Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tradition, Texans & Boots

When Matt popped the question to wed his longtime girlfriend joining their two families, his Alma Mater at West Point was the perfect place for them to hold their long awaited joining. They have been together more than 6 years and have raised their respective sons as a family. A tradition with graduates of West Point, the Cadet Chapel and Thayer Hotel add an amazing intensity to this so special event. It's fall and in NY/CT the air is crisp and cool with hints of woodsmoke. The leaves on the trees are just starting to change. Rehearsal day and I checked into the historic Thayer Hotel on the bank of the Hudson River. Built in 1928 it has seen numerous presidents, dignitaries and proud guests too. Cadet Chapel on the West Point campus is an amazing site for a ceremony. The Chapel was built in 1910 from granite quarried right at West Point. Their wedding morning dawned bright and crisp with a promise of unseasonably warm temps (Forecast was for 83 degrees). The Texans in the group especially enjoyed the cool morning. With an 11 am ceremony time photos started bright and early while Jill got her hair done at the on site salon. Then it was up to the Eisenhower Suite for her to do her makeup and dress. Off we rushed for a stately, yet, intimate family ceremony. The walk up the aisle is 210 feet long and Jill was escorted up the aisle by her son, Grayson. We had brief minutes only to do a quick wedding party portrait on the front steps and then a quick couple of shots of Jill and Matt at the altar before our allotted Chapel time was up. With the frequency of weddings held at this location schedules are rigorously adhered to. Off went Jill, Matt and I to get a few photos of them at significant points around the campus. Trophy Point overlooking the Hudson, the green Plain in front of the Cadet Barracks and The Lusk Reservoir, too. Back at the Thayer we did family portraits before heading in to a wonderfully relaxed reception of family, dancing and lots and lots of fantastic food. Jill danced in her wedding gift from Matt of beautiful new boots. After the reception the party continued with drinks and dancing under the stars at the Thayer’s rooftop bar. It’s rumored that there was a bit of dancing on the bar…Go Grayson! What a wonderful trip and memorable wedding.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Red Mustang Wedding

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I have wanted to capture an image like this for years! Last nights wedding at Texas Old Town with just the right combination of a fun (good looking) couple, a cool car, an isolated road, and good natural light... What bonus it was right after a much needed rain to saturate the fall colors background colors.

We have a Toyota Highlander 4-Dr. To accomplish the above photo, I moved to the rear seat behind the driver (to capture the brides expression(s) and to shoot out the window). Our able 2nd shooter Sylvia was driving the car as I snapped away photos. I dropped the shutter speed down to 1/25th of a second to “motion blur” the background. We drove alongside, and slightly ahead of the mustang couple. At this low shutter speed, I knew we would sacrifice many, many photos to get “the one” that was clear enough to preserve detail in the car, bride, groom - but blur the background. Because our couple was so willing, and the road was so very isolated I moved to the back of the Highland, lifted the tail gate door up and drove with the back side open... For the second series of photos - I moved the shutter up to 1/200th of a second.Click to Enlarge

We never went over 15 mph! That’s the beauty of this type of image - it looks like we are going so much faster. With the overcast light and cloud cover we had nice tones that would be brought out with photoshop. A polarized filter was added to the lens to cut the glare of the mustangs windshield.

Congratulations Darrel and Sarah on your special day - you helped make it even more special for me too.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall Morning Shadows

Long Shadows
It's fall and in CT the air is crisp and cool with hints of woodsmoke. The leaves on the trees are just starting to change. Today I had time on my own before the excitement of Matt & Jill's wedding starts. In looking for things to do I happened upon the Tarryville Mansion and Park. The trails drew me and as i walked along i caught this view of the long morning shadows. I just had to take a photo. the rich colors of the leaves, the long, long shadows, beautiful. Then it was time for my jacket....brrr, 50 degrees is downright chilly. After a brisk walk around the pond I headed into town for a latte.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Adam & Michelle: CA Meets TX (by Way of Japan)

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As longtime friends and photographers of the groom's family, we were honored to do the wedding photography for this smiling couple. We had photographed Adam’s eldest brother’s wedding in New York State about 5 years ago and his twin brothers wedding in Pflugerville/Leander Texas just a couple of years ago. A funny note is that at Adam’s twin’s wedding (Michelle was a guest), Adam commented to us as he was leaving that without a doubt we would cover his wedding….but that he didn’t know when it might happen, maybe in 10 years!. We found out while doing their engagement photos that Michelle had overhead this comment and was devastated - 10 years!. He didn’t realize she had overheard.

It was Michelle's love of Japanese culture that actually brought her together with Adam. She was a member of the Japanese Conversation Club at the University of Texas alongside Adam's identical twin brother Mark, who introduced the two. Adam worked in the Mathematics Department, so Michelle began visiting his office. They talked. Love bloomed.

So how does our story shift from Austin to Palo Alto? Adam moved to California to work for Google and then drove back to Texas to "steal Michelle away" (as he likes to put it). They moved in together and Michelle earned her master's degree from Stanford University. Three days before the graduation ceremony, Adam sneaked in a marriage proposal at her favorite Japanese restaurant, popping the question while kneeling by her as they posed for a photo. Smooth!

Have camera, will travel, so we found ourselves bound for Palo Alto. The ceremony itself was a Catholic ceremony performed by a member of the Stanford Catholic community and held in the historic Stanford Memorial Church. We loved the fact that these two self-described "nerds" chose to have their wedding reception at the Computer History Museum, and in fact, we took the wedding party through the museum for photos prior to the reception. Remember Pong? Well, we got great photos of the groom playing Pong
against his Brothers and his best friend. The reception was a cultural montage starting with mariachis serenading Adam & Michelle as they entered the ballroom. Next came fun for adults and kids with a colorful piñata filled with toys and treats. (but first, how many nerds does it take to hang a piñata in a ballroom? At least 6, it seems to get that rope over the rafters…..thanks, Ray for assisting…..once a boy scout…) After the kids were settled in it was time for the amazing 10 course Chinese feast (the caterers had set up an entire Chinese kitchen on a nearby balcony!) Wow, it was good! After heartfelt toasts and loads of dancing the wedding party passed out glowsticks to all guests for the final couple of songs and to usher the couple on their way for the night. The next morning at the hotel was rounds of farewells and hugs before the out of town guests headed to Muir Woods and San Francisco for a day of sightseeing with Adam and Michelle.

What's next for Adam and Michelle? Well, there's the honeymoon of course -- they've decided to visit Costa Rica as soon as the rainy season dies down. And after that? Michelle says it pretty well: "We want to have a life with lots of fun and laughter, possibly with two kids. We want to be active and healthy, and challenge each other to be better people every day." We are so happy for Adam and Michelle -- and we're also pretty happy with the photos we took! We look forward to their visits back to Central Texas, hopefully with little ones in tow. Check out their gallery and tell us what you think!