My job has a lot of perks. I get to do what I love which is by far the biggest perk of my job, most of the time it doesn’t even seem like work. Another awesome perk is getting to travel for work. In the past I’ve gone to Pennsylvania, Chicago, Ohio, and now, New York for weddings. Another great perk is getting to capture moments for people. It’s a gratifying feeling. That feeling is enhanced when those people you are capturing moments for are your friends. Tie all of those things together and you get the basis for the New York wedding.
A little background information. The bride (Daiquiri, yes that is her real name) is my “twin.” Okay so not really my twin but we met in college playing ultimate frisbee and everyone though we looked alike. We ran with it and really fooled quite a few people with it. It helps that when you walked into her parents house I am legit in their family photo. When Daiquiri had her pinning ceremony for nursing school I was photographing that event for her too. When her family all took the picture together they told me to jump in it, so I did and that is how I wound up on the wall for the family photo.
When Daiquiri and Craig got engaged Daq started talking to me about the wedding and if I would photograph it. I obviously said yes, this was before we knew it was going to be a destination wedding. Being a really close friend I was very lax on paperwork and contracts ect. However this isn’t as bad as Daiquiri forgetting her wedding date multiple times haha. Once they decided on upstate NY for the wedding she asked me again if it was something I would travel for……DUH. Upstate NY in September is a glorious time to leave Florida. Not everything went as planned on my end though. My wonderfully amazing assistant Nikki first told me she couldn’t go to the wedding. I wanted to take someone with me just to make the day easier. Also I wanted to have another person there so I could have multiple angles of shots. I called my buddy Todd to see if he wanted to go and he said he was in. I started to plan our flights and all that fun stuff. A few weeks later Nikki came back to tell me she could go. Mind you this is many MONTHS before the actual wedding. I called Todd and told him Nikki could go, long story short she couldn’t go. (Not her fault) It was too late to get someone from Florida to help me out. I started reaching out to photographers in the NY area. I have to say I am disappointed in most of them. I did have four very nice photographers reach back out to try to help me out. Jason, Phil, and, Holly and Jim were all fantastic in trying to find me someone who was available to second shoot. Outside of them I am not sure how any photographer stays in business up there. Now I know I am not the best at answer calls right away but I damn sure make sure to call back or respond to an email. I messaged 15 photographers and only had those 4 get back in touch with me. Anyways I digress, I struck out finding help, it was all on me. Wasn’t a big deal, it was a friends wedding and I had a group of really close friends that were also going to the wedding. I even made a few of them work.
The venue (Burlap and Beams) was AMAZING. It is a photographers playground. It has barns, a field, mountains in the background, and a creek. Also it was like 70 outside. There was a plethora of possibilities and I hope I get to go back again one day to capture those. The day started out with me heading over to the venue early to photograph the dress and detail shots. The brides getting ready room is this little white washed barn with a killer couch (which I didn’t get to use) and a beautiful interior. I started off with the dress hanging from the altar which was beautiful but felt too normal. The goal is for me is to always set my imagery apart from everyone else. Be it with lighting, or posing, or ideas. I also kept asking myself what would Nikki do. I took the dress back to the bridal room and there was a hook in the ceiling perfectly lined up with the door. Probably put there on purpose. I hung the dress from that and opened the doors and shot that. I was happy with it and thought I was done with the dress. I started to put Daiquiri’s other detail pieces out. I laid them on this beauty desk, I am sure there is a technical term for it but it is currently escaping me. As I was laying these things out I saw the dress in the mirror. The lighting wasn’t right but the shot was there. One part I didn’t mention but I will now is having a wedding so far away means I didn’t take all of my equipment with me. Normally at a wedding I will take 3 flashes, plus my small little on camera flash. This wedding I only took 2 lights and my small on camera flash. I have to think a little differently being limited on equipment. This particular shot I used a window and a reflector to light the shoes and jewelry and shot a flash through a window curtain to lighten up the dress.
I wasn’t quite done with this room yet. The guys arrived next and had quite their own awesome area to get ready. I got some great shots of Craig and his guys in the barn but really the shot of Craig by himself was my favorite. Once the ladies arrived on the property I went back to photograph Daiquiri getting ready. Again this little room offered up quite possibly my favorite mom daughter getting ready images. I am sure you have heard of the saying work smarter not harder. That was one of these instances. The light pouring into this room from 3 or 4 windows was just beautiful. I didn’t want to ruin that by overpowering it with flash. Also leaving the flash off camera and cornering myself in the room made me more not intrude on the moment and really let the emotion drive the feeling in the image.
