CONEY ISLAND ENGAGEMENT

Spring in New York City has been extremely delayed this year. This engagement session took place on the first really warm and really windy April weekend. Des and Rob hail from upstate New York and wanted their engagement to capture a bit of the Big Apple. In contrast, their wedding ceremony will take place at the top of Hunter Mountain ski resort. We met up in Williamsburg and hit up Brooklyn Brewery. However, this plan was quickly abandoned as the entrance line stretched for half a block. It seemed like every New Yorker of drinking age was out and about on this warm day. After a stroll in the neighborhood we headed for Coney Island, our main and final destination. Our only obstacle that day was the cold wind coming from the ocean. Luckily, Rob and Des are two tough cookies and they did not mind it nor complained about it. They really enjoyed each other in front of camera and had a good time throughout the afternoon. I had a few ideas I wanted to implement using Canon’s latest 600EX-RT wireless flashes and we really had to rush things around the sunset time. The first concept was to use the flash and combine it with the bright background of the sunset. The flash was hidden under the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog umbrella. This allowed me to highlight the couple and keep the bright sunset exposed while making the busy surroundings disappear in the shadows. The next shot was taken in a grungy back alley with an elongated puddle in the middle. Des and Rob were skeptical when they saw me working this area but the photo in the end convinced them to trust me :) The famous wooden Cyclone roller coaster is right behind them. The final dusk shots were taken after the sun was already gone. I love creating silhouettes, but I like selective lighting techniques even more. Here I was able to do a bit of both. Rob and Des were really cold by the end of the shoot and I am grateful for their patience and positivity. I can’t wait for the wedding day and to capture them exchanging vows on the top of a mountain! Cross my fingers for no wind.

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PRO BONO WORK – MEXICO

Pro bono work may come your way in various ways: sometimes you plan for it in advance, donating your time and effort toward a cause you believe in; sometimes you are asked to collaborate on an existing project; and some (lucky) times, it falls in your lap by being at the right place at the right time. In the last scenario, when the opportunity presents itself, all of a sudden you are working without realizing it. At these times, I feel like I’m a part of people’s happiness, another cog in the wheel of their joy, photographing pro bono, out of love for what I do and out of passion that I have for life and people.

This brings us to Mexico. This past May I was there for a weekend to attend my wife’s dental school reunion and it was a pleasure meeting a lot of her wonderful friends. Also, I tell you, one gets conscious smiling around 20+ dentists! We had lots of fun and celebrated new and old friendships. On one of these warm nights I challenged my friend Chaeho to stay up way past bedtime and see the sunrise. I love sunsets and sunrises but have a big problem with the latter as they happen way too early. I think it’s easier to stay up all night and just wait for one. Good wine and company sure helps pass the time :)  As we were waiting for the sun to rise, we met and started talking to a couple from Scotland, Heather and Abraham. Guess what Abraham does for a living in Scotland? He’s a dentist! Very fitting for our weekend’s get together theme. It turned out Heather and Abraham were up all night too and as we were chatting, Abraham pulls me over to the side and tells me “I’m about to propose to Heather! Would you take a few pictures?” Ummm, hell yes! So they walk away and I fill my friend in on the plan and we follow them down the beach, as inconspicuously as possible. Adding further pressure to my role as an incognito photographer was my 50mm lens; earlier in the day my trusty fifty broke down after years of use and abuse and stopped focusing… so now I need to be a sneaky photographer in manual focus mode while my eyes are definitely tired from waiting for the sun to rise! Needless to say, everything came together as it always does in these moments of  morning bliss and Abraham’s proposal went without a hitch. Heather said yes, they embraced, kissed, and were madly in love as the sun rose for all of us that morning.

