With just weeks to spare we snuck this lil’ engagement shoot in just before their wedding next week. They had a plan from dress (we changed into saree and kurta at the Sevens Pub on Charles Street), to the places on Boston Common that meant something to them. Late afternoon light did the rest and some impromptu first-dance-practicin’ added a bit of the unexpected. If this is how their Trinity Church ceremony and Colonade reception next weekend will go down it will be quite a day–and they only have to change outfits 3 times that day.
Lots of fun with Sondra and Erik and their little doggie strolling about Beacon Hill and then stepping out in the North End. As a Boston wedding photographer I always encourages my couples to bring props (umbrella’s come in handy) and a quick change of clothes ’cause you never know what Mother Nature will do. S &E took it to a whole ‘nother level having a 4-year-old Yorkshire Terrier complete with hair-do and bling. I can’t wait to see if lil’Oliver will be the official ring bearer for their November wedding. Time will tell–until then we have their Summer engagement shoot–“And her little dog, too.”
I’ve worked the same wedding venue back to back many nights and shot engagement sessions in the same location on the same day but no matter how often and how similar the locations, no two sessions are ever the same. As a photojournalist I know its the people I photograph that make my photography come to Life and give it its Essence. My job is special in lots of ways. I don’t sit in a cubicle (no offense to anyone who finds that appealing), I never watch the clock (ready to slide down the dinosaur’s tale when the quittin’ time whistle blows) and I’m usually always surprised how this job keeps me present in the Right Now without me feeling overworked or overburdened. This is Zen in the Art of Photography at its finest.
My aim (no pun intended), like Eugen Herrigel’s in his famous text Zen in the Art of Archery, is to somehow allow my subjects to photograph themselves. No I haven’t lost my mind. I want this to feel effortless even as I hump my gear and myself up trees, into ponds and and all over the place, quickly switching lenses and perspective, changing position all the while keeping the mood light and fun and engaging. Tons of contradictions abound but I truly want the camera to find a way to shoot itself. Much like Herrigel’s arrow finds its natural state at the center of the bullseye so to do my subjects find their organic bullseye framed within my sensor confines–that is their natural state. This process is best when it happens in the viewfinder but sometimes must be found in the edit and brought to light (The number one reason you hire a professional photographer).
The examples here are with Elyse + Bill and Emily + Jared and show how their own personalities play in some of the same environmental spaces. They are running the show even though they don’t know it. They are crafting the look and feel of their photographes without being aware of it. Sure I am framing things and swapping lenses, etc but it is their own confidence and insecurity to be vulnerable that allows the moment to happen.
I want my posed or orchestrated moments to have the look of spontaneity–as if this is all happening organically. Except that I’m Present yet unconscious. It is effortless. A long slow Ujjayi breath out and I never feel my finger release the shutter–maybe 6 frames per second even. There is a flow and a sequence but in the end there is the unconscious talking to the conscious mind in the edit room. This process takes patience and balance. My subjects, like the arrow, have already found their perfect resting place.
Temps were in the 90s in Boston but Jessica and Leo were cool as could have been in front of the camera. They had a plan in mind and spots they wanted to hit–mostly the Boston Public Library and Copley. The late afternoon light was yummy and the haze provided a natural softbox–plus it didn’t hurt to have an assist from my super second camera, Chris Gagne–thank you! Just some pix from our day in the late-afternoon light of mid-Summer.
Of all the engagement spots this Boston wedding photographer has photographed over the years Nahant has to be one of my all time favorites. I was so happy Lissa and Brian chose it as I rarely impose my will on the “where”; I like the spots to have meaning for the couples–whenever possible. The day was a bit overcast but warm with a chance of rain but the scenery and all the different nooks and crannies that this gorgeous spot has to offer is Mother Nature in all her glory – no matter the weather. There was one shot where I asked that they go way out on one of the rock formations. The tide was coming in and I knew they had hurry. These nature lovers easily traversed the rocks and incoming tides but as I was shooting from a good distance away I was only able to watch. A couple of perilous spots and a quick jump had them out on the point. We communicated via cell phones and experimented with different positions. I then ran, camera gear banging against my hip, around to meet them on their return–thankful that my clients were safe but excited to show them the shots. Here’s some for all to enjoy!