As you can tell I had a little love affair with the room. I STILL wasn’t done with the room. We decided to do a reveal to Dad and her brother and then another reveal of Daw all dressed up to her brides maids. This is where I would have loved to have a second photographer to capture the faces of Dad and Jeremy and the bridesmaids when the door opened. However I also wanted to get Daiquiri’s reaction. Knowing I didn’t have a photographer going with me lead me to be prepared for this moment. I took my tripod with me and a remote camera set up. This was I could photograph with my hand held camera and trigger the camera sitting on the tripod. All I had to do was frame the shot and set the exposure and then hit the buttons. First up was Dad and brother, I grabbed two of my friends Jd and Frank to open the doors for me. The doors came open and I got some great shots. I stood inside the room to photograph Dad’s reaction and my camera outside got her reaction.
The next set was the same thing with the bridesmaids. Their reactions were priceless. The only thing I changed to them was I moved to the other side of the room, it had an open window where I didn’t have to photograph through glass. Many tears were shed during this moment. Also had a little nice tough of Dad and Jeremy swinging the doors open this time.
The ceremony location here is like nothing I have been able to photograph before. Mountains in the background was a great touch. When you have a destination wedding to photograph that is almost like the third member of the wedding. You HAVE to show that off. You show the venue off no matter where it is but especially if its 1.000 miles away. Running the remote camera here was also a huge bonus because it may have been the shortest ceremony ever. I was able to get everything I needed to get in about 5 minutes.
After the ceremony was time to crank out pictures. All the family shots, combined bridal party shots, formals, and my shot with twin. I think I had about 45 minutes from the end of the ceremony till introductions. Mind you I had no one to set up my lights for intro’s so I couldn’t take up the entire 45 minutes. I remind you it was a playground for me and there was about 15 spots I wanted to go to. One being off property, this gorgeous bridge, that wasn’t going to happen. We cranked through the formal bridal shots and got my twin shot.
Then it was time to create some magic. We shot a few shots at the altar which are gorgeous, but that is what everyone does. The venue is going to have 6 million images like that. I want to stand out. First place we went to after the ceremony was the field. In my mind I was still thinking what would Nikki do, first thing is Nikki would tell me not to do a backlight image, but she wasn’t there and I like them too much so I did that. Then I though okay I need to do something else other than that. I grabbed a chair and went with that as a prop. Was really happy with these images but I knew I had another spot I had to go to.
I flew into NY on Thursday for a Saturday wedding for a few reasons. One I would lose my mind flying out the day before, too many issues could pop up. One of those is I was going to a venue I had clearly never been to before. I checked it out on google maps and the venue website but it’s nothing like seeing it in person and getting a lay of the land. Helps with planning out ideas but also having an idea of lighting so that when I get there I can go right to it. Funny enough when we went to the venue on Thursday we didn’t know about the creek that ran right behind the property. I didn’t know about it until I was photographing the dress and met the owner of the venue Terri told me about it. I knew I wanted to go there. One great thing about photographing a friends wedding is you have a little more pull with the bride and groom. When I told Daiquiri and Craig about the creek it was basically if I wanted to go down there they were going to follow me. That’s exactly what happened. Daiquiri, Craig, one of Craig’s buddies, and myself made our way down this embankment to this little creek. Unstable rocks all over the place and a dress that hadn’t been bustled yet was slightly terrifying. I had a basic idea of the shot I wanted to create but the rocks made for very limited footing. The first shot I got was more traditional lighting and pose. I love it. The other shot to me is the wow shot of the wedding. It was the one that makes me giddy inside and do a stupid little happy dance. I moved the light behind them and managed to nail a perfect rim light/ back light on them. Still in my mind I hear Nikki telling me, you’ve already done a back light image, two other to be exact but I went with my gut and got this stunner. Right after this shot I did a bridal portrait of Daq alone and then it was time for intros. It was go time. I had to set up lights for the intro’s first dance’ and then right into toasts. Thankfully I had one helluva great DJ who gave me time to get things situated. Love when a Dj works with me, thankfully a lot of my Florida Dj’s are fantastic.
The last really creative shot of the night was one I wanted to do at dusk. I had been looking at some WPPI (Wedding Portrait Photographers International) competition prints and a lot of them were images where the bride and groom were smaller in the frame and really showing of the area around them. The barn that the guys got ready in was a great location and the sky really started to show some gorgeous colors. I threw a light inside the barn and then one way off the the left of the camera and just shot super wide. I don’t know if it my favorite because I think it takes a minute to find them in the frame but I do still like it. Sadly with weddings sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to perfect a shot. You can’t keep the bride and groom for 15 minutes while you’re tweaking the shot. Normally I would grab another couple and get it all set up with them and then just move the bride and groom in, but since I was dealing with a rapidly setting sun I didn’t have that chance.
All in all the Upstate NY wedding at Burlap and Beams went about as well as I could have hoped for. It was actually supposed to rain on the wedding day but it held off until well after the ceremony. I had a night where I got to not only photograph a great wedding but spend 3 days in NY with my best friends. I will gladly go back to NY anytime for a wedding but it is really going to have to be spectacular to match up with this one.
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