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  • Meet Caroline

    A few things you should know about me...I am passionate about creating wedding photos that are natural, romantic and timeless. My approach to portrait time is to create timeless imagery that captures you two and your unique love in an honest, but gorgeously composed way that looks almost candid. Not a model? No problem! I believe it's a photographer's job, not yours to help you look and feel comfortable in front of the camera! I work in both medium format film and some digital. Film because of its beautiful, soft, fine art qualities and perfect skin tones, and digital because of it's reliability in low light situations.

    In my spare time I read, write poetry, music and mentor other women. Brunch is my favorite meal of the day and my drink of choice is a French 75.

    But enough about me... I look forward to hearing more about you and your wedding plans!

Posing 101: To Tell A Story

Its important to realize that every photo tells a story…even if you the story is  “This photographer posed them very awkwardly”-  there is still a story.  If you are conscious of this,  you can choose what story you are telling by how you direct your clients.  My goal is obviously not to tell that story, but to tell my couple’s story, in full. I don’t want to just the happy moments, but to capture a range of emotions from when they met to when they fell in love, and eventually, their commitment to be together forever.

For those of you photographers reading this who may be interested in learning more about how I pose clients, I’m going to take you through a portion of my engagement shoot with Rosaleigh and Andrew.  I want to show you how one pose can lead to 7 very different sets of photos and how taking your time with posing can lead you to finding “The One.”  No, I’m not talking about Neo from the Matrix; “The One” meaning that uber-special, jump-up-and-down, killer photo that you can’t wait to get home and Pinterest, Facebook and blog because it’s the photo that defines your session, fits your brand, and stands out among the rest.  That doesn’t mean that the others aren’t great and your client won’t love them, but there will usually be one or two favorite images from a session that you end up using in your portfolio.  This is a little story about how I got to that shot during this shoot.

I’ll start with location.  We were in the meatpacking district and I noticed this black warehouse turned cafe (like everything in the meatpacking district is).  But I especially liked the old textured glass and the black walls and the bright building across the street was making a nice natural reflector in this dark covered area.  I started with a pose I really like to showcase a cool architectural backdrop:  The couple standing at a distance from each other making eye contact.  It tells a story like the first time their eyes met across a room.   Their bodies are pointing away from each other, but their eyes are locked.   They are strangers whose paths once went different ways and have now become tied to each others’ fate.

I wanted a close up of Andrew’s face to capture his love for Rosaleigh as he gazed at her, so I leaned him sideways against the wall with her back to it giving the impression that he has approached her.  He is enamored with her but we don’t see her reaction.

I  noticed the way that Rosaleigh grabbed her two fingers and it inspired me to take a photo of them in the exact same pose from directly ahead.  I always tell my clients their natural inclinations usually look the best!  Photos where both couples are smiling at the camera are not my favorite thing, but I always try to make sure and have at least one or two.   This provided the perfect backdrop.  Afterwards, it was very easy to ask Rosaleigh to look at Andrew, changing the story:  She is enamored with him, and the viewer catches her looking at him when he is unaware.  The way she is grabbing her fingers tells us she’s relaxed, but a little self-aware as though she and Andrew are in an earlier stage of their relationship.
A simple change in body language tells a different story, resting on one hand behind her back and the other grasping his hand firmly, we sense that maybe they still don’t know everything about each other yet, but there is a commitment or intention to get to that point.  From there, a kiss adds more intimacy.
One thing a lot of photographers love about being a second-shooter is that while the primary photographer is getting all the straightforward shots, angles and crops, they are forced to new levels of creativity as they look for something different.  Why wait to second shoot to do that?  Try  to look for creative cropping opportunities…This is the same shot as above only shot with a different creative cropping.  It wasn’t the winner, but….
thinking creatively about cropping lead to this next shot below which was my favorite of the day, and definitely “The One”!  It’s romantic, intimate, the light is even, the texture of the glass adds an enticing element and the lamp from inside seems to hang directly over them, drawing your eye to them despite the unconventional crop that puts them in the lower right hand corner.  This may not have been “The One” if it was your shoot, but it has all the elements that I’m looking for and that fit my style!
Once I had that shot, I felt satisfied, but I was so thrilled with the location I knew there had to be more, so I didn’t move them quite yet.   Instead, I moved myself back to my original point of view and had Andrew bring up his hand to brush back her hair.   Something about posing hands well can add so much intimacy to a photo.  Make sure they are not stiff or limp, but are light and energetic.  The soft touch made her giggle and she gave this playful, intimate and ADORABLE  shot, which was very different from everything we had gotten so far.
After posing Rosaleigh somewhat shy and demure in all the photos above,  I sensed the need for some intensity on her part that we hadn’t seen yet.  I had her kiss him back, raising her hand this time to him, giving the viewer the sense that she is happily in control of the moment.

And there you go!  Seven very different sets of photos, and you’ll notice that I barely had the client move their feet!  The nice thing about not moving them for awhile is they got comfortable there.   As the photos progress, they look more natural and comfortable which helped me to capture real intimacy in the last few photos.

Now I’m not saying I’m always able to find the story and that I never just plop clients in front of somewhere pretty…in fact you can see here how the story developed and itself!  Everyone poses differently and I by no means am claiming my way is the best, but hopefully this helped inspire someone out there who wants their photos to tell more of a story! :)

Amy Rizzuto - November 7, 2012 - 11:14 pm

Great post Caroline! So helpful in hearing how you create a story with you clients! :) The photos that resulted are truly beautiful!

Michelle - November 8, 2012 - 10:31 am

Awesome tips Caroline! You are seriously a great story teller.