Last weekend I got engaged again for the first time. It was months in the planning: A trip to Chicago to see Oprah’s last studio show (thank you to our fab client Julie for the tix), a romantic getaway sans kids for the first time in 8 years (dog years at times), and a modest little 10 year anniversary gift for my wife, Asha. A long time ago, almost 10 years ago, we were busy buying a condo and moving. I was too poor and she was too practical and the standard engagement style ring never materialized. I promised her then that if she can hold out until our ten year anniversary that I’d make good on the customary ring thing. Years passed and I’m sure she had forgotten my promise. Dharma was born, then Sarada. Dog died. Jobs came and went and the usual snowball-rolling-down-hill Life we had just kept jugging along collecting everything in its path. Anniversaries were celebrated and I quietly remembered. Birthdays and births. Laughter and our fair share of tears but through it all I remembered. It is no small feat to celebrate 10 years of marriage and is something of which I’m very proud.
So fast-forward to Chicago 2011. I’m carrying this ring around with me everywhere. I was genuinely nervous–I mean she could say no, right? After all she has spent more than 10 years with me and my socks on the kitchen table, shoes in the hall, tardiness, etc. Also, I was afraid she’d hate my choice of ring. I asked Dharma if she thought Mami would like it and her response, “I’d take it!”
So where to do it? Do I get down on one knee? Should it be private or public? We were only in Chicago for a couple days so I was under the gun. The first night didn’t have the magic and I think we even bickered about some stupid thing. Before we left for dinner that night we were randomly watching some Ben Afleck movie and the damn guy has this scene with Jennifer Anniston where he has her pull the engagement ring out of his grubby cargo pants. WTF! Ben, man! He just stole my thunder. That night the restaurant just wasn’t right and plus I still had Ben on my mind.
Day 2 Oprah Show: OK. It was a possibility. We waited in line (not good). Then had to check all our belongings so I had to insist that I get the claim check ticket and casually asked the woman securing our stuff to let me have the box with the ring. She says to me laughing, “You gonna get engaged on the Oprah Show.” That was out now and way too public–not us.
In the end it happend just as it should have, organically, as we exited the Art Institute of Chicago. The rest I’ll keep to myself and between us but it was magical and meaningful. We cried and laughed and fell in love all over again.
And that is how it all went down those 2-1/2 days last week. I gotta say a big thank you to my Mom who took care of our littlest one for us. And to Jess, Gav and the kids for entertaining Dharma for a couple days. We put our network to the test and we couldn’t have done it without them. Lastly I want to thank Maria at Absolute Titanium Design for working with me all those months coming up with this one-of-a-kind ring for my truly unique Woman.
Thanks to Adam and Elyse on how well they designed this pseudo-Rocky-like shot from our Philly, PA engagement shoot. Its simple with a splash of wedding color. Whenever a photographer sends one of his photos (babies) out into the world without having any control of its ultimate use he or she is either crazy or very trusting. I went with trusting and think Adam and Elyse really designed something unique and classic. A big thanks to them for giving my work its reverence. I can’t wait until September 10, 2011.
Here’s a very quick few shots in honor of St. Valentine from Elyse and Adam’s shoot this weekend in the City of Brotherly Love! More like the windy city this past weekend but Elyse and Adam were great sports. For this Boston wedding photographer I never miss the chance to shoot in a new place. We ran the steps of the art museum (a la Rocky), bopped in and around center city (Love Park, Broad Street, South Street and the Ritz). I visited parts of Philadelphia I hadn’t known about and we escaped the raw day but constantly ducking into some unique little establishments for refreshments of all sorts. Thanks for a great tour of your city guys and I hope you are celebrating the Hallmark Holiday like I know you can. See you in September!
When we were planning this shoot with Angelina and Danny we went back and forth about the weather and whether we should schedule it for a time of the year that was more conducive for outdoor photos around Boston. Not only was there piles of snow with no where to park the car (best if said with a stereotypical Boston accent) and that sludgy brine covering sidewalks ready to ruin the nicest pair of shoes, but also, the temps were hovering around 12 degrees with a windchill making it feel like minus 5F. Danny said, “I want the snow since our wedding is in the late summer.” Both from Indonesia I wondered just how my two fair weather love birds might take to the full force of a New England Winter. They had their spots picked out and outfits at the ready. Angelina had a Newbury Street stop for her hair and makeup and both had a playfulness that quickly made us forget (at times) the briskness of this late January evening. They climbed snow drifts, dashed across Mem Drive and just kept going. We ducked into the Boston Public Library for some warmth and hot chocolate. I love shoots when we can take advantage of that late evening twilight mixing with the man-made glow from city lights.
Lauren and Steve, on weekend furlough from the Left Coast, couldn’t decide on where to have their love shoot when they were visiting The Hub. They were between apple picking in Central Mass. and the Beacon Hill area. I think they chose wisely if their romped around the Public Garden and through the side alleys along Charles Street are any indication. We had fun and finished at the tap where “everybody knows your name.” Here’s to you guys and one helluva wedding next year!