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SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT UNDER THE ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS TREE

A photographer friend of mine put me in touch with a young man who was looking to have a surprise engagement session in NYC. Turns out the guy is a son of a famous photoshop guru whose name we should not put here. I got to talk to Mike a few days later and he told me his girlfriend was flying in to NYC to visit her brother around Christmas time. What she didn’t know was that Mike was scheming with her brother to surprise her in NYC and was flying in a day after to propose to her. In addition, both of their families were in on the plan. The only one who didn’t know about any of it was Mike’s girlfriend Alexis. It was his first time in NYC and he knew where he wanted it to happen but needed help with details as he really didn’t know the area. So we hitched a plan to meet at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and walk over to Rockefeller Center and find a good place where Mike can propose under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. We came early as the crowds in the area are crazy this time of the year and it takes a good ten minutes to walk each city block. It’s like being at a concert but the crowds are packed along the sidewalk. Alexis was on the way walking from Grand Central with her brother. The guys kept in touch by text message to keep each other informed. Additionally, Mike used a tracking app to see Alexis’ position by having the app preinstalled on her iPad and watching her move on the iphone. I thought this was really cool and sneaky. We waited around a long time for them and when we finally spotted them among the crowd the time seemed to stop. Mike came up to Alexis and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around and was completely confused, then happy, then even more confused. When it finally sank in she was just ecstatic to see him there, and that’s when he got in on one knee and made it all unreal all over again. She was shocked and could not believe that it was happening. The crowd suddenly dispersed and there was room to breathe. They were given space to have this moment to each other and a whole New York minute later everyone surrounding them went into applause! And they were engaged.

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JUDY MARRIES PETER

Last week Peter married Judy and this week she is returning the favor. At least here on the blog. In reality, their second wedding celebration took place in Brooklyn in early January. However, if you look at the pictures you would think that they got married in the spring or summer. This past winter season was one of the warmest winters in New York’s history and everyone made the most of it. It’s almost as if Peter and Judy brought weather with them from Aruba; and with the weather, they brought their good humor and infectious appetite for fun. In order for Peter to pick up Judy from her parents’ house, he and his groomsmen must pass the Chinese tradition of door games. This is a custom that tests the extent of the grooms love for the bride. The bridesmaids come up with challenges and the groomsmen proudly, but not willingly, complete them. These challenges included; fishing out grapes and pennies from an ice cold bucket with their toes, drinking very strange looking shots of even stranger flavors, doing a bunch of pushups and singing love songs at the top of their voices! As if all of this wasn’t enough, the groomsmen also had to give bridesmaids money! (preferably in multiples of 9 as it is a lucky number that sounds like ‘forever’ in Chinese) There was some heavy bargaining going on and after successfully satisfying every girls’ pocketbook Peter finally got his prize and he carried Judy out in his arms! There was a great deal of dancing and socializing that night and this time around they were joined on the dance floor by 300 of their New York friends and relatives. More love songs were sang and great memories were made. Congrats to you guys on pulling off two weddings in a span of a month and doing a really great job. Have a blast being married!

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PETER MARRIES JUDY

This was a destination wedding I will never forget. Peter and Judy flew me out to Aruba for their dream wedding, taking place in front of 50 of their closest friends and family members. December is not the ideal season in Aruba and there were daily showers the entire week of our stay. Except for that one bright sunny and clear day… when they got married! I knew the wedding was going to be a lot of fun since the family and friends are a really close group of people. I clearly undermined everyone. Fun just does not explain it, having a blast is what this wedding felt like! Everyone present put effort and energy into making it a very successful, pleasant, and emotional day. The ceremony on the beach took place just before the sunset and it was stunning. Since there was no rain, the reception was held outside and everyone enjoyed eating and dancing under the stars. Speeches were written from the heart and everyone cried. Peter’s dance with his mom made everyone cry a second time, myself included. There was some serious dancing happening and by the end of the night, shirts were loosened, pants were torn, and lots of shoes were thrown aside. I had the pleasure of photographing the whole reception barefoot and loved it. I wish I got to do that more often. Judy almost got killed by the groomsmen, as evidenced by the photo of her flying when they toss her up in the air. Lastly, at the end of the night Peter had to take a mandatory dip in the ocean. After many yummy shots, the groomsmen felt strong and generous and “offered” to carry him all the way there. It certainly was a great ending to a perfect wedding and everyone got to feel the sand under their feet. Aruba was a good host. Stay tuned for more news from these two as “Judy Marries Peter” hits the blog next week!