East Coat Bride | Published

Ready for a blast from the past?  Wow, this stylish, good-lookin’ duo are popular with blogs and magazines!  Their wedding has already been published on Style Me Pretty and it is soon to be in The Knot Magazine -now their engagement session is on East Coast Bride?  I’m just thrilled for them!  So glad we got all these beautiful shots up near the Cloisters at Fort Tyron park, since many of the surrounding trees fell down as a result of Hurricane Sandy. :(   Head over to East Coast Bride’s blog and check it out!

Choosing to Have a Good Day | Apple Picking Upstate | Honestly

“Are you wasting time agonizing over the misfortunes that have or could befall you, or are you reaching for the fresh opportunities still waiting for you on the tree?”

I was never a Suzie-sunshine or look-on-the-brightside Lisa (Yeah, I just made up that second one),  but rather a person who saw everything that could go wrong in any situation.  But I had a revelation a few years ago that my pessimism -or as I called it then,”realism” eh hem-  may have been contributing to the bouts of depression I was having at the time.  I started made a conscious effort to speak more positively when I had fears about something negative, and when something bad did happen,  I worked to look for the silver lining and/or find how to make it better, instead of taking the doomsday viewpoint.  It really made a huge difference not just internally, but externally things seemed to turn out better.  Through that I’ve really come to believe that we have a lot more power over our circumstances than we think we do, and can make a huge difference just be altering the words we speak from negative to positive.  This doesn’t mean being in denial.  I realized it means speaking forth the way you want things to be in the future rather than complaining about how things are.  Reality is a point of view.

Well, as you can imagine, this breakthrough of mine gets challenged regularly, and it certainly was last Saturday.  Before Hurricane Sandy hit,  Alex and I rented a Zipcar and took a trip Upstate to do some apple picking.   I must confess, I don’t really like apples much (I like the taste, but the texture of them raw just bothers me!), but it’s so rare that we get out of the city and it sounded like a fun experience that this West-Coast girl never got to have!   We make the nearly two-hour drive, belting Disney music on the way, and arrive in high spirits.  The orchard is a series of dirt roads on a hill.  We follow the map to where we think the Golden Delicious are (the only apple whose texture doesn’t bother me).  We can’t find them, but there are some gorgeous autumn trees so I get out to take pictures.   I try a bite of a McIntosh apple, but AAH the texture and sound just kill me!  Alex laughs and we continue to look for Golden Delicious.   We decide it must be further up the hill, so I tell Alex I’ll walk so I can take some more photos and he goes to get the car.  I’m feeling so joyful and at home to be in a quiet natural environment when I’m interrupted from my reverie by Alex calling my name from down the hill.  I follow his voice to find our rental car backed into an apple tree with the back window completely smashed out.    I don’t say anything.  I don’t know what to say because so many things are racing through my head  like, “So much for our peaceful getaway from the city,” and ” When is the next time we’ll be able to get away like this?” and “Now this day is ruined!”  But I carefully chose not to say anything, a rare choice for me.  Finally,  I asked, “What happened?”  The car had lost traction on the muddy hill and slid back into the apple tree ignoring the brakes completely.  I kept thinking to myself, “Say something positive, Caroline!”  But I had nothing to say, so I was quiet.

Alex, also silent, went to go find someone to help us get the car out of the leaf-covered mud and I called my Mom, because if I couldn’t say something positive, I needed someone to!   She empathized with me and the fact that we so rarely get a getaway from the city, but she encouraged me to not let it ruin the day.  She reminded me that Alex and I are a team, not enemies in this situation, and told me to try to look for the silver lining or the opportunity to improve the day.  I hung up and realized that there is absolutely nothing I could do to change the fact that we crashed into a tree and would have to pay for the damages, but I could change my attitude about it thereby impacting the rest of our day.  I said a quick prayer for help in being positive and prayed that Alex would be able to conjure some positivity too.

He came back with the three nicest guys probably within 50 square miles.   These workers from Maskers Orchards were so helpful, not only giving us a hand in getting the car out of the mud, but bringing trash bags and duct tape and proceeding to tape up the back window.  A girlfriend of one of them came with the three guys.  She was also nicer than any NYCer would have been, and told us that she recently had a windshield smashed and that it would probably cost only $300 dollars.  She suggested that we just enjoy the day and not call the rental car company until we got home.

“Duh!” I thought.    That was the obvious answer.  We did just that and went on to pick some apples, (we didn’t find any ripe Golden delicious, but I found out to my delight that I can also eat the red Cortland apple, which is also soft like a Golden Delicious).  We bought a gallon of apple cider as well as cider doughnuts and ended up finding ourselves stumbling upon a winery where we had an amazing dinner and glass of wine outdoors while listening to live music that included one of my fave instruments, the electric violin/fiddle.   My favorite part of the day was after dinner, Alex and I climbed to the top of the hill near the winery,  where we found a large open field and a magnificent view of the valley.   We sat there for I don’t know how long listening to silence: the treasured sound that New York City never hears.  What could have been a nightmare day turned into a great one, all because we decided that it would be and thanks to God I was able to keep from saying something negative that could have ruined the day.

Amy Rizzuto - November 5, 2012 - 11:19 am

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post Caroline! What a sweet story from a great day! :)

admin - November 5, 2012 - 11:25 am

Thanks Amy! And of course we had a blast coming to visit you later that day! :)

Lily - November 5, 2012 - 1:33 pm

So well said, Caroline! The story of your day and your internal journey brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing it so beautifully.

Your photos are a gorgeous accompaniment as well. What a picturesque place. You’re a real pro at capturing beauty. I would love to get a large size of the “colored leaves on the ground” close-up to hang on a wall. Like on canvas or something…is that possible do ya think?

[…] lawyer, so please don’t take this as fact or official legal advice, but as I mentioned in my apple-picking post a few weeks ago, I am a person who tends to see how every situation that could go wrong and […]

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