Jeanita and Conor get married in Central Park
In November this year I had a fantastic opportunity to photograph a wedding in New York.
I’m a huge fan of New York and go their quite often. I even proposed to my Wife there!
Jeanita and Conor originally contacted me to take photographs of a wedding party/reception in December. After a bit of quizzing I found out they we’re actually getting married in New York and having the party back home.
So I said “How about I photograph you in New York as well?”
They thought I was joking. I wasn’t.
It turned out it was just going to be Jeanita and Conor in NY. No family or friends (that’s what the party back home was for!). The wedding was to be in Central Park. Very relaxed but very intimate and personal.
They were really into getting nice photo’s. They we’re up for pretty much anything and wanted to make the most of the opportunity. My head was buzzing with three billion ideas and after meeting I realised how much we were all thinking along the same lines. The ceremony would be quite short (a few minutes) and after that we would be going through Central park in mid-November and into the city. Just that walk alone presented a load of opportunities.
My favourite time of year in New York is November. It’s not too warm or cold. The colours in central park are amazing. There is buzz around the place that’s very different from other times of year – perhaps due to Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up. So for them to have their wedding at this time was brill.
Anyway, after a bit of a chat we had to come up with some kind of plan. I also needed to be realistic and remember it’s not all about getting cool images. It’s about documenting their day, recording this moment in their life that means so much to them. Some balance was needed. Most of the pictures here are the more showy ones. The Slideshow at the end gives a better idea of the day.
The ceremony was to be at 2.30. I would have preferred 1.30 as it didn’t give a lot of time before the light disappeared. But, as you’ll see, it worked out well. Jeanita was having her hair done early in the Hotel Salon (the Waldorf) and then going to the Mac counter in Saks on 5th Ave for makeup! Then back to the Hotel to get ready and then taxi to the park. They had dinner booked in for 7.30 so they needed to be back at the hotel for 6.30 to be practical.
When I arrived in NY it was very mild. 18 degrees C! There were still loads of leaves on the tree’s in central park and the colours were fantastic! The weather forecast was looking good and it couldn’t have been better.
A quick final chat with the guys the day before and we settled on starting off at Saks on 5th. I’ve not heard of a bride getting her makeup done at a department store counter before so it would be cool! Now, practical tip for photographers – you can’t just walk into a department store and take photo’s. There’s just no way you would be allowed – especially at Saks on 5th Avenue! So I decided to pop in early and ask if it would be possible. As soon as I was in the door with the cameras I was approached by security. I nicely explained the situation and asked if it would be possible. I got a really nice answer back – “I can’t tell you but I know a man who can”. I was brought into the back office and was introduced to Pat, the head of security. Again I explained what I was doing and after a couple of questions and showing some ID he said that should be no problem! I asked if I should get something in writing and he said not to worry, everyone will know. From that moment on I wasn’t approached by any security or staff. They saw me working away but didn’t approach.
I met Conor and Jeanita at the door and got a shot of her going in and then a few shots at the Mac counter. Photographically it wasn’t about amazing, award winning makeup-going-on-shots. It was just to document a part of their day. So a quick shot of her coming out of Saks, walking along a busy NY Street and into the hotel.
The other strange thing was now I had both the bride and groom in the same room, helping each other to get ready! Felt strange and kinda nice at the same time. We got a few unusal shots here involving the two of them. I knew I was doing a slideshow at the wedding party back home so I made use of a tripod to get some multiple images that I could blend together afterwards to show some motion.
Then we were off. The Waldorf Hotel has a fab old clock in the lobby. They wanted some shots there so I obliged. Light was next to zero. Luckily I had borrowed a low-light lens.
Next it was Taxi and on the journey I got some of my favourite shots. They were also my luckiest. I was crammed into the front seat of the taxi and couldn’t turn around to see the guys in the back. So I put the camera on manual focus, guessed the distance, pointed the camera backwards and shot a few pics through the middle taxi window.
We got to Central Park with gorgeous colours, fab light and the temperature was perfect! At this point I didn’t want to interfere too much. I gave basic tips to Jeanita and Conor and set them off. I didn’t want to make everything too posed!
The ceremony was in Ladies Pavillion next to one of the lakes in Central Park. We took a few photo’s then met the Reverend who would be performing the marriage ceremony. Oh, I forgot to mention… as well as being the photographer I was the witness too!
I had two camera’s and one was the 5D2 which can do video so I set that up a corner and let it record the whole ceremony. I’m not a video person at all but it turned out alright!
The ceremony itself was very romantic and really personal to these guys. It was clear they were mad about each other and that this was a moment they’d been looking forward to for a long time. The location suited them down to the ground.
After the beautiful ceremony and a few tears of happiness/joy (not me! – well..maybe one or two) we headed off through central park. The light was fading a little bit so we had to move quickly. The main problem at this point was Jeanita’s feet were not holding up too well. The shoes looked good but hurt! We went round the lake to Bow Bridge, on to the steps at Bethesda Fountain, to the Bandshell and the Mall then on to the rocks by the skating rink. We stopped for hot dogs before heading to Grand Central Station and Times Square.
Grand Central Station is another really iconic New York landmark. Photographed by loads of people, filmed by loads of people. I had one main shot in mind, I wanted them near the centre and to get the couple in focus and the people around them blurry to emphasise the hustle and bustle. To do this I gave them instructions that once in position I would give them a signal and they would keep as still as possible. I would use a longer shutter speed to blur everybody around them. It worked really well and I used a sequence of the images in the slideshow which gave it an extra dimension.
Quick note at Grand Central Station. If you want to use a camera on a tripod you need a permit. It’s not a public building (owned by the MTA) you need to pay for a permit. We didn’t have one but the security we’re nice people!
After waiting for a taxi (more photo’s). We headed off to Times Square. It was getting a cold now and Jeaintas feet we’re almost bleeding! So a few shots to try and get in the BIGness of the Time Square and just enough time to get the shot I REALLY wanted….
When I went to New York I only had one firm shot in my head, one shot I really wanted. I got it. This is it below. It’s my absolute fave. To me it’s everything about NY – Times Square, Yellow Taxi, big, loud and bright. In the middle of it all caught in an intimate moment, the Bride and Groom. ‘Make Your Own Luck Inc.’ came into big time. To get the right taxi in the right place with the right reflection and the right light on the face of the bride and groom. It was tricky but it worked. Please bear in mind this shot has not been ‘Photoshopped’ at all. Just basic adjustment to the exposure and that’s it! I love it.
To sum up: Had a blast. Got some great shots that’s proud of. Felt I didn’t loose the personal and intimate touch over the posed shots.
A big thank you also goes to Edel Moran from Portrait.ie who lent me a rather gorgeous lens. The 85mm 1.2L MkII. It was my main lens and gave me fantastic control of the depth-of-field. The lens performed perfectly. I’ll be writing a little review of the lens on my other blog shortly.
One last note about Jeanita and Conor. One of the nicest couples I ever had the pleasure to work with. I wish them the very best for the future.