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BACKYARD WEDDING IN PENNSYLVANIA

A few months ago I had the pleasure of photographing Negar and Sharif’s backyard wedding in New Hope, Pennsylvania. This was no small backyard affaire. There was a massive tent in front of the house for the ceremony and an even bigger one behind the house for all the partying afterwards. I love the long exposure shot of the tent at the end of the post.  It was a real joy to shoot this wedding. I definitely liked the pace of it. Since there’s no rush to get from one place to another and everyone is at home, it felt like you were a part of a big commune whose focus was to have a wedding and a party. It was great to see friends and family help organize everything during the day and than celebrate and dance well into the night. No amount of rain or mud would stop people from dancing. I sure was glad the clouds held the rain until the evening. It gave as a chance during the day to have a location shoot in the town of New Hope and also at a local park. Coming from NYC, both locations were a photographic treat for me. New Hope is full of old New England charm and is worth visiting on a day trip from NYC. It was a truly successful event and splendid backyard wedding. Congratulations to the newlyweds!

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LOVE ME IN DUMBO

I love Dumbo. Not the Disney elephant, but the Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass area in Brooklyn. It’s a neighborhood a photographer can often revisit and always come back with fresh work. It’s also one of those dynamic and unique NYC places that will oftentimes surprise you. I recently did an engagement session down there with Kim and Jeff who drove down from Nanuet, NY. It was worth their effort and they were rewarded not only with some unique imagery, but also some spectacular weather. We had a lot of fun setting up the shots and playing around. Kim played with Jeff, and I with my flashes… Kim likes to play; her work at Educational Warehouse is all about buying toys that will make your kids smarter! Jeff is a Paramedic in Rockland County and spends a lot of hours saving and helping people. We had to schedule this session weeks in advance because of work schedules so I was glad they were finally out to play, and play they did.

We started out under some scaffolding and had a blast with the street art. I though it appropriate for this session that some graffiti artist would tag “LOVE” above the scaffolding. We did a back alley shoot underneath the Manhattan bridge that looks like it belongs in one of those detective shows. We then moved on to some of the brighter areas the neighborhood has to offer and that’s when we stumbled upon our surprise of the day: Smack Mellon, a gallery with some cool window art that I was able to get us into for some shots. The black and white work by Heeseop Yoon (made entirely with black masking tape) and the trippy window decor by Tamara Gayer provided stunning background and inspiration.

We wrapped it up at the Tobacco Warehouse and took a spin on the recently installed Jane’s Carousel - great project that hands down beats any carousel in the city. I told Jeff I’m keeping the carousel pictures as blackmail material so you won’t see them here, but do take a trip down there to see it for yourself. It’s another success story for the city of New York. Lastly, I want to say that Kim and Jeff are fearless for wearing their Patriots jerseys in NYC. True fans, inside and out. Thank you guys for a fun session and see you soon at the altar. :)

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BABY IN A WOK

It’s amazing how fast time flies. It feels like I just shot Kee and Jennifer’s wedding a few months ago and here we are already doing a baby shoot!  I can only imagine how fast it must have been for the two of them. Time aside, they make a lovely family with this little boy in their arms. Little baby Jackson was a perfect model and that’s definitely one thing I know he inherited from his parents. If he wasn’t asleep then he was yawning, eating, or sneaking a peek at the camera. What a life! Congrats to the two of you and I hope he brings you tons and tons of joy!

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JUDY & PETER ENGAGED

I am happy to be closing 2011 with this blog post. It is very appropriate to highlight Judy and Peter’s Engagement session since they just flew me out to Aruba two weeks ago to photograph their wedding AND they’re gearing up to have another wedding a week from now in 2012! Yes, a second wedding. A bigger, badder, and more crowded affaire, this time in Brooklyn. They like getting married : ) and they have a ton of fun doing it. Anyone who’s been through the ropes of planning a wedding can imagine what it takes to pull off this stunt. A destination wedding and a wedding at home in a span of a month is a lot of work. But having met these two I can see the teamwork and support they give each other and the dedication they have to attain their goals. Also, it doesn’t hurt that they know how to party! Here’s to 2012 and to the newlyweds!

