, anything, anything… Welcome to New York.” And this is why we all love (and sometimes hate) this city so passionately.
Here are a few shots from the latest wedding I shot this summer in Connecticut. The ceremony was held at the Ethel Walker Chapel in Simsbury, CT. The church has great window light from both sides of the building, which is wonderful from a photographer’s point of view. The reception was held at the Riverview in Weatogue, CT. We did a quick post-ceremony portrait shoot at the beautiful Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge in Simsbury, CT. It was recognized as a 2014 “Editor’s Choice” winner in Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide in New England.
Today was supposed to be the big Manhattanhenge. Lots of people anticipated the bi-annual phenomenon by hitting the streets of Manhattan with their cameras and phones. However it turned out tonight was big dissapointment, especially for those who missed last night (see my previous post), the reason being that the clouds completely blocked the sun when it was perfectly aligned with the street grid of the city. Only 30 minutes before there was a gorgeous sunset which I was able to capture a little bit at the Meatpacking District were the hight of the buildings is not an obstacle to seeing the sunset. I think they came out alright although they might not officially make it to the Manhattanhenge archives of the world.
Here is my second attempt at capturing the Manhattanhenge tonight at 42nd Street in Manhattan. Twice a year the setting sun aligns with the east–west streets of the main street grid in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The neologism is derived from Stonehenge, where the sun aligns with the stones on the solstices with a similarly dramatic effect. The sun peaked for only a couple of minutes between the skyscrapers but it was stunning. Lots of people flooded the streets taking pictures of this unique phenomenon, much to the regret of the cab drivers. For a moment it felt almost as if this city that never sleeps came to a stand still as people stopped to take it all in. Much to the relief of the cab drivers it was all over in a couple of minutes.
I had a great time shooting the wedding of Andrew and Lymarie in Connecticut. The day before the wedding it was pouring rain all day, which made everyone a bit nervous since the reception was outdoors at the beautiful grounds of the Candlewood Inn in Brookfield, CT. But to everyone’s relief the wedding day turned out to be a perfectly beautiful, sunny day. As usual, I used my Canon 5D Mark iii for all of the shots and my assistant had a Canon 6D. Having an assistant is a great asset and allows us to capture the action from two angles simultaneously. This is especially helpful during the reception but also during the portrait session when the second camera man can also help out as a lighting assistant. I find that the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is wonderfully versatile and covers most of my needs for the fast moving and at times chaotic wedding photography. Its long range comes especially handy during wedding ceremony when you need to get those intimate close ups without getting in anyone’s way. The other lens that I find irreplaceable for weddings is my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM. This wide angle is especially helpful for the “getting ready” shoots which often take place in a considerably restricted environment, such as hotel rooms etc. The wide angle is also priceless for the reception where you might want to get more of the action in your pictures.
Prior to the wedding we did a post-wedding portrait shoot with the wedding party in a nearby park. There were some large trees nearby that provided deep shadow for the wedding party which is normally a positive thing as you don’t want your wedding party standing in the hard midday light with a lot of shadows cast on their faces. The challenge we had in this particular scenario was that the beautiful, natural backdrop was completely exposed by the hard midday sun. As a photographer you have to be careful to not to allow your camera to set the exposure for the bright backlight as this would cause the wedding party to be underexposed. On the other hand if you expose for the shadows you risk overexposing and loosing all the detail of the beautiful background. To help compensate for the bright back light I had my assistant use a large, 6′ x 4′ Lastolite reflector to throw in some fill light for the wedding party. This can be tricky at times partly because of the large size of the reflector and partly because some people’s eyes can be very sensitive to the reflected sunlight. The trick is to do it fast and to break it up every minute or so. Also it can be a challenge to get even light for a group as large as I had here, a total of 16 persons. You can also have the couple look away from the reflector, as I did in this shot.
Often a lot of action takes place during the more relaxed atmosphere at the reception. This is an opportunity for some real fun, memorable, candid moments. At the same time, the reception can be a real challenge as far as good lighting goes. This is were those speedlites come in real handy. In this particular occasion the wedding party loved to rock the dance floor and I had fun capturing all of the fun. As I was shooting with the wide angle lens I needed to mix and mingle with the wedding party in order to really capture the joy and exuberance at this party. I used the second curtain sync option available in Canon’s speedlites to create fun light trails from the colorful lights illuminating the dance floor. I also use Canon’s Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT which allows me to hold the speedlite (with a dome diffuser) off camera in my left hand while holding the camera and shooting with my right hand.
After the ceremony I shot a few quick portraits in the golden light of the setting sun. The narrow time frame between the wedding ceremony and the reception can easily make for one hectic portrait shoot. My recommendation therefore is to take the portraits before the reception if possible, or even day before the wedding. However in this case the ceremony ended just before the “golden hour,” which left us less than 60 minutes to get some fantastic portraits before it was completely dark. With the help of my assistant I used a three Canon 600EX-RT speedlite setup to provide fill light for the couple while retaining the beautiful colors of the sunset in the background.
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Not all New Yorkers agreed when Chancellor Carmen Farina of New York City said that, “It’s absolutely a beautiful day out there.” The Chancellor made the comment in defiance sharp criticism over her and Mayor De Blasio’s decision to keep NYC Public Schools open during a snow storm which covered the city under a blanket of white snow today. In Borough Park, Brooklyn students and their parents struggled to make their way to Public School 160. Their brightly colored umbrellas and rain coats stood out against otherwise snow covered streets.
One of the things things I love about doing a photo shoot in New York City is the great variety of elements that you can incorporate into your work. You can combine some of the most iconic urban backdrops with some great Fall foliage within a single photo shoot. When you match an aesthetic, vibrant backdrop with a great looking couple that radiates with love for each other, you have all the elements for an outstanding photo shoot. Then it remains up to you to bring it all together for a final product that will be worthy of the uniqueness of a moment such as an engagement. My most recent engagement photo shoot seemed to bring all of these elements together. We started the photo shoot on Washington Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn. This scenic location is famous for example from the movie, Once Upon A Time In America, starring actor Robert De Niro. The Manhattan Bridge peaks perfectly from between the old brownstone buildings at the end of the Street. This gives the set that unique, old time Brooklyn feel. A couple of the streets in DUMBO are covered with old cobble stones and tram tracks, which is another element that adds a great vintage feel to a photo. Along the streets of DUMBO there are also some great looking graffitis which again add to that authentic Brooklyn flavor. A walking distance from Washington Street is a small beach by the Hudson River which has some of the greatest views of the Manhattan Skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge (Yes, there is a beach by the Hudson River! Wouldn’t recommend swimming though!). As if this wasn’t enough we continued our photo shoot by making a 10-15 minute drive to Prospect Park. This is were we were able to get some fantastic Fall foliage photos. The great thing about Prospect Park is that it is not quite as crowded as Central Park in Manhattan which makes it easier to find a quiet spot for the photo shoot. Also there are lots of fallen leaves on the ground which make for fantastic photo props. In Central Park the leaves are often trashed away quickly which is great… unless you are a photographer:)