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PARISA AND SERGIO ENGAGEMENT

I’ve been wanting to do this shoot for the longest time. My friend Leslie drove ‘Pearl’ from California a few years back and ever since I laid eyes on it I wanted to photograph it. For car aficionados, it’s a 1963 Ford Fairlane. Parisa and Sergio, our cute couple, are dear friends of mine. As soon as they got engaged I knew I had the right couple for this shoot. They’re both stylish, funky, and have a wonderful chemistry with each other. Parisa is a pre-k teacher and Sergio works for LRG clothing and they are both into fashion. I had the locations mapped out so all we needed was a good day of weather and high spirits. When the day finally came, off we went to our first stop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We shot in front of a sick mural by Tristan Eaton of Thunderdog Studios. This was a total coincidence for me since a few months earlier I was hired by the artist to photograph his commisioned piece ‘The Geisha & The Swan’ –  it’s on his blog if you want to look it up. The location and artwork is stunning and Parisa’s dress could not be a better fit! Sergio’s skateboard also came in handy…

The next stop on out tour was the back end of Far Rockaway in Queens, around the Fort Tilden area. It’s a bit of a ways out (nice drive in the Fairlane!) but sure worth it if you want a New York City beach with no crowds and some abandoned buildings in one locale. We busted out the picture frames and took advantage of the surroundings before heading off to the beach.

There was one shot in my mind that I really wanted to make. It’s a long lens shot with Sergio leaning on the car in the background and Parisa facing him but looking back at the camera (similar version with Sergio holding a beer). In order to get that we had to drive into a ‘No Entry’ zone and my biggest fear was getting in trouble for it and having the end of the shoot ruined. Cars are not welcome there. The NYPD showed up after about 15 minutes (!!!) but to our surprise they apologized for getting in the way and moved on… routine patrol. I was pleasantly surprised. Next, the fire department came by. They were even nicer and took pictures with us. For a photographer, it was Christmas. The day was getting cooler and heavy fog started to roll in. It was time to start wrapping it up so walked out on the beach for a few final shots. Sergio and Parisa rolled out their customized S+P beach towels custom made for them by Shiva of GUNNY+GALLOON whilewearing sweatshirts from Spur Tree. Spur Tree is a Jamaican-Asian lounge in Lower East Side where Sergio and Parisa met.  It’s a place they now frequent and love. It’s the only place where you can get some really good Jamaican food along with an amazing selection of sake while grooving to dancehall and reggaeton. We were definitely  getting hungry at this point. It was a fun and long day and it was also time to drop off ‘Pearl’. Her owner was getting anxious… it was time to roll out…

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WEDDING ON THE 1′S

When Mahnaz and Sasan called me up a few weeks back and told me about a small ceremony to be held on the Brooklyn Bridge I got very excited. Then they told me the date and the exact time. November 11th, 2011 at 11:11am! On the dot! Every wedding date is memorable but a date like 11.11.11 does not come around very often and is extra memorable in my book. At this point Mahnaz has been in New York barely a week. They are from Seattle and when Sasan got a job offer in New York this brave girl upturned her life, sold an established dental practice and moved here to start a new life with her fresh husband. Love will do that to you but it also takes character to follow your heart! We met in Dumbo had coffee and headed out to the bridge. it was a chilly day and our bride was freezing. Luckily once we got up on the bridge the sun made it a perfect day to get married in November. We rushed to the first span of the bridge in order to make it on time. Those shoes she’s wearing, turns out they ARE made for walking!

The ceremony started promptly and all of their friends made it on time. It’s not exactly easy to get to. Sasan and Mahnaz exchanged vows they themselves wrote and were happily married on the Brooklyn Bridge at 11:11am on 11.11.11. They then walked towards Manhattan and towards their new life together as Mr. and Mrs.. Good luck on making the most of your lives in New York and welcome to your new home.

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Hello from IN NY Weddings!

I am happy to finally be writing these first few words. I have never been much of a writer but I hope that as time goes by this blog will capture your imagination, hopefully entertain you, and above all provide you with some great and memorable imagery and inspiration! Feel free to come back frequently as new work will be added on a regular basis.

That said, off we go on a photographic tour of New York weddings, engagements and lots and lots of exotic and unique New York photo locations!

Enjoy the blogroll…

Sylvester